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The Californians (1957)
26 year old David Janssen was offered the lead in "The Californians"
According to the reliable "David Janssen Archives", Janssen was offered the lead in three series in 1957: "The Californians", "Pony Express", and "Richard Diamond".
Janssen would have apparently played the Adam Kennedy role of crusading Irish newspaper editor Dion Patrick on "The Californians". When the format of the show was revised, Kennedy was replaced by Richard Coogan as San Francisco's top cop. Art Fleming (the original "Jeopardy") co-starred in the Coogan episodes.
Adam Kennedy later got one of the starring roles on the entertaining daytime soap opera "The Doctors" in 1965. Hayden played dynamic inventor-entrepreneur Brock Hayden. Hayden was eventually killed off on screen, perhaps because he wan't a doctor and was difficult to fit into the stories. I remember I was shocked when Brock died on the operating table after being shot. Hayden played opposite Ellen Burstyn on "The Doctors".
Kennedy had studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York with Sanford Meisner.
Adam Kennedy later wrote 20 novels. One of the novels was made into a move by Stanley Kramer: "The Domino Principle" starring Gene Hackman, Candice Bergen, and Richard Widmark. Kennedy wrote the screenplay for that film as well as a couple of other films.
Kennedy was also an oil painter. Quite a guy.
James Best got the lead in "Pony Express" after Janssen turned that down, but it didn't sell in 1957. In 1959 it sold in syndication with Grant Sullivan in the lead.
Janssen wisely chose to become Richard Diamond. It was his first starring role and it made him a star. Janssen was recommended for Richard Diamond by the great film director William "Wild Bill" Wellman. Wellman had just finished directing Janssen (and Clint Eastwood) a few months before in "Lafayette Escadrille"),.
Double Indemnity (1973)
Maybe different actors and a different director would have helped
Some alternative casts:
1) Alan Alda, Tuesday Weld, and Telly Savalas
2) Sam Elliott, Shirley Knight, and Jack Cassidy
3) Darren McGavin, Elizabeth Montgomery, and Herschel Bernardi
4) Bradford Dillman, Jean Simmons, and Edward Asner (Phyllis didn't need to be blonde)
5) David Janssen, Rosemary Forsyth, and Dean Jagger.
Other candidates for Phyllis could be Elizabeth Ashley and Diana Hyland.
John Badham was doing some stylish TV movies at the time including "Isn't it Shocking?" with Alan Alda and "Reflections on Murder" with Tuesday Weld. He might have been able to inject more energy. Badham is still a working director doing series episodes.
Or John Llewelyn Moxey who did such a beautiful job directing "The Night Stalker" with McGavin might have been good.
The Dick Powell Show: Epilogue (1963)
Quien es mas macho? Lee Marvin o Ricardo Montalban?
During World War II Montalban headed an elite Marine unit. Montalban trained his men to be lethal killing machines. Marvin was one of his "boys".
Eighteen years later Montalban is a principled lawyer defending a big time gangster. Montalban has largely tried to forget the war. But Marvin hasn't stopped killing just because the war is over. He is a serial murderer who takes out people the law doesn't adequately punish. Montalban is going to be Marvin's next target.
A great game of cat and mouse follows with two superb extended fight scenes between the leads. It was clear the actors were doing most of their own stunts. Both actors are in top form as they go after each other – mentally and physically. Montalban in particular looks like he is in awesome shape.
Marvin was 38 and Montalban was 42. Both men were in their prime. Montalban's beautiful wife was played by 32-year old Patricia Breslin (so charming as Mandy Peoples on "The People's Choice"). The cop on the case was played by Claude Akins, 36. Sondra Blake (wife of Robert Blake) pulled out all the stops playing one of Marvin's victims.
This fine thriller fires on all cylinders: acting, writing, and directing. The story might have been suggested by "Cape Fear" (1962). The episode could have conceivably been a pilot for a series with Montalban, Breslin, and Akins.
Bruce Geller wrote the script and Bernard Kowalski directed. Geller and Kowalski also produced the episode. Kowalski had directed Marvin in several "M Squads".
Geller was 32 and Kowalski was 33. Both were young, ambitious, and very talented.
Geller and Kowalski had first worked together on a strong episode of "The Rebel", in which Claude Akins gave a fine guest star performance.
Geller and Kowalski were hired to produce the seventh season of "Rawhide" in 1964. They did a fine job –but were fired after 21 episodes. Maybe Marvin and Eastwood compared notes on the guys on "Paint Your Wagon".
Two years later Geller created and produced "Mission: Impossible". Kowalski directed the pilot and was a part owner of the show.
Geller also produced "Mannix". Two of the best "Mannix" episodes involved a member of Mannix's squad during Korea deciding to kill the other members of the squad. Steve Ihnat and Darren McGavin were the killers in the two episodes. McGavin was almost as impressive a villain as Marvin. Both "Mannix" episodes were directed by John Llewelyn Moxey ("The Night Stalker" TV movie).
Bruce Geller died at 48 when a private plane he was flying crashed.
Bernard Kowalkski produced "Baretta". His son-in- law was Brian Grazer ("24", "Ranson").
This was one of the last "Dick Powell Shows". Powell had already died at 58. Pat Boone was the guest host for the original airing on 4/2/63 at 9:30 pm eastern. The show aired on a Tuesday night.
The always astute poster Guenot Philippe is right when he calls "Epilogue" a "must see tale".
Pantomime Quiz (1947)
I remember "Stump the Stars" too - a fast-paced game of charades
This game show was originally called "Pantomime Quiz".
But I watched the version that ran from September 1962 thru September 1963 - when it was called "Stump the Stars".
It was on CBS Monday nights at 10:30 eastern time.
There were two teams of four players each that played against each other. Regulars or semi-regulars (according to the best of my memory) were Vera Miles, Richard Long, Beverly Garland, Stubby Kaye, Ruta Lee, Sebastian Cabot, Hans Conreid, and Ross Martin. Each team had three of the regulars and one of the night's guest stars.
Beverly Garland was a vivacious woman who screamed a lot. Vera Miles was elegant. Ruta Lee was pert and sexy. Ross Martin was smart - an excellent player. All the regulars had plenty of charm and energy. Dress was formal, with the men wearing tuxedos.
One puzzle had some kind of a take-off on the name Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. No one got it. Host Mike Stokey told Richard Long he should have got it since he had played one of Zimbalist's employees on "77 Sunset Strip". Long was actually one of Zimbalist's partners, but kept his mouth shut.
Stokey once introduced Vera Miles as an actress equally capable of playing spinsters or sex pots. Miles didn't seem to appreciate the introduction.
On one special, four cast members of the movie "PT 109" played against four of the regulars. The "PT 109" cast members were Robert Culp, Ty Hardin, Grant Williams, and James Gregory. The regulars won.
Guest stars I remember included Clint Walker and Roger Smith. Joseph Cotten and his wife Patricia Medina were guests for one show. Sebastian Cabot gave Patricia a big kiss and hug. Apparently they were old friends. Also either Don Murray or Don Taylor was a guest star.
Mike Stokey called the show "the fastest half-hour on television". Each team had two minutes to solve a puzzle. There were eight puzzles per show. The show did go by quickly.
Screaming Eagles (1956)
7 cast members became TV stars
Tom Tryon ("Texas John Slaughter")
Jan Merlin ("The Rough Riders")
Martin Milner ("Route 66", "Adam-12")
Jacqueline Beer ("77 Sunset Strip")
Paul Burke ("Naked City", "12 O'Clock High")
Pat Conway ("Tombstone Territory")
Robert Blake ("The Richard Boone Show", "Baretta")
The director was Harvard educated Charles F. Haas. Haas' best film was "Platinum High School" with Mickey Rooney, Terry Moore, Dan Duryea, Yvette Mimieux, Richard Jaeckel, and Elisha Cook, Jr. The film was a reworking of "Bad Day at Black Rock". Haas also directed "Showdown at Abilene" with future TV stars Jock Mahoney ("Yancy Derringer"), Grant Williams ("Hawaiian Eye"), and David Janssen ("Richard Diamond"). And Haas directed 4 films highlighting the talents of Mamie Van Doren.
Haas later directed episodes of "Route 66", "77 Sunset Strip", "Alfred Hitchcock Hour", and "The Outer Limits". Haas used Richard Jaeckel again in his "Alfred Hitchcock Hour" and Grant Williams in one of his "Outer Limits". Inger Stevens starred in Haas' "Route 66" and "Alfred Hitchcock Hour."
Haas died in 2011 at the age of 97.
Co-screenwriter David Lang went on to write episodes of "Maverick", "Cheyenne", "Have Gun - Will Travel", "Wanted: Dead or Alive", "The Rebel", and "Tombstone Territory".
Robert Presnell, Jr., the other screenwriter, wrote episodes of "Twilight Zone", "The Eleventh Hour", "Mr. Novak", and "Banacek". He was married for 40 years to Marsha Hunt ("Raw Deal").
