1967: The Fugitive comes to a definitive end

A bumper for The Fugitive

In the 21st century, the notion of a television series coming to a definitive end seems old hat. But in the 1960s, that wasn’t the case. However, that changed when the 1963-67 series The Fugitive ended its run.

The ABC series, produced by QM Productions, featured the exploits of Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen (1931-80), who had been convicted of killing his wife.

The Fugitive was one of the first examples of a series that was brought to an conclusive ending. Kimble, in the final two-part story, finally caught up with the “one-armed man” who killed his wife.

For the early early years of QM Productions, the series was the company’s flagship show. It was the brainchild of veteran TV writer-producer Roy Huggins (1914-2002), who had earlier created the TV shows Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip.

Higgins sold The Fugitive to ABC. The television network selected Quinn Martin to produce the show. At this point, Martin’s then-new company had sold one short-lived series, The New Breed.

The Fugitive was QM’s first big hit. As the show was winding down, ABC and QM eventually elected to have the show actually end on its own terms. At the time, the practice was for a network to get as many episodes as it could from a show and simply end without a definitive conclusion.

The Fugitive had an actually ending and more. When the final two-part story aired on ABC, it was one of the most-watched TV episodes of all time.

At the time, it was a milestone. For Quinn Martin, there were more accomplishments to come.

1967: The Man From U.N.C.L.E./Fugitive crossover

Well, not exactly. But the Quinn Martin-produced series The Fugitive, the first big hit for Martin’s QM Productions, was winding down its four-year run when it filmed the concluding scene to an episode. David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble, was walking down a city street. The filming site was Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s “street set,” originally to duplicate a New York City street.

QM’s art department apparently was asleep at the switch. It failed to removed the set dressing from another show produced on the same set: the Del Floria’s tailor shop sign from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The tailor shop was the “security entrance” to U.N.C.L.E.’s New York headquarters. Here’s a video, albeit not good video quality, of the scene from The Fugitive.

According to the For Your Eyes Only Web site’s 100-year timeline showing U.N.C.L.E.-007 interactions, The Fugitive episode aired on April 4, 1967. If correct, that would be an episode called The Walls of Night.

Based on the credits, that would indicate that set decorator Sandy Grace was the one who failed to notice the Del Floria’s sign. Then again, one-hour drama shows were shot in five or six days in the 1960s and had really tight deadlines.

Also, according to For Your Eyes Only, The Fugitive episode aired just a few weeks after a March 1967 fire destroyed the street set. In The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s fourth season, the show had to use footage from previous episodes to depict the exterior of U.N.C.L.E.’s heaquarters.