From a crime solving Coroner to a Private Eye with a ’57 T-Bird in Vega$, a police detective whose hair was two decades ahead of his time, a wheelchair bound police chief in an armored car, and a quirky maverick whose best friend had feathers, we took a look at TV’s detectives, those guys who solved TV crime, week in and week out on the small silver screens across America.
Part 2 of a series
Who could forget the great intro music and the big hair of lead detective, Steve McGarrett, played by Jack Lord, of the long running series, Hawaii Five-O?
Set and filmed in Hawaii, the series centered on an “elite branch of the Hawaii State Police” headed by Detective McGarrett along with his second-in-command, Detective Danny “Dano” Williams, played by James McArthur, with Kam Fong as Detective Chin Ho Kelly. The series ran from 1968 to 1980.
McGarrett’s nemesis included the evil Wo Fat, an ex-Red Chinese espionage agent played by Khigh Dhiegh, .
McGarrett’s private life was left to the imagination of the viewers as the show focused on crimes and catching the criminals who prowled paradise. McGarrett, a former Korean War veteran and Naval Intelligence Officer, was a “bachelor” and called his secretary, May, “Love”.
Lord was an accomplished artist, two of his paintings were acquired by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum of Modern Art by the time he was twenty. He passed away in Honolulu at age 77 of congestive heart failure.
At the end of each show after the next preview, McGarrett’s character:
“Be there. Aloha!”
He played the fictional attorney, Perry Mason, who never, ever lost a case, well, almost never, from 1957-1966, then in 1967 became wheelchair bound San Francisco Detective Robert T. Ironside.
Raymond Burr played Ironside, the man who solved cases and caught criminals in his wheelchair after surviving an attack by a sniper’s bullet.
The San Francisco PD, apparently unable to do without the crack crime solving and administrative skills of Detective Ironside, had his office retrofitted to not only be handicap accessible, but also moved him in, lock, stock and barrel, replete with a black ex-con, Mark Sanger, played by Don Mitchell, as his wheelchair pusher and van driver.
The writers added to the cast a bland white detective, Detective Sarg. Ed Brown, played by Don Galloway and the beautiful young policewoman, Eve Whitfield, played by Barbara Anderson.
One bit of trivia, when the show first began Ironside and his team rode around in an armored car which was later replaced with a van.
Sung by Sammi Davis, Jr., the intro song Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow introduced viewers to quirky undercover maverick New York Detective Tony Baretta and his pet cockatoo, Fred.
Debuting in 1975, actor Robert Blake played Baretta. He won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and two back-to-back Golden Globes for Best TV Actor – Drama for 1975 and ’76.
Baretta, a “newly widowed” cop, whose pad was in a run-down hotel with a cockatoo named Fred as his roommate. Baretta’s favorite informer was a pimp named Rooster played by Michael D. Roberts.
In 1939, at age six, Blake played the character Mickey in the MGM’s Our Gang’s Little Rascals.
Blake went on to act in multiple films and television shows but it was his chilling performance as one of two killers in the film, In Cold Blood, in 1967, that audiences took note.
The pilot of Baretta is quite stunning when you compare it to an incident in Blake’s later “real” life.
Bonny Lee and Robert Blake married in November 2000 and Bonny moved into a guest house on the property. In May 2001, Robert Blake and Bonny went to dinner at Vitello’s Italian Restaurant, where Blake was a regular customer. After dinner the two walked to their car and according to Blake he realized he left his revolver at the restaurant and left to retrieve it. When he returned to the car he found Bonny Lee with a gunshot wound to her head, dying in the front seat. Blake ran for help but Bonny Lee soon died.
After a year of investigations, Robert Blake was arrested and charged with the murder of Bonny Lee Bakley. On March 15, 2005, a jury of seven women and five men deliberated for more than 36 hours before returning a verdict of not guilty in the murder of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley and not guilty on one count of soliciting someone to murder her. Source – Crime.about
Tony Baretta must cope with killing of his new wife outside an Italian restaurant.
He played Oscar to Tony Randall’s Felix in the sitcom, The Odd Couple, before becoming the crime solving coroner on Quincy, M.E..
Quincy, M.E., or just “Quincy” to fans, the show debuted in 1976. Jack Klugman played Quincy, the Los Angeles County coroner investigating “suspicious” deaths. Robert Ito was Sam Fujiyama, Quincy’s assistant. Quincy’s character was based on real-life Los Angeles Coroner, Dr. Thomas Noguchi.
Quincy gets involved in the “evils” of punk rock.
Yet another widower, Quincy lived on a houseboat. Anita Gillette served double duty, playing his first wife who succumbed to a brain tumor and then his second wife, Dr. Emily Hanover, who married Quincy during the last season of the show, 1983.
Quincy’s first name was never revealed.
Before he played Spenser he starred as Dan Tanna in Vega$. Robert Urich also starred as “tennis pro” Peter Campbell in the cult TV classic, SOAP, in 1977. Vega$ premiered in 1978.
Tanna, a private detective, drove around Vegas in a red ’57 T-bird. Tony Curtis played “Slick,” owner of the Desert Inn Hotel and Casino and one of Tanna’s frequent clients.
Tanna was “high tech” at the time with a phone and answering machine in his car. Tanna served in Vietnam along with his two buddies on the show, Harlon Twoleaf, played by Will Sampson, and Mitch Costegian, played by Chick Venerra.
Phyllis Davis played Tanna’s assistant, former showgirl Beatrice. Greg Morris was Vegas police detective Lt. David Nelson.
Guest stars included Dean Martin, Kim Basinger, Melanie Griffith, Kim Cattrall, Slim Pickens, Cesar Romero, Muhammad Ali, and Leslie Neilsen.
The seventies was a great time for TV detectives with Jack Lord, Quincy, Dan Tanna, Baretta, Ironside, Barnaby Jones, Jim Rockford, Kojak, and Columbo.
Next up, TV Detectives from the Conservative Years, the 80’s.
Part 1 – Top Five Favorite TV Detectives and Private Investigators
Image- McGarrett and Wo Fat, Source – Imdb – Hawaii-Five-O, Youtube – Hawaii Five-O
Youtube – Hawaii Five-0 Intro
Youtube – Ironside, Youtube – Ironside Clip, Source – Imdb – Ironside, Image – Ironside
Youtube – Baretta Intro, Source – Imdb – Baretta, Image – Baretta
Youtube – Quincy, Source – Wiki – Quincy, Youtube – Quincy Punk Episode, Source – Imdb
Image – Quincy
Youtube –Vega$, Source – Wiki – Vegas, Image – TVAcres, Youtube – Vega$ – Jim Bailey
Death by 1000 Papercuts Front Page.