Smoking, drinking, flirting with girls... the first hour-long detective series to feature young detectives (not middle-aged or older folks who dominated the small screen for many years). Add a car hop who combs his hair and refers to his elders as "Dad," the jive-talking Kookie Kookson III (yes, the third) became a pop culture phenomenon. Almost every year the studio added another character to the weekly series so you could almost tell what season the program is just by the cast.
Today, the episodes rarely get screened on television, sadly. Probably the networks believe the series is dated but they have to remember that hot rods, greasers and The Rat Pack were the rave during the late fifties and early sixties. Warners profited big time from the series with LP records, one-hit wonders and television merchandise.
Only time I get to see the series is by watching an episode on the big screen during the Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, held annually every September in Maryland. Celebrity guests attend the show and episodes they appeared in are almost always screened. Just watching a few of these makes me wish the studio would get off their butts and out the series out on DVD. Kookie, Kookie.... lend me your comb!
"77 Sunset Strip" was a great private eye series, created by the legendary Roy Huggins. Huggins claimed it was the first 60-minute private eye show. All the characters were likeable and memorable. Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. was one of the great series leads as Stuart Bailey. Roger Smith, Edd Byrnes, Richard Long, Louis Quinn, Byron Morrow, Robert Logan and Jacqueline Beer were all beautiful, talented actors-impossible to forget.
But I might have chosen a different Jeff Spencer. Roger Smith was great, but he was awfully young and callow when the show started. I would have chosen lady-killer Ray Danton, who seemed to be working a lot for Warner Brothers at the time. Danton was ridiculously handsome, smooth and confident. He was also a terrific actor ("Legs Diamond"). Danton's cold, crisp, knife-like personality would have contrasted beautifully with Zimbalist's suave, intellectual, fatherly Stu Bailey. Zimbalist/Danton would have made a killer team: a memorable good cop/bad cop.
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