The story for "Screaming Eagles" was by two-time Oscar nominee Virginia Kellogg ("White Heat", "Caged").
David Gideon (Karl Held) later married Judy Bryant (guest star Sarah Marshall)
Karl Held and Sarah Marshall had appeared on Broadway in "The World of Suzy Wong" with William Shatner, France Nuyen, and Ron Randell. Karl understudied Shatner. That was back in 1958-1959, a couple of years before this 1961 episode. Karl and Sarah got married in 1964.
Karl was a Korean War veteran and graduated from Penn State phi beta kappa. He studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse with Sanford Meisner.
Karl said he was "lousy" in the role of David Gideon and the role was "unnecessary", but he must have improved as an actor. He later spent a year with the Royal Shakespeare Company of London.
Sarah was a popular guest star appearing on "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour", "Twilight Zone", and "Star Trek", among many other shows. The "Little Girl Lost" episode of "Twilight Zone" is a classic with Sarah and Robert Sampson's young daughter lost in another dimension. Charles Aidman is a scientist who tries to help them get their daughter back.
Sarah's parents were Herbert Marshall (Hitchcock's "Foreign Correspondent") and Edna Best (Hitchcock's first version of "The Man Who Knew Too Much").
Before marrying Karl, Susan was married to Mel Bourne, an Oscar nominated art director ("Annie Hall", "The Natural"). That marriage lasted for five years during the 1950's.
Sarah and her father appeared in an episode of "Hong Kong" with Rod Taylor. Sarah appeared on the stage with her mother.
Karl and Sarah appeared together several times including on episodes of "Medical Center" and "The Strange Report" with Anthony Quayle.
Karl starred in two pilots. One was called "Ready for the People" (1964) directed by Buzz Kulick ("Brian's Song", "The Defenders"). Karl played a dynamic young assistant DA. In 1965 William Shatner starred as a dynamic young assistant DA in a series called "For the People", produced by Herbert Brodkin ("The Defenders").
Karl's other pilot was "The 13th Gate" (1965), a science fiction series. Karl played a government investigator looking into strange occurrences. Karl's partner was played by Alex Cord. They drove around in a cool sports car. David Opatoshu was their boss.
One of Karl's best guest performances was in the classic 1963 "Outer Limits" episode "The Man Who Was Never Born" with Martin Landau, Shirley Knight, and John Considine. Karl also appeared in a "Star Trek" working with Shatner again. But Karl never appeared in an "Ironside" or a Perry Mason movie.
Years later Karl was a regular on "Falcon Crest".
Karl and Sarah's last appearance together was in a 2012 horror film with Piper Laurie called "Bad Blood...the Hunger".
Sarah died in 2014 after 50 years of marriage to Karl.
John Cassavetes in an unsold pilot
Brilliant Herbert B. Leonard ("Naked City", "Route 66") produced this interesting 1973 pilot.
Forty-three year old John Cassavetes ("Johnny Staccato") played press agent Carmine Kelly.
The show was filmed entirely on location in New York City.
The first part of the show was filmed entirely at night.
Director Richard Donner gave the episode a great, atmospheric look. Very original. It didn't look like a television show. It reminded me a little of Peter Hyams' TV movie "Goodnight, My Lady" with Richard Boone and Michael Dunn as private detectives. I don't know if producer Bert Leonard could have afforded to keep up this cool look for a series.
The cinematographer was Bennie Hirschenson, who specialized in commercials. This is his only cinematography credit. Nice work.
The writer/creator was 38-year old Pete Hamill, a hard-drinking journalist who specializes in stories about New York. Hamill was a reporter and later columnist for The New York Post. His books include "The Invisible City: Short Stories", "A Drinking Life: A Memoir", and "Why Sinatra Matters".
Hamill was a friend of Robert Kennedy, who helped subdue Sirhan Sirhan after the assassination.
Maybe Cassavetes and Hamill become drinking buddies. Six years after "Nightside" Cassavetes was in a TV movie called "Flesh & Blood", based on a novel by Hamill.
The other "Nightside" regulars would have been elegant Alexis Smith as a night club owner named "Smitty" and Mike Kellin as a private detective who sometimes did jobs for Cassavetes.
Seymour Cassel ("Faces", "Minnie and Moscowitz") was one of the guest stars. Others in the strong cast included Richard Jordan, June Havoc, Joe Santos, Fredd Wayne, and Dick Cavett.
The title "Nightside" seemed a little bland. Maybe Leonard could have gotten the rights to the title "Night and the City". Or just "Night Life". Or "I Love New York at Night".
Cassavetes did this role the year after his superb "Columbo" guest star role, which might have reminded producers of how good a series lead he could be. Cassavetes might also have been impressed with the money his pal Falk was making.
This show aired on "The ABC Sunday Night Movie" on April 15, 1973. "Nightside" was on after another hour-long pilot called "Rx for the Defense". That pilot was from another great producer of the 1960's – Herbert Brodkin ("The Defenders"). Talented Tim O'Connor played a doctor turned lawyer.
Shows about press agents had been tried before. David Janssen ("Richard Diamond") played a New York press agent in a 1960 pilot called "The Insiders". This was an uncredited attempt to make "The Sweet Smell of Success" into a series with Janssen in the Tony Curtis role and Carroll O'Connor in the Burt Lancaster role. Beautiful Joan Staley played Janssen's quasi-assistant, but they would have been smarter to hire the superb Barbara Nichols. The writer/producer was Richard Alan Simmons ("The Price of Tomatoes", "Trials of O'Brien") and the executive producer was William Sackheim ("The Law").
Craig Stevens ("Peter Gunn") played a smooth press agent named Mike Bell in "Mr. Broadway", a 1964 series. Bell's assistant was a sexy Japanese woman. Horace McMahon ("Naked City") played an ex-cop friend of Bell. The creator was Garson Kanin ("Born Yesterday"). The show was filmed on location in New York. The producer was the great David Susskind ("East Side West Side", "NYPD"). Alexis Smith of "Nightside" was married to Craig Stevens.
I also seem to remember Gig Young as a Hollywood press agent/detective in an early 60's pilot. Young drove a cool sports car and had a house in the Hollywood Hills with a magnificent view of the city. But I can't find any evidence of this show except in my memory.
Edit: I recently discovered the reason I can't find any evidence of that Gig Young pilot. The 1960 pilot was called "Hollywood Angel" and starred Robert Webber, not Gig Young. Webber played a variation of the advertising executive he played to perfection in the 1957 film "12 Angry Men". The producer of "Hollywood Angel" was ambitious Dick Berg ("Johnny Staccato", "Checkmate", "The Bob Hope Chrysler Theater").
The last season was superb with David Levinson ("The Senator") producing
E.G. Marshall (so fine in "The Defenders" and "12 Angry Men") is David Craig, a brilliant neurosurgeon. Craig is head of the Craig Institue, a cutting edge medical research hospital. Joseph Cotten was originally considered for the role of Dr. Craig.
John Saxon is Ted Stuart, chief of surgery. Saxon was my favorite of the three heroes. I was disappointed when Saxon was fired after the third season. If it had been up to me, I might have had the great David Craig die and Saxon become head of the Craig Institute.
Saxon was an interesting looking guy and a very good actor. He had a great body and seemed very agile and athletic. Saxon brought a real sense of commitment to his performances. I wish he had done another series after leaving "The Bold Ones". Saxon did make a pilot movie for Gene Roddenberry called "Planet Earth" two years later. I think Steven Bochco considered Saxon for the role of Frank Furillo on "Hill Street Blues". Quentin Tarentino considered Saxon for the Robert Forster role in "Jackie Brown". Tarentino later directed Saxon in a "CSI" episode. Saxon is still a working actor.
David Hartman is Paul Hunter, chief of internal medicine. Hartman was a graduate of Duke and was a former Air Force officer. Hartman was probably smart enough to really have been a doctor. Hartman didn't look like everyone else on television, which was a plus.
Joel Rogosin was the primary producer of the series for its first two seasons. Rogosin left to produce "Longstreet", with James Franciscus as a blind detective.
Herbert Hirschman was brought in as "executive producer" for the third season although no one was given the title of "producer". Hirschman was a talented guy who produced episodes of "Playhouse 90", "Hong Kong" with Rod Taylor, "Perry Mason", "Dr. Kildare", "Twilight Zone" and the Herbert Brodkin series "Espionage".
Brilliant young David Levinson was brought in to produce the fourth season. Levinson had done a magnificent job of producing "The Senator" with Hal Holbrook. Most recently Levinson had produced "Sarge" with George Kennedy as a priest/detective. The next season Levinson would produce "A Case of Rape", an excellent TV movie with Elizabeth Montgomery.
Levinson made a good series near great.
To replace John Saxon, Levinson brought in Robert Walden as young Dr. Marty Cohen. Cohen still has a lot to learn. I can't remember any other drama series hero with a Jewish name. A quietly ground-breaking move. You have to guess Universal would have preferred a Jan-Michael Vincent type to Walden.
