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This TV series, very loosely based on the movie by the same title, is
about a suave gambler, Mr. Lucky (John Vivyan), his faithful sidekick,
Andamo (Ross Martin), and various guest stars (such as Frank Gorshin)
who undergo their adventures on Lucky's yacht, the Fortuna II (Fortuna
I sank in episode 1). Anchored beyond L.A.'s twelve-mile limit, the
yacht is a center of gambling, classy dining, and intrigue. Lucky and
Andamo get themselves into all kinds of danger, but always manage to
get themselves out by the time the closing credits roll. While the
setting is creative, the magic of this series is created by Hank
Mancini's fabulous musical score. The theme "Mr. Lucky" plays
throughout, as does Mancini's "Chime Time" and other lovely numbers
(e.g., "Blue Satin").
Sadly, this series lasted just one season. Even sadder is the fact that these few episodes have not been reissued in DVD. Just a handful have been released in VHS mode. Maybe this will change. I certainly hope so.
I was nine-years old (and living in New York) when this show premiered, and it quickly became my favorite series. Friday nights meant "77-Sunset-Strip" and then staying up to watch "Mr. Lucky" with a big bottle of Coke and a bag of Fritos. I can still remember the car he drove -- a black 1959 Chrysler Imperial. To me, Mr. Lucky was the epitome of "class."
Mr Lucky was one of a series of half hour crime shows of the late 50's and early 60's.But unlike "Peter Gunn" "Richard Diamond" etc,the hero is not a detective,but a vaguely shady, but basically honest,club owner.The series "Dante" with Howard Duff is probably Mr Lucky's closest relation(that show began the season after "Mr Lucky")."Mr Lucky" is a smooth, enjoyable show with a lot of comedy mixed in the dramatics.John Vivyan,as Lucky is suave and likable. The ever reliable Ross Martin is his sidekick Andamo.It seems strange that Vivyan's career never went anywhere after this show. Martin went on to greater fame in "The Wild Wild West".The shows title sequence, featuring cats,and Henry Mancini's music are great.Interestingly, Mr Lucky's gambling boat,"The Fortuna",turned into just a restaurant about half way through the series-probably in response to the moral criticisms then being directed at some TV shows.
"Mr. Lucky" was a half-hour television series attempting to cash in on
"Peter Gunn"'s success. Based on an old '40's feature film that had
Cary Grant, the t.v. "Mr. Lucky" starred John Vivyan as the title
Ross Martin as his partner Andamo, Pippa Scott as Mr. Lucky's girlfriend,
Maggie, and Tom Brown as Lt. Rovaks of the police department, Lucky's
sometimes friend, sometimes adversary. Mr. Lucky was the owner of the ship
Fortuna, a floating gambling casino moored off of the California coast's
mile limit. Each week Lucky and Andamo would become entangled with an
assortment of con-men, gamblers, fugitives, even entertainers working for
Lucky aboard the gambling casino. Inevitably it would appear that Lucky
either involved in some type of illegal activity or at the least aiding
those involved with the activities. This was all done to a modern jazz
musical score supplied by "Peter Gunn"'s Henry Mancini.
The series ran one season (during the '59-'60 season) and is probably best remembered for spawning two hit record albums from Henry Mancini, "Theme from Mr. Lucky" and "Mr Lucky Goes Latin".
I was only seven at the time the series was on, but I remember I had to
leave the room when the Mancini music would start (after all, they were
gambling) My main memory of the show from that time was the "launch"
pulling up to the Fortuna against the black background. To me, finding
the Fortuna rusting and forgotten would be like finding the Batmobile
in a junk yard. It (to me) is one of the great Television props of all
time. I have always wondered what could have happened to it. Kinda sad
to hear that it will eventually fade into history along with the memory
of the one great season of a great show. I sure would love to see a
picture of it. At least they released a few episodes for us to
10/10/2008 I've done more research on the show recently. It has actually become an obsession for me. I was able to locate the complete series on DVD so I have been able to study them carefully. I have contacted all the marinas in the Eureka / Woodley Island area where the gentleman reported finding the Fortuna. I can find no evidence that the Fortuna is mothballed in the area. There appears to be a suitable ship visible via "Google Earth" but the harbor master assures that it is not the famous boat. I have also contacted Suzanne Lloyd who is a charming actress that guest stared on an episode titled "A Business Measure". She informed me that all of her scenes were shot on a sound stage. As she had several scenes on and around the "boat", I am suspicious that there was only a model boat used for long distance and daylight shots. I would love to be proved wrong, so fire away with any additional info you may have come up with. I suspect the only definitive authority would be Blake Edwards, and as of yet I have been unable to find a contact for him. Aside from Mr.Edwards there are only a handful of surviving actors / actresses, all of them only one time guest stars.
