Amos Burke was a Los Angeles chief of detectives who was also a millionaire with a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce, a mansion, and a high-wheeling lifestyle. The hallmarks of this series were ... See full summary »
Amos Burke was a Los Angeles chief of detectives who was also a millionaire with a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce, a mansion, and a high-wheeling lifestyle. The hallmarks of this series were glamorous, sophisticated settings, unusual twists on formula homicide plotlines, and big-name guest stars. After a couple of seasons, its format was radically revamped. Burke left the police force and became an agent for US Intelligence. At that point, the show's name changed to "Amos Burke--Secret Agent". Burke's adventures were briefly revived in 1994, under the original title. Written by
Marg Baskin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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.
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