CAMERA SETUP Single-camera
RUNNING TIME 48-50 minutes
PRODUCTION COMPANY(S) Warner Bros. Television
DISTRIBUTOR Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution
ORIGINAL NETWORK ABC
PICTURE FORMAT Black-and-white
AUDIO FORMAT Monaural
ORIGINAL RELEASE October 10, 1958 (1958-10-10) – February 7, 1964 (1964-02-07)
PRECEDED BY _I Love Trouble _ _Conflict _ episode: "Anything for Money"
The show was the subject of an ownership battle between Roy Huggins and Warner Bros. , which was the proximate cause of Huggins' departure from the studio. The series was based on novels and short stories written by Huggins prior to his arrival at Warner, but as a matter of legal record, derived from a brief Caribbean theatrical release of its pilot, _ Girl on the Run _, which was also given a theatrical release in the UK on the ABC circuit in 1959 and the supporting film to Warner Bros. _ The Old Man and the Sea _ starring Spencer Tracy . The show ran from 1958 to 1964.
* 1 Description * 2 Controversial sixth season, 1963-1964 * 3 Broadcast history * 4 Related shows * 5 Legacy * 6 Episode list * 7 References * 8 External links
Roger Smith with guest stars Biff Elliot and Maureen Leeds, 1961
The series revolves around two Los Angeles private detectives, both former government secret agents : Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., played Stuart ("Stu") Bailey, a character Huggins had originated in his 1946 novel _The Double Take_ (which he later adapted into the 1948 movie _I Love Trouble _, starring Franchot Tone in the role). Roger Smith played Jeff Spencer, also a former government agent, and a nonpracticing attorney . The duo worked out of a stylish office at 77 Sunset Boulevard (colloquially known as Sunset Strip ), between La Cienega Boulevard and Alta Loma Road on the south side of the strip next door to Dean Martin 's real-life lounge, Dino's Lodge. Suzanne, the beautiful French switchboard operator played by Jacqueline Beer , handled the phones.
Comic relief was provided by Roscoe the racetrack tout (played by Louis Quinn ), and Gerald Lloyd "Kookie" Kookson III (played by Edd Byrnes), the rock and roll -loving, wisecracking, hair-combing hipster and aspiring PI who worked as the valet parking attendant at Dino's, the club next door to the detectives' office. Byrnes had originally been cast as a contract killer in the series pilot, but proved so popular that he was brought back in a new role for the series.
Despite Huggins' hopes for a hard-edged drama, the tone of the series was much lighter and featured a strong element of self-deprecating humor. Many of the episodes were named "capers". The catchy theme song, written by the accomplished team of Mack David and Jerry Livingston , typified the show's breezy, jazzed atmosphere. The song became the centerpiece of an album of the show's music in Warren Barker-led orchestrations, which was released in 1959, a top-10 hit in the _Billboard_ LP charts. "Kookie" and Sue Randall , 1964
The Kookie character became a cultural phenomenon, with his slang expressions such as "ginchy" and "piling up Zs" (sleeping). When Kookie helped the detectives on a case by singing a song, Edd Byrnes began a singing career with the novelty single "Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)" ( Warner Bros. 5047), based on his frequent combing of his hair; this featured Connie Stevens on vocals in the chorus and became the first hit single for the recently established Warner Bros. Records . Kookie was also used to provide product placement for Harley-Davidson , appearing on their Topper motor scooter in the show and in Harley-Davidson advertisements.
When Byrnes' demands for more money and an expanded role were not met, he left the show, but he came back as a full-fledged partner in the detective firm in May 1960. (During his absence, Roscoe's and Suzanne's roles were beefed up to handle the leg work he normally did.) In 1961, Robert Logan became the new parking lot attendant, J.R. Hale, who usually spoke in abbreviations. In 1960, Richard Long moved from the recently canceled detective series _ Bourbon Street Beat _ with his role of Rex Randolph, but he left the program in 1962.
