Mark Saber

Created by —

Donald Gray as SABER OF LONDON.

It was a long and winding road for television’s MARK SABER, who started off life as a British cop working for a big city American police force on both American radio and television, and ended his career as a one-armed private eye in London in a British television production that was shipped back to the States, undergoing a confusing barrage of title changes along the way.


It all started with a radio show, ABC Mystery Theater, which aired from 1951-1954. The show lasted for three seasons, although the third season was merely reruns of the previous season, and revolved around the cases of Inspector Mark Saber, played in the first season by Robert Carroll, while his assistant, Sergeant Tim Maloney, was voiced by James Westerfield (and later in the season by Douglas Chandler). The second season, Les Damon and Walter Burke took over the roles of Saber and Maloney, respectively.


By all accounts, the radio show was nothing special, but ABC must have thought otherwise. Two days after ABC Mystery Theater premiered on the radio, Mark Saber Mystery Theater premiered on the ABC Television Network, boasting the same format, storylines, plots and characters. Like the radio program, the television show ran on ABC for three seasons, from 1951 to 1954 (the TV show would wander all over the schedule over the next decade, changing titles frequently, as it bounced back and fourth across the Atlantic and in and out of syndication around the world–alternately known throughout its long career as Mystery Theater, Mark Saber, Inspector Mark Saber–Homicide Squad and Homicide Squad.

The television version starred Tom Conway (previously best known for playing The Falcon) as a rather foppish Saber — a sauve and dapper Brit, well-dressed in pinstriped suits, sporting a pencil-thin mustache, tracking down criminals by utilizing his brilliant deductive reasoning, as well as regular police methods. He was played with all the easy-going charisma Conway could muster. This Saber was no private eye, though–he was a cop, working homicide for the police department of an (as far as I know) unnamed American city. He was aided in his rather Holmesian leaps of deductive logic by the dim though loyal, Watson-like figure of Sergeant Tim Maloney.

THE VISE (1955-57)

That original show (whatever it was called) went off the air in 1954, but Mark Saber was back the next year on NBC’s The Vise (which, just to confuse things, ran as “Mark Saber” in the U.K.), and put out by the low-budget British production team of Edward and Harry Lee Danziger.  Gone, however, was the gentlemanly homicide inspector working in the United States, replaced by a decidedly more down to earth, one-armed private eye based in London, played by South-African-born Donald Gray, a bona fide war hero who had actually lost an arm in during the invasion of Normandy. A few wags suggested at the time that it was cheaper for the notoriously cheap Danziger brothers to hire an actor with only one arm.

What’s really odd, though, is that despite the similarities of name and nationality, there’s very little to suggest that this was even the same character as featured in the previous show. It’s also worth noting that, despite the fact the show was now being produced in the UK, that most episodes aired in the UK well over a year after their US network release.

Not that a missing arm slowed Saber down, though. He was a determined gumshoe, and he could always count on his irrepressible and slightly dim American partner, Barney O’Keefe, and his trusty secretary, Judy.

In the second season, though, Barney and Judy were out, and bubbly, attractive blonde Stephanie “Stevie” Ames was in, as Saber’s new secretary, who had it bad for the boss. Her story? She’s apparently just arrived from America as a journalist, but hasn’t been able to find work, while Mark needs a new secretary. Judy, it seems, has gone and done the unforgivable–she’s gone and married someone.

I’m not quite sure why. From the few early episodes I’ve seen, Gray could barely act. If he’d have been any more wooden, he’d have been a fire hazard. To his credit, apparently he did get better, although by the time the show ended, he was so typecast by playing Saber that other film and television roles never came his way, and he ended up working in radio and commercials until his death in 1978.

The Vise ran on ABC for two seasons, airing its final episode in June 1957.


A few months later, Gray reprised the role in Mark Saber’s third incarnation (although some consider this merely a continuation of the previous show). By this point, the show had migrated from ABC to NBC in the States, necessitating yet another new title: Saber of London. And just in case anyone thought he was in Newark, or maybe Milwaukee, the opening sequence concluded with Saber standing in front of Big Ben, and announcing in his very best (and polite) tea-and-crumpets accent, “Good Evening. I’m Mark Saber, and this is London.”

