Richard Diamond

Created by Blake Edwards
(1922-2010)

“Diamond Detective Agency. A pleasant smile, a cheerful rhyme, and we’ll keep you from doing time.”
— Diamond answers his own phone.

Babyfaced Dick Powell was considered pretty much a lightweight song-and-dance man until his rebirth as a movie tough guy in Murder My Sweet (1944, RKO), where he played Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe.

The film was a hit (and I’ll gladly argue that Powell was the screen’s best Marlowe ever), and Powell never looked back, parlaying his new hard-boiled guy persona into several detective flicks after that (including Pitfall, Cornered and Johnny O’Clock) and a short-lived radio show, Rogue’s Gallery (1944, NBC) before striking gold with another radio show, Richard Diamond, Private Detective, created by Blake Edwards, that utilized both sides of his career.

The show went on the air in 1949,  a frothy blend of comedy, detective drama and romance, and Powell became RICHARD DIAMOND, “radio’s singing gumshoe”, an ex-OSS man turned New York City private detective who was tough when he needed to be, but tried to have a little fun while on the job.

Too much fun, perhaps, according to some. He was something of a smart ass, and a little too fond of his own wit, but somehow Powell always cracked the case, often at the expense of his cop buddies Lt. Levinson (Ed Begley, or Arthur Q. Bryan) and desk sergeant Otis (Wilms Herbert).

Still, he almost always found the time to close the show with a song to his uptown girlfriend, Helen (played by Virginia Gregg). She couldn’t help it — she loved  the big lug. The show was a hit, the first of many for writer/director Blake Edwards.

And then the beast called television beckoned. Already popular on radio, Richard Diamond, Private Detective seemed like a natural fit for the media. Only problem was that Powell had decided he was too busy (and a bit long in the tooth) — to star, and so became a producer, forming Four Star Productions.

Their first production? Richard Diamond, Private Detective, starring newcomer David Meyer (who changed his name to Janssen, at Powell’s suggestion) as adarker, more sombre Diamond. His character remained in New York, but the former OSS operative had become an ex-cop. But this was a far different show. The lightweight comedy of the radio show was long gone, replaced by an earnestness and moody seriousness that left little room for singing, even if Diamond had had somebody to sing to.

Diamond toughed it out in New York for two seasons, while the third season, much lighter in tone, had him relocating to Los Angeles where he finally gets a girlfriend, Karen (Barbara Bain), a spiffy 1959 DeSoto Fireflite convertible with a phone in it, and an answering service, run by Sam (played by Mary Tyler Moore’s legs). 77 Sunset Strip, which had made its debut just four months earlier, seems to have had a huge influence. And of course what every LA gumshoe really needs is an eccentric fading movie star as a client. In this case, former film queen Laura Renault (Hillary Brooke) filled the bill.

Alas, while the radio version had charm to spare, the television show struggled. Janssen showed potential as Diamond, giving him a downbeat, battered appeal that couldn’t quite save the often weak and even generic plots. The show did manage to hang on for four seasons, and is fondly remembered by those who saw it in its heyday, but it hasn’t aged well, and the gimmick of never seeing Sam’s face is what the show is chiefly remembered for these days.

It was a gimmick, for sure, but one that the producers of the show may have taken more seriously than they should have — when Moore outed herself as Sam, and posed in TV Guide modeling hosiery, she was promptly replaced by Roxane Brooks.

