REB BROWN: 13 Groovy Moments as Bronze Age TV’s CAPTAIN AMERICA

A BIRTHDAY SALUTE: The wavy-haired hunk channeled Steve Rogers for a generation of ’70s kids…


Reb Brown turns 75! Brown — born April 29, 1948 — was a hard-working actor in the 1970s and 1980s appearing in films and television with George C. Scott, Telly Savalas, Lee Majors, Ricardo Montalban, John Ritter, Henry Winkler, Tom Hanks, Gabe Kaplan, and James Coburn, among others. But he’s best known for playing our premier patriotic superhero in two made-for-TV movies: Captain America and Captain America II: Death Too Soon, the latter co-starring Christopher Lee.

Brown’s rugged good looks, charm, and athletic physique were well suited to portray the Sentinal of Liberty and his Captain America stands behind Lou Ferrigno’s Incredible Hulk as the two breakout stars of Marvel’s foray into low-budget, live-action, superhero television in the late-1970s. (Check out the links below for Rob Kelly’s REEL RETRO CINEMA columns on each flick.)

After Captain America, Brown went on to star in several sci-fi, fantasy, and war movies: Space Mutiny, Yor: The Hunter from the Future, Uncommon Valor and Death of a Soldier.

(You can catch Reb as he makes many personal appearances at conventions around the country and you can contact him via his website or follow him on Facebook.)

Like many Marvel TV movies of that time, some liberties were taken with Captain America’s origin and costume. But seeing Reb embody Cap was terrific.

The first Captain America film establishes Brown’s Steve Rogers as an artist and he even whips up a design for his first Captain America costume. And when I say he whips it up, I mean it — he draws the design in about a minute!

While it’s not the costume we know and love, it does incorporate elements from the original. I don’t know if Stan Lee got wind of the change but by the end of the movie, Rogers gets a more comic book-accurate costume.

In addition, government agent Dr. Simon Mills gifts him with a suped-up motorcycle for Steve’s exploits as Cap. The motorcycle is often seen rocketing out of the back of his very 1970s conversion van. It had to smell great in there!

One of the most curious changes to Cap’s TV movie costume, and dare I say one of the most beloved, was incorporating a motorcycle helmet. In both the original costume design and the comic book version update, Reb’s two different helmets sport the “A” for America in front and the eagle wings along the sides. Even though the helmet covers most of his face, it couldn’t contain Reb’s natural charisma, which comes shining through.

With that, here are 13 shots of Reb Brown’s Shield-Slinger from Captain America and Captain America II: Death Too Soon:

Brown with Connie Sellecca


— TV’s 1979 CAPTAIN AMERICA Movie: A Big Heart and a Small Budget. Click here.

— 1979’s CAPTAIN AMERICA II: A Salute to the Red, White and Kitsch. Click here.

A 10-year-old Walt Grogan fell in love with the Big Red Cheese thanks to essays written by Dick Lupoff and Don Thompson in the paperback edition of All in Color for a Dime, released in 1970 and bought for him by his father off a paperback spinner rack in a liquor store on the South Side of Chicago. Walt runs The Marvel Family Web Facebook page devoted to all incarnations of the Fawcett/DC Captain Marvel and blogs about Captain Marvel at

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Wasn’t the helmet an edict to promote motorcycle safety, kind of like how Batman and Robin were shown buckling up before leaving in the Batmobile?

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  2. Loved those episodes when I was a kid.

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