Lyle Waggoner turned me gay. At 6'4" tall, he was the epitome of tall, dark and handsome when I was growing up. When I first saw him on the Carol Burnett Show (I caught them in re-runs), I was introduced to the notion of eye candy. He wasn't as funny as the rest of the cast, and he couldn't (really) sing or dance like the rest of the cast, but he was stunningly handsome and had a deep, sexy voice. I think Lyle's frequent appearances in a tuxedo get some of the credit for making tuxes such a turn on for me. Whenever Carol would do her pre-show chat with the audience, invariably some girl would ask to give Lyle a kiss. And predicatably, Carol would call him out from back stage, and he'd lean over for the suddenly shy, star-struck yokel to plant her hungry lips on him. And just in that moment, inexplicably, in a flash... I was gay.
When Lyle showed up in the series Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter, he introduced me to another fetish: the hot man in uniform. The sexual tension between Major Steve Trevor and his assistant, Diana Prince (aka, Wonder Woman) was obvious enough for even me as a young child to observe. That show plunged me through a brief, confusing period when I wanted to be Wonder Woman. Looking back, it wasn't that I wanted to be "a woman," but I wanted the ability to deflect bullets with my fabulous Amazonium bracelets, and I wanted to constantly be flirting with Lyle Waggoner.
I was way, way too young to have known it when Lyle posed for the first issue of Playgirl. What an excellent choice to be "the first Playgirl centerfold!" I've since looked up and appreciated his Playgirl spread. The nudity was quite modest, by today's standards. I'm sure Levi Johnston's photo shoot will reveal much more than Lyle's did 36 years ago. Still, I'd take Lyle over Levi any day (or decade).
In summary, Lyle Wagonner turned me gay. He eroticized the tuxedo for me. He made me hot for a hunk in a uniform. And he blazed the trail in softcore porn that has enriched my life immeasurably and mainstreamed the celebration and commodification of male nudity that today makes the world go round (or at least it makes the internet profitable).