David Hartman became the primary focus of the series for the fourth season even though E.G. Marshall still got top billing. Robert Walden got "also starring" billing. Hartman was nominated for a Golden Globe for the fourth season. The other nominees: Peter Falk (winner), Robert Young, Chad Everett, William Conrad, and Mike Connors.
Hartman insisted Robert Walden's picture be taken down in the Universal commissary because Walden wasn't a "star" of the series. Hartman later let into Joan Lunden on "Good Morning America" when in the closing of a show she said goodbye after Hartman. Hartman insisted he say the last goodbye. Apparently Hartman was protective of his hard-won prerogatives. Or perhaps he was a little insecure despite his big education and big brain.
David Levinson's favorite directors were John Badham, Richard Donner, and Daryl Duke. In the fourth season Badham and Donner each directed three episodes and Duke did two.
In one episode you hear the hospital public address system "paging Dr. Sackheim". This was a shout-out to the great writer-producer William Sackheim ("The Law"), who was a mentor to both John Badham and David Levinson.
Some of Levinson's compelling fourth season episodes:
Donna Mills is a nurse at the hospital who is a friend of Marty Cohen. Mills is in a lesbian relationship with a woman who is a clinical psychologist. Cohen is disturbed at the relationship and believes Mills is basically heterosexual. Cohen convinces Mills to have sex with him. The sex is not that good for Mills. Cohen tells Mills that the earth doesn't always move. Mills finally leaves the hospital and also leaves both Cohen and the clinical psychologist. Written by Peggy O'Shea and directed by Jeremy Kagan.
Ross Martin is a high school teacher who is suffering psychotic episodes. Milton Berle plays a psychiatrist at the Craig Institute who is treating Martin. Berle is a close friend of David Craig, but the two doctors strongly disagree on the most effective treatment. Berle wants to focus on talk therapy while Craig insists on surgery and pharmaceuticals. Craig prevails and Martin becomes more docile and perhaps better. Berle quits in protest. Berle says Craig will cry just like he did when Ted Stuart left, but he will get over it. Written by story editor Lionel E. Siegel. Directed by Marvin Chomsky.
Susan Clark is a young woman paralyzed from the neck down in a boating accident. She wants to end her life. Robert Foxworth is her husband. Dr. Craig wants the woman to continue living. She asks why. Craig says she can see the events of her time unfold. Craig is devastated when the woman chooses to die. Written by Robert Van Scoyck and Gustave Field. Directed by Walter Doniger.
Sheila Larken ("Storefront Lawyers") is carrying a baby in her womb that was conceived by her sister Stephanie Powers and Stephanie's husband Carl Betz.
Frank Converse is in fine form as a young man in his prime who is suffering from sexual impotence. Shirley Knight is his wife.
Richard Basehart is a doctor suspected of doing unnecessary operations. Dorothy Malone is his wife.
Carl Reiner is excellent as a maverick doctor back from China who is an unpopular advocate of acupuncture. Written by Robert Collins. Directed by John Badham.
A follow-up to "The Law" and a precursor to "Hill Street Blues"
Thirty-nine year old Judd Hirsch was a total unknown (except for stage work) before he starred in the fine TV movie "The Law" (1974). Hirsch sent in a commercial he had done as an audition tape for "The Law" so NBC executives could see what he looked like. The network would have preferred George Segal for the apparently Jewish hero, but producer William Sackheim held out for Hirsch. It must have been a hard sell. When have you ever seen an unknown star in a TV movie, before or since? The entire cast of "The Law" were unknowns at the time, including Gary Busey, Bonnie Franklin, and John Hillerman.
"The Law" was an incredible break for Judd Hirsch, but he was still a little irritated that John Beck received more money for playing a prosecutor.
"The Law" was a major critical success. Director Johm Badham and writer Joel Oliansky received Emmy nominations. The two and a half hour movie won the Emmy as outstanding special of the year. John Badham, Joel Oliansky, and William Sackheim had previously worked together on "The Senator" (1970) with Hal Holbrook, which was also remarkable.
Hirsch played public defender Murray Stone in "The Law". The movie was a Fredrick Wiseman like view of the legal system. A three episode trial run series followed the movie. Murray Stone now worked for a fancy law firm. The hour long series didn't catch on. Hirsch said that if Murray had remained a public defender representing life's losers the show would have run forever.
"Delvecchio" (1976) was an attempt by producer Sackheim to redo "The Law" but to have a hit. Dominick Delvecchio was a young detective sergeant who had gone to law school at night. But he has flunked the bar exam - several times. But he keeps taking the exam. Maybe "Delvecchio" would have eventually become a lawyer show.
Back in 1954 Sackheim had written and produced a movie called "The Human Jungle". Gary Merrill was excellent as a police captain who has passed the bar exam and plans to quit the force and start a law practice. But his boss talks him into to taking command of a brutally lawless precinct instead. Sackheim had also written a "Playhouse 90" called "Before I Die" where the hero's name was Dr. Del Vecchio. These previous projects might have provided a little of the inspiration for "Delvecchio" (and perhaps also for "Hill Street Blues").
Fifty-six year old Sackheim was the executive producer of "Delvecchio" and thirty-two year old Steven Bochco was one of the producers. Bochco was a contract writer at Universal. It's hard to see any trace of greatness in Bochco's work before "Delvecchio". In Bochco's own opinion, he was a studio hack doing whatever he was asked to do. When Bochco saw the early scripts coming in for "Delvecchio", he thought they were pretty good. Sackheim said they were junk and had to be rewritten. Bochco says his year on "Delvecchio" was key in his writing life. Bochco's work after "Delvecchio" is of a different order.
Michael Kozoll was story editor of "Delvecchio" and wrote six episodes. Kozoll was later executive producer of "Hill Street Blues" along with Bochco. Kozoll wrote an episode of "Kojak" the next season where Kojak is offered a high paying job as chief investigator for a big law firm by managing partner Charles Aidman. Aidman turns out to be dirty and is trying to compromise Kojak. I always thought this was a planned second season episode of "Delvecchio" that was recycled when "Delvecchio" didn't come back.
William Sackheim was a tough curmudgeon who seemed to get the best out of talented young writers. David Chase ("The Sopranos") did a series early in his career with Sackheim called "Almost Grown" with Tim Daly.
The most charismatic performance in "Delvecchio" was given by Michael Conrad as Lieutenant Macavan, the boss of the precinct squad room. Charles Haid played detective sergeant Shonski, Delvecchio's overweight but tough partner. Shonski was one of the few TV cops to wear glasses. Sackheim wasn't interested in pretty boy cops.
"Delvecchio" wasn't as stylishly filmed as "The Senator", "The Law", or "Hill Street Blues". The writing also wasn't as breath taking. Judd Hirsh was later a little dismissive of "Delvecchio". He thought the only distinctive part of the show were the character interactions in the squad room.
But "Delvecchio" was a fine, very entertaining effort. It was one of the few cop shows I have ever watched regularly. I loved the opening credits with Billy Goldenberg's theme music. I wish "Delvecchio" had lasted longer than one season.
It would have been cool if Steven Bochco had brought back Dominick Delvecchio as an attorney on "L.A. Law" (1986). Delvecchio definitely would have been a loose cannon at Mackenzie, Brackman.
Diagnosis: Unknown (1960)
Patrick O'Neal was a detective/doctor way before "Quincy" and "Diagnosis: Murder".
Charming Patrick O'Neal played Dr. Daniel Coffee, the head of pathology at a New York City hospital. O'Neal was 32 years old.
Chester Morris (the great Boston Blackie) played detective Captain Max Ritter, a colleague and close friend of Dr. Coffee.
Sexy and funny Phyllis Newman was lab technician Doris Hudson, who works for Dr. Coffee and seems to have an unrequited crush on him. I remember she scolded Dr. Coffee for messiness when she visited his plush bachelor apartment. I think Doris thought Dr. Coffee needed a wife. Phyllis Newman was also a delightful regular panelist at this time on "To Tell the Truth".
Cal Belini played Dr. Motilal Mookerji, a brilliant young assistant of Coffee from India.
Dr. Daniel Webster Coffee was perhaps television's first medical detective.
These characters all appeared in a novella and series of short stories by Lawrence G. Blochman. Blochman was a graduate of the University of California at Berkely who had a journalism background. He had a certificate in Forensic Pathology. Blochman continued to write Dr. Coffee stories after the series ended. Blochman was an early president of the Mystery Writers of America. He lived from 1900-1975.
One of Blochman's short stories, "Diagnosis: Homicide", had been made into a "Lux Video Theatre" production in 1957. Character actor Frank Albertson played Dr. Coffee, Shirley Mitchell was Doris Hudson, and Arthur Hanson was Max Ritter.
"Diagnosis: Unknown" was a summer replacement series for "The Garry Moore Show" in 1960. It was on Tuesday nights at 10:00 pm eastern time. Nine episodes were made. The producer was Bob Banner ("Warning Shot"), who was also producer of "The Garry Moore Show".
