Issue 41 2005
Love Laughs at Andy Hardy
The Rise of the Heterosexual Male Teenager
By JEFFERY P. DENNIS
The Rise of the Heterosexual Male Adolescent
 Prior to the twentieth century, male adolescents were often
presumed children in affect and interests, and thus excused from
heterosexual potential or desire (Maynes, 1992; Stovkis, 1993; Cohen,
1999; Moran, 2000). Even during the first decades of the twentieth
century, when industrialization, urbanization, and universal higher
education extended adolescence through the teen years and even longer
(Handlin, 1971; Kett, 1977; Palladino 1996), heterosexual desire
was by no means necessary or even common among adolescent boys in
mass culture. Though the sex-phobia of the Victorian era was fading
gradually in the wake of progressive sex manuals, Freudian psychoanalysis,
and burlesque, the marriage bed was still considered a curse, a
constraint of civilization, along with real estate, automobiles,
liver pills, and lending libraries. Husbands throughout the popular
culture of the 1920s and 1930s hated their wives, hated the marriage
bed, longed for the escape of poker or bowling with male friends,
and longed for the wild Tom Sawyer freedom of their youth.
 Whatever adolescents were doing in real life, in mass culture
they lived in a homoromantic Eden, forming intimate, sensual bonds
with each other and looking upon the other sex as siblings or children.
Thus, Jack Armstrong the All-American Boy treated sidekicks Betty
and Buddy with equal regard, and in his movie serial, he rescued
Princess Alura (Claire James) from any number of cliffhangers without
finding her particularly alluring. Tim Tyler had a sidekick named
Spud in the comics and Lazarre at the movies, but never a girlfriend.
Mickey Rooney played adolescents a dozen times, in Boys Town,
Slave Ship, The Devil is a Sissy, and Tom Brown's School
Days, bonding aggressively with other boys, notably scrappy
sissy Freddie Bartholomew, but treating girls as sisters or unwelcome
intrusions. Between 1937 and 1946, wise-cracking juvenile delinquent
Leo Gorcey flirted with girls only twice in thirty-odd movie melodramas,
and Frankie Darro played "woman-hating" teenagers over fifty
times. Occasionally teenage boys were interested in girls, but
Harold Teen's newspaper antics were overwhelmed by the proliferation
of Rover Boys and Hardy Boys, and for every William Sylvanus Baxter
who gaped at the girl-next-door, a dozen Huck Finns lit out for
 As the Depression eased into Wartime, teenagers began to develop
their own social institutions, at least among the middle classes,
with their own norms and values, social structures, hierarchies,
and cultural artifacts (Jackson, 1989; Hine, 1999). During the 1930s,
college enrollment doubled, and the high school graduation rate
increased from 51% to 73%, with concomitant increases in leisure
time, freedom, and disposable income. Dating, which originated
among the working classes during the 1920s, seeped into the middle
classes, making marital partner selection a matter of choice rather
than parental mandate (Hawes, 1997: 24-25). But why should they
select marital partners at all? Today the impetus might be heterosexual
practice itself, portrayed as "the grail, the ultimate in human
maturity and happiness" (quoted in Katz, 1996: viii). But in the
1930s, heterosexual practice was still presumed a duty, onerous
but necessary, insufficient to compel the new generation into becoming
husbands and wives. They needed a monster to chase them into the
 It has become an historical commonplace that challenges to
the male primacy in intellectual, political, and economic pursuits
produced a "homosocial panic" during the last half of the nineteenth
century and the first half of the twentieth (Adam, 1996; Sedgwick,
1990; Katz, 1995:. 89-91; Thomas, 1997). Homoerotic desire, which
blurred the boundaries between public and private, "masculine" and
"feminine," took on a staggering significance as a threat to the
family, the social order, and civilization itself, resulting in
the construction of a male heteronormativity defined not through
desire for women but through flight from anything that might suggest
desire for men. By the start of World War II, male heteronormativity
had become securely ensconced as normal and natural. Heterosexual
desire was inscribed within the very concept of desire itself (Sedgwick,
1990), while homoerotic desire was vilified as, at best, artificial,
infantile, and false, and more often as evidence of psychopathology.
 During the Jazz Age and the first years of the Depression,
Hollywood was home to a thriving gay and lesbian community. As long
as actors maintained a minimal heterosexual façade in their public
lives, they were free to seek each other out at exclusive parties
held by the movie elite, or else cruise the Sunset Boulevard nightclubs
where working-class gays and lesbians, with no careers to lose,
remained true to themselves (Loughery, 1998: 74-79; Mann, 2002;
McClellan, 2000). One is astonished by the many casual references
to the gay/lesbian subculture in the memoirs of actors who were
children or adolescents during the period. Jackie Cooper recalls
gay rumors centering on his friendship with Wallace Beery (1981:200).
Frank Coghlan recounts that when he was twenty years old, a costar
(probably the openly gay Dick Hogan) made a pass at him on the set
of Blazing Barriers (1993: 123-124). Mickey Rooney quotes
from a love letter "Andy Hardy" received from a gay fan in 1940
(1991:199). Even memoirs predating Stonewall mention gay people
frequently, and often in neutral or positive contexts, as when Leo
Gorcey quips that "most of the sex kings and queens fell in love
everyday the kings fell in love with the kings and the queens
fell in love with the queens" (1967:32).
