Friday, March 19, 2010

Another Look Back

Fess Parker's death and a search on the web kicked up the fact that there is a remake of the old private eye series 77 Sunset Strip in the works. Supposedly to be done as a period piece.

Starting in the late fifties and running to the early sixties, this was a show about a couple former secret agents who opened a detective agency on the strip in L.A., and who were the epitome of cool. Roger Smith and Efram Zimbalist, Jr. were the stars. Comedy relief came from Louis Quinn, as Roscoe, the racetrack tout, and Edd "Kookie" Byrnes as Gerald Lloyd Kookson the III. Jacqueline Beer played the switchboard operator.

It was an hour long, full of action, the odd gunfight, and a lot of coming and going from the strip.

It ran out of steam in 1963, was revamped, then cancelled, in '64.

Zimbalist eventually wound up doing the voice of Alfred, Batman's butler on the animated show, and Smith married teenage lust icon Ann-Margret in 1967. He left the show because of ill health after 74 episodes and eventually quit acting to become a producer of his wife's Vegas act.

"Kookie" was the wisecracking hipster who called everybody "Dad," used what Hollywood thought was beatnik lingo that had people scratching their head, and who spent a lot of time combing his own DA 'do. There was a song, "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb," that hit #4 on the charts at one point. Listening to his dialog today is a howler, but back then, it was, um, hip, Dad, you know? He was considered to be one of the top five teenage heartthrobs of all time on TV. These days, he apparently makes his living signing autographed pictures at car shows.

Anybody who was anybody as a TV actor did a guest shot in the show in the years it was on, from William Shatner to Roger Moore to Troy Donohue; Marlow Thomas to Tuesday Weld to DeForest Kelly; Adam West, Peter Lorre, to Nick Adams ...

The theme music was an orchestral fanfare, followed by singers who went "Seventy-seven Sunset Strip!" followed by snapping fingers, pop, pop!

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