One of the most interesting aspect of Steve Reeves’ career is not necessarily the roles he got but the long string of roles he was set to play but missed out. One of them was Li’l Abner.
The movie role went to Peter Palmer. The movie musical itself is not that great (in fact, it’s pretty odd…), and it’s sorta forgotten today. So, Steve didn’t really missed out. Needless to say, he would have been perfect in the role.
Peter Palmer played Li’L Abner, a role he played on Broadway.
This is just one of many roles Steve could have gotten but didn’t, including playing Samson in Cecil B. DeMille’s SAMSON AND DELILAH (1949).
2 thoughts on “Steve Reeves as Li’l Abner”
As gorgeous as Reeves is as Abner Yoakum (and, boy! Is he EVER!), I don’t see him successfully portraying the comic character in this splashy movie musical. Singing (in)ability aside, I just can’t see Steve Reeves being as animated as Peter Palmer is in the film. And, the film – as many films do – has seen a greater appreciation with age. The show was a big success on Broadway, what with its terrific score by Gene de Paul and Johnny Mercer, and phenomenal choreography by Michael Kidd (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers). Kidd’s two dance captains, Dee Dee Wood and Marc Breaux (a married couple who were also cast members) oversaw the dance numbers in the film. They would go on to choreograph two of the greatest movie musicals of all time: Disney’s Mary Poppins (’64), and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Sound of Music (’65). I, myself, become mesmerized each time I watch the movie by the Dogpatch wife played by Valerie Harper. She shines in her red dress and straw hat with its bouncing daisy on top! Yes, I LOVE this film! I also, however, love Steve Reeves…and these photos are yet another treasure trove…of the Sunday funnies’ most gorgeous HUNK of all time come to life!!
It’s really amazing how much Steve Reeves actually looks like Lil Abner in the comic book drawing (Peter Palmer does not). Who knows if Mr. Reeves’ had a good singing voice but if so maybe musical comedy would have been another of his acting plums! Unfortunately and I hate to disagree with Mr. Rayburn but the movie version of Lil Abner has not gotten better with age. I’d much rather read some of the old comics instead!