"Diagnois: Unknown" was done on tape rather than film and was made in New York. Guest stars included Zachary Scott, Gretchen Wyler, Beatrice Straight, Michael Tolan, Jeanne Bal, Telly Savalas, Barbara Baxley, Tom Bosley, and Larry Hagman.
Cynthia O'Neal, who was the wife of Patrick O'Neal, was in an episode. Cynthia O'Neal is credited in five Mike Nichols films. I remember seeing Patrick and Cynthia on the game show "He Said, She Said" in 1970. Cynthia was married to Patrick from 1956 until his death in 1994.
"Diagnosis: Unknown" used first rate writers including Ernest Kinoy, Theodore Apstein, and Bill S. Ballinger. Blacklisted writer Arnold Manoff wrote an episode under the pseudonym Joel Carpenter. Three episodes are credited to "Elliot Norman", a writer who has no other listed credits. Perhaps Norman was another blacklisted writer using a pseudonym, or maybe it was Manoff again using another false name. Manoff was married to Lee Grant.
The great Fielder Cook ("Patterns") directed the first episode. The show had a nice light touch. I remember a grinning Dr. Coffee couldn't help checking out seductive Patricia Barry's cleavage even though her evil husband Alexander Scourby was in the same room.
I would be willing to bet Glen Larson was familiar with the Lawrence Blochman characters and perhaps "Diagnosis: Unknown" when he created "Quincy, M.E.".
Patrick O'Neal had a big success on Broadway a year after "Diagnosis: Unknown". He played the defrocked priest in Tennessee Williams "The Night of the Iguana", opposite Bette Davis and Margaret Leighton.
Patrick O'Neal could have been a great series lead with the right role. He might have been a TV Cary Grant. He had great style and humor. Maybe O'Neal could have played "Mr. Lucky". Or he might have been a good Napoleon Solo or Colonel Hogan.
Paris 7000 (1970)
George Hamilton as a Bogart hero
George Hamilton came to television in "The Survivors", a sort of precursor to "Dynasty". The series was created by trash novelist Harold Robbins ("The Carpetbagers").
"The Survivors" was an ambitious soap opera with a lot of top talent in front of and behind the cameras.
Other fine actors besides Hamilton in "The Survivors" included Lana Turner, Kevin McCarthy, Ralph Bellamy, Diana Muldaur, Clu Gulager, Louise Sorel, and Rossano Brazzi. Many of the writers and producers of "The Survivors" had previously worked on the fine "Peyton Place".
But a big problem with "The Survivors" was that it didn't have a strong, appealing hero at the center. There was really no one to root for. Hamilton's character seemed to be a weak jet-setting playboy who was as superficial as everyone else in the series.
"The Survivors" was a major critical and ratings disaster. It was canceled after 15 episodes.
ABC had guaranteed Hamilton a full season run, so "Paris 7000" was quickly put together to finish the 1969-70 season.
The producer of "Paris 7000" was talented John Wilder, who had been an associate producer of "The Survivors". This was Wilder's first chance to originate production of a series. He would later produce "The Streets of San Francisco", "Centennial", and 'Spencer: For Hire".
George Hamilton played Jack Brennan, who worked out of the United States Consulate in Paris. Brennan tried to help out Americans in trouble. Hamilton told Johnny Carson it was a Humphrey Bogart type role, and this might become his new image. Hamilton made a very good series hero. He was much more appealing than he had been in "The Survivors".
Jacques Aubuchon was Hamilton's friend on the Paris police force.
Guest stars on the Universal series included Diane Baker, Joseph Campanella, Anne Baxter, E.G. Marshall, Jack Albertson, Martha Scott, Paul Henreid, and William Shatner.
But the best guest star was Barbara Anderson, moonlighting from "Ironside". Barbara Anderson was a cool blonde beauty in the Grace Kelly mold, and she never looked sexier than opposite the darkly handsome Hamilton. They made an intriguing couple. Barbara was asked back for a sequel to her episode.
Directors included Lewis Allen ("The Uninvited"), Philip Leacock ("The War Lover"), Jeannot Szwarc ("Somewhere in Time"), and Robert Day (the "Banyon" pilot).
Writers included Norman Katkov ("Ben Casey"), Paul Playdon ("Kolchak: The Night Stalker"), Michael Gleason ("Remington Steele"), and Gene L. Coon ("Star Trek").
George Hamilton made an effective Bogart hero. Maybe Universal should have gone the whole way and let George play Philip Marlowe in a series, rather than putting him in "Paris 7000". Raymond Chandler's choice to play Marlowe in the 40's was Cary Grant, so he might well have approved of Hamilton.
The Tab Hunter Show (1960)
Tab Hunter in fine form with two excellent supporting actors
Twenty-nine year old Tab Hunter was quite engaging in his only series role. He played a cartoonist who wrote a comic strip called "Bachelor at Large". The comic strip drew from the cartoonist's own romantic exploits. Tab's character lived in and worked out of a very cool beach house in Malibu.
Tab's suave boss was Jerome Cowan ("The Maltese Falcon"). His best friend was wealthy playboy Richard Erdman ("Cry Danger", "The Men", "Stalag 17"). Tab Hunter, Jerome Cowan, and Richard Erdman were real pros who had fun with this light material. They seemed to be having a good time together and it was infectious.
There were always beautiful woman around to keep Tab on his toes. Some of the beauties Tab encountered were Gena Rowlands, Elizabeth Montgomery, Tuesday Weld, Suzanne Pleshette, Mary Tyler Moore, Joanna Barnes, Patricia Crowley, Diana Millay, Linda Cristal, Mary Murphy, Joan Staley, and Lori Nelson.
Alex Gotlieb, who wrote the terrific "Susan Slept Here", is credited as one of the writers of the pilot. I wonder if he was one of the producers.
"The Tab Hunter Show" (1960-61) was on NBC on Sunday nights at 8:30 eastern time. It was on opposite "Lawman" and the second half of "The Ed Sullivan Show".
Director Arthur Penn ("Bonnie and Clyde") used to tell a great Tab Hunter story. Hunter was starring in a live "Playhouse 90" directed by Penn. Hunter played a psychotic serial murderer. In one scene Hunter had to run to escape the police. Hunter ran into a table and tipped it over. All the table contents fell to the floor. Penn thought his live play was dead. But Hunter, staying in character, picked up the fallen items and prissily put them back on the table. Penn said Hunter not only saved the show but made it better.
Jerome Cowan and Richard Erdman had been under contract to Warner Brothers in the 1940's. They both appeared in the movie "Mr. Skeffington" (1944). Erdman and Cowan also worked together in a 1959 episode of "Perry Mason".
I recently saw the terrific Erdman in a bit on a new comedy show called "Community". That's what brought "The Tab Hunter Show" to mind. Erdman was 35 when he did the Hunter show and he's now 84 and still working. Very encouraging.
The Dick Powell Show (1961)
Peter Falk won an Emmy for "The Price of Tomatoes" with Inger Stevens
"The "Dick Powell Show" (1961-63) was a very entertaining anthology series.
Many of the episodes served as pilots.
James Coburn and and Glynis Johns were perfectly cast as the leads in an "African Queen" pilot.
Robert Vaughn played a private detective called "The Boston Terrier". Vaughn's character was a Harvard graduate with a phi beta kappa key. The creator was Blake Edwards ("Peter Gunn", "Richard Diamond", "Mr. Lucky").
David McLean, so fine as gunfighter "Tate", played an investigator for the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Lovely Julie Adams also would have appeared in the series. The pilot was written by Allan Sloane ("Teacher, Teacher", "East Side, West Side") and directed by the great Samuel Fuller. When the pilot didn't sell, there was talk of redoing it with Robert Taylor and George Segal. The unknown young Segal raised eye brows by insisting on top billing over Taylor.
In "Charlie's Duet" Anthony Franciosa played a version of Willie Dante, the gambler turned restaurant owner who had previously been played by Dick Powell and Howard Duff.
Rory Calhoun played the captain of a "Luxury Liner". Aaron Spelling ("The Love Boat") produced this episode.
In an attempt to bring back Sam Peckinpah's "The Westerner" as an hour show, Lee Marvin and Keenan Wynn now played the roles Brian Keith and John Dehner played in the series.
Dick Powell and Rhonda Fleming starred in "John J. Diggs". Powell was an adventurer/trouble shooter who also worked as a bartender in Fleming's restaurant-hotel. There was a lot of sexual tension between those two. This episode was essentially remade twice but with different leads. In the first remake the leads were Dennis O'Keefe and Dorothy Malone and in the second John Payne and Hazel Court starred. That's a series I would have watched - with any of those terrific casts. They don't make dames like Rhonda, Dorothy or Hazel any more.
Robert Cummings was an inept private detective surrounded by gorgeous women including Linda Christian, Jeanne Crain, and Janis Paige. Cummings' office was in the same building as Richard Diamond and Michael Shayne, two other Four Star private eyes.
Dick Powell played the tough commander of an air corps "Squadron" during World War ll. Pat Conway and Joanna Moore also starred.
