Created by Michael Garrison
Hotshot insurance investigators RUSS ANDREWS and STEVE BANKS ran the prestigious, swanky New York-based Investigators, Inc. on The Investigators, a 1961 television show that attempted to milk the popularity of 77 Sunset Strip (1958) and its numerous imitators, a formula that was easy enough to copy, but not necessarily guaranteed to succeed.
Russ was the definitely the star of the show here, as played by James Franciscus. He was a handsome, young Yale graduate, who had served as an infantry captain during the Korean War, and pretty much oozed breeding and class. Steve (James Phibrick), meanwhile, was bigger and brawnier, an ex-cop who usually took a more hands-on approach.
But like its inspiration, the show shifted its focus from one investigator to another every week. Specializing in fraudulent or suspicious high-priced insurance claims, Russ or Steve would regularly work cases, or assign some of the leg work to rookie associates Bill Davis, Danny Clayton or secretary/investigator Maggie Peters (played by Mary Murphy, making her television’s first female licensed eye, predating Honey West by at least four years).
Although the show was short-lived (only 13 episodes), and may have been plagued by script problems–due to growing pressure from anti-violence groups and Congress on CBS. Still, Franciscus may have picked up a few pointers on the insurance racket in his brief tenure. A decade later, he popped up as an insurance investigator again in Longstreet (1971-72).
The show was created by Michael Garrison, who later created The Wild, Wild West. At least we can still watch that one. The Investigators is another possible lost show, unavailable today.
- Apparently, at least one of the episodes was directed by Joseph H. Lewis, best known for directing the classic noir Gun Crazy, although it’s unlikely he directed all of them, as some have theorized, since at the time he had recently suffered a near-fatal heart attack, and was limiting his workload to one week a month.
- THE INVESTIGATORS
Black & white
13 60-minute episodes
Created by Michael Garrison
Writers: John Gerard, James Gunn
Directors: Joseph H. Lewis
Original music: Pete Rugolo
Produced by Michael Garrison
Executive Producer: Richard Irving
Starring James Franciscus as RUSS ANDREWS
James Philbrook as STEVE BANKS
and Al Austin as BILL DAVIS
Also starring Mary Murphy as MAGGIE PETERS
and June Kenny as June Polly
Guest stars: Jane Wyman, Claire Trevor, Ida Lupino, Gavin McLeod, Robert Webber, Mickey Rooney, Alan Mowbray, Otto Kruger, Rhonda Fleming, Dennis Hopper, Joanna Barnes, Edward Binns, Pat Carroll, William Fawcett, Rhonda Fleming, Bethel Leslie, Lee Marvin, Dina Merrill, Richard Rust, Albert Salmi, Vaughn Taylor, Harry Townes, Jane Wyman
- “Murder on Order” (October 5, 1961)
- “The Oracle” (October 12, 1961)
- “New Sound for the Blues” (October 19, 1961)
- “I Thee Kill” (October 26, 1961)
- “Quite a Woman” (November 2, 1961)
- “Style of Living” (November 9, 1961)
- “In a Mirror, Darkly” (November 16, 1961)
- “De Luca” (November 23, 1961)
- “Death Leaves a Tip” (November 30, 1961)
- “Panic Wagon” (December 7, 1961)
- “The Mind’s Own Fire” (December 14, 1961)
- “Something for Charity” (December 21, 1961)
- “Dead End Man, The” (December 28, 1961)
THE DICK OF THE DAY
- November 2, 2021
THE BOTTOM LINE: This forgotten 1961 clone of 77 Sunset Strip featured 3 (count ‘em 3!) handsome NYC-based insurance investigators, plus a “gal Friday!” Starred an early James Franciscus, but lasted only 13 episodes.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.