Still, Edwards, Moore and Janssen all went on to considerable success in television, Moore in sitcoms such as The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Janssen in dramatic roles in shows like Roy Huggin’s The Fugitive and as a private eye once more in Howard Rodman’s Harry O, while Edwards went on to create Peter Gunn and the Pink Panther movies

FROM THE PEANUT GALLERY

  • “The Pete Rugolo-scored episodes of television’s Richard Diamond, Private Detective are particularly memorable. Contrast David Janssen’s Diamond with his Harry O. Rugolo, the great jazz composer, record producer, Stan Kenton arranger, etc., scored the series’ third season and the music added much to the proceedings.”
    — Ted Fitzgerald

AND NOW, A REPORT FROM THE YOYEURS CLUB

  • “I think Roxane Brooks (the woman who succeeded Mary Tyler Moore in the role of Sam) has a really exciting voice and face, and I would like to find out more about her. So I checked a few reference books looking for info on Roxane Brooks–nada! Do you suppose Moore is behind this conspiracy? I mean, nobody’s that perky!
    Ms. Brooks’ face reminds me of Miss Kitty’s from Gunsmoke. The one glance of her face that I ever saw was a shot was from the left and slightly behind. Her nose was the highest point on her face that was visible. She had a small beauty mark, and was wearing a headset. I get the feeling that Wilson from Home Improvement is trying for the same effect. There was a second shot down the front of her blouse, high-necked. It was these views, and her voice and banter, that got me interested in Sam. I was really confused when I first learned that Sam was Mary Tyler Moore, and that all you ever got to see were her legs. I have never seen Sam’s legs.”
    — Alan Pitts
  • “Poor Mr. Pitts must have missed the many episodes where “legs” were featured. A prerequisite for replacing Ms. Moore was a deep voice and good legs. I am happy to report the voice and the legs are still working; in legitimate theatre productions. I did almost all the detective shows that were on television circa Peter Gunn/Richard Diamond. I was almost always the gal on the wrong side of the law. The old saw says you play best that which you are not. You realize I was only 11 years old at the time!”
    — Roxane Brooks (2004)

RADIO

  • RICHARD DIAMOND, PRIVATE DETECTIVE
    (1949-50, NBC)
    30 minutes, weekly
    Sponsor: Rexall Drugs
    Writters: Blake Edwards, Richard Carr, Jim French
    Directed by Blake Edwards
    Producer: Dick Powell
    Starring Dick Powell as RICHARD DIAMOND
    with Ed Begley as Lieutenant Walt Levinson
    Virginia Gregg as Helen Asher
    and Wilms Herbert as both Desk Sergeant Otis and Helen’s butler, Francis

