1978: QM tries its version of The Avengers

In the late 1970s, things were changing at QM Productions. Founder Quinn Martin sold his company to Taft Broadcasting and those he left behind tried to carry on.

One project after Martin’s departure was Escapade, a QM version of The Avengers. It starred Granville Van Dusen and Morgan Fairchild. QM brought aboard Brian Clemens as writer-producer. Clemens was was of the major creative forces behind The Avengers and its 1970s revival, The New Avengers.

Escapade included a mammoth computer to assist its heroes. QM held onto the general notion. In 1979, QM launched A Man Called Sloane, which also had a chattering computer.

By this time, many of the QM behind-the-camera veterans had also departed. One who was still around was John Conwell, QM’s long-time casting director. So was John Elizalde, the music supervisor who hired composers for QM productions.

Here is the video. H/T @LeeGoldberg who got our attention about this.

Art Gilmore: Versatile announcer

Art Gilmore appearing on-camera in Dragnet

Another in an occasional series about unsung figures in television.

Trivia question: Name somebody who has ties to the very first James Bond production (1954’s CBS production of Casino Royale), Highway Patrol, Quinn Martin TV shows (the first one, The New Breed), Fred Astaire (a late 1950s TV special), Red Skelton, The Wild Wild West and Hawaii Five-O.

That person would be announcer Art Gilmore (1912-2010).

Gilmore began his announcing career in the 1930s and moved into television and movie trailers. Here’s an excerpt from the Los Angeles Time obituary for Gilmore.

“He was one of an elite corps of radio and television announcers, a voice that everyone in America recognized because it was ubiquitous,” film critic and show business historian Leonard Maltin told The Times this week.

“For at least 20 years, if you listened to radio, watched TV or went to the movies, you couldn’t help but hear Art Gilmore’s voice,” said Maltin. “It wasn’t especially deep like some announcers, but it had authority, command and yet also a kind of friendliness. I think it was an all-American voice.”

Gilmore’s voice was the first viewers heard on the 1954 CBS live telecast of Casino Royale. “Live from Television City in Hollywood!”

The early years of television were heavily influenced by radio. On radio, an announcer introduced a show and often acted as a narrator.

Gilmore did a lot of work at CBS, including being the long-time announcer for Red Skelton’s variety show. His voice could often be heard on promos.

A YouTuber recreated a second-season promo for The Wild Wild West, which featured Gilmore’s voice and music by Richard Shores. Most of the visuals are based on the originals with a few tweaks.


In 1968, CBS televised a program-length promotion for its upcoming season. Here’s the segment for the upcoming Hawaii Five-O where Gilmore’s voice features prominently.

Finally, here’s a brief YouTube tribute to Gilmore, focusing on his work on Highway Patrol and Dragnet.

Peter Mark Richman, who frequently played villains, dies

Peter Mark Richman in an episode of The FBI

Peter Mark Richman, a character actor who had a long career and often played villains, has died at 93, Variety reported.

He was often tapped by QM Productions for its various shows and was part of the “QM Players” of actors frequently employed by producer Quinn Martin.

Richman’s QM credits included The FBI (appearing as a guest star in eight of nine seasons), The Invaders, The Fugitive, Cannon, Barnaby Jones, and The Streets of San Francisco. The actor was part of a big cast for the QM TV movie House on Greenapple Road, which led to the Dan August series.

Richman also was called upon by casting directors for 1960s spy shows, including The Wild Wild West, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (the show’s two-part series finale), It Takes a Thief, and Mission: Impossible.

He also was the lead in Agent for H.A.R.M. (1966), which mixed spy fi with sci fi. The cast also included Aliza Gur, who earlier appeared in From Russia With Love as one of the two gypsy fighting women.

The production was poked fun at on Mystery Science 3000, where a host and two puppets (which were supposed to be robots) provided running commentary.

Richman’s IMDB.COM ENTRY lists more than 150 credits from 1953 to 2016.

