Robert Stack had a career in Hollywood that spanned over 60 years. He appeared in movies with everyone from Carole Lombard to Chevy Chase but it was television where Stack left his greatest mark. After appearing in classic films such as Written on the Wind and High and the Mighty, Stack saw his career experience a slump in the late 1950's. That's why he decided to accept a role in a two-part episode of Desilu Playhouse entitled The Untouchables. Stack was a last minute replacement for Van Johnson who had accepted and then turned down the role of Eliot Ness, the leader of a small band of incorruptible Federal agents who helped bring down the criminal empire of Al Capone.
It was the role of Eliot Ness that defined and cemented Stack's career. The Untouchables was a sensation and Stack became a bigger star on television than he had ever been in the movies. For four years Ness and his Untouchables did battle with the likes of Frank Nitti, Al Capone, Dutch Schultz, Wally Legenza, and others. The villains quite often dominated the episodes but Stack was the glue which held The Untouchables together.
Growing tired of the grind of a weekly series, Stack bowed out of the show after four seasons. Unfortunately, he was unable for the most part to resume his movie career. The Untouchables had type cast him as the hard-nosed, incorruptible, and heroic crimefighter. Most of his subsequent roles were some variation or another of his Eliot Ness personna but he kept working almost up until the day he died. Stack's later years were spent as the host/narrator of Unsolved Mysteries and doing voiceover work in the likes of Beavis and Butthead. At the time of his death in May of 2003, Stack was one of the most respected and beloved stars in all of Hollywood. We shall not see his like again for a long time.