    • “The Richard Barton Case” (April 24, 1949)
    • The Wondrous Tale of the Hand-Painted Cow (May 1, 1949)
    • “Title Unknown” (May 8, 1949)
    • “The Ralph Chase Case” (May 15, 1949)
    • “The Stolen Purse” (May 22, 1949)
    • “The Betty Moran Case” (May 29, 1949)
    • “The Bertram Kalmus Case” (June 5, 1949)
    • “Title Unknown” (June 12, 1949)
    • “The Fred Sears Murder Case” (June 19, 1949)
    • “The Tom Waxman Bombing Case” (June 26, 1949)
    • “Title Unknown” (July 2, 1949)
    • “Escaped Convicts After Diamond” (July 9, 1949)
    • “The Man Who Hated Women” (July 16, 1949)
    • “The Martin Hyer Frame-up Case” (July 23, 1949)
    • “Title Unknown” (July 30, 1949)
    • “The Lynn Knight Protection Case” (August 6, 1949)
    • “Title Unknown” (August 13, 1949)
    • “The Tom Cook Manslaughter Case” (August 20, 1949)
    • “The Eddie Garrett Case” (August 27, 1949)
    • “The Harry Baker Case” (September 3, 1949)
    • “The Van Dyke Seance Case” (September 10, 1949)
    • “The Jerome J. Jerome Case” (September 17, 1949)
    • “The 200,000 Dollar Bundle” (September 24, 1949)
    • “The Gibson Murder Case” (October 8, 1949)
    • “The Counterfeit Bills Case” (October 15, 1949)
    • The Rene Bené Protection Case” (October 22, 1949)
    • “The Bill Kirby Murder Case” (October 29, 1949)
    • “Diamond’s Severest Critic” (November 5, 1949)
    • “The 50,000 Dollar Diamond Frame” (November 12, 1949)
    • “The Lan Jacoby Case” (November 19, 1949)
    • “The Unconscious Killer Case” (November 26, 1949)
    • “The Leland L. Leeds Case” (December 3, 1949)
    • “The House of Fear Case” (December 10, 1949)
    • “The John Blackwell Case” (December 17, 1949)
    • “A Christmas Carol” (December 24, 1949)
    • “The Thomas Jason Case” (December 31, 1949)
    • “The Angelino Giuseppe Case” (January 7, 1950)
    • “The Cathy Victor Case” (January 15, 1950)
    • “The Martin White Case” (January 22, 1950)
    • “Timothy, The Seal” (February 5, 1950)
    • “The Elaine Tanner Case” (February 12, 1950)
    • “The Mario Cimino Case” (February 19, 1950)
    • “The Pop Skoals Case” (February 26, 1950)
    • “The Louis Spence Case” (March 5, 1950)
    • “The Joyce Wallace Case” (March 12, 1950)
    • “The Private Eye Test” (March 19, 1950)
    • “The Photographer’s Card” (March 26, 1950)
    • The Mother Kali Statue” April 5, 1950)
    • “The Woman-Hating Killer” (April 12, 1950)
    • “Who Shot the Messenger” (April 19, 1950)
    • “The Ralph Baxter Case” (April 26 1950)
    • “The William Carnes Case” (June 14, 1950)
    • “Mrs ‘X’ Can’t Find Mr. ‘X'” (June 21, 1950) | Listen to It!
    • “The Mary Bilman Case” (June 28, 1950)
    • “The Tobias P. Briggs Case” (July 5, 1950)
    • “The Ice Pick Murder Case” (July 12, 1950)
    • “The William B. Holland Case” (July 19, 1950)
    • “The Martha Campbell Ransom Case” (July 26, 1950)
    • “The Frank Bowers Murder Case” (August 2, 1950)
    • “The Edna Wolfe Murder Case” (August 9, 1950)
    • “The Madame Tanya Case” (August 16, 1950)
    • “The Farmer-Evans Murders Case” (August 23, 1950)
    • “The ‘Big Foot’ Grafton Case” (August 30, 1950)
    • “The Misplaced Laundry Case” (September 6, 1950)
    • “The Lexington Murder Cas” (September 13, 1950)
    • “The Bald Head Case” (September 20, 1950)
    • “The Hatpin Murder Case” (September 27, 1950)
    • “The Pete Rocco Case” (October 4, 1950)
    • “The ‘Homing Pigeon’ Case” (October 11, 1950)
    • “The Kidnapped Policeman” (October 18, 1950)
    • “The Rifle Case” (October 25, 1950)
    • “The Traffic Ticket Case” (November 1, 1958)
    • “The Dead Man’s Letter” (November 8, 1958)
    • “The Mona Lisa Murder”  (November 15, 1958)
    • “The Cover-Up Murders” (November 22, 1958)
    • “The Calypso Case” (November 29, 1958)
    • “Missing Night Watchman” (December 6, 1950)
    • “The Chapel Hill Case” (December 13, 1950)
    • “Title Unknown” (December 20, 1950)
    • “Title Unknown” (December 27, 1950)
  • RICHARD DIAMOND, PRIVATE DETECTIVE
    (1951-1952, ABC)
    30 minutes, weekly
    Sponsor: Camel Cigarettes
    Written by Blake Edwards
    Directed by Blake Edwards
    Producer: Dick Powell
    Starring Dick Powell as RICHARD DIAMOND
    with Ed Begley as Lieutenant Walt Levinson
    Virginia Gregg as Helen Asher
    and Wilms Herbert as both Desk Sergeant Otis and Helen’s butler, Francis

