Saturday, July 08, 2006
In 1972 Quinn Martin was back at home on ABC with the Streets of San Francisco. Karl Malden played Det. Lt. Mike Stone and Michael Douglas was Inspector Steve Keller. They were a contrast in the ways they approached crime detection. Stone was a 23 year veteran of the force and Keller was a college educated man who preferred modern methods. They worked well together and learned from each other. In 1976 Keller left the force to pursue teaching as a career. Actually we all know that Michael Douglas left to make movies and the rest is movie history. Douglas was replaced by Richard Hatch as Inspector Dan Robbins. A year after the show was canceled Hatch went on to Battlestar Galactica and various films and made for TV movies like Deadman’s Curve as Jan Berry and in Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen as Chan’s #1 son. The film met with protest from Asian Americans as none of the key roles were played by Asians they were either Americans or British. He currently has a reoccurring role in the new Battlestar Galactica. Karl Malden didn’t fare as well on TV series after the show was cancelled in 1977. He tried another series called Skag but it was quickly canceled. He had roles in many big budget films like Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, Meteor, The Sting II, Nuts etc. He did do an episode of the West Wing but his biggest success on TV other then Streets was for American Express ads. Usually the ads would show someone who lost their credit card while on vacation. Since it wasn’t American Express it wouldn’t be replaced. Mr. Malden would then show up dressed as Mike Stone but he was never addressed as such. He explained how they should have had American Express. Then he would utter what became his catch phrase. “Don’t leave home without it.” In the early 90’s Mr. Malden did return to the character of Mike Stone in the TV movie Return to the Streets of San Francisco. He was the only character from the series that came back and now was partnered with a young female Inspector who was even more involved in taking care of her health then his previous two partners. For some reason I only seem to remember her always trying to get him to try bottled water and he would politely say no. The movie was pretty good but not as good as the series. While the series was good its title made it the butt of a joke between me and my cousin Randy. Every once in awhile we would talk about our favorites shows. When police drama came up we would always say they never show police drama in a small town like ours. One time one of us said I can see it now the show is The Streets of Erlanger and all the action scenes take place at Dunkin’ Donuts.
Karl Malden won the Oscar for best supporting actor in A Street Car Name Desire and an Emmy in 1976 for outstanding lead actor in a drama. In 2004 Michael Douglas presented him with a lifetime achievement award. In an early TV Guide interview Mr. Malden was asked what advice he would give to anyone starting out in the entertainment field. In keeping in mind that the actor’s life is not having steady work he said his advice was to seek another profession.
You can go here to Richard Hatch's official site.
In 1971 Quinn Martin sold a TV series to a network other then ABC. On September 14, 1971 Cannon premiered on CBS TV. William Conrad starred as private detective Frank Cannon. William Conrad had previously starred on the radio series as Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke. When the series went to TV the producers didn’t take Mr. Conrad as he didn’t look like the Hollywood version of a western Marshal. Mr. Martin took advantage of Mr. Conrad’s commanding voice by using him as narrator on many of his series. Finally he was given his own show. It was a hit and ran till September 19, 1976.
Frank Cannon was a detective who charged high prices to his wealthy clients so he could take on clients for free who didn’t have the money to hire him. He also liked to indulge himself in big cars and food. So his wallet usually commanded what cases he took. He looked intimidating enough that he rarely had to fire a shot or chase a crook. If he did the chase was usually by car as the portly detective was in no condition to run.
After the series left the air Mr. Conrad proved that audiences still loved to watch him as he starred in two more detective series they were Nero Wolfe and Jake and the Fat Man. Now I know that Mr. Conrad is fat but I can help but wonder if he was offended by the title of the last series. I know I would have been. Jake and the Fat Man even did something that Cannon didn’t. It had a spin off with Diagnosis Murder. Dr. Sloane, played by Dick Van Dyke, often played his Dr. on Jake and the Fat Man and helped solve some of the cases.
I once heard someone say the reason why Cannon was not syndicated was because the country was more aware of their health and of the price of gas. No one would believe today that a detective would drive a big gas guzzler and eat fast food all the time.