UPDATE: The Silver Age Television account on Twitter embedded a clip where Richman appears. It’s pretty typical of the characters that Richman played.

The blog’s favorite character actors: Murray Hamilton

Murray Hamilton, left, with Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws.

Part of an occasional series.

Murray Hamilton, after a long career as a character actor, has been reduced to a meme in the 21st century.

In Jaws (1975), Hamilton played a mayor who didn’t care about the safety of the citizens of his town. The mayor just wanted to be sure everybody went to the beach despite a killer shark.

These days, various social media postings refer to the “mayor from Jaws.” This is amid a pandemic when a lot of politicians are talking about “opening” the economy without seeming to care that much about safety.

The thing is, Hamilton had a long career as an actor. He often played unsympathetic characters (such as the mayor in Jaws). But he sometimes played sympathetic characters such as James Stewart’s partner in 1959’s The FBI Story.

Hamilton was also among the members of the unofficial group of the QM Players,  who frequently appeared as guest stars on various series produced by Quinn Martin.

One of Hamilton’s best performances was in an episode of The Twilight Zone, One for the Angels. Hamilton plays the character of Death and portrays him as a bureaucrat. He has a quota to meet.

A canny street merchant (Ed Wynn) tricks Death. So Death instead movies to take the life of a young girl. The merchant distracts Death with the best sales pitch he’s ever made. Death misses the appointed time to take the girl’s life. So the merchant will be taken in place of the young girl.

Before they go, the merchant asks where they are going. Death reassures him they are going up, toward heaven.

Hamilton died in 1986 at the age of 63. Here’s a clip from one of his appearances on The FBI, the QM-produced series.

Anthony Spinner, writer-producer for QM, U.N.C.L.E., dies

Robert Vaughn, David McCallum and Carol Lynley in The Prince of Darkness Affair Part II, produced by Anthony Spinner

Robert Vaughn, David McCallum and Carol Lynley in The Prince of Darkness Affair Part II, produced by Anthony Spinner and written by Dean Hargrove

Anthony Spinner, a writer-producer who worked on a number of series for QM Productions as well as The Man From U.N.C.L.E., died in February at 89, according to the In Memoriam 2020 page of the Writer’s Guild West website.

Spinner’s work as a writer had a recurring theme of betrayal. A few examples:

–In The FBI episode The Tormentors, written by Spinner, kidnapper Logan Dupree (Wayne Rogers) brutally murders one of his confederates, John Brock (Edward Asner).

— In The Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode The Secret Sceptre Affair, written by Spinner, Napoleon Solo is manipulated and betrayed by his commanding officer from the Korean War.

— In The FBI episode The Assassin, plotted by Spinner, an international assassin (William Windom) sets up an idealistic traitor (Tom Skeritt) to be killed as part of an assassination plot aimed at a bishop (Dean Jagger).

–In The Name of the Game episode The Perfect Image, plotted by Spinner, Howard Publications executive assistant Peggy Maxwell (Susan Saint James) has been manipulated by an old friend as part of a plot to discredit a reform mayor of Chicago.

Anthony Spinner’s title card for Survival, the final episode of The FBI

After writing for a number of QM Productions shows, Spinner was associate producer for the first season of The Invaders. QM’s only science fiction show had a paranoid feel as David Vincent (Roy Thinnes) battled invaders from another world who took human form to take over Earth.

Spinner’s next job was producing the fourth (and final) season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Spinner, in effect, tried to bring the “QM Gravitas” to U.N.C.L.E. following that show’s very campy third season.

The fourth-season debut, The Summit-Five Affair, showed how Spinner was taking the show in a different direction. In the episode, written by Robert E. Thompson, Solo (Robert Vaughn) undergoes torture — by another U.N.C.L.E. operative (Lloyd Bochner), determined to show that Solo is a traitor.