    • “Nathan Beeker Case” (January 5, 1951)
    • “Marilyn Connors Case” (January 12, 1951)
    • “The Man With The Scar” (January 19, 1951)
    • “The Rawlins Case” (January 26, 1951)
    • “The Caspary Case” (February 2, 1951)
    • “The Blue Serge Suit” (February 9, 1951)
    • “The Grey Man” (February 16, 1951)
    • “The Lady In Distress” (February 23, 1951)
    • “The Red Rose” (March 2, 1951)
    • “The Butcher Shop” (March 9, 1951)
    • “Monsieur Bouchon” (March 16, 1951)
    • “Little Chiva” (March 23, 1951)
    • “The Carnival” (March 30, 1951)
    • “The Dead Heiress” (April 6, 1951)
    • “The Fight Fix” (April 13, 1951)
    • “Tug” (April 20, 1951)
    • “The Barrio Case” (April 27, 1951)
    • “The Boy Who Made Bad” (May 4, 1951)
    • “Danny Denver” (May 11, 1951)
    • “Lonely Hearts” (May 18, 1951)
    • “The Longest Short-Cut In The World” (May 25, 1951)
    • “The Montelli Case” (June 1, 1951)
    • “The Darby Affair” (June 8, 1951)” (June 1, 1951)
    • “The Poise Magazine Story” (June 15, 1951)
    • “The Masters Case” (June 22, 1951)
    • “The Monkey Man” (June 29, 1951)
    • “The Pete Rocco Case” (October 5, 1951)
    • “The Lou Turner Case” (October 12, 1951)
    • “The Jackson Case” (October 19, 1951)
    • “Registered Letter” (October 26, 1951)
    • “The Bowery Case” (November 2, 1951)
    • “Buried Treasure” (November 9, 1951)
    • “The Hollywood Story” (November 16, 1951)
    • “The Mickey Farmer Affair” (November 23, 1951)
    • “Goodnight To Nocturne” (November 30, 1951)
    • “The Brown Envelope Case” (December 7, 1951)
    • “The Night Club Case” (December 14, 1951)
    • “Christmas Show” (December 21, 1951)
    • “The Plaid Overcoat Case” (December 28, 1951)
    • “The Merry-Go-Round Case” (January 4, 1952)
    • “The White Cow Case” (January 11, 1952)
    • “The Simpson Case” (January 18, 1952)
    • “The Al Brenners Case” (January 25, 1952)
    • “The Garrabaldi Case” (February 1, 1952)
    • “The Eddie Burke Case” (February 8, 1952)
    • “The Jerry Wilson Incident” (February 15, 1952)
    • “The Miami Case” (February 22, 1952)
    • “The Hired Killer Case” (February 29, 1952)
    • “Winthrop and Company” (March 7, 1952)
    • “The Dixon Case” (March 14, 1952)
    • “The Hank Burton Case” (March 21, 1952)
    • “Mr. Walker’s Problem” (March 28, 1952)
    • “The Enigma of Big Ed” (April 4, 1952)
    • “The Fred Montelli Affair” (April 11, 1952)
    • “The Jack Murphy Case” (April 18, 1952)
    • “The Trixie Hart Case” (April 25, 1952)
    • “The Eddie Ducheck Case” (May 2, 1952)
    • “Barber Shop Case” (May 9, 1952)
    • “Eddie Garrett Case” (May 16, 1952)
    • “The George Dale Case” (May 23, 1952)
    • “The Carpenter Case” (May 30, 1952)
    • “The Black Doll” (June 6, 1952)
    • “The Frank Taylor Case” (June 13, 1952)
    • “The Ed Lloyd Case” (June 20, 1952)
    • “Danny Revere Case” (June 27, 1952)
  • Premiere spot ad for Richard Diamond over CBS sponsored by Rexall from May 31 1953RICHARD DIAMOND, PRIVATE DETECTIVE
    (1953, CBS)
    30 minutes, weekly
    Sponsor: Rexall Drugs (again)
    Written by Blake Edwards
    Directed by Blake Edwards
    Producer: Dick Powell
    Starring Dick Powell as RICHARD DIAMOND
    with Ed Begley as Lieutenant Walt Levinson
    Virginia Gregg as Helen Asher
    and Wilms Herbert as both Desk Sergeant Otis and Helen’s butler, Francis
    Rebroadcasts of the 1949-50 NBC shows.