Friday, July 07, 2006
It is a sad thing when I can't find a cover on TV Guide for the Invaders but I did find one from New Zeland on this e-bay site. I did make up my own that you can see below. In 1967 America had orbited the Earth and walked on the Moon. With so much attention given to outer space science fiction was coming back to prime time TV. Quinn Martin answered on Januaary 10, 1967 with The Invaders. Roy Thinnes had been in episodes of the other Quinn Martin productions that were mentioned on this site. He played David Vincent a man who made a wrong turn one night and saw a flying saucer land. He found out that there were others that had already landed and the aliens were living among us disguised as humans. He tried to tell others but few believed him. The only way to tell who was an alien was that they had a crooked pinky finger. Sometimes they glowed if they needed regeneration and they had no pulse or heartbeat. When they were shot they would disintegrate. For a long time David Vincent fought alone. Eventually he convinced a handful of others and they helped him. His chief right hand man was Edgar Scoville, played by Kent Smith, the head of an electronics firm.
Perhaps it was true or prehaps it was just hype for the show but Roy Thinnes released to the press that he had actually seen a UFO. It didn't help. Low ratings canceled the show September 17, 1968.
However, the Invaders was one of those shows that refused to die. Episodes of the series were released on VHS tape. Fox TV did a mini-series starring Scott Backula in hopes that a new series would evolve. Roy Thinnes appeared in the first episode of the series as David Vincent. He had still been fighting the aliens all this time and was tired and passed the baton on to Mr. Bakula's character. The mini-series was pretty good but no new TV series came out of it.
Roy Thinnes has continued acting in movies and television since the Invaders. He has been in the 1990's revival of Dark Shadows, episodes of Touched By An Angel and other TV shows. He was in the movie A Beautiful Mind which won the Oscar for Best Picture.
On September 19, 1965 at 8pm The F.B.I. premiered on ABC. I can still hear the announcer saying “THE F.B.I. A QUINN MARTIN PRODUCTION STARRING…” That was the way almost all of his productions started but it never seems complete to me without hearing the F.B.I. in front of it. Not too surprising I suppose since the show ran till September 8, 1974. An incredible run of 9 years. The star was Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. as Inspector Lewis Erskine and he was on the show the entire run. Being on a long running hit show was not new to Mr. Zimbalist. He was also one of the stars of 77 Sunset Strip as private detective Stuart Bailey and it ran from 1958 to 1964. He was on the entire run of that series too. If you were a fan of 77 Sunset Strip it probably felt like Stuart Bailey joined the F.B.I. The first year of the series tried to show Erskine at work and at home with his daughter Barbara. Later she was written out of the show to concentrate on the crimes that were being investigated. Many Special Agents came and went over the years but Erskine and Arthur Ward, the man Erskine reported to who was played by Philip Abbott, were the ones who were with the show the entire time.
This show was one of the jewels in ABC and QM Productions crowns. Quinn Martin must have mended some fences with the government since the Untouchables. He got the full backing of J. Edgar Hoover on the show and even got Hoover and Zimbalist together on the cover of TV Guide. Hoover helped bring the show closer to reality by allowing them to shoot some scenes at the F.B.I. building in Washington DC.
The real stars of the show were the cases that the F.B.I; worked on. They were taken straight out of the files of the F.B.I. They were never asked to tell if any parts of the show were fictionalized. The cases they worked on involved organized crime, Communist spies, counterfeiters and since this was the era of the Vietnam War debate they investigated radical bombings.
The show always portrayed the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a positive light. Inspector Erskine and his Special Agents were always in neatly pressed and tailored business suits. They were calm and cool in every situation. They showed almost no emotion at all during their investigations. They solved the crimes scientifically and methodically. Another program at that time did the same thing for the LAPD. That was the Jack Webb produced Dragnet. Dragnet was seen as campy and teenage viewers made that show a hit by watching to laugh at the police. Somehow The F.B.I. was able to avoid the campy label and got adult viewers to watch.
The show was really ahead of it’s time. Some episodes closed asking for information on the F.B.I.’s most wanted criminals. In 1968 they asked for information on James Earl Ray the man who shot Martin Luther King. This was all done before America’s Most Wanted which didn’t start airing till April of 1988.
ABC had a contract with Ford Motor Company. Since Ford was a sponsor on the show all of the F.B.I. Agents drove Fords.