04/11/2012 OK, here it is. After many years and tons of dough...The definitive story of the real "Fortuna II" She was a real yacht. A magnificent one to be sure. She was built in Camdon NJ in 1932 by the Mathis Shipyards as the Yacht "ALAMO" for a Mr. Wm F. Ladd, a New York stock broker. Considering it was the height of the great depression, he must have been a pretty good one. She had several prestigious owners besides Mr Ladd. One in particular was a Mrs. Eleanor Widener Dixon, daughter of the chairman of the White Star Line, owners of the Titanic (the wreck of which she survived). Mrs Dixon donated the yacht to the Navy in 1941 for war service, as did many rich patriots. She was called the USS Alabaster. After the war she was sold as surplus to a private citizen. She was restored to it's original majesty and cruised the west coast until it was leased to Spartan Productions for use in the Mr Lucky series. After the series was canceled she was sold to Enriche Braun, who took her to Acapluco for service as a luxury bay tour boat. In 1980, after being retired from service, she was basically abandoned and left to deteriorate. She sank in Acapluco Bay just off the Yacht Club in a severe storm in 1982. To this day she sits upside down, in a murky current in just under 100ft of water.
I have pictures and documentation for the whole story. If anyone out there wants to see any of it, you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to share all of it. Use subject "Mr Lucky"
During the summer of 2004 we happened upon the derelict, rusting hulk
of the Fortuna moored to a dock in Eureka, California. The harbor
master pointed it out to us as what was left of the yacht used on the
Lord only knows what the poor thing had gone through after being decommissioned by Hollywood. The harbor master intimated it might have been used as a drug running boat to and from Mexico.
In any event, a peek through its windows from dockside revealed it is now being used as a storage facility for various boat machinery and parts.
TV actors, at least in the old days when they were placed in a separate
class from movie actors, often seemed to be clones of their movie brethren.
Some were singular in their associations. Nehemiah Persoff seemed to be the
Edward G. Robinson of television, getting similar roles and acting them in a
very similar manner. Carolyn Jones was the Bette Davis of TV, even to the
point of playing a set of sisters one of whom is a murderer on Burke's Law.
Other's had company in their pursuits. The western stars were all either
John Wayne or Gary Cooper, with an occasional Jimmy Stewart or Henry Fonda
thrown in, (including the real thing on "The Deputy"). There were a whole
selection of Clark Gables, including John Russell, Rory Calhoun, Richard
Egan , Robert Lowery and others. There were plenty of Brandos, including
Burt Reynolds, George Maharis and John Saxon. There were enough Rock Hudsons
to fill a theater, with John Gavin, Tom Tryon and Gardner McKay coming
immediately to mind. The blonde versions I call the "Redfords", a group of
thoughtful , well educated types of which Robert Redford was one along with
James Franciscus, Richard Chamberlain and William Shatner. They had varying
degrees of success with Redford emerging as the head of the class.
Perhaps the most successful strain, however were the Cary Grants. Grant made an ideal model for the suave detective hero, able to be charming or tough as the occasion demanded. Craig Stevens was hired to play Peter Gunn specifically because of a strong resemblance to Grant. His tightlipped performance was not really very charming but it's surely how Cary would have played that character. Latern-jawed John Vivyan played a role that Grant had actually essayed in the movies, Mr. Lucky. He was competent at best. The heroes of the Warner Brother's detective shows were largely based on Cary Grant. Ephram Zimbelist Jr.'s Stu Bailey was a grant-style role with a lot more charm than Peter Gunn. Richard Long's Rex Randolph on Bourbon Street Beat was much the same. Anthony Eisley's Tracy Steele was a less convincing version of the same character on Hawaiian Eye.
But the best of the Grant clones was Gene Barry. He was male-model handsome, had good breeding and seductive whiskey voice. He was also TV's greatest reactors. He had a series of comic takes that was perfect for Amos Burke, who had to confront an unending series of eccentric subjects. Yet he could turn around and romance the ladies or get tough with the tough guys. And he was a good enough actor to hold up his end when the heavy dramatics intervened.
One wonders what the originals of these clones must have thought as they watched the boob tube in it's infancy.
Some of us who enjoy this show in general and Ross Martin's work on it
in particular, have been discussing it episode-by-episode at
Here's an example, from one of my own posts, which provoked argument from another member:
"Anyway, back to 'The Money Game': Notice the difference between how natural Rovacs sounds when he says, "The bird from Wilbur College?" and how unnatural Lucky sounds when he says, "The bird who said this country has no respect for mathematicians . . . ." I think the writer missed it with that line. Lucky just can't use slang terms like "bird." And the writer did it again, though not so blatantly, with Lucky's dialogue with Eddie about the "fish." Lucky has too much respect for his customers to refer to them with derogatory words like that. Poor John Vivyan-- what he must have thought when he saw this week's script. In addition to having to speak out of character, he sure got stuck with some lame lines this time."
In retrospect, I'm not sure I agree with myself there about the fish. We'd sure welcome other voices, other opinions, from people who'd like to watch and seriously discuss the show with us.
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