Jefferson Keyes (Cool Million)

Created by Larry Cohen

“I’m not a detective. I simply look for solutions to rather large problems.”

JEFFERSON KEYES (played by James Farentino) was an enterprising former CIA agent who set himself up in business as a private eye (although he prefers “troubleshooter”), willing to take any case or solve any problem–for a flat fee of one million dollars (Expenses included! Money back guaranteed!) in the short-lived 1972 TV series, Cool Million.

He operates out of secret world headquarters in a house in Lincoln, Nebraska (behind a hidden panel lay a room full of computers and blinking lights so we’d know Jefferson was a high-tech kinda guy). In the pilot, he was essentially a loner, but by the time NBC picked up the pilot, he’d acquired a receptionist, Elena, and wisecracking Tony Baylor, who piloted Jefferson’s private jet.

His own jet turned out to be a handy investment, since Jefferson’s cases took him all over the world (Canada! The Riviera! Africa!) and ranged from locating a woman in a photograph who can save a man from a murder rap to leading a nine-man team to rescue a kidnapped billionaire to arranging an art theft to get back at the dictator who paid Keyes fee with a rubber check.

The fanciful concept for the short-lived show came from ubiquitous idea man Larry Cohen (the man who also gave the world Branded, Coronet Blue, Blue Light and The Invaders), but the series was produced under the auspices of Roy Huggins, who also plotted three of the four episodes,  part of The NBC Mystery Movie. My memory’s vague, but I seem to remember this as an enjoyable series, more an adventure than a traditional private eye series. In hindsight, it can be viewed as a precursor to The Rockford Files, in its breezy manner, in Keyes’ penchant for utilizing con jobs to earn his mill, and in Huggins’ involvement.

Hmmmm…. You don’t suppose Bret Maverick had a grandson named Keyes, do you?


  • “Even James Farentino couldn’t save this turkey”
    — Epi-Log
  • “Dippy.”
    — Kevin Burtion Smith


  • Adele Mara, who played Elena, was the wife of Roy Huggins.


    (aka “Mask Of Marcella”)
    (1972, NBC)
    2 hour pilot
    Originally aired October 16, 1972
    Teleplay by Larry Cohen
    Director: Gene Levitt
    Produced by Roy Huggins
    Starring James Farentino as JEFFERSON KEYES
    with Adele Mara as Elena
    Guest stars: Lila Kedrova, John Vernon, Barbara Bouchet, Jackie Coogan, Christine Belford, Patrick O’Neal
    (1972, NBC)
    4 90-minute episodes
    Created by Larry Cohen
    Writers: Larry Cohen, Gene Levitt, Juanita Bartlett, John Thomas James (Roy Huggins), Richard Morris
    Directors: Gene Levitt, John Badham, Barry Shear, Daryl Duke.
    Produced by Jo Swerling, Jr. and David J. O’Connell
    Executive producer: Roy Huggins, George Eckstein
    Starring James Farentino as JEFFERSON KEYES
    Ed Bernard as Tony Styles
    Adele Mara as Elena
    and Ed Bernard (later, Felton Perry) as Tony Baylor
    Guest Stars: Ray Milland, Kim Darby, Pamela Franklin, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Nehemiah Persoff, Ilka Chase, Joanna Barnes, Barry Sullivan, Nico Minardos, Danielle DeMetz, Kent Smith, Carlos Romero, Felton Perry, Elaine Giftos, Ina Balin, Joseph Ruskin, Cliff Emmich, John Ragin,.Jackie Coogan, Sharon Gless

    • “Hunt for a Lonely Girl” (October 25, 1972)
    • “Assault on Gavaloni” (November 22, 1972)
    • “The Abduction of Bayard Barnes” (December 6, 1972)
    • “The One Million Dollar Misunderstanding” (December 20, 1972)
Respectfully submitted by Ted Fitzgerald. Additional info and snark provided by Kevin Burton Smith.

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