 But as War loomed on the horizon, the era of relative openness
ended. In 1937, J. Edgar Hoover declared "War on the Sex Criminal,"
meaning mostly gay men, and a psychiatrist named Edmund Bergler
began to publish articles in professional journals and women's magazines
arguing that "inversion" was not a harmless eccentricity, but a
dangerous psychosis. As World War II began, commentators worried
that "perverts"might compromise the Allied war effort,
so tests were initiated to weed out the gay recruits. In 1942 Philip
Wylie published Generation of Vipers, a bestseller that pinned
the fate of free world on America's ability to produce "manly
men,"that is, straight men, not the weak, girlish milksops
currently being churned out by clinging mothers (Berube, 1990; Terry,
 Adolescents were singled out for special concern, since their
heterosexual desire was still inchoate and developing. Freud and
the Freudian pop-psychologists warned that boys could move from
latency to "perversion" in any number of ways, through the
deliberate or accidental intervention of parents, teachers, peers,
and strangers on the street. As Benshoff notes (1997: 139), the
ongoing worry of adults during the period was "whether the boys
would become successful, mature, adult males, and not turn gay along
the way" (cf. Grant, 2001). The mandate to promote heterosexual
adulthood, plus the need to create a new national character at the
end of the era of isolationism, combined to produce a new "all-American
boy," resourceful, industrious, wisecracking yet serious when it
counted, cautious yet brave when it counted, smart but not an egghead,
sensitive but not a sissy, doting on his mother, obedient to his
father, a big brother to the kids and a pal to his peers. He was
Protestant, white, middle class, and a small-town resident, written
in opposition to the Roman Catholic, nonwhite, working-class, urban
boy of gangster melodramas. And, for perhaps the first time in
media history, he was wild about girls.
 But his girl-craziness arrived with many difficulties. At
first it was antithetical to masculinity, a flight into the feminine
to be remedied through intimate same-sex bonds. Only gradually
did it become a requisite of adolescent masculinity, and the same-sex
bonds a characteristic of boyhood, to be repudiated quickly and
joyfully upon a pubertal "discovery" of girls.
 During the War, teenage boys proliferated on the radio. Many
liked girls – Bud on The Barton Family (1939-42), Joey on
That Brewster Boy (1940-45), Oogie on A Date with Judy
(1941-50), Dexter on Meet Corliss Archer (1943-54) – but
their girl-craziness characterized them as awkward, clumsy, and
timid, as sissies and "namby-pambies" (Nachman, 1998: 215). Perhaps
the most famous, Henry Aldrich, began his career as a shy sissy-boy
in Clifford Goldsmith's Broadway play What a Life (1937),
before spinning off into fourteen years of radio (1939-53), four
years of television (1949-53), a series of nine movies, and an uncountable
number of comic books, musical scores, pin-ups, games, and toys
(Harmon, 1970: 87-99). The voice-cracking "Coming, Mother!", Henry's
response to his battle-axe Mom's summons, became a famous catchphrase,
endlessly parodied by comedians. By 1950, the overture of the radio
series was calling him "the typical American teenage boy":
Even though everyone knows him, because he lives in your house,
or next door, or somewhere in your memory, no one has yet been
able to define the typical teenage American boy. All you can
say is that he exists in the person of Henry Aldrich.
Yet the squeaky-voiced, passive, feminine Henry Aldrich is nothing
like the mass media teenagers of today, or even those of the 1950's.
Although he is interested in girls to the point of absurdity, his
girl-craziness is constantly portrayed as a feminizing threat.
 In the first two movies, What a Life (1939) and Life
with Henry (1941), Henry Aldrich is portrayed by Jackie Cooper,
seventeen years old, solidly-built, even hunky in his black t-shirt,
but certainly not a big man on campus – sneering bullies call him
"panty-waist" and "honey-boy," shrill, authoritarian Dad accuses
Mom of turning him into a "milksop," and the matinee idol principal,
Mr. Nelson (John Howard), offers a somewhat more kindly characterization:
"he's kind of a gentle kid." Henry faces the hostility, as well
as various plot-heavy scams and false accusations, with sardonic
resignation; he has been beaten down so many times by his world
that he dare not hope for more than sheer survival.
 Like most teenage boys of the 1930s, Jackie Cooper's Henry
is decidedly uninterested in girls. Though Barbara (Betty Field)
bribes him with cake, he refuses to escort her to the big dance.
Asked if there isn't a girl in school worth the sixty cent admission
price, he replies "Not to me!" Instead, he establishes intimate
and arguably romantic bonds with attractive adult men. In What
a Life, he depends on Mr. Nelson's counsel, heart-to-hearts,
and shoulder-pats in the locker room, and in Life with Henry,
he sneaks out of the house for covert meetings with an auto mechanic
named Bill (Rod Cameron), who clips pictures of swimsuit models
from magazines or talks about the mail-order brides that he almost
married, while Henry lies cozily on the bed, his shirt half-undone.
Why must Bill demonstrate his heterosexual interest so obsessively?
What precisely have they been up to?