The above TV Guide cover that I saw on TV Guide.com I chose because it is the only time that I saw them list the television schedule on the cover of the magazine.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
In 1964 Quinn Martin was the executive producer of 12 O’clock High. It was a war drama based on a novel by Beirne Lay Jr. and Sy Bartlett. It had already been a movie that starred Gregory Peck. The first year the star was Robert Lansing as Brigadier General Frank Savage. He led bombing mission over enemy territory during World War II. He still had his bosses to report to but all the action was with him and his men. At the start of the second season Savage was killed in a bombing raid and General Gallagher, played by Paul Burke was given command of the 918th Bombardment Group. Mr. Lansing would go on to science fiction cult fame most notably in Star Trek as Gary Seven. His episode of Star Trek was to be a pilot for a spin off series that went unsold. His co-star was a young Terri Garr. Now Paul Burke was not a cast change. He was already in the cast. His character was just promoted during the second season. Andrew Duggan and Chris Robinson were added to the cast as Brigadier General Ed Britt who Gallagher reported to and Tech Sgt. Sandy Komansky as Gallagher’s gunner and flight engineer.
As you can tell I have never seen the TV series. Anyone I know who did see it has never talked about it. What I give you here is just what I have recently read about the show in The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows. It is a wonderful book for anyone interested in broadcast history.
Tuesday September 10, 1963 at 9:30pm was the last time the Untouchables aired in prime time on ABC. By that time Quinn Martin had started his own production company. One week later on September 17, 1963 QM productions took over the Tuesday night slot at 10pm. The show that aired was ‘The Fugitive’ starring David Janssen, who a few years earlier starred in Richard Diamond, Private Eye, and Barry Morse, who years later co-starred in Space 1999. By now most people know that Mr. Janssen played Dr. Richard Kimble who was found guilty of killing his wife. He didn’t kill her and he escaped Lt. Gerard and was trying to find the real killer, the one armed man that he saw leaving his house when he got home. Lt. Gerard followed him across the country trying to recapture Kimble and take him back to prison. The only other regular on the show was the voice over of William Conrad who would go on to fame in another QM Production called Cannon. Actors like Jacquelin Scott or Bill Raisch were occasional see as Kimble sister and the one armed man. Around the time of show there was a trial on another Dr. who was to have killed his wife. Many believe the series was based on this event but not given credit on the show.
Kimble changed his name to Roy Lincoln in the first episode and the network executives wanted him to keep that name for the run of the series. They thought it would be too confusing for the audience to have a different name every week. The writers and producers told them that if you were on the run for real you would have to change you name in every town. For once the network executives agreed and his name changed almost every episode. The show was a hit and it was so believable that in an interview Mr. Morse, who lived in Canada, said he was always stopped in the airport and people asked him “Why don’t you leave that poor man alone?” This was perhaps the first time that a show was done about a man on the run from the law. It was so successful that other shows like it still pop up from time to time. There was Run For Your Life, Run Buddy Run, The Incredible Hulk and the short lived Hot Pursuit. While I enjoyed all of them none of them did it better then the Fugitive. The show did one thing that I don’t believe any of those programs ever did. It actually had an ending. A record setting 72 percent of all viewers watched Dr. Richard Kimble confront the one armed man. Dr. Kimble was about to be killed till Lt. Gerard showed up. Gerard had finally pieced everything together and believed Dr. Kimble was innocent. In the nick of time he shot and killed the one armed man before he could kill Dr. Kimble. I was just 5 or 6 at the time but for years I had a memory of seeing the final episode. I didn’t know how that could be as I was too young to watch any shows that aired at 10pm. Finally I looked up the show and saw the date of the last episode. It was August 29, 1967. That is a special date for me. It was my 6th birthday and Mom and Dad let me stay up late. That is why I got to see the last episode of The Fugitive. The theme of the show is still strong today. When the cable network A & E aired the reruns it was one of their highest rated shows. It was made into a move with Harrison Ford as Dr. Kimble and Tommy Lee Jones as Gerard. Mr. Jones won an Oscar for best supporting actor. Hmmm! First Connery then Jones. Quick someone do a Streets of San Francisco so some other deserving actor can get an Oscar! David Janssen had died by the time the movie came out. However, his Mom was still alive and they gave her a part as an extra in the film. She is in the court room when Dr. Kimble is on trial. The show was made into a TV series again on the strength of the film with Tim Daly as Dr. Kimble. While it was enjoyable the ratings weren’t there and it was cancelled after a season. A sequel to the movie called U.S. Marshals with Tommy Lee Jones as the star didn’t do as well. Again Gerard was after an innocent man who was on the run. I think it would have done better if he was after a guilty man and they focused on the police work to catch him. After all some of them had to be guilty.
