Thursday, March 3, 2011


I suppose I should be grateful to my brother Bill for coming down with the flu and being bed-ridden for a couple of days; otherwise I might never have discovered this "Game of the Name" missing link between two classic shows from the 1970's - 'Columbo' and 'Quincy, M.E.'.

Both of these series, starring Peter Falk and Jack Klugman respectively, would seem perfect for a crossover: a police detective and a medical examiner from Los Angeles who were both known only by their last names, work together to solve a murder. And since they overlapped on the NBC schedule back then, and were produced under the Universal aegis, I'm surprised no one ever broached the pozz'bility.

(If they did, I'm unaware of it. And from what I've read, Klugman was considered to appear on 'Columbo' - but as a murderer. Apparently the role of Riley Greenleaf in "Publish Or Perish" was written for him in mind, but it was yet another opportunity given to Jack Cassidy instead. However, as Mark Dawidziak noted in his excellent book about the 'Columbo' TV show, Klugman falls into a category of actor that would just be the wrong type on 'Columbo'. An appearance by Quincy would have been a better fit.

So Bill was laid up with the flu and decided to watch a run of old' 'Columbo' episodes (I think from the beginning.) We were e-mailing back and forth when he mentioned that he was currently watching "Lady In Waiting" with Susan Clark, Jesse Royce Landis, Richard Anderson, and Leslie Nielsen.

The reason I owe the following missing link to Bill's flu is because I've only seen this episode twice - its first run and the first repeat So I haven't seen it since 1972 and I've forgotten a lot of it. But I do remember that I'm not a fan of it, finding it particularly weak (although not as void of logic as "Make Me A Perfect Murder" starring Trish Van Devere.) And Susan Clark was not very compelling as the guest lead.

So after Bill mentioned a few of the other people in the cast - specifically Marcia Wallace and Fred Draper (yet again!) - I looked it up in the IMDb and learned that Garry Walberg was listed in the credits as "First Detective".

In Toobworld, Garry Walberg is best known for two roles, each representing a side of the traditional theater mask - comedy and drama. In sitcoms, he was Speed on 'The Odd Couple' and for drama, he appeared in 'Quincy, M.E.' as Lt. Frank Monahan of the Los Angeles Police Department. (And, by the way, both series starred Jack Klugman.)

So you can see where I'm going with this - if Garry Walberg showed up as an unnamed L.A. detective in an episode of 'Columbo', why can't we make the assumption that he's appearing as Frank Monahan? As "First Detective" in the 'Columbo' episode, Monahan was most likely not yet a lieutenant, which is why it wasn't a co-investigation between equals. But I think that even though it was Columbo who did most of the heavy lifting mentally, the successful solution to the crime left everybody involved in the case smelling like a rose afterward. Frank Monahan would have received the promotion to lieutenant soon after that. Are there any other TV series or TV movies in which we might find a Garry Walberg role that could be considered Frank Monahan? Well, he was a detective in the pilot episode of 'The Immortal' and a sergeant in the TV movie/pilot "Man On A String". I can't speak for certainty regarding 'The Immortal' pilot, but "Man On A String" did take place in Los Angeles. And in an episode of 'Mannix' ("Little Girl Lost"), he played a bartender - maybe Monahan was moonlighting to make some extra quatloos. I'll look into those as best I can (To the Cloud - er, To the Paley Center!), but in the meantime I think we finally have a decent connection between 'Columbo' and 'Quincy, M.E.'

Oh, and Bill? Thanks for getting sick, my brother!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i think i'm gonna vomit now. lol.