You know, just in case someone missed the subtle visual clues…

Despite the title, though, Saber’s cases occasionally did take him to the streets of various hot spots around Europe, most notably glamour spots like Paris and the Riviera.

The following season saw the unexplained absence of Stevie, but the addition of a new assistant, Pete (Neil McCallum), who left mid-series to be replaced by Larry (Gordon Tanner). But Saber did seem to have a problem holding onto staff. By the third and final truncated season (only 13 episodes), he made do with a girlfriend, Ann Fellows( played by Jennifer Jayne, who’d previously been a cast regular in various roles) for a while, until a new assistant, Eddie Wells (Garry Thorne) showed up.


  • Several character pronounce Saber’s name as “Sabber.”
  • It’s still unclear who actually “created” the character of Saber, but probably the best known writer to contribute to the TV series was Brian Clemens (1931-2015), an English screenwriter and television producer, who went on to much better things, and was best known for his later work on The Avengers and The Professionals.


    (1951-1954, ABC)
    Writers: Robert Tallman
    Starring Robert Carroll as MARK SABER (Season One)
    and James Westerfield as Tim Maloney
    Les Damon as MARK SABER (Season Two)
    Douglas Chandler as Tim Maloney (later Douglas Chandler)
    and Walter Burke as Sergeant Maloney


    (aka “Mystery Theater,” “Mark Saber,” “Inspector Mark Saber–Homicide Squad” and “Homicide Squad”)
    (1951-54, ABC)
    64 30-minute episodes, black and white
    First telecast: October 5, 1951
    Last telecast: June 1954
    Writers: Buckley Angell, Robert C. Dennis, Lee Loeb, Al Martin, Warren Wilson, Wallace Bosco
    Director: Eugene Forde, Howard Bretherton, George Blair
    Executive producer: Ronald D. Reed
    Producer: J. Donald Wilson
    Starring Tom Conway as MARK SABER
    with James Burke as Sergeant Tim Maloney

    • “The Case of Carrie’s Coffin” (October 5, 1951)
    • “The Case of The Dart Of Death” (October 12, 1951)
    • “The Case of The Three Blind Mice” (October 19, 1951)
    • “The Case of The Missing Gun” (October 26, 1951)
    • “The Case of The Toast To Murder” (November 2, 1951)
    • “The Case of The Purse of Death” (November 9, 1951)
    • “The Case of The Silent Alibi” (November 16, 1951)
    • “The Case of The Crown Hill Murder” (November 23, 1951)
    • “The Case of The Living Corpse” (December 7, 1951)
    • “The Case of The Invisible Death” (December 14, 1951)
    • “The Case of The Snowman Murder” (December 21, 1951)
    • “The Case of The Silent Guest” (December 28, 1951)
    • “The Case of The Second Death” (January 4, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Locked Room” (January 11, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Corpse In The Canyon” (January 18, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Finger Man” (January 25, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Fatal Passion” (February 1, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Spirit World” (February 8, 1952; aka”Ghost Trapper”)
    • “The Case of Murder On The Hour” (February 15, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Hidden Clue” (February 22, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Deadly Dream” (February 29, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Missing Heads” (March 7, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Date With Murder” (March 14, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Appointment With Death” (March 21, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Idol Of Death” (March 28, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Deadly Derringer” (April 4, 1952)
    • “The Case of Design For Murder” (April 11, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Restless Corpse” (April 16, 1952)
    • “The Case of Borrowed Corpse” (April 23, 1952)
    • “The Case of Chinese Medallion” (April 30, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Missing Finger” (May 7, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Haunted Castle” (May 14, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Marked Man” (May 21, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Deadly Queen” (May 28, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Missing Bride” (June 4, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Emigrant of Death” (1952)
    • “The Case of The Artful Murders” (1952)
    • “Unknown Title” (October 6, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Star Tattoo” (October 13, 1952)
    • “Unknown Title” (October 20, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Hair Of The Dog” (October 27, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Wrestler’s Corpse” (November 3, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Midnight Murder” (November 10, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Eccentric Heiress” (November 17, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Lost Face” (November 24, 1952)
    • “Unknown Tile” (December 1, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Murderous Music Box” (December 8, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Mouse” (December 15, 1952)
    • “Unknown Tile” (December 22, 1952)
    • “The Case of The Fashions Of Death” (January 5, 1953)
    • “The Case of The Japanese Knife” (January 19, 1953)
    • “Unknown Tile” (February 2, 1953)
    • “The Case of The Door Of Death” (February 2, 1953)
    • “The Case of The Hanging Husband” (February 2, 1953; aka “TheCase Of The Frightened Husband”)
    • “The Case of The Fire Of Death” (March 16, 1953)
    • “The Case of The Dead Man’s Puzzle” (March 30, 1953)
    • “The Case of The Chamber Of Death” (April 13, 1953)
    • “The Case of The Fatal Ruby” (April 27, 1953)
    • “Unknown Tile” (May 11, 1953)
    • “The Case of The Triple Murders” (May 25, 1953)
    • No details available
    (Later syndicated as “Uncovered”)