Roy Huggins conceived the series and said he was really trying to do a western. It was the lone stranger riding into town. He solved everybodies problems then rode out never to be seen again. At least this time we knew his background. On a sidenote some people say that David Janssen is the son of Clark Gable. I don’t know if it is true but if you put a moustache on Mr. Janssen he does look like Gable.
The above TV Guide cover I got from this auction site.
Anyone remember the Cruisin' series of albums. I do. I never bought or heard the records as I was too young to buy my own records when they started coming out with them. Recently I saw the CD's at my local Library. The series was designed for nostalgia and to keep future generations informed what radio was like in the 50's and 60's. Each album had a popular DJ from that year introducing the songs on the album. It was like listening to their radio program on each album. What I really remember is the art of the album covers. It followed the love affair of two kids from age of about 15 into their 20's. Each cover was done by Mike Royer. He eventually worked for Disney and developed the modern look for Winnie the Pooh and his friends. You can visit Mr. Royer's site by clicking here. If you scroll below you can follow the love affiar of Eddie and Peg through the years. Take a look at all the beautiful detail that Mr. Royer put into each cover. The Movie poster and newspaper headlines make you feel that you are there at that moment.
The Untouchables was produced by Desilu studios but it was a true Quinn Martin production. It was one of the first of his shows that was to use what would become one of his production trademarks. He always used a voice over narrator on most of his shows. The narrator of this program was famed newsman Walter Winchell. The show was about Government Agent Eliot Ness and his band of Agents fight against organized crime. They were called the Untouchables because no crime boss could touch them by bribing them to look the other way on crime. The show aired on ABC on Thursday nights at 9:30 starting on October 15, 1959. The show was based on the autobiography of Eliot Ness. A special two part semi-documentary based on the book was aired on the Desilu playhouse in April of 1959. It did very well and was quickly made into a series. The search to find the right actor to play Eliot Ness was hard. They finally settled on Van Johnson. The night before they were to begin filming Mrs. Johnson, Van’s wife and manager, called the man in charge of Desilu, Desi Arnez, and demanded more money. Arnez told her no and they would get someone else to play the role. Now they were stuck. Filming started tomorrow and they had no star. A quick call to Robert Stack solved that problem. So if you ever see the first episode with Mr. Stack and his clothes don’t seem to fit and he doesn’t seem to know his lines very well now you know why. The costume department didn’t have time to change the clothes and he didn’t have time to learn all of the script.
Critics hated the show because it was so violent. Every week ended with a mob boss riddled with bullets. Viewers loved the show and one of its saving graces was that the early episodes were historically accurate. I say the early ones but later ones started to stray from history. You see as the show went on it was harder and harder to find crooks famous enough for Ness and his men to fight. Since the special on Desilu Playhouse ended with Al Capone already captured the TV series dealt with them fighting Capone’s second in command Frank Nitti. Along the way they also took on Bugs Moran, Ma Barker, Mad Dog Coll and Dutch Schultz. Many people didn’t like the dramatic license the show took. Ness was a Treasury agent but cases like Ma Barker were handled by the FBI. The estate of Al Capone sued because of the use of his name for profit. Prison officials didn’t like being shown as giving Mr. Capone soft treatment. All of this may have gotten any other show taken off the air. However, the Untouchables was too big of a hit to let go. They finally added to each episode that certain parts were fictionalized. Mr. Stack said the show didn’t take much acting. All he had to do was react to what the crooks said or did. It was the contrast that made the show work. Many famous and up and coming actors were on this series. Like Neville Brand, William Bendix, Lloyd Nolan, Peter Falk and in the first year Jerry Paris was a regular. Mr. Paris later went on to greater fame on the Dick Van Dyke show as Jerry Helper. On that show he got started as a TV and movie director. He was one of the main directors on Dick Van Dyke and Happy Days. Mr. Paris also directed some of the Police Academy movies before he passed away. His last known screen appearance to me was when he was in a lineup in the last Police Academy film that he also directed. Mr. Stack got many offers to appear on other programs as Eliot Ness. He turned them down as he felt it took away from the show. He did accept one. Lucille Ball, on one of her shows after I Love Lucy, had him on as Eliot Ness. He was still under contract to Desilu at the time and after her divorce from Desi Arnez she was the sole owner of Desilu. I guess he didn’t want to make the boss angry at him.
