There are a couple people who’ll be linked with Lou Ferrigno forever. One of them, of course, is his great ’70s rival, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Another – let’s face it, THE other – is the late Bill Bixby, who played Dr. Banner, the Hulk’s alter ego.
Bixby died in 1993, but not before leaving a body of work with Lou that would leave a lasting legend. Were they friends? What was their professional relationship like?
Lou has explained that during the series’ run, ‘Bill Bixby was very careful never to be photographed with Lou Ferrigno in his Hulk makeup because he felt if photos were to get out of the two of them together, it would destroy the illusion to children and fans of the show that they were not the same person.’
‘The tabloids of that era were always trying to get a picture of David Banner and the Hulk creature together.’ Almost every picture you see of Banner and Lou as the Hulk together is photoshopped.
An Actor’s Motivation
Banner never remembers what happened while being the Hulk. To perfect his performance, Bill Bixby avoided watching Lou perform on set. Nor was Lou present for Bill’s scenes.
All this makes them sound more distant than they really were. Actually, they were able to strike up a friendship on-set.
Lou remembers Bixby as a ‘great guy’ to work with. He’d already been familiar with Bixby from his earlier series, ‘My Friend The Martian’ and especially ‘The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.’
Hulk fans know Banner to be BRUCE, not DAVID. Why the name change for this series?
You Gotta Be Kidding!
As Lou explains, ‘CBS felt that the name Bruce sounded too gayish, and they wanted David. I thought it was the most absurd, ridiculous thing I’d ever heard.’
The name ‘Bruce’ actually was a kind of gay slur in the ’70s. Why? It was a strange decade.
Electricity On Set
During the early years on the show, Lou found working with an industry pro like Bixby ‘exciting.’
All Things Pass
Sadly, this would change. Well before his early death at 50 in 1993, Bixby was beset by tragedy that would change him for the rest of his life.
First, his son died in 1981. To his fans, this was an especially painful loss, since it came to one so many knew as a great father on TV. Just a year later, Bixby’s wife killed herself.
A Changed Man
Sadly, Lou found Bixby quiet and withdrawn after these two tragedies.
They would continue working together. In fact, Bixby would direct three Hulk movies. But it wasn’t the same as the old days.
Still, the two will be linked together forever: Lou and Bill, the first Hulk and Banner.