 After Life with Henry, Jackie Cooper thought that he
had outgrown the role, so Paramount hired Jimmy Lydon for the remainder
of the series. Lydon's Henry is a turkey-necked stringbean who
cracks his voice all the time instead of in moments of stress, and
has the habit of holding his face uncomfortably close to people
as he talks. The bond with adult men so common among teenage boys
of the last generation remains only in the first of Jimmy Lydon's
movies, Henry Aldrich for President (1941): Henry has been
sneaking out for a series of secret rendezvous with gas station
attendant Ed Calkins (Rod Cameron again), who continuously insists
that he tell no one about their relationship. It turns out that
Henry has been taking illegal flying lessons from the grounded pilot,
but the need for absolute secrecy suggests that the danger is "really"
about something else. There is even a subtle reference to same-sex
practice: while Henry is solo-flying, a mouse crawls up his pants
leg, and he concludes that his passenger, Mr. McCloskey, is getting
fresh. He glares at him and says "Stop that! It's very dangerous
to tickle someone while he's flying a plane!"
 In later installments, Henry's same-sex bonds are limited
to best buddy Dizzy (Charles Smith), and he devotes most of his
time to reckless and wild-eyed pursuits of girls. At the slightest
attention from a girl, he wilts with a goofy expression on his face,
and a kiss on the cheek causes him to shout "yippee!" His friends
accept this hetero-mania as an odd quirk, as when he oozes at the
new music teacher in Henry Aldrich Swings It (1943):
Phyllis: Look at Henry! You don't suppose he's going icky on
us, do you?
Dizzy: He's got that look. Something always happens when Henry
starts looking like that. [To Henry, angrily.] What the heck's
the matter with you?
 Others are less sympathetic. Boys at school taunt him, his
father chastises him, and even his girlfriends disapprove of girl-craziness
as a symptom of weakness, and therefore "unmanly." In Henry
Aldrich Haunts a House (1943), Henry is unable to hug his girlfriend
Elise (Joan Mortimer) tightly enough, so she labels him "weak."
She invites him into the kitchen for pie, assigning him the role
of a child, but instead, desperate to become a "real man," he drinks
a strengthening potion that her mad-scientist father has developed.
It doesn't work, but through a series of inane coincidences he comes
to believe that he has become a Jekyll-Hyde monster, a sissy by
day and a ravaging Neanderthal by night. "Ordinarily you're a very
sweet guy," Dizzy squeals, "But now I'm afraid of you.." It is
important that Dizzy uses the term "sweet," a complimentary turn
on the same lack of manliness that elsewhere gets Henry called "honey-boy"
and "panty-waist." But later in the movie, Henry demonstrates that
he is manly in spite of his girl-craziness by rescuing his friends
from a gang of counterfeiters.
 In the late Henry Aldrich, Boy Scout (1944), Henry's
heterosexual interest is finally associated with manly strength
and courage. In the first scene, he is talking to Elise in the
back yard while Dizzy and the others watch from an upstairs window.
Henry: You know, Elise, since your father gave me more responsibility
[in the chemistry lab], I've been blossoming into manhood. I
know what I want.
Elise: [Turns her face up hopefully.] You do, Henry?
Henry: Sure. I want to win the [boy scout] inspection this afternoon.
But he is riffing on the old, unmanly Henry. He also wants a kiss,
since heterosexual performance will now accentuate his boy scout
achievements. As they begin the kiss (off-camera), Dizzy and Mr.
Aldrich peer through binoculars.
Mr. Aldrich: Any action yet, Dizzy?
Dizzy: Oh, boy! He's rising to the occasion, sir!
 A few movies ago, Henry's heterosexual practice would embarrass
Dizzy and befuddle Mr. Aldrich, but now they both desire its validation.
It is no longer a deterrent to all-American masculinity; indeed,
it is required. Henry goes on to rescue his young charge Peter
from a literal cliffhanger at the Tri-State Boy Scout Camperol (a
week-long wilderness competition), and in the last scene he marches
off to victory beneath a superimposed Stars and Stripes.
 A cherubic boy actor, Jackie Moran played the titular role
in the weeper Michael O'Halloran and an unusually feminine
Huckleberry Finn in Norman Taurog's Adventures of Tom
Sawyer before Monogram hired him for a series of six rural-schoolboy
melodramas (1938-1941). Jackie played barefoot, red-cheeked high
schoolers content with intimate bonds with other boys, and Marcia
Mae Jones a new girl in town, usually a sophisticated New Yorker,
who set her sights on him. Yet she was never quite able to make
a boyfriend of him, and indeed the films seem unsure whether all-American
boys kiss girls or refuse to kiss girls, whether adolescent masculinity
is best evoked by jitterbugging at the school gym or lounging around
the old swimming hole with the fellas.
 As Billy the Barefoot Boy (1938), Jackie resembles
the preteen of the 1855 John Greenleaf Whittier poem only in the
opening shots, a bucolic idyll at the swimming hole. Then he finds
himself the object of aggressive posturing between two girls that
Whittier never mentions, the fast-talking coquette Julia (Marilyn
Knowlden) and the tomboyish future "G-Woman" Pige (Marcia Mae Jones).