Dick Powell played the lead in the "Burke's Law" pilot where his young assistant (Dean Jones) turned out to be the killer. Ronald Reagan was one of the suspects. The pilot was excellent but the resulting series concentrated so much on comedy that nothing seemed to be at stake. Who cared who the killer was since the murder itself was treated as a joke? Dick Powell made a much better Amos Burke than Gene Barry. Jackie Cooper was originally going to be the star of "Burke's Law", and I think he might have given the role (and the series) more gravitas.
Not all the episodes were pilots. Many of the shows were ambitious dramas.
Dana Andrews played a macho novelist who is dying. Robert Redford played his son who has just gotten his Ph.D. in mathematics. Redford hates his father for how he treated his mother. Andrews is in love with the much younger Inger Stevens. Redford makes a play for Stevens just to hurt his father. Hershel Bernardi and Norman Fell were also in the drama. Richard Alan Simmons was the writer. Inger Stevens once said Robert Redford was one of her few co-stars she didn't sleep with, even though they were good friends from back in their New York days. Inger said they had more a brother-sister relationship.
Richard Alan Simmons was also the writer of "The Price of Tomatoes", the series most celebrated episode. Peter Falk is an independent trucker who needs to get his tomatoes to market quickly to keep his business alive. Inger Stevens is a pregnant illegal alien who is determined to have her child born in the United States. The married Falk has to choose between saving his business or helping Stevens. Falk won a well deserved Emmy and Stevens was nominated. There were several other nominations including one for Simmons. Simmons later reteamed with Falk for the brilliant "Trials of O'Brien" (1965-66). Simmons also produced a season of "Columbo".
Jackie Cooper played a Korean War P.O.W. who was held by the communists for nine years after the war ended. Cooper returns to his home town with a big chip on his shoulder. Everyone thought Cooper was dead. No one wants Cooper back since he had always been a trouble maker. The only person happy to see him is his old pal David Janssen, who is now the mayor. But then Janssen apparently kills himself. Cooper suspects foul play and starts to investigate. Dewey Martin is the sheriff, Susan Oliver is Janssen's secretary, and Ellen Corby is Janssen's house keeper. Gary Crosby is a young tough who gets into a climactic fight with the martial arts trained Cooper. Jackie Coogan had a bit part in the drama.
Dick Powell's last performance before his death at 58 was in "The Court-Martial of Captain Wycliff". Harry Julian Fink was the writer and Buzz Kulik directed. Robert Webber plays Wycliff, a college professor who had been a war hero. Wycliff is accused of murdering a brilliant atomic scientist with key secrets who was defecting to the communists. Since Wycliff is a Captain in the reserves, he is court-martialed for the murder. Dick Powell is excellent as the determined but compassionate army prosecutor. Dina Merrill is Powell's sister, who is in love with Wycliff. James MacArthur is a young student of Wycliff. Ed Begley is the defense counsel. When Wycliff takes the stand, Powell asks him if he murdered the scientist. Wycliff says no. But Powell sees something in Wycliff's eyes. Finally, Powell gets Wycliff to admit he "executed" the scientist for treason and for the net betterment of the world.
Breaking Point (1963)
Paul Richards was fourth choice to play the lead in "The Breaking Point"
Bing Crosby Productions executive Meta Rosenberg (later executive producer of "The Rockford Files") first offered the role of Dr. Ben Casey to Cliff Robertson and Jack Lord before finally settling on Vince Edwards. Edwards gave one of the 60's great series performances as Ben Casey and the series made him a big star. "Ben Casey" was also very well produced with literate, provocative scripts, beautiful black and white photography, and fine guest stars. Meta Rosenberg had gotten Bing Crosby Productions off to a fine start.
Next up was this series about a psychiatrist colleague of Dr. Casey. Meta Rosenberg offered the lead in "The Breaking Point" to Cliff Robertson, but he turned her down again. She then offered the role to Peter Falk, who wasn't interested either. Meta then found the perfect candidate: twenty-six year old Robert Redford.
Redford might have made the same kind of dazzling impression that Vince Edwards had. But he wasn't interested.
Paul Richards finally got the role of the hero psychiatrist, and he was superb. Richards gave one of that seasons most compelling new series performances, along with George C. Scott in "East Side, West Side" and David Janssen in "The Fugitive".
"The Breaking Point" was almost as well done as "Ben Casey", and that is high praise.
Cliff Robertson guest starred as a young executive compulsively making love to one beautiful woman after another in "So Many Pretty Girls, So Little Time". The script was by Robert Towne ("Chinatown").
Robert Redford was excellent in another episode as an arrogant member of a group therapy session. Marisa Pavan and Jack Weston were also in the group.
Rip Torn played a man like "The Great Imposter" who goes from job to job fooling people into thinking he is an attorney or a minister or what have you. Torn tells Paul Richards his next impersonation may be as a psychiatrist. Rip Torn is another actor who could have been fascinating as the hero of "The Breaking Point".
Lou Antonio played a sensitive young man whose masculinity is made fun of by his stereotypically hyper masculine brother (Ralph Meeker). Mariette Hartley is a lovely young woman who Antonio is tentatively drawn to. And Meeker may be overcompensating to hide doubts about his own sexuality. Written by Ernest Kinoy.
Other fine guest stars included Robert Ryan, Eleanor Parker, John Cassavetes, Joey Heatherton, Bradford Dillman, Kathy Nolan, Anthony Franciosa, Gena Rowlands, and James Caan.
"The Breaking Point" was on during the 1963-64 season, the same year as "The Richard Boone Show" and "East Side, West Side". A fine year for TV series drama. TV Guide critic Cleveland Amory said the most letters he got that year complaining about fine shows being canceled was for "The Breaking Point".
Meta Rosenberg also helped develop the marvelous "Slattery's People", where Richard Crenna gave a career changing dramatic performance as a hard nosed but idealistic politician. Bing Crosby Productions was one of the best, classiest production companies of its time. It produced three great drama series as well as "Hogan's Heroes".
Meta Rosenberg led an extraordinary life. There is a delightful interview with her on YouTube.
The Beachcomber (1962)
Cameron Mitchell's first series
Forty-four year old Cameron Mitchell played John Lackland. Lackland was an efficiency expert in San Francisco who apparently got fed up obsessing about worker productivity. Lackland now spent his days on a South Sea island being as unproductive as humanly possible.
This 1962 syndicated show was produced by ITC ("The Saint"). "The Beachcomber" may have been inspired by the much more dramatically ambitious "Adventures in Paradise" (1959-1962). Mitchell was almost certainly a better actor than Gardner McKay, but somehow in this show he wasn't as much fun to watch.
It might have been more interesting to follow John Lackland back in his efficiency expert days in San Franciso. I bet he lived in a great penthouse apartment, drove a cool sports car, dated glamorous woman, and solved fascinating problems for his employers. He was probably a much more dynamic hero in his working days than after he "retired" to the life of a lazy beachcomber.
The executive producer of "The Beachcomber" was Robert Stambler, who went on to be a producer of "Hawaii 5-0". The producer was Nat Perrin, who was later writer/producer of "The Adams Family". Elmer Bernstein ("The Magnificent Seven") is credited with the theme music.
The creator of "The Beachcomber" was Walter Brown Newman, who was nominated for an Oscar three times. Newman's films included "Ace in the Hole" (1951), "The Man With the Golden Arm" (1955), "Crime and Punishment, USA" (1959), "The Interns" (1962), and "Cat Ballou" (1966). He is said to have worked on the script for "The Magnificent Seven". He also received an Emmy nomination for an episode of "The Richard Boone Show" (1963). A very interesting talent. I'd like to know more about him.
"The Beachcomber" ran for 39 episodes. Each episode of the adventure series was 30 minutes.
What the series needed was a strong co-star for Cameron Mitchell to play off of. In episode 18, forty year old Don Megowan joined the cast as Captain Huckabee. (Huckabee had been played in an earlier episode by Adam West.) Near the end of the run, Megowan was starring in episodes alone. Apparently Mitchell got tired of the series. Megowan was 6 feet 6 inches tall and ruggedly handsome. Megowan looked a lot like Rod Cameron, whose brother he played in "The Man Who Died Twice" (1958). "The Beachcomber" was one of Megowan's rare leading man performances, and he was very good.
Cameron Mitchell had been a bombardier during World War ll. In 1948 (at age 30) he was in the original Broadway production of "Death of a Salesman" with Lee J. Cobb, Mildred Dunnock, and Arthur Kennedy. He was a fine contract player at 20th Centuury Fox during the 1950's. One of his best films there was in Martin Ritt's "No Down Payment", where he played Troy Boone, Joanne Woodward's disturbed husband.
Perhaps Mitchell's greatest performance was in "Monkey on My Back" (1957). Mitchell played boxer Barney Ross who develops a drug habit during World War II. Andre De Toth directed the film based on Ross' book.
