Beginning with “Beach Party,” the 1963 American International Pictures comedy starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, Jody McCrea appeared in “Muscle Beach Party,” “Bikini Beach” “Pajama Party,” “Beach Blanket Bingo” and “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini.”
McCrea’s character in the beach movies, which his brother Peter likened to being the equivalent of court jester (“He was always the one making gags and interrupting the love scenes”) — was originally called Deadhead and then Bonehead.
“A great thing about Jody,” Avalon told The Times this week, “was he was just a real fine gentleman and a lot more talented than he really got out of the career of being an actor. He was very bright, and he created this character that was kind of the dummy and, of course, he was the opposite of that.”
Recalling the much taller McCrea, Avalon said, “He was a well-built, real athletic-looking guy, and he really was a surfer: He’d get on that board and surf.”