Thursday, June 1, 2017


From the Boston Globe:

Van Williams, who played crime fighters on television during the 1960s, most notably the 'Green Hornet' on a short-lived ABC show that later attained a cult following and that introduced American audiences to the martial arts master Bruce Lee, died last month in a care facility near his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 82.

The cause was renal failure, said his wife, Vicki Williams. She said that Mr. Williams probably died on the night of Nov. 28, but that he was not officially declared dead until the next day.

A tall, athletic Texan, Mr. Williams looked the part of a superhero and grew up an actual cowboy — although, curiously, he was not cast in many westerns. He played the same character, a detective named Kenny Madison, on two ABC series: 'Bourbon Street Beat,' with Richard Long and Andrew Duggan, in the 1959-60 season, and then 'Surfside 6,' with Lee Patterson and Troy Donahue, until 1962.

June is the month of Gemini, "The Twins", in the Zodiac.  I originally used this month, as it is also my birth month, as the month in which I would induct puppet and cartoon TV characters who qualified for the TV Crossover Hall of Fame.  And then I eventually switched it over to duos, ore befitting the Twins theme.  

In a way, this memorial tribute year has the best combination to get closer to the Twins theme for June - as mentioned in that obituary excerpt above, Van Williams was best known for playing Britt Reid (aka the Green Hornet) and Kenny Madison.  If they were unofficial "identical twins" (meaning that one of their fathers played around), that's not for me to say... at least today.  Instead I'm here to induct both of these look-alike heroes of Toobworld into the Television Crossover Hall of Fame.

We'll start with the more "mundane" of the two....



From Wikipedia:
[Van Williams'] big break came as co star of the ABC television series 'Bourbon Street Beat', set in New Orleans. The program aired during the 1959-1960 season; his co stars were Andrew Duggan, Richard Long, and Arlene Howell. His 'Bourbon Street Beat' character, Kenny Madison, was recycled into the Surfside 6 television series in the same time slot, with new colleagues played by Troy Donahue, Lee Patterson, Diane McBain, and Margarita Sierra.

"Bourbon Street Beat" (1959 - 1960)
37 episodes

"Surfside 6" (1960 - 1962)
69 episodes

"77 Sunset Strip"
    - Hot Tamale Caper: Part I (1961) 

Another member of the TVXOHOF, Wm. T. Orr, was a producer for Warner Brothers who can take some credit for making Kenny's inclusion into the Hall.  He was known at ABC for the crossovers he facilitated for the network's detective shows and its Westerns.  Thanks to Orr, I'll have plenty of candidates for the traditional Western showcase in July for the next few years and the same could be said for the private eyes.


From Wikipedia:
In 1966, ABC-TV revived George W. Trendle's famous radio character in a new series, 'The Green Hornet'. Van Williams signed with 20th Century-Fox to portray the mysterious masked hero and his alter ego, newspaper editor Britt Reid. (He was described as being the son of Dan Reid, Jr. who was the nephew of John Reid, aka 'The Lone Ranger', although the Lone Ranger was not given that as his official true identity name.)

Williams played the role straight, unlike the lampoon comedy approach of the same producer's 'Batman' show. He and co-star Bruce Lee also made three guest appearances, in character, on 'Batman', first in a "batclimb" cameo, ("The Spell of Tut," 9/28/1966), and later in a two-part episode ("A Piece of the Action," 3/1/1967 and "Batman's Satisfaction," 3/2/1967.
So that's only two different TV series for the character, but the long-standing legend that he was related to the Lone Ranger is one of those embellishments of a character from outside the "Box" which Toobworld Central accepts.


And like I said, it's pozz'ble, just pozz'ble, that Reid and Madison were half-brothers without knowing it.

Welcome to the Hall, Gentlemen.  Whether you are both still alive in Toobworld, despite the death of the actor who portrayed both of you, can be tabled for a later day.  82 years of age, for two such heroes who probably kept themselves in peak physical condition, are not a death knell in itself.  



But I am tempted to claim that Britt Reid is dead in Earth Prime-Time since the Green Hornet is more liable to be a TV recastaway someday.  (Seth Rogen's movie portrayal doesn't count.)

And as for Van Williams, good night and may God bless.  Thank you for the entertainment you brought into our living rooms.


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