He does not seem particularly drawn to either; instead, he brawl-bonds
with bratty military school cadet Kenneth (Bradley Metcalfe). When
they investigate a haunted house, Kenneth is captured by the escaped
convicts holding up there, and tied up in the basement. Billy mounts
a daring rescue, and is shot in the attempt. Later, as the doctor
treats him, Kenneth sits in the drawing room, sobbing. He is the
first allowed into the bedroom; he apologizes for their earlier
brawls and presses a disputed watch into his hand. Pige notes the
affection and angrily pushes between them, offering Billy a substitute
for his same-sex bond.
 In Tomboy (1940), hip, fast-talking Pat Kelley (Marcia
Mae Jones again) moves to a rural school, where she line-drives
a baseball and decks a flirting boy – "she's not like the other
girls," her single Dad explains – she will have none of this "kissin'
and huggin'" stuff. It is her masculinity that attracts the fey
Steve (Jackie Moran); she helps him stand up to the bullying Harry
(Marvin Stephens), and then invites him to the box social. Steve's
newfound interest in girls doesn't set well with his uncle, who
beats and starves him to make him more "manly," that is, less interested
in girls. The rest of the plot does not involve heterosexual romance
at all, but Patsy's scheme to rescue Steve from his abusive home,
with the assistance of Harry, once bully and now chum.
 The Old Swimming Hole (1940) is named after an 1882
James Whitcomb Riley poem that mourns the loss of the elemental
childhood connection to eternity. To emphasize Jackie's childhood
"savagery," his body is displayed more often than in the other movies,
and he bonds with a younger boy named Jimmy (radio performer Dix
Davis), who wants to join the older boys' club. They punish him
for trespassing with the "ordeal by water," throwing him into the
Swimming Hole, but he hits his head on a rock and loses consciousness.
Chris (Jackie) sits up by his bedside all night, begging "Don't
let him die, Doc!" and bursting into tears. It is a much more emotionally
intense scene than any that transpire between Chris and his new
girlfriend Betty (Marcia).
 Even in the two movies with minor same-sex bonds, girl-craziness
is portrayed as feminizing: Marcia dominates the relationship, brassily
inviting Jackie out on dates and insisting that she be allowed access
to the all-boy swimming hole. They wash dishes together, Jackie
in a flowered apron. In Haunted House (1940), the lovestruck
Jimmie (Jackie) types her first name with his last name over and
over, like a schoolgirl dreaming of being a "Mrs." In The Gang's
All Here (1941), Patsy (Marcia) lambastes him for being insufficiently
manly, and flirts with Frankie Darro to make him jealous until he
finally summons up the courage to kiss her.
 In March 1937, sixteen-year old Mickey Rooney took a small
role in A Family Affair, about the generation gap between
stern, straitlaced small-town Judge Hardy, and his three children,
Joan, Marion, and Andy. As the youngest child, Andy had the fewest
lines, but audiences responded to his zestful overacting and puppy-love
adoration for Polly Benedict, and he signed on for more episodes.
You're Only Young Once (1937) and Judge Hardy's Children
(1938) were only moderately successful, perhaps because they were
about Judge Hardy, with Andy mugging somewhere in the background;
but Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938), about three girls fighting
over him, tripled the box office of the previous films, and landed
Mickey Rooney (along with Diana Durbin) a special Oscar for "bringing
to the screen the spirit and personification of youth." Mickey Rooney
continued to play Andy Hardy in sixteen films through 1947 (plus
a 1958 reunion), then on radio in The Adventures of Andy Hardy
(1947-1950), and on television in The Mickey Rooney Show
(1954-55), where his grown-up Andy Hardy was renamed Mickey Mulligan
at the last minute. Andy Hardy saturated the media for fifteen years,
with comic books, sheet music, records, games, and toys.
 Mickey Rooney was not an obvious heartthrob. Frozen at a
non-heroic 5'3", with a scrunched up face and a roundish Santa Claus
nose, he was characterized by a critic of the day as "that gnomish
prodigy, that half human, half goblin man child, who is as old in
cinema ways as Wallace Beery and twice as cute." (quoted in Zierold,
1965: 216). Yet he looked real – Frankie Thomas, originally
considered for the role, seemed somewhat too handsome to play a
 Scholars and popularizers today often read the Andy Hardy
films as emblematic of a lost golden age, seductive yet banal and
trite. Cross, for instance, critiques the series as "drenched in
an almost insufferable sentimentality" (1981: 60). But he is not
watching carefully: this is no Disney nostalgia with kids and dogs.
Levy comes closer to the point (1991: 71): the people in Andy's
world mourn "a vision of happiness which eludes them." Everywhere
there is sadness, disappointment, and a sort of bleak resolve to
tow the mark. Andy's maiden aunt never quite fits into the family
and yet never quite becomes her own person. His older sister has
trouble with men, dating a succession of cads, scoundrels, and drunks.
His father, no mere faceless font of wisdom, falls prey to con-artists
and get-rich-quick schemes. And Andy's friends, sad or quirky,
too tall or too short, too rich or too poor, are failures.
 Though Andy is similarly fallible, likely to jump to conclusions,
act without thinking, betray friends by accident or design, he is
absurdly attractive. Every girl he encounters wants to kiss him.