In the early 1970's I saw Mitchell on "The Merv Griffin Show" where he claimed he had turned down the lead in "The French Connection" because he didn't like the script. But it is hard to believe Cameron turned down much work. Unlike beachcomber John Lackland, Cameron Mitchell never stopped working.
The Bold Ones: The Senator (1970)
Hal Holbrook in peak form
Forty-five year old Hal Holbrook played Senator Hays Stowe with great style, grace, and intelligence. It was a stunning series performance. Holbrook reminded me of Henry Fonda in "Twelve Angry Men" and Gregory Peck in "To Kill a Mockingbird". All three men projected quiet decency and great humanity. All three gave hints of what an American man could be at his best. Hal Holbrook became my favorite actor.
"The Senator" didn't quite look or sound like any other show on television. There was no background music which was fascinating. The show was visually interesting and skillfully edited. There wasn't the usual over-lighting. And they seemed to avoid the tired old Universal sets or at least made them look a little less like sets.
The producer of the series was David Levinson. Levinson's ambition was amazing. "The Senator" was head and shoulders above any other drama series on television. The series was tops in all departments: acting, writing, directing, editing and art direction. Somehow this great show came out of nowhere. It was far above the usual Universal product. The unofficial executive producer was William Sackheim, who was the godfather of many fine writers and many interesting projects at Universal.
John Badham was the associate producer. He became a director for the first time on this series. Badham's two episodes were brilliantly directed and he got an Emmy nomination for his second episode. Other fine directors included Jerrold Freedman, Daryl Duke, and Robert Day.
But what really made "The Senator" stand out was the superb writing. The brilliant writers included Joel Oliansky, Ernest Kinoy, David Rintels, Leon Tokatyan, and Jerrold Freedman.
Michael Tolan was excellent as Jordan Boyle, Stowe's tough adviser. Sharon Acker was delightful as the senator's beautiful wife.
Strong guest star performances were given by James Wainwright, Gerald S. O'Loughlin, Will Geer, Burgess Meredith, and Logan Ramsey.
Holbrook had beautifully played a beleaguered university president in the Universal TV movie "The Whole World is Watching". He got an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor. That must have given Universal the idea to put him in a series.
Holbrook won the Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama Series for "The Senator". The series won as Best Drama Series. Daryl Duke won for directing and Joel Oliansky won for writing. Michael Economou won for film editing. There were several other nominations.
The series had already been canceled. But after the many Emmy wins, NBC wanted Universal to make a couple of World Premiere movies of "The Senator". However, Hal Holbrook (who was always terrified of type casting) turned the offer down. Very disappointing. It might have been fun to watch Hays Stowe run for president.
Director John Badham, writer Joel Oliansky, and producer William Sackheim later reteamed for the fine TV movie "The Law".
The only other drama series in the same class as "The Senator" that season (70-71) was "The Psychiatrist" with Roy Thinnes. "The Psychiatrist" was produced by Jerrold Freedman. Freedman also made big contributions to "The Senator" as the director of one episode and the writer of another.
The Reporter (1964)
Harry Guardino's shot at stardom
"The Reporter" was a very ambitious 1964 show that seemed to have the potential for greatness. Thirty-nine year old Harry Guardino played idealistic young columnist Danny Taylor and Forty-nine year old Gary Merrill was city editor Lou Sheldon. Guardino and Merrill had been terrific in an "Outer Limits" episode the previous season called "The Human Factor", where the two actors alternated playing the good guy and the bad guy, sort of like "Face/Off".
I always found Gary Merrill an interesting looking guy and a good actor. I thought he might have been good as Lt. Gerard on "The Fugitive" or as General Savage's commanding officer on "12 O'Clock High".
In addition to having two interesting (and rather expensive) series leads, "The Reporter" was filmed on location in New York City, always a promising sign for a drama series.
Jerome Weidman ("I Can Get it For You Wholesale", "Fiorello") was the creator. "The Reporter" basically had the same premise as the 1962 "Saints and Sinners" with Nick Adams and John Larkin.
Directors included Tom Gries ("Will Penny"), Stuart Rosenberg, Mark Rydell, and Paul Stanley. Writers included Weidman, Gries, Hal Lee, and George Bellak.
"The Reporter" splurged on big name and interesting guest stars: Claude Rains, Mildred Dunnock, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Franchot Tone, Richard Conte, Arthur Hill, Jack Lord, Nick Adams, Robert Ryan, and William Shatner.
Young actors on the way up who appeared on the show included Edward Asner, Michael Conrad, Warren Oates, James Farentino, Dyan Cannon, and Zohra Lampert. Brenda Vacarro had a terrific cameo as a sexy secretary who finds Guardino resistible. They should have made Vacarro a regular. Roy Thinnes was to have had a recurring role as a police detective friend of Guardino, but he was only in one or two episodes.
In the first episode, Rip Torn played an ordinary man who comes to the aid of a person being attacked, only to be seriously knifed himself. Torn had read a column of Guardino deploring a Kitty Genovese type incident. Torn calls Guardino, who spends the hour episode trying to locate him. Shirley Knight was a receptionist at the newspaper who becomes emotionally connected to Torn over the phone line. Torn and Knight were superb. I saw them several decades later in a Broadway production of a play by Horton Foote. They were still superb.
Even though I expected to like Harry Guardino's performance in this series, I didn't find it very charismatic. Other actors who started series roles in 1964 that I expected to like were Robert Lansing, Richard Crenna, and Robert Vaughn. None of those three actors disappointed me. Part of the problem was that Danny Taylor as written was young, idealistic, and inexperienced (sort of like Dr. Kildare). This wasn't a good fit for Guardino's persona. Maybe Guardino's character should have been more like Jimmy Breslin.
"The Reporter" was on CBS on Friday nights from 10 to 11 eastern time. Its competition was "12 O'Clock High" and "The Jack Paar Show." "The Reporter" was replaced in mid-season by the excellent "Slattery's People" with Richard Crenna, which moved from Monday nights.
"The Reporter" was produced by actor Keefe Brasselle's production company. There was a bit of a scandal at the time that Brasselle, who sold two other shows to CBS that year, might have gotten a sweetheart deal from president Jim Aubrey. But "The Reporter" had plenty going for it, and didn't need any shenanigans to get sold. The producers obviously were trying hard to make a hit show, and almost certainly lost a ton of money on this business venture.
Harry Guardino had another series in 1971 when he was 46. He played government agent "Monty Nash". It was a syndicated 30 minute show produced by Everett Chambers ("Johnny Staccato", "Peyton Place"). The show had a good premise and some good on location photography, but a minuscule budget sank the effort. "Monty Nash" wasn't half as compelling as Chambers' "Johnny Staccato".
Guardino also played Hamilton Burger to Monte Markham's Perry Mason, in a failed 1973 effort to revive that marvelous lawyer series.
Harry Guardino starred in a 1969 CBS TV movie that was a pilot for a promising series. The movie was called "The Lonely Profession". Guardino played San Franciso private eye Lee Gordon. The writer/director of the movie was talented Douglas Heyes ("Kitten With a Whip", "Aspen", "Captains and Kings"). Douglas Heyes had himself played a private eye on radio. Heyes based the movie on his own novel. Heyes named the lead character after his friend actor Leo Gordon. As long as the show was going to be about a San Francisco private eye, Heyes should have named his hero Sam Spade; it might have made the pilot more commercial. Maybe they could even have brought back Miles Archer, Spade's old partner, from the grave. Jack Cassidy would have been a terrific Miles Archer, and Guardino and Cassidy could have made an intriguing team. Maybe the show could have been called "Spade and Archer". The executive producer of the pilot movie was the great Roy Huggins ("77 Sunset Strip", "The Outsider", "The Rockford Files"), so a resulting series might have been interesting.
Incident in San Francisco (1971)
A first draft of ''The Streets of San Francisco"
Twenty-nine year old Christopher Connelly ("Peyton Place") played an idealistic young reporter in this 1971 Quinn Martin pilot. The "also starring" roles in the resulting series would have been filled by Tim O'Connor (also a "Peyton Place" veteran) as Connelly's editor and Dean Jagger as the paper's publisher. The pilot was on the ABC Sunday Night Movie.
Connelly was good, but he was overshadowed by Richard Kiley's performance as a "good Samaritan" in big trouble. Kiley (I think without toupee) made a very appealing everyman. Leslie Nielsen also gave a forceful performance as a smart police lieutenant. This was Nielsen's first role after "Bracken's World" was canceled in mid-season.
The script by Robert Dozier ("The Young Stranger") was intelligent. Dozier was later a producer of "Harry O". Dozier is married to the marvelous Diana Muldaur.
Director Don Medford ("The Organization") made fine use of the San Francisco location.
Two previous series had followed the adventures of an idealistic young reporter. One was "Saints and Sinners" (1962) with Nick Adams and the other was "The Reporter" (1964) with Harry Guardino. Both of those shows had strong writing and dazzling guest stars along with fine lead actors. But neither show could figure out how to plausibly get their reporter hero in the center of the action. "Lou Grant" finally showed how to make a great newspaper drama in 1977.
