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.

The man who assembled the ‘QM Players’

John Conwell's title card in a second-season episode of 12 O'Clock High.

John Conwell’s title card in a second-season episode of 12 O’Clock High.

One of an occasional series about unsung figures of television.

In the 1960s and ’70s, shows produced at QM Productions had the feel of a repertory theater as many of the same guest stars appeared on various Quinn Martin shows.

As noted in the book Quinn Martin, Producer, there was an even nick name for this: the “QM Players.” The informal group consisted of performers such as Leslie Nielsen (star of the first QM series, The New Breed), Peter Mark Richman, Louise Latham, Jessica Walter, J.D. Cannon, Lynda Day George, Bradford Dillman and many others.

The QM executive responsible for this was John Conwell, who headed the company’s casting operation. He was a former actor, appearing in such productions as The Twilight Zone pilot, Where Is Everybody? and as a guest star in a Ray Milland series, Markham.

Conwell moved from in front of the camera to behind it, including the fourth season of The Twilight Zone, when the show aired in a one-hour format. He became part of QM Productions with that company’s second series, The Fugitive.

For most of his time at QM, however, Conwell’s titles in QM show credits didn’t really give the audience an idea of what he did.

Conwell was initially credited as “assistant to producer,” then “assistant to the executive producer.” Finally, by 1977, he was credited as “in charge of talent.”

In any case, Conwell became one of producer Quinn Martin’s key lieutenants. Martin paid more for guest stars ($5,000 for a one-hour episode compared with a going rate of $2,500). So that helped raise the interest of performers to be on QM shows.

Still, it was Conwell who ran the QM casting operation, which also had casting directors for individual series. That may help to explain why actors kept coming back.

Conwell even stayed at the company after Martin’s departure following the sale of QM Productions to Taft Broadcasting. He died in 1994 at the age of 72.

Don Medford, versatile TV director, dies

Don Medford, a versatile television director whose credits included the pilot for The Man From U.N.C.L.E., has died at age 95, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.

Don Medford directed The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'s pilot.

Don Medford directed The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s pilot.


Medford helmed The Vulcan Affair, the U.N.C.L.E. pilot made in late 1963 and which aired on Sept. 22, 1964, as the first episode of the televisions series. An expanded version was released as the theatrical movie To Trap a Spy.

Besides that pilot, Medford directed at least 32 episodes of the Quinn Martin series The FBI, including at least two two-part storylines. One of them, which aired in the 1966-67 season, was release outside the U.S. as Cosa Nostra, Arch Enemy of the FBI.

Medford also directed episodes of a number of other Quinn Martin shows, including Twelve O’Clock High, The Invaders and The Fugitive, including the final two-part story where Dr. Richard Kimble finally caught up with the one-armed man who killed his wife. You can view his full IMDB.com bio by CLICKING HERE.

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.