He comes home from a party with a girl's phone number scrawled across
his chest. He is mobbed at a school dance. He asks his sister
for advice on how to diminish girls' admiration sufficiently
to make it through high school without marrying. In Love Finds
Andy Hardy, he complains to his father, "I'm a nervous wreck!
Do you think there's anything wrong with a guy if he doesn't
want a girl kissing him all the time?"
 Andy is desired not only by girls but by everyone, girls,
boys, men, and women. In Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever (1939),
his crush on the older drama teacher (Helen Gilbert) is partially
requited (they will be milestones in each others' lives, she says).
Meanwhile, a young classmate oddly named Stickin' Plaster (Terry
Kilburn) has a blatant, doe-eyed crush on Andy, and during the drama
club play manipulates the prop moon to "accidentally" sabotage his
big love scene. Because everyone, everywhere tends to fall in love
with Andy, boys appear mostly as unvariegated groups of "friends."
Regular Beezy (George P. Breakston) is only a schoolmate, not a
sidekick like Henry Aldrich's Dizzy or Archie Andrews' Jughead;
a constant companion would surely express a romantic interest that
could not be ignored or denied.
 In two movies where Andy does acquire a buddy, the relationships
become unabashedly homoromantic and the girl craziness is minimized.
In Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941), Judge Hardy insists
that the snobbish Andy give two poor kids jobs in the upcoming graduation
festivities. They drive to their house on the wrong side of the
tracks, where we meet the opera-singing Kathryn (Kathryn Grayson),
the private secretary of the title, and tall, goodlooking Harry
(Todd Karns). Andy intuits that the "sensitive" and "artistic"
Harry would make a good interior designer, so he gives him the job
of decorating the gym. Meanwhile, the Judge spies their handsome
Dad, Steven (Ian Hunter), painting something in the back yard, and,
barely able to contain his enthusiasm, announces that he "has some
business to attend to" and joins him.
 The rest of the movie barely touches on the private secretary
angle, and Judge Hardy's wife and Andy's girlfriend barely appear.
Instead, we see parallel stories of same-sex courtships. We see
the Judge and Steven riding cozily in a convertible; they are caught
in the rain and seek refuge in a garage, and must change out of
their wet clothes into mechanic uniforms. The Judge is amazingly
concerned with Steven's welfare; he pulls strings in Washington
to get him a job with the State Department, and when Andy botches
it, he calls in a favor from the governor to get him a new job.
At the end of the movie, Andy and Polly Benedict are parked at a
lover's lane, when the Judge and Steven pull up. They "explain"
that they are looking for Andy, but still, they were on their
way to park at a lover's lane.
 Meanwhile, after some sullen bitchiness, Harry falls hard
for the oblivious Andy; he's the first to comfort Andy when he is
distraught over failing the vital English exam, and he stays up
all night to help him study for a re-test. Later he hops a speeding
train to talk Andy out of leaving town. At the end of the movie,
Harry gets a decidedly feminine-coded job as a window dresser in
a department store, so he gets to stay in town too. The screenplay
of Andy Hardy's Private Secretary came from Katharine Brush,
who scripted the rather blatantly homoerotic Freddie Bartholomew
vehicle Listen Darling, and Jane Murfin, who wrote the camp
classic The Women, so we might expect a homoerotic subtext.
It is interesting, however, that buddy-bonding and girl-craziness
seem antithetical: they cannot occur in the same movie. One is
emblematic of old-style 1930s masculinity, and the other of the
 The same-sex bond is more pronounced in the unexpectedly solemn
Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941). High school graduate
Andy moves to New York to find a job, and takes a room at the City
House for Boys, where young men lounge around in their undershirts,
eyeing each other lasciviously. He rejects the kiddie crush of
Betsy Booth (Judy Garland) and the salacious advances of the gold-digging
Miss Hicks (Patricia Dane) for a plot involving a relationship with
Jimmy Frobisher (Ray McDonald), a flamboyantly feminine young man
from the provinces who came to New York to become a dancer. Any
male dancer was sexually suspect at the time, but Jimmy exudes so
much flamboyance, sensitivity, and theatricality that he might as
well be wearing a sign. Gigs are hard to find, and he was fired
from his job as an office boy, so he is. . .um, living in Central
Park. He makes no allusions to prostitution – he might if the movie
were filmed today – but he flirts quite openly with Andy, who feels
sorry for him and sneaks him back to his room at the City House.
 They are both penniless, Andy because he is too proud to accept
aid from his well-moneyed family and friends, and Jimmy because
he is alone in the world – until now. There are scenes of the two
chatting cozily, Jimmy lying in his underwear on the room's only
single bed while Andy gets dressed, as if they have become a romantic
couple. But one day Andy gets a job, followed by an invitation to
dinner and dancing with Miss Hicks, and when he returns to the room
late that night, he finds that Jimmy, feeling betrayed and abandoned,
has killed himself. It is a jarring scene, unprecedented in the
Andy Hardy series, and the censors required a tacked-on ending which
reveals that Jimmy didn't kill himself after all, he died of a heart
attack. Andy concludes that "a fella should go ahead and do what
he should do in this world, and not the things that are the biggest,
most fun, and exciting," and leaves the New York nightworld behind
to return to Carvel, and college.