Summit-Five also featured a major double-cross, something that would occur in other Spinner-produced U.N.C.L.E. episodes.

Not everyone involved appreciated the new direction. Veteran U.N.C.L.E. writer Dean Hargrove, in a 2007 interview for a DVD release, said Spinner came from “the Quinn Martin School of Melodrama.” He didn’t mean it as a compliment. In the interview, Hargrove described his disagreements with Spinner during production of the two-part story The Prince of Darkness Affair.

U.N.C.L.E. ran out of time and was canceled in mid-season. Spinner would return to QM Productions. His time there would have its ups and downs.

Anthony Spinner title card for an episode of Dan August

For example, Spinner produced the QM police drama Dan August (1970-71). Spinner pushed to have more topical scripts.

“Quinn said to me, ‘Are we doing propaganda here?,'” Spinner said in an interview with Jonathan Etter for the author’s Quinn Martin, Producer book. “I said, ‘Yeah, because I’m tired of diamond heists and kidnapped girls and all that stuff.'”

Regardless, boss Quinn Martin consistently utilized Spinner’s talents on multiple series.

Shelly Novack and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in a publicity still for The FBI's final season, produced by Anthony Spinner.

Shelly Novack and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in a publicity still for The FBI’s final season, produced by Anthony Spinner.

Spinner produced the final season of QM’s The FBI. Even before that show was canceled, Martin re-assigned Spinner to Cannon. Spinner finished work on The FBI on a Friday in 1974 and began work on Cannon the following Monday, according to the Quinn Martin, Producer book.

In 1975, Martin had Spinner producing two QM series simultaneously, Cannon and the short-lived Caribe. The latter was a cross between Hawaii Five-O (tropical climate) and U.N.C.L.E. (agency with multi-national jurisdiction).

Also, while working at QM, Spinner and his story editor, Stephen Kandel, rescued Cannon scripts during a large fire at the Samuel Goldwyn Studios, the home base for Cannon, according to the Etter book.

His credits also included being producer of The Return of the Saint in the late 1970s, with Ian Ogilvy as Simon Templar.

Spinner’s career extended into the 1990s with the TV movie The Lottery.

In 2009, Spinner sued ABC saying he actually created the television series Lost. Spinner in 1977 had written a pilot for the network titled Lost which he said contained ideas and concepts that ended up in the 2004-10 series. ABC won the case in court in 2011. a finding that was upheld on appeal in 2013.

The man behind the Oscars mic

Hank Simms (1923-2013) in a rare on-camera appearance on The Invaders (a QM series where Simms didn’t announce the titles)

This weekend will include the latest Oscars show. For the occasion, the blog is noting the show’s long-time announcer, Hank Simms (1923-2013).

Simms had a 15-year association with television producer Quinn Martin, acting as announcer from the first episode of The FBI through the final episode of Barnaby Jones.

But Simms had an even longer association with the Oscars, from the early 1960s into the early 1980s. With that in mind, here are some highlights, including some James Bond moments at the Oscars.

Opening of the 1961 Oscars telecast:

1966: John Stears wins the special effects Oscar for Thunderball. Stears isn’t present. Simms informs the audience that Ivan Tors (whose company produced the underwater sequences) is accepting the award for Stears.

1973: Roger Moore, the “new James Bond,” and Liv Ullmann are on hand to present the Best Actor Oscar. The winner is Marlon Brando for The Godfather. He’s not present. Simms tells the audience that Sacheen Littlefeather will accept. But the presenters, and the audience, are in for a surprise.

1982: At the opening of the 1982 Oscars telecast, Simms refers to Roger Moore as “perhaps the most handsome man alive.” The announcer informs the audience that the actor is presenting a special award.

1982: Here is that special award. Moore introduces Albert R. Broccoli getting a lifetime achievement for a movie producer. You don’t hear Simms in this clip. However, in the commercial break just before the clip, Simms had told the audience, “We’ll be back with some great James Bond action.”

