Mike Kovac (Man With a Camera)

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Lieutenant Donovan: “You’re not going to shoot him, are you?”
Kovac: “After all the trouble I went to, you’re darn right I’m gonna shoot him.”

In the 1958-60 TV Series Man with a Camera, a young Charles Bronson starred as MIKE KOVAC, a former World War II (or was it Korea?) combat photographer working as a freelance photographer in New York City, although sometimes it seemed Mike had never left the war behind. He frequently found himself in danger, acting more like a private eye than anything else, taking assignments from newspapers, police, insurance companies, private citizens and anyone else who wanted a record of something caught on film. Needless to say, many of these assignments had Mike running into a damsel in distress.

Mike used an array of cameras on his jobs, and sometimes carried a Minox IIIs mini-camera on his belt, and he’d even converted the trunk of his car into a mobile darkroom. According to some photographer pals of mine, his use of the latest photographic technology was spot-on for the time. Another nice touch in the show was that he would often call upon his father, Anton, for help or advice.

The show was sponsored by General Electric, as a not-too-subtle way of promoting their photography line, and while it proved reasonably popular, Bronson once grumbled that he often felt like he was “playing second banana to a flashbulb.”

Unfortunately, as J. Kingston Pierce put it in a 2022 CrimeReads piece, the show “held more promise than it was given time to demonstrate.” It was cancelled after one season.

The character of Kovac was rather similar, in fact, to the 1951-52 CBS television series Crime Photographer, which was based upon the Flashgun Casey stories and novels by George Harmon Coxe.


  • MAN WITH A CAMERA | Buy the complete series on DVD
    (1958-60, ABC)
    29 30-minute episodes
    Black & white
    Produced by A.E. Houghton, Jr.
    Writers: Stanley Niss, Richard Bluel, David P. HarmonJames Edmiston, Steven Thornley, Wilton Schiller, Oliver Crawford, James Edmiston, Paul David, Jack Laird, Richard M. Bluel
    Directors: Gerald Mayer
    Theme: “Man With A Camera Cues” composed by Herschel Burke Gilbert
    Starring Charles Bronson as MIKE KOVAC
    Also starring James Flavin as Lt. Donovan
    and Ludwig Stössel as Anton Kovac
    Guest stars: Fred Essler, Sebastian Cabot, Angie Dickinson, Grant Williams, Yvonne Craig, Harry Dean Stanton, Johnny Seven, King Calder, Audrey Dalton, Warren Douglas, Elaine Edwards, Elisabeth Fraser, Alberto Morin, Bert Remsen, Robert Carricart, Bill Erwin, Frank Faylen, Karl Lukas, Stephen Ellsworth, Don Durant, Tracey Roberts, Norma Crane, Grant Williams, Peter Walker, Morgan Jones, Jesse Kirkpatrick, David Whorf, Ann Morrison

    • Season One
    • “Second Avenue Assassin” (October 10, 1958; pilot)
    • “The Warning” (October 17, 1958)
    • “Profile Of A Killer” (October 24, 1958)
    • “Turntable” (November 7, 1958)
    • “Closeup On Violence” (November 14, 1958)
    • “Double Negative” (November 21, 1958)
    • “Another Barrier” (November 28, 1958)
    • “Blind Spot” (December 5, 1958)
    • ‘Two Strings Of Pearls” (December 12, 1958)
    • “Six Faces Of Satan” (December 19, 1958)
    • “Lady On The Loose” (December 26, 1958)
    • “The Last Portrait” (January 2, 1959)
    • “The Face Of Murder” (January 9, 1959)
    • “Mute Evidence” (January 16, 1959)
    • “The Big Squeeze” (January 23, 1959)
    • Season Two
    • “The Killer” (October 19, 1959)
    • “Eye Witness” (October 26, 1959)
    • “The Man Below” (November 2, 1959)
    • “Black Light” (November 9, 1959)
    • “The Positive Negative” (November 16, 1959)
    • “Missing” (November 23, 1959)
    • “Live Target” (December 7, 1958)
    • “Girl In The Dark” (December 14, 1959)
    • “The Bride” (December 21, 1959)
    • “The Picture War” (January 4, 1960)
    • “Touch Off” (January 11, 1960)
    • “Hot Ice Cream” (January 25, 1960)
    • “Fragment of a Murder” (February 1, 1960)
    • “Kangaroo Court” (February 8, 1960)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Bob Huggins for the lead.

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