 Andy's girl-craziness is so integral to the series that it
is difficult to remember that MGM found it extremely problematic
at first. Was it a winning quality or a distracting flaw? Was
the character successful because of or in spite of
it? Boys such as Penrod, Alfalfa, and Peck's Bad Boy could express
"cute" heterosexual puppy-love because their immaturity presumably
made physical expression impossible. But how would audiences react
to a teenager, sexually mature, aggressively physical, expressing
intense heterosexual desire even though he was five to ten years
from the possibility of consummating that desire in the socially
respectable institution of marriage? Early in the series, Louis
B. Mayer complained, "If you let Andy get too crazy about girls,
you'll lose your audience!" (Crother, 1969: 239). So MGM made sure
that Andy's girl-craziness was a childish affectation, to be overcome
in manhood. In Andy Hardy's Double Life, a psychology student
diagnoses it as "an infantile fantasy arousing from a subconscious
fixation of youth." In Love Finds Andy Hardy, Andy invites
Polly Benedict to a dance at the Country Club:
Andy: [Looks away coyly.] There's a lot of swell places where
you can sneak out between the dances.
Polly: Really! I think we're getting much too old for that sort
of thing – hugging and kissing!
Andy: [In a little boy voice.] Aw, I ain't ever gonna get too
old for huggin' and kissin'!
His voice, his mannerisms, even his grammar becomes infantilized
(he says huggin' and kissin', not hugging and kissing). Later in
the series, Andy frequently becomes the passive victim of vamps,
golddiggers, and experienced "older women," and he sometimes exhibits
a masochistic passivity. But even his flirtations with girls his
own age are conducted in an oddly infantile manner: he wrings his
hands, shrugs his shoulders, looks away, the very picture of a shy,
 Mickey Rooney's Irish ethnicity was in itself presumed a feminizing
trait in the 1930s. Irishness was coded as urban, working class,
Roman Catholic, and dangerous, in opposition to the safe, secure
small town, middle class, Anglo-Protestant all-American boy. The
Dead End Kids were specifically Irish delinquents; Frankie Darro
played street kids with names like Buzzy O'Brien and Skipper Murphy;
Mickey himself often played Irish-working class urchins against
upper-crust Anglos. The "social disorganization" of the working
class was supposed to produce gender transgressions, feminine men
and masculine women, and though Andy Hardy was Anglo-Protestant,
having him played by an Irish actor added a sexual question to the
role. Thus, Andy is frequently coded as feminine or gender-transgressive.
In Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever, he calls himself "the sensitive
type," code for "pansy." In Andy Hardy's Double Life, he
is photographed ironing a lacy nightgown, and then blackmailed.
In Andy Hardy Meets Debutante, he encounters a toddler named
Francis at an orphanage:
Andy: Hello, little girl.
Francis: [In a tough-guy pose.] I'm a boy, see?
Andy: You talk like a little girl. How do you ever expect to
grow up to be a big he-man?
Francis: [Sarcastically] Like you?
 Likewise, in the early installments, Andy's girl-craziness
is a feminizing trait, the very antithesis of the scrappy, self-confident
go-getter that defined boys from birth to manhood in the 1930s.
As a remedy, when Mickey took a break from the Andy Hardy series,
he often selected characters with no interest in girls whatever.
In Young Tom Edison (1940), for instance, the virtues required
of teenagers to successfully integrate into adult society are explicitly
antithetical to hetero-romantic passion. The screen-filling written
prologue tells us: "This is a story of courage. The courage and
triumph of a typical American boy." "Typical" means that the youthful
Tom sends prank telegraph messages, blows up the school chemistry
lab, and innocently jeopardizes a railroad trip by bringing a bottle
of nitroglycerine on board. He has the Horatio Alger qualities
of inquisitiveness, industry, and spunk, and more importantly, he
never once thinks of, looks at, or mentions a girl.
 Henry Aldrich established that he was adequately manly in
spite of his girl-craziness by beating up counterfeiters and hanging
from a cliff, but the Andy Hardy plotlines were hardly amenable
to displays of courage (Carvel had many con-artists, but no gangsters),
so Andy proved his manliness through displays of strength. Mickey
Rooney had a tight, firmly toned physique, more defined than Weissmuller's
Tarzan, surpassed only by the adult Jackie Cooper, and he spent
an amazing amount of screen time half-naked, bounding down the stairs
in his undershirt, stripping down for bed or to bathe. In the 1930s,
topless men were still barred from most beaches, but Andy goes swimming
topless while on vacation in Catalina.
 Even though Andy lives in a Northern climate and many of the
installments are set around Christmastime, there are always many
plot excuses to get him into swimming pools, again shirtless, and
wearing extremely revealing Speedo-style swim trunks instead of
the baggy trousers then in style. Love Finds Andy Hardy
has two five-minute pool scenes, and Andy Hardy's Double Life
keeps the teenager in a swimsuit for about 1/4th of the total running
time. Love Laughs at Andy Hardy, the last of the series,
seems positively obsessed with Andy's semi-nude body. He is fully
clothed for only about 30% of the running time; otherwise he is
wearing only an undershirt, stripped down for a bath, or in the
swimming pool (even though it's December). The practice became
so well-known that Girl Crazy (1943), which is not in the
Andy Hardy series, contains an interesting tease: upon arriving
at Cody College, tired and dusty, Danny (Mickey Rooney) announces
that he's going to take a shower, and then pauses a beat for audience
laughter at the intertextual joke.
