He also looked as if his nose might have been broken at some point, so I got it into my head that he must have been a boxer. Just to satisfy my curiosity, I asked, "You look like you're in great shape, what was your sport?"
He replied mildly that he had played some football, but now found swimming to be great exercise, as it had actually brought his voice back. He added that he had started his show business career as a singer. I was slightly chagrined that I had been wrong about his sport, and the show business comment didn't really register. I just figured it was something he had done when he was young, before he had gone into whatever blue collar career he was in. (White collar guys never look that tough; though now that I think of it, neither do blue collar guys.)
Canary made a dismissive wave with his hand and growled, "Agh, just on a soap opera. You've got better things to do then watch soap operas." (What a great line.)
A few weeks ago I said to him, "Please don't misinterpret, I'm not gay, but I have to say, you're one of the most magnificent-looking men I've ever seen." (A more confident man would not have needed that preface, and would have spoken more slowly and emphatically; I, of course, felt obliged to include the preface and blurted the whole thing out too quickly.)
He said, "Oh, I've seen your children" in response to the preface, then added, after I was done, "I have to question your eyesight, but....thank you." Once again, I thought, what a great line; he must get plenty of opportunity to use it.
(If you're thinking it's a little weird for me to be talking to a seventy year old man as if he's a twenty year old girl, well, I can't argue.)
A week later I bumped into him again. I tried to cover up my sheepishness by saying, "You know, it's not every day I go up to another guy and tell him how good-looking he is."
Third, the above picture of Canary on the left, when he was younger, makes him look hyper-androgenized, i.e., as if he were exposed to an excess of male hormones in the womb. (Male hormones tend to make the jaw larger and stronger, the forehead more prominent, the Adam's apple more prominent, and the eyes deeper, among other things.) Evidently Canary made a living in the 1970's, post-Bonanza and pre-All My Children, playing bad guys on TV. You can see how he would have been cast that way.
Guys with a lot of male hormones are generally more intimidating, brutal, and even violent in real life. So directors like to cast men with hyper-androgenized faces as villains. Think Jack Palance in Shane. Or think of the number of times that acromegalics -- who are huge guys with exaggeratedly manly features -- have been cast in roles which call for intimidation. For instance, Richard Kiel ("Jaws" in the James Bond movies), or the guy who had the knife fight with Paul Newman/Butch Cassidy, or Andre the Giant in The Princess Bride.
Comic book artists also take this into account. The bad guys inevitably have big, prominent jaws and deep set eyes, as well as bodies that look as if they've ingested massive doses of steroids. (Then again, so do the good guys. Comic book readers want their heroes to be just as manly as the villains, and one look at Superman's jawline and bulging neck show that, kryptonite or not, he's got the right hormonal mix.) Stan Lee knew what he was doing.
After I first found out who Canary was (everyone in town except me seemed to know), I Googled him and saw that he had been in Hombre, in my opinion one of the four greatest Westerns of all time. I watched it again and was impressed by how well he played the bad guy. In fact, I remembered that the first time I saw it I had been left with the impression that the actor must have been a bully in real life, too, otherwise he wouldn't have been able to play nasty so well onscreen.
But Canary is in fact mild-mannered and gracious, as exemplified by the above quotes. I sometimes wonder if at some level he doesn't feel obliged to go out of his way to be nice just to offset the instinctive impression people must have of him from the sociopath he plays on All My Children. Or from his hyper-androgenized face. (Maybe that's why he's smiling in every recent picture I found on the web.)
Anyway, the moral of the story -- if one can ascribe morality to a story primarily about something so superficial as appearance -- is that it's always reassuring to see a guy who's older than you who looks better than you do. It gives you hope (however false).