Ellery Queen: Season 1, Episode 1

The Adventure of Auld Lang Syne (11 Sep. 1975)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Family
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After a wealthy industrialist threatens to disinherit family and staff at a New Year's Eve party, he is soon found murdered in a nearby phone booth by fellow guest Inspector Queen, who calls on son Ellery to help unmask the killer.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Lady Daisy Frawley
Donald Becker (as David F. Doyle)
Taxi Driver
Paul Quincy
Guy Lombardo ...
Karen Machon ...
Kitty McBride
Charles Robinson ...
Lewis Halliday (as Charles Knox Robinson)
Emma Zelman
Howard Pratt
Arch Johnson ...
The Commissioner
Joe Kemmelman
Peggy Rea ...
Madge Velie


At a New Year's Eve party where Guy Lombardo (as himself, albeit about 30 years older than he would have been at the time), Inspector Queen finds blood on a drawing-room floor outside a phone booth, and a knife wedged in the phone booth's door. When Inspector Queen pulls the knife out and opens the door, a body tumbles out. Inspector Queen then finds the phone itself dangling, picks it up and hears a bewildered stranger on the other end. The dead man, a wealthy industrialist, had telephoned the stranger but couldn't talk because the knife had severed his vocal cords. The industrialist had been unable to crawl out of the booth because the knife jammed it shut. There are a plethora of suspects whom the industrialist had insulted just before his death. Written by Peter Harris

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Family | Mystery





Release Date:

11 September 1975 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title refers to the song played on New Year's Eve and at farewell occasions based upon an 18th century Scottish poem and tune. The tune became culturally connected to "Guy" Lombardo and The Royal Canadians by playing it at New Year's Eve festivities from the 1940's to the 1970's and he appeared in the cast. See more »


The camera that the girl photographer is using at the New Year's Eve party is a Speed Graphic which were manufactured starting in 1947. Since it is December 31, 1946, this camera would not yet be available. See more »


Ellery Queen: Are you with me? You may even be way ahead of me. Now, it's not that difficult to figure out why Halliday called Kemmelman - a man he never met, a man he never knew. Remember, he had to have known who stabbed him. The knife was wedged in that phone booth, so he couldn't crawl out, and he knew he couldn't talk, so why call the police when he couldn't say anything? So he did the next best thing. Since he didn't have a pencil or a paper, he left us the only clue he could to the murderer's identity...
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User Reviews

1st episode not one of the best
7 June 2009 | by (Youngstown,Ohio) – See all my reviews

"The Adventure of Auld Lang Syne," the first episode broadcast on Sept. 11 1975, is unusual in that it concentrates more on Inspector Queen (David Wayne) rather than Ellery (Jim Hutton), keeping them apart rather than having them work as a team. Inspector Queen is awaiting his son's arrival at a swank New Year's Eve ball (hosted by the actual Guy Lombardo) with Sgt. Velie (Tom Reese), whose wife Madge (Peggy Rea) insists on dancing with the Inspector, who agrees that she is light on her feet (but not on his). At a nearby table, a wealthy industrialist named Marcus Halliday (an unbilled Thayer David, from DARK SHADOWS) plots to change his will, much to the consternation of his gathered guests. When Marcus exits to call his attorney, he is attacked in the phone booth and stabbed in the throat, preventing him from speaking, but not from dialing a number that reaches a man he's never met, an undertaker named Joe Kemmelman (George Wyner). Trying to contact Ellery, the Inspector discovers the body and orders that no one is to leave the premises without his permission, which doesn't please Deputy Commissioner Hayes (Arch Johnson,who would reprise the role twice more in episodes 4 and 20). Among the colorful cast of suspects are Barbara Rush, Ray Walston, David Doyle, Farley Granger, and Joan Collins, taking time out from an endless string of British horror films before her resurgence on American television on DYNASTY (she had done TV in Hollywood for many years, such as The Siren in 2 episodes of BATMAN). Meanwhile, before poor Ellery can join his father, he must first make amends with a girl (Karen Machon) he'd inadvertently stood up that night, with the aid of a helpful cab driver (Herb Edelman). Only in the last 10 minutes does Ellery arrive and almost instantly solve the case, just in time to celebrate Auld Lang Syne (and say goodbye to 1946!). Two actors who did later episodes are Barbara Rush, playing a different suspect in "The Adventure of the Sinister Scenario," and Herb Edelman, as a suspect in "The Adventure of the Hardhearted Huckster." Producers Levinson and Link, who scripted the pilot, provided the story for this initial entry (as they also would for episode 6), but did not write any of the 22 episodes.

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