The Lawless Years

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NBC (ended 1961)

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The Lawless Years

Show Summary

Barney Ruditsky was a real-life New York City cop busting bootleggers and gangsters during their heyday in the 1920s and '30s. The Lawless Years, which dramatized his exploits, was based on his memoir, and employed him as technical adviser of the series.

Episodes opened with Ruditsky in a grungy office recalling the facts of a certain case he'd worked during the days of crime bosses and rampant corruption. He used a slide projector to illustrate details and show the criminals involved in the story which then unfolded as a flashback drama. As played by whiskey-voiced James Gregory, Ruditsky was a short-tempered, hard-boiled, crime fighter who wanted nothing more than to crack the heads of lawbreakers. He lived, breathed, and slept "cop".

The Lawless Years hit the air some six months before the debut of that other famous 20's cop show, yet somehow failed to become the phonomenon that The Untouchables did. It was was taken off the air in December of 1959, but returned for a second go-around in 1961, lasting just half a season.

This series lead to James Gregory's best-known role, Detective Frank Lugar, on the police comedyBarney Miller. Except for the fact that Miller had a studio audience, the two characters are practically the same--both so serious they're funny. Series creator Danny Arnold, who knew the real Ruditsky, remembered The Lawless Years and thought Gregory was perfect for the part.

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James Gregory

James Gregory

Barney Ruditsky

Robert Karnes

Robert Karnes

Max Fields

Harry Dean Stanton

Harry Dean Stanton

Maffy (as Harry Stanton)

Ken Lynch

Ken Lynch

Mr. G. (as Kenneth Lynch)

Ruta Lee

Ruta Lee

Gloria Fallon

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