1967: The U.N.C.L.E./Invaders connection

A first-season episode of The Invaders directed by Sutton Roley…

….and a fourth-season U.N.C.L.E. episode directed by Sutton Roley

The final season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1967-68) included a major change in tone. The show got a lot more serious after a campy third season.

The primary reason was a change in producers. In came Anthony Spinner, a veteran of some Quinn Martin series. His time at QM Productions up to that point included being associate producer for the first season of The Invaders.

Spinner had written a first-season U.N.C.L.E. episode, The Secret Sceptre Affair. But he also wrote a number of episodes for Quinn Martin series such as 12 O’Clock High and The FBI.

QM Productions hired Spinner for the Invaders, where he was deputy to the day-to-day producer, Alan A. Armer.

The show was a departure for QM — it was a science fiction series about how architect David Vincent (Roy Thinnes) tries to convince humanity the Earth is being invaded by an alien race.

The Invaders was a mid-season replacement series that debuted in January 1967 on ABC. Spinner departed the show after the first half-season and he landed as the new day-to-day producer for U.N.C.L.E.

Spinner, along the way, hired some contributors from The Invaders. Among them were writers Don Brinkley, Robert Sherman and John W. Bloch. Bloch, like Spinner, had also worked on a first-season U.N.C.L.E. episode. Sherman’s U.N.C.L.E.’s script was among those that went unproduced because the series was canceled at mid-season.

But perhaps the most significant contributor from The Invaders was director Sutton Roley (1922-2007).

Roley was known for filming shots from unusual angles. He helmed two episodes of the first season of The Invaders, including one titled The Innocent.

The aliens try to fool David Vincent about their intentions, claiming they really want to help mankind.

The episode includes a point-of-view shot where Vincent, having not been fooled, looks up at the aliens.

Roley would direct three episodes in U.N.C.L.E.’s Spinner-produced final season, including the two-part series finale, The Seven Wonders of the World Affair. The director practically duplicates his shot from The Invaders as we see Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) look at people hovering over him.

For U.N.C.L.E., the changes brought by Spinner didn’t pan out. The show got clobbered in the ratings by Gunsmoke on CBS (a series which had been initially canceled but reprieved).

Nevertheless, a number of contributors to The Invaders had an impact on the tone for the final 16 episodes of The Man From U.N.C..E.

Footnote: The main guest star in The Innocent was Michael Rennie. He’d be the villain in the fourth-season U.N.C.L.E. episode, The Thrush Roulette Affair. Rennie would also return in the second season of The Invaders for the show’s only two-part story.

The Invaders CD set coming Oct. 17

Cover for The Invaders CD set

A two-disc CD set for The Invaders is coming out Oct. 17 from La-La Land Records.

It is the label’s second volume of soundtracks from television shows produced by Quinn Martin Productions.

It’s a limited edition release of up to 2,000 sets, according to an announcement on La-La Land’s Facebook page.

The show was perhaps the most unusual from QM and it only ran 43 episodes in 1967 and 1968.

The Invaders kind of flipped the format of QM’s The Fugitive. With The Fugitive, a lonely innocent man (David Janssen) is being pursued. With The Invaders, a lonely, determined man (Roy Thinnes) is pursuing invaders who want to take over the Earth. The show has a following that endured.

Some of the music, in fact, has an odd history of its own.

The initial composer for the series was Dominic Frontiere (1931-2017). Prior to The Invaders, Frontiere had been composer and production executive during the first season of The Outer Limits. That show was made by Daystar Productions and United Artists Television.

The producers of The Outer Limits made an unsold pilot for an anthology show called The Unknown. When the pilot failed to sell, it ran as an episode of The Outer Limits. A few years later, Frontiere took his theme for The Unknown and made it into the theme for The Invaders.

With the CD set, one disc is work by Frontiere with the second disc by other composers, including Richard Markowitz. He’s best known for his work on The Wild Wild West but worked a fair number of QM shows.