    • “The William B. Holland Case” (May 31, 1953)
    • “The Cover-Up Murders” (June 7, 1953)
    • “Missing Night Watchman” (June 21, 1953)
    • “The Rifle Case” (June 28, 1953)
    • “Buried Treasure” (July 5, 1953)
    • “The Pete Rocco Case” (July 12, 1953)
    • “The Chapel Hill Case” (July 19, 1953)
    • “The Mona Lisa Murder” (July 26, 1953)
    • “The Kidnapped Policeman” (August 2, 1953)
    • “The WheatGerm Case” (August 9, 1953)
    • “The Hatpin Murder Case” (August 16, 1953)
    • “The Hollywood Story” (August 23, 1953)
    • “The ‘Big Foot’ Grafton Case” (August 30, 1953)
    • “The Steak Knife Case” (September 6, 1953)
    • “The Charles Johnson Matter” (September 13, 1953)
    • “The Female Wolf Case” (September 20, 1953)

TELEVISION

  • CHEVRON HALL OF STARS
    (1956)
    Drama anthology series
    36 30-minute episodes
    Produced by Four Star

    • “Double Cross” (1956)
      Based on characters created by Blake Edwards
      Written by Blake Edwards
      Starring Don Taylor as RICHARD DIAMOND
      Also starring Marian Carr, Andrew Duggan, Barbara Nichols
  • RICHARD DIAMOND, PRIVATE DETECTIVE
    (aka “Call Mr. D”)
    (1957-1960, CBC, NBC)
    77 30-minute episodes
    B&W, mono
    A Four Stars Production
    Writers: Ed Adamson, Don Brinkley, Richard Carr, Ellis Marcus, Edmund Morris, David T. Chantler, Arnold Kadison, David T. Chantler, Edmund Morris, Ellis Arnold Kadison, Rita Moreno, Donn Mullally, Ellis Arnold Kadison, Richard Carr , Jack Kelsey, Albert Ruben, Jack Kelsey, John Robinson, Dan Ullman
    Directors: Thomas Carr, Roy Del Ruth, Tom Gries, Oscar Rudolph Ellis, Oscar Rudolph, Leigh Jason, Hollingsworth Morse, Ted Post, Alvin Ganzer, Andrew McCullough
    Starring David Janssen as RICHARD DIAMOND
    Regis Toomey as Lt. Dennis “Mac” McGough (seasons 1 – 2 )
    Russ Conway as Lt. Pete Kile (seasons 3 – 4 )
    Barbara Bain as Karen Wells (season 3 )
    Mary Tyler Moore as Sam (season 3)
    Roxane Brooks as Sam (seasons 3 – 4)
    With Bill Erwin, Hillary Brooke, Richard Devon
    Guest Stars: Claude Akins, Jack Albertson, Joey Bishop, Dan Blocker, Charles Bronson, Jack Cassidy, Stephen Chase, James Coburn, Russ Conway, Ellen Corby, Dan Haggerty, DeForest Kelley, Keye Luke, Joyce Meadows, Vic Morrow, Harry Lauter, Ross Martin, Gordon Polk, Mort Sahl, Lee Van Cleef

