Ben Casey (1961–1966)
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Sam Jaffe stars as Dr. David Zorba, Caseys mentor and friend. Zorba advises him in important matters both as his superior, and his friend.
There are many guest stars seen over the years that this show ran. Jack Klugman, Brett Sommers, Franciot Tone, Ed Begley, Sr, Telly Savalas (with hair!) Cliff Robertson, Bruce Dern, just to name a few. The drama is well-told and engrossing.
Not everything is pure drama. One episode has Casey helping out one night in the emergency room dealing with crackpot people with imaginary problems.
Casey and Dr. Maggie Graham have an on-and-off relationship throughout the series.
If you get a chance to see Ben Casey, try to catch it with show #1, where Casey gets stuck with a needle after it was used in a test on a girl with rabies! You will be hooked.
They should bring out some episodes of Ben Casey on DVD or VHS? They bring out lots of other DVD's not half as good as the Ben Casey show was on TV. There must be lots of us still around who were young in the 60's who would buy them. Great show. Loved it. Bring it out on DVD soon.
One difference is that Casey was a resident, a full fledged doctor on staff at a hospital and a very prominent neurosurgeon. Kildare was an intern, a beginning doctor still learning the profession. If Kildare had been at the same hospital as Casey, Ben would have been bossing him around and making his life miserable.
A bigger difference was what they represented. Kildare was a symbol of the early 1960's. We were a very proud and optimistic country at that time. We'd survived the depression, won the war, had the communists on the defensive and were beginning to explore space. Social changes were taking place as well. if we were going to be the Greatest Country in the World, how could we have poverty and injustice? We tended to look at our government and institutions as benevolent servants of the people. There were several shows from this period, (Naked City, The Defenders, Mr. Novak were others), where handsome young idealistic novices entered a profession to be guided by their wise, patient but firm elders in becoming instruments of the system. The big challenge was getting people to trust the system by not committing crimes, studying hard and taking their pills. And of course, it's hard to look at the young men in these shows, (Richard Chamberlain, James Franciscus, Paul Burke, Robert Reed), and not see our youthful, idealistic president of the time, John Kennedy.
Casey was a precursor of the late 1960's. To him, the system was a monolith that existed for its own purposes and on its own momentum. You had to wrestle with it and with the mediocrity around you to get things done. Casey had a mentor as well, but Dr. Zorba often appeared to be more of a matador than a mentor, trying to tame Ben Casey, as he always called him, with a red cape and a sharp needle to puncture his ego from time to time.
I'd rather wake up from surgery and see Dr. Kildare's smiling face. But I'd be more likely to survive if it was Ben Casey who had done the surgery.
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"......
Given the support and assistance from the American Medical Association which was behind some of the scenes during production, the series "Ben Casey" was groundbreaking for it's era with some tough issues and hard hitting drama especially with some of the medical issues that each week Dr. Casey and his staff at fictional County General Hospital had to face. The success of "Ben Casey" brought 11 Prime-Time Emmy Nominations winning the Prime-Time Emmy in 1963 for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role(Kim Stanley),and also Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role(Glenda Farrell)Big time name directors ranging from Leo Penn, Irvin Kershner, Sydney Pollack, John Meredyth-Lucas, Mark Rydell, Arthur Hiller, Alvin Ganzer, Marc Daniels, Richard C. Sarafian, Alan Crosland, to Jerry Lewis, Gerald Mayer and even Joesph Pevney and Paul Wendkos contribute to some of the great episodes not to mention superior writing from the show's creator(James E. Moser for all 153 episodes),along with Jack Laird, Chester Krumholz, Don Brinkley, Alvin Sargent, Al C. Ward, Lester Pine, Wilton Schiller, Ken Kolb, Harry Julian-Fink, Dean Riesner, Norman Katkov and William Bast.
Big name guest stars ranging from Peter Falk, Shelley Winters, Cesar Romero, Millie Perkins, Eddie Albert, Tom Bosley, Stella Stevens, Dick Clark, Mary Astor, Ricardo Montalban, Anne Francis, Davy Jones, Barry Sullivan, Bradford Dillman, Brett Somers to George C. Scott, Jerry Lewis, Roddy McDowell, Robert Culp, Greg Morris, Eartha Kitt, Percy Rodriguez, Antoinette Bower, Ellen Burstyn, Jack Warden, to Carroll O' Connor, James Best, Hari Rhodes, Peter Breck, Jack Klugman, Telly Savalas, Bruce Dern, Cliff Robertson, Beau Bridges, Sally Kellerman, Norman Fell, Neville Brand, Patricia Barry, Brooke Bundy, Suzanne Pleshette, Piper Laurie, and even Richard Basehart, Ray Walston, Larry Hovis, Ivan Dixon, Yvonne Craig, William Windom, Patricia Blair, Marlo Thomas, Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Simon Oakland not to mention Tuesday Weld, Pippa Scott and James Caan and even Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis,Jr. made a special guest appearances.
The best episodes from this Emmy award winning series starts with the pilot episode "To The Pure" to "I Remember A Lemon Tree", "The Sweet Kiss of Madness", "And If I Die", "A Little Fun to Match the Sorrow", "And Even Death Shall Die", "Behold a Pale Horse", "When You See An Evil Man", to the two-part "A Cardinal Act of Mercy". Other great episodes were "If There Were Dreams to Sell", "The Echo of a Silent Cheer", "A Certain Time, A Certain Darkness", "But Linda Only Smiled", "Courage At Three-AM", "A Woods Full of Question Marks", "Where Did All The Roses Go?", "Every Other Minute,It's The End of the World", "Dress My Doll Pretty", "In Case of Emergency,Cry Havoc","One Nation Indivisible" to "A Falcon's Eye, A Lion's Heart, A Girl's Hand", "The Fireman Who Raised Rabbits", "A Horse Named Stravinsky", "If You Play Your Cards Right,You Too Can Be A Loser", "Allie", "A Hundred More Pipers", "Between Summer and Winter,The Glorious Season", along with "Legacy from a Stranger" were some of the great episodes that this series produced during its astounding five season run.
"Ben Casey" premiered on ABC's Monday night schedule in Prime-Time from October 2,1961 until May 13, 1963. The network moved the series to Wednesday nights in Prime-Time from September 9, 1963 until April 22,1964 in favor of another produced Bing Crosby series "Breaking Point". "Ben Casey" went back to Monday nights on September 14, 1964 and remained until the final episode of the series on March 21,1966 after five seasons and 153 black and white episodes. When "Ben Casey" was canceled in the Spring of 1966, the series was replaced by the espionage British import series "The Avengers" on March 28,1966. In the fall of that year it would be replaced by the Western-adventure series "The Big Valley".