Quinn Martin revamped the premise of "Incident in San Francisco" a year later with "The Streets of San Francisco" pilot. His protagonists were now cops instead of a reporter. Leslie Nielsen and Christopher Connelly might have been interesting as the two cops on that show. Or maybe Richard Kiley could have played the older cop. Quinn Martin, of course, went instead with the great Karl Malden and Michael Douglas.
Christopher Connelly starred with Jodie Foster in a series version of "Paper Moon" in 1974. The series was based on the Ryan O'Neal-Tatum O'Neal movie directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Connelly had played Ryan O'Neal's younger brother on "Peyton Place".
Christopher Connelly died from cancer in 1988 at the age of 47.
Quinn Martin made two other pilot movies in 1971 in addition to "Incident in San Francisco". Both were for CBS. One was "Travis Logan, DA" with Vic Morrow and the other was "Cannon" with William Conrad.
Dan Raven (1960)
Night life on the Sunset Strip circa 1960
Thirty-year old Skip Homeier played Lieutenant Dan Raven, who worked out of the Hollywood sheriff's office. Raven worked the night beat, as suited his name. Raven never ran into "77 Sunset Strip" private eyes Stu Bailey or Jeff Spencer, who must have been working cases near by.
"Dan Raven" was an hour-long detective drama series. It was on NBC Friday nights at 7:30 eastern during the first half of the 1960-61 season. "Dan Raven" was produced by Screen Gems, the TV arm of Columbia.
The executive producer was William Sackheim ("The Law", "Delvecchio").
The producer was Anthony Wilson. The next season Anthony Wilson produced "Follow the Sun" (where he hired Homeier as a guest star.) Wilson was later executive producer of "The Immortal" (1970) with Christopher George. Anthony Wilson also created "Banacek". William Sackheim was known for bringing along talented young writers.
Guest stars included entertainers such as Julie London, Paul Anka, Mel Torme, Gogi Grant, Buddy Hackett, Bobby Darin and Paul Winchell. Sometimes the guest stars played themselves and sometimes a character who was an entertainer. Other non-entertainer guest stars included Kent Smith, Paul Richards and John Larch.
The creators of the Dan Raven character were Donald L. Gold ("Diagnosis Murder") and Jonas Seinfeld.
Skippy Homeier made his film debut at 14 as a Nazi youth in "Tomorrow Never Comes". He must have made an indelible impression. My father commented on the performance whenever he saw the adult Homeier. In his twenties Homeier excelled at playing virile but violent young men with strongly neurotic tendencies ( e.g., "Halls of Montezuma"). Dan Raven was one of his few straight leading man roles, and there still seemed to be a hint of the neurotic about him.
Skip Homeier got a supporting series role ten years after "Dan Raven" on "The Interns", although now he was billed as G.V. Homeier. Homeier made a fine authority figure as senior doctor Hugh Jacoby. Homeier was also impressive a couple of years later as the judge in the TV movie "Helter Skelter".
I watched an episode of "Dan Raven" on DVD last night. The writing, directing and acting still hold up a half century later. Not a great show but a nice try. The show had a viable premise and a lead actor who could have become a star.
Six years after Dan Raven, Burt Reynolds played another detective lieutenant who worked the night beat, but this time the show was set in and filmed in Manhattan. That detective also had a bird's name-Hawk.
John Gavin gambles on his first television series
Likable lawman Harrison Destry was framed for a crime he didn't commit and was sent to prison. When Destry gets out of prison, he becomes a drifter with a goal. Destry hopes to clear his reputation by finding the men really guilty of the crime he was convicted of.
"Destry" borrowed the concept of an unjustly convicted man from "The Fugitive", which had started a few months earlier. But instead of going for the intense noir mood of "The Fugitive", "Destry" was more a remake of "Maverick". Destry never seemed to get very worked up about anything. He always tried to avoid trouble, but he wasn't a coward. He could handle anything thrown his way.
Howard Christie ("Wagon Train") was the executive producer.
Marion Hargrove ("See Here Private Hargrove") was one of the writers. Hargrove wrote the "Gunshy" episode of "Maverick", which was a delightful send up of "Gunsmoke" and Marshall Mort Dooley.
The "Destry" pilot was directed by Don Siegel ("Invasion of the Body Snatchers", "Dirty Harry").
Guest stars included Tammy Grimes, Broderick Crawford, Patricia Barry, Fess Parker, Susan Oliver, Janet Blair, Katherine Crawford, John Astin, Marie Windsor, Una Merkel, Claude Akins and Ron Hayes.
Thirty-three year old John Gavin ("Psycho", "Spartucus") seemed to have all the tools to be a fine series lead. But the execution of "Destry" was uninspired. The great Roy Huggins ("Maverick", "The Fugitive") might have been a better choice for producer.
The premise of the classic 1939 James Stewart-Marlene Dietrich movie "Destry Rides Again" could have made a fine series. When the sheriff of a town is murdered, a drunk is made sheriff by the corrupt town boss. The drunk asks for help from young Thomas Jefferson Destry, the son of a famous lawman who has been murdered. Young Destry turns out to be a tenderfoot, but he is not without resources.
I would have cast Broderick Crawford as the town drunk who decides to stop drinking when he becomes sheriff. And Tammy Grimes would have been fun in the Dietrich role of the strong, wicked woman who runs the dance hall and most of the town. Ray Danton could have been dandy as the evil town boss who was Destry's alter ego. And maybe it turns out Desty's father is not really dead.
Gavin could have been a fine western hero, but even Matt Dillon needed strong characters to play off of. "Destry" could have been a TV version of the entertaining "Rio Bravo", if the regular characters had the right chemistry.
Another poster was dead right when he said the catchy theme song was the most memorable thing about this show.
"Destry" was a mid-season replacement during the 1963-64 season. It was on Friday nights at 7:30 pm eastern time. "Destry" replaced the canceled "77 Sunset Strip".
Universal found another series for Gavin shortly after "Destry" ended its thirteen week run. "Convoy" was a WWII series co-starring John Larch and Linden Chiles. It was described as a sea-going Wagon Train. The pilot was again directed by Don Siegel.
John Gavin had won a Golden Globe in 1959 as most promising new male personality, along with Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. and Bradford Dillman.
John Gavin was apparently a very smart guy. He was a Stanford graduate and a former naval officer. But he should have been more choosy in looking for a series to star in. It was a big decision that was loaded with risk.
The Outsider (1968)
Just missed greatness
Producer Roy Huggins, who created both "77 Sunset Strip" and "The Fugitive", sort of mixes the two concepts here.
In "The Outsider" Huggins imagines what would have happened if Richard Kimble had gone to prison for a long period and then been pardoned.
I think Huggins was looking for an actor similar to David Janssen to play ex-con private eye David Ross. Jack Lord, who was in the David Janssen mold, was first offered the role. He would have been perfect casting, but Lord astutely chose "Hawaii 5-0" instead. (When Huggins remade "The Outsider" as "The Rockford Files", he cast James Garner, who was also reminiscent of David Janssen.) Janssen and Huggins had worked together three times, the first time being way back in 1957 on "Conflict".
Huggins had written a superb and original character in David Ross, but casting the role was critical. I would have considered Robert Lansing, Pernell Roberts (without toupee), George Maharis, Stuart Whitman, John Saxon, Bradford Dillman or Rip Torn. Or maybe Huggins could even have got David Janssen with a sweet enough offer.
Darren McGavin was one of the greatest television actors of his generation, but he wasn't in peak form here. He had already brilliantly played private detective Mike Hammer, so he wasn't the freshest casting. McGavin was forced to wear a toupee as Ross, and the toupee made him less interesting looking. McGavin didn't project the great soulfulness and weariness that David Janssen might have and that could have been appropriate for a man who spent a long period in jail and was a lifetime outsider.
Huggins wasn't able to find a way to properly exploit the ex-con aspect of his hero. Maybe Ross should have been trying to find the person who committed the crime he went to jail for.
"The Outsider" made too much use of tired old Universal sets and there was little location shooting. Also Pete Ruggolo's music was way too reminiscent of Huggins' "Run For Your Life". The sets and the music were really disappointing. The cinematography didn't give a distinctive noir look to the show. There should have been more night for night shooting. And Huggins didn't seem to spend as much on each episode as Leonard Freedman did on "Hawaii 5-0" and Quinn Martin did on his shows. "The Outsider" seemed to be done on the cheap.
But Huggins' basic conception for this show was near brilliant. Huggins tried to turn all the TV private eye conventions on their head (conventions "77 Sunset Strip" helped introduce). David Ross didn't live in a magnificent apartment with a view of the city, he didn't have a leggy secretary, he didn't drive a sports car, he wasn't highly educated (actually he wasn't even a high school graduate), he didn't have a close pal on the force (the police treated him like scum), he didn't have handsome partners who were like brothers, he wasn't a great humanist who took cases for free, he wasn't rich (actually he was poor), he didn't refuse divorce cases on principle....