    • SEASON ONE (CBS)
    • “The Mickey Farmer Case” (July 1, 1957)
    • “Custody” (July 8, 1957 )
    • “Escape from Oak Lane” (July 15, 1957)
    • “The Homicide Habit” (July 22, 1957)
    • “Picture of Fear” (July 29, 1957) Buy this episode on DVD
    • “Hit and Run” (August 5, 1957)
    • “The Big Score” (August 12, 1957)
    • “The Chess Player” (August 19, 1957)  Buy this episode on DVD
    • “The Torch Carriers” (August 26, 1957)
    • “The Pete Rocco Case (a.k.a. Prison Break)” (September 9, 1957)
    • “Venus of Park Avenue” ( September 16, 1957)
    • “The Merry-Go-Round Case” (September 23, 1957)
    • SEASON TWO (CBS)
    • “The Space Society” (January 2, 1958)
    • “The Dark Horse (January 9, 1958; aka “The Allison Garvey Case”)
    • “The Payoff” (January 16, 1958)
    • “Double Jeopardy” (January 23, 1958)
    • “Arson” (January 30, 1958
    • “The Ed Church Case” (February 6, 1958)
    • “Chinese Honeymoon” (February 13, 1958; aka ‘Trouble in Chinatown”)
    • “Rodeo” (February 20, 1958 )
    • “A Cup of Black Coffee” (February 27, 1958)
    • “The George Dale Case” (March 6, 1958 )
    • “Juvenile Jacket” (March 13, 1958)
    • “Pension Plan” (March 20, 1958)
    • “Short Haul” (April 10, 1958 )
    • “Another Man’s Poison” (April 17, 1958)
    • “The Purple Penguin” (April 24, 1958)
    • “Lost Testament” (May 1, 1958 )
    • “The Percentage Takers” (May 8, 1958 )
    • “Widow’s Walk” (May 22, 1958)
    • “The Bungalow Murder” ( May 29, 1958)
    • “One Foot in the Grave” (12 Jun 58)
    • “Snow Queen” (June 26, 1958)
    • SEASON THREE (CBS)
    • “The Sport” (February 15, 1959; also known as “The Larry Forsythe Case”)
    • “Pack Rat” (February 22, 1959))
    • “Soft Touch” (March 8, 1959; also known as “The Revolution”)
    • “Boomerang Bait” (March 15, 1959)
    • “Matador Murder (a.k.a. “Mexican Art Swindle”) (March 22, 1959)
    • “Murder at the Mansion”(March 29, 1959)
    • “Marineland Mystery” (April 5, 1959)
    • “Charity Affair” (April 12, 1959
    • “Two for Paradise” (April 19, 1959)
    • “Crown of Silla” (May 3, 1959)
    • “Jukebox” (May 10, 1959
    • “Echo of Laughter” (May 17, 1959)
    • “The Limping Man” (May 24, 1959 )
    • “The Hideout” (May 31, 1959)
    • “Rough Cut” (June 7, 1959)
    • “Family Affair” (June 14, 1959)
    • “Design for Murder” (June 21, 1959)
    • SEASON FOUR (NBC)
    • “The Hoodlum” (October 5, 1959)
    • “Act of Grace” (October 12, 1959)
    • “The Bookie” (October 19, 1959)
    • “The Client” (October 26, 1959)
    • “The Runaway” ( November 2, 1959)
    • “No Laughing Matter” (November 9, 1959)
    • “The Messenger” (November 16, 1959)
    • “The Counselor” (November 23, 1959)
    • “The Image” (November 30, 1959)
    • “The Adjustor” (December 7, 1959)
    • “Marked for Murder” (December 14, 1959)
    • “The Caller” (December 21, 1959)
    • “One Dead Cat” (December 28, 1959)
    • “Dead to the World” (January 11, 1960)
    • “Seven Swords” (January 18, 1960)
    • “The Fine Art of Murder” (January 25, 1960)
    • “The Popskull” (June 28, 1960 )
    • “And Whose Little Baby Are You?” (July 5, 1960 )
    • “Fallen Star” (July 19, 1960 )
    • “Coat of Arms” (August 2, 1960)
    • “Double Trouble” (August 9, 1960)
    • “The Lovely Fraud” (August 16, 1960)
    • “Accent on Murder” August 23, 1960)
    • “East of Danger” (August 30, 1960)
    • “Running Scared” (6 September 6, 1960)
    • “The Mouse” (unaired?)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to The Episode Guides Page and The Digital Deli Too for helping to fill in the blanks.

 

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