William Markly Nixon III, the golden boy of physique modeling from 1955 thru the late 1960’s was reported murdered by his young male live in companion in early 1998 (I’m trying to verify this and get details now and will update this), at his home in Mexico. Because of the language barriers these reports are not absolute, but come from a reliable source. Anyone having definite information is asked to e-mail us.
Starting in 1955 when 18-year-old Mark entered himself in a “Tomorrow’s Man” physique contest and ended up as a runner up (see images). Mark’s image has appeared hundreds of times in the various male modeling magazines of the day.
Born in 1936 in Georgia, has been photographed by most of the leading photographers including Bob Mizer (AMG), Bruce Bellas (Bruce of L.A.), Don Whitman (Western Photography Guild), Chuck Renslow (Kris of Chicago), among others. Making the rounds across country, in the late 1950’s, Mark was extremely popular with photographers, publishers, and readers alike.
About 1958, Mark settled in the L.A. area and worked in fashion design. In 1959 he started his own line of swimwear and accessories, advertising in the same physique magazines his images appeared in.
Later Mark would be the first model to open his own photography / physique studio but as far as this viewer can determine, Mark had only one model, himself. Perhaps, he didn’t want any other.
In the spring of 1960, I purchased a blue swimsuit with Mark’s signature sexy double XX elastic holding the front and back together, directly from Mark. I included a fan letter with my order and was thrilled when my order was promptly filled and a gracious thank you letter, hand written by Mark, enclosed. This started months of small orders and continued correspondence, all letters in Mark’s own hand, and very friendly.
n late August of 1960 I was planning a Labor Day trip to L.A. and I wrote and asked Mark if I could meet him. Amazingly he said yes, supplied his home phone, and said to call when I got to L.A. The first order of business in L.A. was to set up this incredible meeting with the guy of my dreams. I called and we agreed to meet at a nearby restaurant/bar. Right up until I saw him, I thought he would let me down and pull a no show, although nothing he had done gave me cause to expect this. Just nerves, I guess.
It was both an odd and very exciting meeting. Mark was simply stunning in person. No words or any of the incredible pictures we now have of him, convey the radiant natural beauty he possessed. He was Troy Donahue, Tab Hunter, James Dean and every other screen idol all rolled into one. I simply could not believe my eyes; no one could look this good.
Mark was dressed in the height of fashion without a hair out of place. I was dressed in my traditional black, offset by my white knit, block letter, sweater, and I felt like I should run home and change (it would have been a long run as I lived in Berkeley). Mark was very gracious, friendly and charming at all times, and I quickly felt at ease. The most incredibly beautiful male in the world was also the classiest person I had ever met.
Years later others have reported on how vain Mark was, telling various stories such as, how he would stand in front of the mirror singing ‘I feel pretty’ and blowing kisses to himself.
Maybe this was a meeting of two big egos, as I had run a 4 minute 13 second mile the year before, and was pretty cocky and full of myself as well. I remember him repeatedly telling me that he needed no direction from anyone photographing him, as he knew exactly what position his body should be in for each picture. Now, this attitude seems vain, but then it seemed that someone this beautiful should be allowed to pose himself.
As our conversation progressed two odd things became apparent. He was surprised that someone, who was 4 years younger than he was, could be such a big fan. He was used to dealing with photographers and fans that were much older.
My purpose at this point was to get Mark to pose for my private photos, preferably nudes. Clearly this was going to be a very, very tough sell, but as my personal model notes of the time indicate, I would ‘do anything, pay anything’ for nude pictures of Mark. In 1960 male nudes were unheard of, and I truly believe Mark, when he said there were no nudes of him anywhere. I argued, quite correctly, that nudes were coming and these pictures would be for my private use.
ark claimed he was under personal contract to Bob Mizer (AMG) and since I was under 21 (my birthday was 4 months away) I should not be taking nude pictures of anyone (He actually checked my ID). I offered to come back on my birthday and we could make it the greatest 21st birthday anyone ever had.
Mark also went to great lengths to impress upon me that he was not gay or bi and he had a girl friend he planned on marrying. His role as a male model was to promote his fashion lines and to simply show off his body, which he admitted he greatly enjoyed doing. A Narcissus complex, sure, but who cares. If anyone had the right to be vain, Mark did.
Since I had no portfolio, how could he know I could take good pictures? I pointed out that I might as well start my portfolio with the best and, since he needed no directions from the photographer, anyone who could snap a shutter, would get a great photo. He was clearly flattered but declined to pose.
During this lengthy debate the underlying problem seemed to be that some of the photographers, publishers and fans Mark had experienced in the past, ultimately wanted to have sex with him. I told him I would never expect any sex from him ever, mortals just don’t have sex with gods, they are just there to admire them (him), or so went my underlying rebuttal. Still he politely declined.
Many other topics were discussed, his fashion wear, my athletic success, and finally he had to leave, but he offered to go out to dinner with me while I was still in L.A. I was still obsessed with getting nude photos of Mark, so I called him the next morning and asked if that night would be good for the promised dinner date. He hesitated a bit, but agreed and even asked that I wear the same outfit, he wanted to remember me that way.
That day I decided to short circuit his doubts about posing nude, by agreeing to take non-nude photos only. I had argued the night before that all the great non-nude photos had already been taken, and it was time to do something new and bold. Now it seemed that non-nudes were better than no photos at all. So with this revised plan, but the same determination, I arrived at the restaurant.
I was shocked when Mark showed up with his girl friend in arm. She was a pleasant, nice looking girl, but seemed mismatched with Mark. We had a brief but friendly meal, with Mark toasting our futures. He would become a world leading fashion designer with his wife by his side, and I would be a winning football coach (I hated coaching football). Mark and his girl wanted to catch a movie and the meal ended all too soon and my revised plan of getting to photograph Mark was not even mentioned. Still he was so gracious and charming, the rebuff hardly had an impact. This was and still is, one of the most exciting 24-hour periods of my life.
The week after I got home from L.A. I went vacationing at Clear Lake, California, swimming in the blue swimsuit I bought from Mark for the first time (no opportunity to try the suit before the trip to L.A. – I don’t swim much). Gospel truth, the elastic in the suit gave out and the swimsuit fell off! I had to hold it in place with both hands and go change.
I couldn’t wait to write Mark and kid him about the obvious Freudian implications of designing swimsuits that fall off the guys wearing them. He took it in the spirit I intended, and promptly sent a replacement with another gracious note about how much he enjoyed our meeting. He in turn kidded me that all I ever wanted to do was see him naked (as if there was something wrong with this idea). The new suit wasn’t much better than the first, but I said nothing.
We continued to exchange a few letters and I called him on my 21st birthday. Mark was very friendly, but, no, he wasn’t ready to model for me now that I was 21.
I continued to write but the replies came less and less and finally, somewhere in 1961, I realized that my obsessive one-track mind wanting to see him naked, had driven him away. I tried calling but his number was disconnected and letters started to be returned to sender. I never communicated with Mark again.
n 1964-5 when nudes became fashionable, Mark offered nude photos of himself, from his own studio in L.A., but the offer didn’t last, and by the time I became aware of them it was too late to order. To this day, I am still looking for the Mark Nixon nudes.
Mark, you are probably best remembered as the golden boy of physique photography, but in Joe Cocker’s words ‘you are so beautiful to me’. I hope this tribute is how you would want it. I will always remember how kind and gracious you were to me. Trying to write this is so hard.