 This was the beginning of the "age of the chest" (Cohan, 1997:
165), a time in which the chest was being fetishized in both men
and women (Davis, 1991; Dyer, 1992), but rarely exposed in movies
about middle-class teenagers, lest they be presented too overtly
as sexual beings. Jackie Cooper takes his shirt off twice in twenty-odd
adolescent movie roles, Jackie Moran twice, Frankie Thomas once,
and Dickie Moore not at all. The Dead End Kids spent a lot of time
in their underwear, but they were playing working-class Irish delinquents,
not middle-class "all-American boys." Displaying his physique allowed
Andy strength, power, and manliness in spite of his feminizing girl-craziness.
 But eventually merely flexing muscles proved insufficient.
Andy's girl-craziness had to be revised. It no longer pointed toward
the past, toward childish infatuations, but toward adult responsibility,
toward "love and marriage and mother." The change begins in Andy
Hardy Meets Debutante, which, perhaps significantly, premiered
on the Fourth of July weekend, 1940. The plot is about patriotism:
an orphanage is threatened with closure because its administrator
"lost faith in his own country" and deposited its funds in a European
bank, which defaulted. There is a nighttime tour of the Statue
of Liberty and an oration about "fighting for liberty." What could
girl-craziness have to do with patriotism?
 At first, Andy's girl craziness is still infantilizing. Polly
Benedict and Beezy lambaste Andy for keeping a scrapbook of pictures
of debutante Daphne Fowler clipped from magazines:
Polly: Of all the ridiculous little boy exhibitions! Collecting
pictures of a perfectly awful girl that he's never seen!
Beezy: [In a childish singsong.] Andy's got a crush on Daphne
Andy angrily replies that it's no puppy-love crush, about desire
without the possibility of fulfillment: he actually knows Daphne
Fowler and she is interested in him, so they would be dating but
for the distance – he's too young to travel to New York by himself.
But then Judge Hardy announces that the family will be spending
three weeks in New York while he works on the orphanage case, and
Andy's friends goad him into bringing back a photo "proving" that
he has a debutante girlfriend. If he doesn't, they will disgrace
him by printing a humiliating photo in the Carvel High Olympian.
 Andy hatches several schemes to meet the debutante, but he
only succeeds in charging up $36.50 for a fancy dinner and losing
a $400 pearl tie stud. Despairing, he tells Judge Hardy, "I just
realized today that some people are better than me." The Judge,
aghast, brings Andy to the NYU Hall of Fame and shows him the "Mighty
Men of Old," Revolutionary War-era patriots, who fought for freedom
from class distinctions. He lambastes Andy for "sniveling over
class, money, social position" when there are important things to
do in the world (one of the few oblique references to the War in
the Andy Hardy series). Re-energized, Andy finds a deus-ex-machina
in Betsy Booth (Judy Garland), who happens to be a Manhattan sub-deb
and Daphne Fowler's close friend. He gets his introduction and
his photograph (it shows Daphne clinging hopefully to his shoulders),
and returns triumphantly to Carvel High. He happens to have Francis
the Orphan in tow, and his friends assume that he is a father.
Even though he quickly corrects them, his girl-craziness has become
a positive trait, connected with home, family, and America, with
the aggressive masculinity of the all-American boy.
Beezy: I should have known better than to trifle with a man
Polly: [To Andy.] Are you engaged to Daphne Fowler?
Andy: No. [She's] just another milestone in my career. . .can
I help it if I have irresistible charm?
Polly: That's not charm, that's polygamy! [Melting into his
arms.] But, oh Andy, how we women love it!
 Andy's newfound masculinity places him in stark contrast with
the effeminancy of the the older generation. Lewis Stone looks
like a grandfather rather than a father, and plays Judge Hardy as
thoughtful, slow-moving, crotchety, lacking in the robustness of
youth. But sometimes he deliberately takes on a feminine pose.
Andy comes home in the last scene of Debutante to find Judge
Hardy mincing and limp-wristing about the drawing room in a mink
stole. As Andy gapes in amazement, we learn the "truth": his father
is modeling a gift to his wife. Still, it would be more logical
for Judge Hardy to ask his wife to model the gift rather than to
pose as a drag queen. Immediately afterward, Andy goes up to his
room and arranges large photos of the girls he has acquired in this
episode. "How one's women do add up!" he exclaims, correlating
his own youthful masculinity with heterosexual practice.
 But heterosexual desire – and practice – never becomes an
essential characteristic of Andy's teenage masculinity. It is always
contradictory, problematized, sometimes adulated, but sometimes
signifying effeminacy and even perversion. In the last scene of
his last movie, Love Laughs at Andy Hardy, Andy discards
all of the photographs of girls that he's accumulated, and vows
to devote himself henceforth to mature "adult" pursuits. Then a
portrait of George Washington on the wall comes crashing down behind
him, signifying that he is fibbing.