    (1955-57, ABC)
    52 30-minute episodes, black and white
    First telecast: September 1955
    Last telecast: June 1957
    Opening: “How do you do? The story is about people caught in the jaws of a vise, we’ll begin our story in a moment.”
    Writers: Brian Clemens, Ken Taylor, John Roeburt, James Eastwood, Gwen Davies, Ken Feld, Carol Warner Gluck, Kate Barley, Gilbert Winfield, Albert G. Miller, Charles W. Peck Jr.
    Directors: Ernest Morris, Charles Eldridge, Kieron Moore, Harry Lee Danziger, Richard Lester
    Producers: Edward and Harry Lee Danziger
    Starring Donald Gray as MARK SABER
    with Michael Balfour as Barney O’Keefe
    Theresa Thorne as Judy
    Diana Decker as Stephanie Ames
    Patrick Holt as Inspector Brady
    and Colin Tapley as Inspector Chester
    Guest Stars: Christopher Lee, Honor Blackman, Patrick McGoohan

    • NOTE: Only first run dates, if known, are given.
    • “Second Sight” (December 16, 1955)
    • “A Lady Is Missing” (December 23, 1955)
    • “Diamond Cut Diamond”” (December 30, 1955)
    • “A Coffin For Johnny”
    • “Collector’s Item” (March 24, 1956)
    • “Deadline For Murder”
    • “Manhunt”
    • “Death Has Three Faces”
    • “The Captive Brain” (July 27, 1956)
    • “Death Needs No Cane”
    • “Find A Body”
    • “Frame-Up Without Gloves”
    • “There’s Danger In Beauty”
    • “The Girl From Rome”
    • “Hear No Evil”
    • “Killer on the Prowl”
    • “Walk Softly For Murder”
    • “Murder By Design”
    • “Murder For Gain”
    • “The Night Has Secrets”
    • “No Reply From Room 17”
    • “The Sally Ankers Story”
    • “No Shroud For A Lady”
    • “It’s Only Mink” (aka “The Tall Dark Man”)
    • “The Long Wait”
    • “The Big Snatch”
    • “File It Under Murder”
    • “If This Be Murder”
    • “Sing Softly, Sister”
    • “Against the Ropes”
    • “Safe for Murder”
    • “Receipt For Murder”
    • “Holiday for Heatherton”
    • “Kill Me, My Love”
    • “Corpse in the Cellar”
    • “A Dram Of Death”
    • “Cage of Fear”
    • “A Hatful Of Trouble”
    • “Return To Danger”
    • “Bullets For Saber”
    • “Cry Wolf”
    • “Root Of Evil”
    • “The Very Last Witness”
    • “Corpse with a Sword”
    • “The Wrong Face”
    • “Short Cut to Murder”
    • “Tough Part”
    • “Signature For Murder”
    • “Murder By Error”
    • “Find Harry Clay”
    • “Man On A Cliff”
    • “The Sound Of Death”
    • “Diamond Jubilee”
    • “A Coin’s Worth Of Murder”
    • “Farewell To Mrs. Forest”
    • “Death In A Flask”
    • “Hi-Jacked”
    • “The Sucker Game”
    • “You Can’t Live Twice”
    • “Back Track to Murder”
    • “Death Wears a Coronet”
    • “Bishops Sometimes Bite”
    • “Short, Dark and Handsome”
    • “The Hostage”
    • “The Pink Scarf”
    (Later syndicated in the U.S. as “Detective’s Diary”)
    (1957-60, NBC)
    83 30-minute episodes, black and white
    First telecast: October 13, 1957
    Last telecast: May 15, 1960
    Writers: Brian Clemens, Kate Barley, Eldon Howard, George St. George, John Roeburt, James Eastwood, Stanley Miller, Patricia Hill, Mark Grantham, Gilbert Winfield
    Directors: Ernest Morris, Max Varnel, Godfrey Grayson
    Producers: Edward and Harry Lee Danziger
    Starring Donald Gray as MARK SABER
    with Neil McCallum as Peter Paulson
    Robert Arden as Bob Page
    Gordon Tanner as Larry Nelson
    JeNnifer Jayne as Ann Somers
    Jerry Thorne as Eddie Wells
    and Colin Tapley as Inspector Parker
    Guest stars: Honor Blackman, Gordon Jackson, Patrick McGoohan

