For years now I've been putting off this induction into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame; always finding somebody else who - for me, anyway - was always just a little more interesting to add during the month in which we celebrate Classic TV.
And I almost did it again this year, thinking that Barnaby Jones or Frank Cannon would be a good choice. Sadly they're both gone now, so a delay in their entry isn't going to disturb them. While we still have Efram Zimbalist, Jr. with us, I think 2013 should be his year to finally receive this "honor".....
It could be argued that 'Peter Gunn' made the TV private eye cool, but it was Stu Bailey who made the archetype suave - every hair in place and that pipe as necessary a prop as his .45.
Better writers than me have given Stu his due:
From Thrilling Detective:
Roy Huggins' decidedly downscale Chandleresque private eye STUART BAILEY appeared in a pretty good novel and a few short stories and was even brought to the big screen in the now-forgotten but surprisingly effective 1948 film noir "I Love Trouble", which starred Franchot Tone as Bailey, along with Janet Blair, Raymond Burr and a well-rounded cast of crime flick vets.
But it was a few years later, after Huggins' considerable success in the burgeoning TV market, that Bailey really made a splash. Having already created and produced 'Maverick' and 'The Fugitive', Huggins decided to dust Bailey off, move him out of the seedy little office and bestow upon him a fluency in foreign languages, a past as a government agent, a slick wardrobe and a partner. The result was '77 SUNSET STRIP', inarguably one of the most influential TV private eye shows in history -- for better and worse.
So successful, in fact, that Warner Brothers itself began spewing out copy cat versions such as 'Hawaiian Eye', 'Bourbon Street Beat', and 'Surfside Six' almost immediately. Other studios were quick to follow suit, and the formula of handsome male leads, "wacky" characters who drop by and "cool" premises and locations, not to mention the now almost-ubitquious 60-minute format, can be seen in everything from 'Riptide' to 'Magnum P.I.' to 'Las Vegas'.
Private eye Stu Bailey is a suave, cultured former OSS officer who is an expert in languages. His partner, Jeff Spencer, is also a former undercover government agent, and like Bailey, a judo expert. The duo works out of an office at no. 77 Sunset Strip in Hollywood, but their cases lead them all over the world. The Stu Bailey character was originated by Roy Huggins in a story called "Death and the Skylark", published in Esquire Magazine in December 1952. Huggins later adapted this story into an episode of Warner Bros' ABC TV series 'Conflict' entitled "Anything for Money", broadcast on 16 Apr 1957, starring Efrem Zimbalist Jr. This led to the idea of building a series around the private eye character.
These are the appearances which guaranteed Stuart Bailey a place among the other TV Crossover greats:
- "Anything for Money" (1957)
"Girl on the Run" (1958)
'77 Sunset Strip' (166 episodes)
- "Malihini Holiday" (1959)
- "Three Tickets to Lani" (1959)
- "I Wed Three Wives" (1960)
- "Blackmail in Satin" (1962)
Welcome to the club, Mr. Bailey! I'm sorry it took so long......