Even with a less than perfect execution, "The Outsider" is one of television's finest examples of the private eye genre.
The hit private eye movie "Harper" (1966), where Paul Newman played a version of Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer, also appears to have been a strong influence on "The Outsider". I think Huggins got the name of his hero David Ross by combining the first names of David Janssen and Ross Macdonald.
Strange Report (1969)
Some Strange Casting Ideas
Dr. Adam Strange was a modern day Sherlock Holmes. He was a criminologist who acted as a consultant to the London police. He used his deep knowledge of science and human behavior to solve baffling crimes.
Fifty-five year old Anthony Quayle played Dr. Strange. Quayle was superb actor and apparently a lovely man. He had an enormous success a couple of years later in the original London and Broadway productions of "Sleuth". But his Adam Strange wasn't particularly magnetic or forceful. Strange was just a very nice, very intelligent man doing his job in a very competent manner.
What was needed was a brilliant and charismatic performance as Adam Strange, similar to Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes, Peter Falk's Columbo or Hugh Laurie's Dr. House.
Three actors who might have uncorked great performances as Dr. Adam Strange: David McCallum, Patrick McGoohan, or Donald Pleasance.
"The Strange Report" had a fine basic premise, a neat title and a great iconic name for its central character. All this show needed to be a hit was a great lead performance.
The executive producer of "The Strange Report" was talented Norman Felton. His other shows include "Dr. Kildare", "The Eleventh Hour", "The Lieutenant", "The Man from UNCLE", and "The Psychiatrist".
Line producer Robert Buzz Berger had a long association with the great television producer Herbert Brodkin ("The Defenders"). Among the shows they did together were "The Missiles of October", "Pueblo", "Holocaust", "Skokie", "Murrow", "Mandela" and the Frank Janek movies with Richard Crenna.
The Gallant Men (1962)
Robert Conrad might have achieved greatness on this show
The pilot of "Combat" was not as well made as the pilot of "The Gallant Men".
Robert Altman directed the pilot of "The Gallant Men". He was key in casting all the regulars. Boris Sagal ("Rich Man, Poor Man") directed the pilot for "Combat", but never did another episode. The producers of "Combat" hated the look of their pilot and loved the look of the "Gallant Men" pilot. The producers convinced Altman to move over to "Combat" as a producer-writer-director. Altman did some of his best work on the first season of "Combat", and he got the series off to a superb start. Altman says on a "Combat" DVD commentary of an episode with Albert Salmi that he never got better than that as a director. Altman also said that "Combat" had a better cast than "The Gallant Men", even though he cast "The Gallant Men" and had nothing to do with casting "Combat".
"The Gallant Men" was probably suggested by "The Story of G.I. Joe" (1945) where Burgess Meredith played war correspondent Ernie Pyle and Robert Mitchum played an infantry captain. In "The Gallant Men", Robert McQueeney was top billed as war correspondent Conley Wright.
"The Gallant Men" focused on a company while "Combat" focused on a single squad. The squad level turned out to be the ideal vehicle to tell war stories and to allow the viewer to get close to the characters. "Combat" also benefited from having one of the 1960's best series performances: Vic Morrow as Sergeant Saunders. Morrow was nominated for an Emmy for the first season of "Combat", but lost to E.G. Marshall ("The Defenders"). "Combat" also hired superb guest stars that Warner Brothers would never pay up for: Jeffrey Hunter, Lee Marvin, James Coburn, Rip Torn, John Cassavetes and many others. And finally, "Combat" paid for better writers and wound up with much better scripts.
Warner Brothers was a very cheap outfit, although they often did manage to make compelling shows.
Robert Conrad gave an excellent guest star performance on "The Gallant Men" as a sergeant who was the brother of series hero Captain Benedict (well played by William Reynolds.) Robert Conrad might have been brilliant as a tough squad leader, maybe even as good as Vic Morrow. Conrad should have been brought in as the new series star. The show should have focused on Conrad's squad rather than the company. The most appealing regular on "The Gallant Men" was 23-year old Roger Davis as Private Gibson. Conrad could bring Gibson along from episode to episode until finally Gibson is given a battlefield commission and becomes Conrad's platoon leader. This could have led to a strongly written and played relationship that could have given the show a dramatic center-something it badly needed.
Robert Altman's original conception for "The Gallant Men" was to kill off the regulars from week to week. This was a fascinating idea that could have made the series very realistic and emotionally involving. If Robert Altman had stayed on board, "The Gallant Men" might have given "Combat" a run for its money.
Richard Widmark's only series
Richard Widmark first played Detective Dan Madigan in a 1968 movie directed by Don Siegel, who would go on to do "Dirty Harry" (1971). Harry Guardino played Madigan's partner and lovely Inger Stevens was his dissatisfied wife. Madigan was a tough, sardonic guy who wasn't above taking minor bribes, but he was essentially an honorable man. Madigan is killed at the end of the movie. Some astute critics think highly of the movie.
Don Siegel had also directed "Coogan's Bluff" (1968), which was turned into "McCloud".
Thirty-four year old Dean Hargrove produced the series version of "Madigan". Hargrove had produced the Gene Barry segments of "Name of the Game", which were the most stylish and entertaining episodes of that series. Hargrove produced the first 90-minute season of "McCloud", and he injected a lot of humor and class. This season (1972-73) Hargrove was producing "Columbo" (in its second year) and "Madigan".
Hargrove made a few poor choices in putting "Madigan" together. Madigan was made into a loner cop like Columbo and McCloud. Madigan should have had a strong partner to play off of, like he did in the movie. Bruce Dern could have worked beautifully with Widmark. Hargrove turned Madigan into a "fish out of water" like McCloud by having the New York City cop investigate cases in London, Lisbon and Naples. It was almost the reverse of "McCloud" who was a New Mexico deputy marshal working on cases in New York City. By this point, the concept seemed a bit tedious.
"Madigan" should have focused on a tough cop and his partner investigating cases in New York City. The show should have tried for less humor and more suspense and mystery. And Hargrove needed more compelling detective stories than he was able to find. Maybe producer David Levinson ("The Senator") might have found a more appropriate tone for the show.
On the plus side, there was a lot of fine, expensive location shooting. And Hargrove hired first-rate directors like Jack Smight ("Harper", "No Way to Treat a Lady") and Boris Sagal ("Rich Man, Poor Man".) And Richard Widmark, who was then 57-years old, is a dramatic actor of stature and substance.
Widmark had been very appealing as the president in "Vanished" (1971), an ambitious two-part World Premiere movie that also starred James Farentino ("Cool Million"). Widmark received an Emmy nomination for that role, but lost to George C. Scott for "The Price".
Maybe Widmark and Hargrove should have used that fine performance as the president as the template for a series hero. Widmark could have played a brilliant trial lawyer. That kind of role would have allowed Widmark to project more of his natural intelligence and warmth than Dan Madigan did.
Sergeant Dan Madigan might have been a little too tough and gritty for viewers to feel very close to. Even Dirty Harry might not have been a success as a TV hero.
Dean Hargrove went on to a long successful career ("Matlock", "In the Heat of the Night", "Jake and the Fatman", "Diagnosis Murder", "Father Dowling", the "Perry Mason" movies.) He is still at it with "Jane Doe", starring delightful Lea Thompson and Joe Penny.
Dean Hargrove is the son of talented Hollywood writer Marion Hargrove. Robert Walker played Marion Hargrove in the movie "See Here Private Hargrove", based on Hargrove's book about his adventures in the army during World War II. Marion Hargrove later wrote probably the best episode of "Maverick". It was called "Gunshy" and it was a devilish send up of "Gunsmoke". Marion Hargrove later wrote some scripts for his son's shows.
The Challenge (1970)
Dandy pilot for a Darren McGavin series called "Gallery"
McGavin was 47 when he made this terrific little film.
No TV actor was as good at these roles as McGavin. He was the TV equivalent of Steve McQueen or Lee Marvin, both of whom were also veterans of TV. "The Challenge" could have made a strong theatrical movie for McQueen or Marvin. It could still be remade today.
McGavin had already starred in four television series at this point.
McGavin had starred the previous season in "The Outsider", as ex-con private investigator David Ross. This was one of the finest private eye series. Roy Huggins, who created and produced the series, later retooled it as "The Rockford Files".
After "The Challenge", McGavin made two other exceptional Movies of the Week: "Tribes" and "The Night Stalker". These were better films than most movie stars were making at the time.
When the "Gallery" pilot didn't sell, McGavin immediately signed on for another pilot where he played a spy named Killian. The TV movie was called "Berlin Affair". When someone asked him if the film was cloak and dagger, McGavin said it was more "girl on arm". That pilot didn't sell either.
I read once that McGavin turned down the lead in "Hogan's Heros" (1965-1971). He could have been dazzling in that role.
But in 1965 McGavin did sign on to star in a pilot of "From Here to Eternity". McGavin would have played the Burt Lancaster role of Sergeant Warden. Another tantalizing might have been.