    • “The Captain and His Killers” (September 13, 1957; aka “The Captain and the Killers”)
    • “Hands Across The Sea” (September 20, 1957)
    • “Deep In The Heart Of Chelsea” (September 27, 1957)
    • “Death by Delayed Payment” (October 4, 1957)
    • “The Missing Hours” (October 11, 1957)
    • “The Penny Black” (October 18, 1957)
    • “Girls And Diamonds” (October 25, 1957)
    • “Murder Shall Speak” (November 1, 1957)
    • “The Baby-Sitter” (November 8, 1957
    • “Hour Of Decision” (November15, 1957
    • “Luger For Chesser” (November 22, 1957)
    • “The Law And The Lawless” (November 29, 1957)
    • “Hidden Money”
    • “Fast Cars And Girls”
    • “Saber’s Bow And Arrow”
    • “Man About to Die”
    • “Saber At Sea”
    • “Cheating Cheaters”
    • “Six Months To Talk”
    • “4 Against 3”
    • “The Maid Was Curious”
    • “The Case of Mrs. Shore”
    • “Code to Murder”
    • “Calling Charlie-Emergency”
    • “The Visitor”
    • “Strong Man Out”
    • “Power Of Suggestion”
    • “The Man Who Was Twice”
    • “Dead Man’s Hands”
    • “Diamond Follies”
    • “A Diplomatic Affair”
    • “Black Pawn, White Pawn”
    • “Lillies for Lucas”
    • “The White Cane”
    • “Beyond Fear”
    • “Don’t Lose Your Shirt”
    • “Weakness Doesn’t Pay”
    • “Field Goal”
    • “The Corpse Cried Murder”
    • “Curse Of Death”
    • “The Killer And The Kid”
    • “Paid Off”
    • “Trap For Murder”
    • “A Night on the Town”
    • “Background For Murder”
    • “Where There’s A Will”
    • “A Toast To Death”
    • “It Walks At Night”
    • “The Lady Doesn’t Scare”
    • “Uncle William”
    • “The Black Widow”
    • “Hour Of Reckoning”
    • “Double Take”
    • “Cooked-Up Murder”
    • “Dark Moments”
    • “Platinum Murder”
    • “Silent Accusation”
    • “Under Suspicion”
    • “Dangerous Meeting”
    • “Dilemma For Harry”
    • “Operation Arson”
    • “Come Out Fighting”
    • “Time Alibi For Murder”
    • “Out Of The Past”
    • “Incident In Soho”
    • “Jockey Missing”
    • “Death Hides Out”
    • “Switch To Murder”
    • “Silence for Sale”
    • “Arena For Fraud”
    • “1,000 Alibis”
    • “The Opportunists”
    • “Death At His Fingertips”
    • “Murder For Revenge”
    • “Dead Before Arrival”
    • “A Date with Trouble”
    • “Fire!”
    • “Full Moon”
    • “The Florentine Madonna”
    • “The Last Chapter
    • “Cousin From Montreal”
    • “A Boxful Of Tragedy”
    • “The Big Stone”
    • “Broken Journey”
    • “Murder With Make-Up”
    • “Ordeal Of Fear”
    • “The Scream In The Night” (aka “Scream in the Dark”)”
    • “Kill And Run”
    • “Damages”
    • “Lost And Found”
    • “Sweetheart, Beware!”
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

Leave a Reply