One of the series' more unusual episodes was the 1960 "The Silent Caper"; written by Smith, it presented its story completely without dialogue, hence the title. Another off-beat entry was 1961's "Reserved For Mr. Bailey", which finds Zimbalist alone in a ghost town. He is the only actor on-screen for the entire hour. (This latter episode was never included in the syndication package, and many fans had expressed their frustration at being unable to see it again. It finally resurfaced on MeTV on June 17, 2017.)
The show's popularity was such that rising young actors clamored for guest spots. Up-and-comers who made guest appearances included Ellen Burstyn , Roger Moore , DeForest Kelley , William Shatner , Mary Tyler Moore , Shirley MacLaine look-alike Gigi Verone, Robert Conrad , Dyan Cannon , Janet De Gore , Jay North , Connie Stevens , Irish McCalla , Adam West , Tuesday Weld , Sherry Jackson , Marlo Thomas , Max Baer, Jr. , Carole Mathews , Elizabeth Montgomery , Karen Steele , Randy Stuart , Susan Oliver , Robert Vaughn , Suzanne Storrs , Peter Breck , Donna Douglas , Troy Donahue , Chad Everett , Gena Rowlands , Cloris Leachman , Eve McVeagh , and Diane Ladd . Established film and TV actors and older stars guest-starred, as well, including Fay Wray , Francis X. Bushman , Rodolfo Hoyos, Jr. , Ida Lupino , Liliane Montevecchi , Keenan Wynn , Rolfe Sedan , Jim Backus , Billie Burke , Buddy Ebsen , George Jessel , Peter Lorre , Burgess Meredith , Nick Adams , Gerald Mohr , and Roy Roberts , among others. The show occasionally featured sports stars such as Sandy Koufax in guest roles.
CONTROVERSIAL SIXTH SEASON, 1963-1964
In 1963, as the show's popularity waned, the entire cast except for Zimbalist was let go. Jack Webb was brought in as executive producer and William Conrad as director . The character of Stuart Bailey became a solo private investigator, and the series took on a less light-hearted, more noir-ish tone. A new musical theme was written by Bob Thompson . Viewers did not appreciate such a wholesale alteration, and it was cancelled halfway through its sixth season in February 1964, although reruns from earlier years were shown the following summer.
NOTE: The most frequent time slot for the series is in BOLD TEXT.
* Friday at 9:30-10:30 pm on ABC: October 10, 1958—May 29, 1959; October 12, 1962—June 14, 1963 * FRIDAY AT 9:00-10:00 PM ON ABC: OCTOBER 2, 1959—JUNE 29, 1962 * Friday at 7:30-8:30 pm on ABC: September 20, 1963—February 7, 1964
The success of _77 Sunset Strip_ led to the creation of several other detective shows in exotic locales, all produced by the Warner Bros. studio, which created _Strip_ — _ Bourbon Street Beat _ in New Orleans , _ Hawaiian Eye _ in Hawaii, and _ Surfside 6 _ in Miami . The casts and scripts of these various shows sometimes crossed over, which was logistically easy, since they were all shot in Burbank on the Warner Bros. lot.
_ Andra Martin as a guest star on 77 Sunset Strip_ with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. , 1960
Currently, only an engraving in the Sunset Boulevard sidewalk (address number 8524) between La Cienega Boulevard and Alta Loma Road commemorates _77 Sunset Strip_, and the area is slated for redevelopment as part of "The Sunset Millennium" project. In a twist of fate, the opposition to the redevelopment of the area is known as "Save Our Strip" or "SOS" and is spearheaded by former _77 Sunset Strip_ semiregular Gigi Verone. No number 77 exists on the Strip, as all Sunset Boulevard addresses in the area have four digits.
The show was referenced in an episode of Jay Ward's _Fractured Flickers _, showing a satirical depiction of Ward looking at a lineup of fictional shows, one of them being "77 Gaza Strip".
Episodes of the television series can be