Harry Tenafly (Tenafly)

Created by Richard Levinson & William Link

HARRY TENAFLY (James McEachin) was what most television private eye definitely weren’t: a happily married, middle-class family man, with absolutely no interest in violence, beautiful women or baffling crimes.

Uncool? Harry even lived in the suburbs!

Unfortunately for Harry, trouble couldn’t stay away from him, despite his best efforts. In fact, it was one of the reasons he left the LAPD. Mind you, with a young family to support, a gig at Hightower Investigations, Inc., a large Los Angeles private detective agency, also offered better pay. And health care.

Tenafly was the first post-Columbo series to be produced by the good lieutenant’s creators, Richard Levinson and William Link, and was also a star vehicle for James McEachin, an enormously likable character actor with an everyman quality about him. The show aired as part of The NBC Mystery Movie.

The character and the series stood in sharp contrast to the other then-current series about an African-American private eye that debuted that same season: Shaft over on CBS. Not to worry, though–Tenafly was the far superior show, television’s watered-down version of him have been further removed from the movie version if it had been performed in blackface.

In fact, Levinson and Link may not have conceived the character as black; McEachin just happened to be the actor who embodied the qualities they wanted. Only four 90-minute episodes were produced as part of NBC’s Mystery Movie wheel (and a pilot, previously aired) and I remember next to nothing about them except I thought McEachin deserved better. The show might have played better as a weekly hour rather than stretched to 90 minutes.


    (1973, NBC)
    90-minute pilot
    Original airdate: February 12, 1973
    Written by Richard Levinson & William Link
    Directed by Richard Colla
    Starring James McEachin as HARRY TENAFLY
    Also starring Mel Ferrer, Ed Nelson, Lillian Lehman, John Ericson, David Huddleston,
    Rosanna Huffman , Paul M. Jackson, Jr., Lillian Randolph, Bill Walker, Anne Seymour
    (1973-74, NBC)
    4 90-minute epsiodes
    Created by Richard Levinson & William Link
    Writers: Booker Bradshaw & David P. Lewis, Robert Pirosh, Richard Levinson & William Link
    Directors: Robert Day, Don Taylor, Bernard L. Kowalski, Gene Levitt
    Produced by Richard Levinson & William Link
    Starring James McEachin as HARRY TENAFLY
    Also starring Lillian Lehman as Ruth Tenafly
    Rosanna Huffman as Lorrie
    David Huddleston as Lt. Sam Church
    and Paul M. Jackson, Jr. as Herb Tenafly
    Guest stars: Tom Bosley, Ellen Corby, Larry Storch, Melissa Gilbert, Ruby Dee, Joseph Campanella, Bob Crane, Sal Mineo

    • “Joyride to Nowhere” (October 10, 1973)
    • “The Cash and Carry Caper” (October 31, 1973)
    • “The Window That Wasn’t” (December 5, 1973)
    • “Man Running” (January 2, 1974)


Respectfully submitted by Ted Fitzgerald, with some additional snark (I mean, research) by Kevin Burton Smith.

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