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Rod Taylor's best role: "Hong Kong" foreign correspondent Glenn Evans
Foreign correspondent Glenn Evans (Rod Taylor) lived in an amazing bachelor pad on Victoria Peak. I always wished more scenes took place in Glenn's apartment, especially at night when you had that great view of Hong Kong. My other favorite TV bachelor pads were the ones on "Checkmate", "Bourbon Street Beat" and "Peter Gunn".
The female guest stars on "Hong Kong" were beautiful, sexy, and sophisticated: Patricia Barry, Rhonda Fleming, Inger Stevens, Dina Merrill, Nancy Gates, Julie London, Joanna Moore, Felicia Farr, Suzanne Pleshete, and Bethel Leslie come immediately to mind. Rod Taylor worked well with all these elegant woman, and I wonder if he got to romance any of his guest stars off screen.
Although Rod dominated the show and was in almost every scene, his co-stars Lloyd Bochner (Chief Inspector Neil Campbell) and Jack Kruschen (Tully) also managed to score, and both went on to long, distinguished careers.
"Hong Kong" was loosely based on the movie "Soldier of Fortune", which had Michael Rennie in the Lloyd Bochner role and Tom Tully in the Jack Kruschen role.
The most startling scene in the series had guest star Taina Elg as a leggy, blond stewardess who Glenn Evans tries to help. But at the end of the episode, Taina is thrown out of a plane at night to her death. A chilling, unsettling scene.
Another good episode had Felica Farr playing two sexy, stacked singer twins, one good and one a murderer. One of the twins shows up unannounced at Glenn's apartment to spend the night, but is it the good twin or the bad one? Glenn is a gentleman and apparently sleeps on the couch.
Patrica Barry also had a sexy turn as a confidence women who tries to entice Glenn into not turning her in to the police.
Herbert Hirschman, who had worked with Rod Taylor on Playhouse 90, did a fine job as producer. Roy Huggins ("The Rockford Files", "Maverick", "77 Sunset Strip", "Run For Your Life") was the head of TV production at 20th Century Fox at the time, and he probably contributed to the show's high quality.
ABC cancelled "Hong Kong" after one season in 1961 (its competition was "Wagon Train" and "The Aquanauts"/"Malibu Run"). But "Hong Kong" made Rod Taylor a hot commodity. He appeared in only two guest star roles after this show ended ("Bus Stop" and "Dupont Show of the Week") and then left TV for the movies for eleven years. Rod starred in "The Birds" just two years after "Hong Kong" ended. "Hong Kong" being cancelled after one season was the best possible thing that could have happened to Taylor career-wise.
ABC knew it had a winner in Rod Tayor. They wanted to bring the character of Glenn Evans back the next season in a show called "Dateline: San Francisco", but it never happened. I wonder if anyone can find the lost pilot episode of that promising series. I would love to see what Glenn Evans' posh San Francisco bachelor pad looked like. And I wonder who played his friend on the force.
Rod Taylor came back to TV in 1971 in a western adventure series called "Bearcats". The series bore a strong resemblance to the Lee Marvin movie "The Professionals". Rod might have been shrewder to go back to Roy Huggins and try to rework the Glenn Evans character, perhaps as a private detective rather than a reporter. Roy Huggins might have wound up creating "The Rockford Files" for Rod in 1971 rather than for James Garner in 1974.
But I think Glenn Evans was Rod Taylor's most appealing performance.
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