Like many TV shows in the past 25 years it was made into a big budget film. It starred Kevin Costner and Sean Connery. It was a huge hit and Mr. Connery won and Oscar for best supporting actor. I thought that this would get the show rerun in syndication. I couldn’t wait as I had never seen it before. Sadly I heard that Paramount who bought Desilu studios wanted too much money for the syndication rights and stations in my area didn’t get it. I think I saw one episode on a cable station but they stopped running it too.
A new syndicated version was produced in 1992 and released in 1993. It starred Tom Amandes and John Rhys-Davies. Only 44 episodes of the new show were produced. I guess it didn't have that Quinn Martin touch.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
I have a wonderful book called Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things by Charles Panati. It tells, well like the title says, the beginnings of ordinary things. On this July 4th I would like to tell you the story of how Mount Rushmore began. In 1885 when New York lawyer Charles Rushmore was surveying the mountain range on horseback with a guide. Mr. Rushmore asked the guide what was the name of the mountain. The guide joked with him and said it never had a name but from now on we’ll call it Rushmore. He may have just been kidding but the name stuck. When Charles Rushmore gave a gift of five thousand dollars he became one of the first contributors to the presidential memorial. The idea to change the mountain into a tourist attraction came from South Dakota historian Doane Robinson. In 1923 he told the state his plan to increase tourism and strengthen its economy. However, the plan he had in mind was to carve three western legends into the mountain. They were Kit Carson, Jim Bridger and John Colter. The state liked the idea. They commissioned Idaho born sculptor John Gutson de la Mothe Borglum. With that name he sounds like he was from France instead of Idaho. His most recent claim to fame was sculpting Robert E. Lee on Stone Mountain in Georgia. When he accepted the job he had another idea. Instead of carving Western legends he thought it should be the faces of four influential American Presidents.
Construction was very dangerous due to the weather and how inaccessible it was except by foot or horseback. Mr. Borglum said that since it faced southeast it gave maximum sunlight for construction and since it was inaccessible it protected the monument from vandals.
A lot of surface rock had to be blasted away. They had to blast away 30 feet of rock before they could start on George Washington’s chin. One hundred and twenty five feet had to be blasted away before they could start on Theodore Roosevelt’s forehead.
In 1941 construction of the monument was completed fourteen years after it had begun. It of course had George Washington “Father of the Nation”, Thomas Jefferson “The Expansionist”, Theodore Roosevelt “Protector of the Working Man” and Abraham Lincoln “Preserver of the Union.”
Construction was essentially completed when Borglum died on March 6, 1941 at age 74. His son added the finishing touches.
The above photo I got from this E-Bay auction.
Here is something that baseball history fans will love. The above photo of Johnny Bench is I believe from the July 4th 1971 Cincinnati Enquirer. The caption says "Somewhere under that dust cloud is Dave Roberts of the Padres, who was tagged out by Johnny Bench in the second inning. Roberts tried to score from second on Enzo Hernandez's single. Pete Rose made the throw. Umpire Andy Olsen made the call." Unfortunately my beloved Cincinnati Reds lost 3 to 2.
Monday, July 03, 2006
Sunday, July 02, 2006
What does God promise to those who obey?
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with scoffers. But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants; day and night they think about his law. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.
Do What He Says
Believers who build their lives on a solid foundation are like the man whom a reporter found in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. Amid the devastation and debris, one house still stood firm on its foundation. The owner was cleaning up when the reporter approached him. "Sir, why is your house the only one still standing?" the reporter asked.
"I built this house myself," the man replied. "I built it according to the Florida state building code. I was told that a house built according to code could withstand a hurricane. I did, and it did! I suppose no one else around here followed the code."
If you have built your life on Jesus Christ and His teaching, you will stand when the storms of life hit. If you are not merely a hearer but a doer of the His Word, you will endure. The true Christian—the one who has built his or her life on the right foundation—will stand the test.