Meanwhile, below you can compare the titles of the unsold Unknown pilot and the titles of The Invaders. Besides the Frontiere music, each has a “ripping” visual. Thankfully, the “ripping” for The Invaders was silent.

La-La Land Records Introduces QM soundtrack

Cover to La-La Land’s QM soundtrack vol. 1

La-La Land Records is coming out with a soundtrack of Quinn Martin television series.

Volume 1: Cop and Detective Series starts shipping April 29.  It is priced at $24.98 and is limited to 2,000 units.

The soundtrack offers selections from four series: Barnaby Jones (1973-80), Most Wanted (1976-77), Cannon (1971-76) and Dan August (1970-71). It also includes the themes for The Manhunter (1974-75), Caribe (1975), and Quinn Martin’s Tales of the Unexpected (1977). The latter was an anthology show.

These were not the only crime dramas made by QM Productions. However, some QM shows were joint ventures. The FBI (1965-74), QM’s longest-running show, was a joint venture with Warner Bros. As a result, the latter controls that series and the show itself is sold through Warner Archive. Another QM show, Banyon, a private eye drama set in the 1930s, was also a joint venture with Warner Bros. In any event, rights to joint venture series become more complicated.

The four shows in the new soundtrack, on the other hand, weren’t joint ventures. (The TV movie pilot for Cannon originally was made “in association with the Columbia Broadcasting System,” but subsequent episodes were listed as “A QM Production” in the end titles.)

Here’s part of the description at the La-La Land Records website:

Remastered from original Quinn Martin Productions elements, this dynamic compilation showcases some of the finest television music of the 70s, from legendary composers at the top of their game. These exhilarating action/drama/mystery score tracks demonstrate the musical genius of such talents as Jerry Goldsmith, Bruce Broughton, Dave Grusin, Lalo Schifrin, John Parker, Duane Tatro, Nelson Riddle, Patrick Williams and David Shire.

Jerry Goldsmith composed the theme to Barnaby Jones, while Lalo Schifin did the theme for Most Wanted, Dave Grusin on Dan August and John Parker for Cannon. Goldsmith told TV and movie music historian Jon Burlingame (who is also producer of this new CD set) years later that he tried to get out of doing the pilot but relented. It ended up being one of Goldsmith’s most famous TV themes.

For information about ordering, CLICK HERE.

Dan August coming to DVD in December

The cast of Dan August (Burt Reynolds seated, while left to right, Ned Romero, Richard Anderson, Norman Fell and Ena Hartman) in a publicity still

Dan August, the Quinn Martin series that helped (albeit in an unusual way) Burt Reynolds become a star will be available on DVD in December, according to a listing at Visual Entertainment Inc.

The series only ran first run during the 1970-71 season on ABC. After it wasn’t picked up, Reynolds took a blooper reel with him on talk show appearances, according to the book Quinn Martin, Producer. Audiences discovered the star’s sense of humor, which gave his career momentum.

The police drama originated with a television movie, House on Greenapple Road. That starred Christopher George as the police detective.

When ABC wanted a series, Quinn Martin wanted George to reprise the role. But the actor made a pilot for another series, The Immortal, which was also on ABC’s schedule. George went with that, opening the door for Reynolds. (As it turns out Visual Entertainment also offers The Immortal.)

Anthony Spinner title card for an episode of Dan August

The day-to-day producer of Dan August was Anthony Spinner (b. 1930), who was the fourth-season producer of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. He also worked on a number of QM shows as a writer or producer. Spinner pushed the QM envelope on Dan August, having story lines dealing with topical issues of the day.

The Visual Entertainment series says CBS ran the show. It did, but not first-run. CBS ran it during the summer of 1973, with Reynolds now a movie star.

For more information about Dan August, CLICK HERE. It’s available for pre-order and ships Dec. 7.