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Efrem Zimbalist Jr.,
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Classic medical drama series that needs to be seen.....
Until his counterpart,Dr. Kildare,Ben Casey was a resident of a large hospital,a full-fledged doctor on staff who was a very prominent neurosurgeon who was under the supervision of his mentor,Dr. Zorba. But just like any other medical doctor,Ben Casey always had his patients confidentality and tender care and sometimes have him going against the medical establishment at times with was sometimes the case along with him and his mentor finding the cure and making the demands of the both the patients and the staff he works under.
Ben Casey was a gritty medical drama that was also realistic which starred Vince Edwards going against the establishment and the administration not to mention his patients at fictional Metro General Hospital. The series was produced by Bing Crosby's production company,BCP Productions(filmed at Desilu Studios),and amazingly ran for five seasons on ABC-TV from October 2,1961 until March 21,1966 for 153 episodes all in classic black and white.The series aired on Monday nights in Prime-Time from October 2,1961 until May 13,1963 when it moved to Wednesday nights for the 1963-1964 season in favor of another Bing Crosby produced series "Breaking Point" on September 9,1963 until April 22,1964 where it faced strong competition from "The Dick Van Dyke Show",and "The Beverly Hillbillies". The show went back to Monday nights for its final two seasons from September 14,1964 until March 21,1966. The series also starred Sam Jaffe(who appeared in 127 episodes),as Casey's mentor,Dr. David Zorba,and Franchot Tone as Casey's friend and assistant Dr. Niles Freeland,and Harry Landers as Dr. Ted Hoffman. Vince Edwards' character of Dr. Casey you may say was a precursor to the changes that were happening during the time,which in point during the show's run,the country was going through the motions of its time,especially with the Cuba Missile Crisis,the Civil Rights Movement and the violent confrontations that occurred within the South with the unjustice of the Jim Crow laws,the assassination of President John Kennedy,the march on Washington,the signing of the Civil Rights Act,and the escalating war that went on in Vietnam,and rioting that occurred in sections of the country including the Watts riots,and so forth. In other words,America was at war with itself,and this occurred during the show's five year run. "Ben Casey" was given great support from the assistance of the American Medical Association which was behind some of the scenes during its production.
But getting back to Ben Casey,it was a groundbreaking medical show that had it share of some tough issues of that era,but case in point,Casey had to work with a system that was a monolith that existed for its own purpose and within its own momentum. He knew he had to deal with the pressures of a major medical hospital,so he had to wrestle with it especially with the mediocrity around it to get the job done. But within its own frame of dealing with that,you had his mentor,Dr. Zorba who often appeared to be more of a matador than a mentor,trying to tame the raging bull that was inside Ben Casey,as he always called him. That was the case in various episodes where the good doctor had to overcome the impossible in order to accomplish his task. There were two examples of this,one which had the Dr. Casey and Dr. Zorba in a malpractice suit where guest star,Beau Bridges was the center of the settlement,which was a good two-parter episode,and the other where Casey is bitten by a rat and goes into shock,and the other episode dealt with racism where Casey and his associates defend a black doctor,played by Greg Morris,who is accused of neglecting a patient and Casey has to defend him during a run-in with a discriminatory administrative staff.
The success of "Ben Casey" garnered 11 Prime-Time Emmy nominations winning 2 Prime-Time Emmy award in 1963 for Outstanding Actress in a Dramatic Series and Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role. Vince Edwards along with Sam Jaffe received Emmy nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor in a Prime Time Series. However,"Ben Casey" paved the way for the next great medical dramas which included "Marcus Welby", "Medical Center", "Chicago Hope", "Trapper John", "E.R." to "Gray's Anatomy"......
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