Girl Craziness Becomes Hegemonic
 Through World War II, Jackie Cooper remained uninterested
in girls in his adventure roles; instead, he sparred-bonded with
David Durand in the Universal serial Scouts to the Rescue
(1939), Henry Fonda in The Return of Frank James (1940),
and Robert Stack in Men of Texas (1942). But in his domestic
comedies, he followed the leads of Mickey Rooney and Jimmy Lydon
and stayed squarely in the girl-crazy camp: in Gangster's Boy
(1938), he has a girlfriend; in Seventeen (1940), he
scrambles to acquire the funds for a swanky date with a sophisticated
socialite; he "discovers" girl-next-door Jane Withers in Her
First Beau (1941).
 Child star Dickie Moore had intense, dark eyes and a fragile,
almost sickly appearance that became somewhat sensual in adolescence,
like the consumptive glow of Camille. His teenage characters were
oblivious to girls in Gladiator (1938), Sergeant York
(1941), and The Adventures of Martin Eden (1942); but in
Miss Annie Rooney (1942), released in the spring of his seventeenth
year, girl-craziness hit. Dickie plays a poor little rich boy stricken
with sassy wrong-side-of-the-tracks Shirley Temple. "Two weeks
ago," he gushes, "I was just Marty White, with practically
nothing to live for. And then – bingo! You!" He gives Miss
Temple her first screen kiss (on the cheek), and claimed later that
it was also his first kiss, on screen or off.
 In Jive Junction (1943), Dickie plays a high school
sissy who makes the painful transition from a snooty music conservatory
to a rough high school, where he characterizes himself as "one of
the girls" and gets a job accompanying an all-girl jive band
("and will we make the boys jealous!" he exclaims). But nevertheless
a girl dumps her macho boyfriend for him, and eventually seduces
him sufficiently for a smooching scene. Adequately heterosexual,
Dickie Moore afterwards concentrated on juvenile delinquency and
film noir (Parish, 1976: 109-116), and in his personal life he "kept
company" with nearly as many ladies as Mickey Rooney.
 In MGM's Best Foot Forward (1943), Lucille Ball as
a sarong-clad Dorothy Lamour parody fears that she is past her prime,
but her agent insists that "the American boy wants you!", and to
prove it, he talks her into accepting a prom date with Bud Hooper,
a cadet at the Winsocki Military Academy. Played by eighteen-year
old Broadway hoofer Tommy Dix, Bud is short and slim, with early
technicolor accentuating his soft, pretty features, rather too feminine
to be an "all-American boy," and with a skittishness around girls
here presented as slightly suspect. His date with the film star
makes him a hero among his aggressive, unrepentantly girl-crazy,
prowling-wolf classmates, but the adults don't agree: he is expelled
from Winsocki for untoward heterosexual interest. Miss Ball visits
the General in charge and argues that heterosexual desire actually
benefits young soldiers:
The Flying Tigers were full of Bud Hoopers, and do you know what
they used on the field in Chung King to tell which way the wind
was blowing? One of my silk stockings! You're a soldier, General.
. .it wouldn't hurt your aim any if your rifle butt was resting
against your sweetheart's hankie, would it?
The last scene of the film has Bud, reinstated, singing "Buckle
Down, Winsocki" as a superimposed American flag waves before hundreds
of extras parading across the field at St. John's Military Academy.
They are strong and confident, ready to fight to "protect" the girls
waving at them from the bleachers. Only three years ago, heterosexual
interest was antithetical to adolescent masculinity, but now it
is celebrated. Soon it will be required.
 After the War, new girl-crazy teenagers began appearing in
comic books. Archie (1941), Betty & Veronica
(1950), Archie's Pals & Gals (1952), and other titles
about the girl-crazy teenager from Riverdale, U.S.A. were the most
famous and the most enduring, but there were many others, a universe
of Centervilles or Midvales where white middle class teenage boys
drove jalopies, drank chocolate malteds, got into trouble with teachers,
and gazed at girls: Freckles and his Friends (1947), Oscar
(1947), Penny (1947), A Date with Judy (1947), Meet
Corliss Archer (1948), Leave It to Binky (1948), and
so on. Only a few endured through the 1950's, only a few were created
later, and only a few featured teenage boys not entirely
obsessed with girls. They appeared at a very precise moment in
history, to teach the children who were buying most of the comics,
especially the boys, that they should expect to spend their adolescence
melting with lust over the other sex. Similarly, on the radio,
the old, clumsy, stuttering boys all but vanished, and some of the
long-running radio teens who had previously been concerned with
paper routes and bad report cards suddenly began casting longing
glances at their female schoolmates: Junior on Life of Riley
in January 1948, Leroy, the wisecracking nephew on The Great
Gildersleeve, in March 1949, and Ozzie and Harriet's
eldest son David in November 1951.
 In Rebel Without a Cause (1955), James Dean plays house
with hetero-romance Natalie Wood as the wife, and relegates homo-romance
Sal Mineo to the role of child. 1950's teen idols like Pat Boone,
Ricky Nelson, and Frankie Avalon ignored same-sex friendships in
their endless evocations of the girl who would make their life worthwhile.
Girl-craziness no longer feminized middle-class boys, and same-sex
relations were no longer essential to adolescent masculinity; instead,
masculinity required teenage boys to abandon childhood chums for
an exuberant, hormone-driven rush after girls.
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