The Untouchables (1959 TV series)
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|The Untouchables (1959)|
|Format||Crime / Drama|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||118 & 2-part pilot|
|Running time||60 minutes per episode|
CBS Paramount Television
CBS Television Distribution
|Original run||October 15, 1959 – May 21, 1963|
The Untouchables is a television series that ran from 1959 to 1963 on the American Broadcasting Company. Based on the memoir of the same name by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley, it fictionalized the experiences of Eliot Ness, a real-life Prohibition agent, as he fought crime in Chicago during the 1930s with the help of a special team of agents handpicked for their courage and incorruptibility, nicknamed the Untouchables. It was remade into a 1987 film by Brian De Palma also called The Untouchables, with a script by David Mamet.
The stories often revolved around Ness' enmity with the criminal empire of Chicago mob boss Al Capone, and many focused on crimes related to Prohibition. The show starred Robert Stack as Eliot Ness and Neville Brand as Al Capone, and was narrated by Walter Winchell. The show drew harsh criticism from some Italian-Americans including Frank Sinatra, who felt it promoted negative stereotypes of them as mobsters and gangsters. The Capone family sued the show for $1,000,000 for its unauthorized use of Al Capone's likeness for a profit.
The series had 118 episodes which ran 50 minutes each. Though the book it was based on chronicled the experiences of Ness and his cohorts over a span of time ranging from 1929 to 1935, the overwhelming majority of episodes were set in the early 1930s (for example, one episode, You Can't Play This Number, begins with Winchell's words, "October 1932 ... the depths of the Depression"). A few episodes were set primarily in a locale other than Chicago (such as the one dealing with the shootout involving Ma Barker and her gang). The theme music was by Nelson Riddle.
Similar to The Untouchables was the NBC series The Lawless Years starring James Gregory, a half-hour crime drama set in the 1920s which ran between 1959 and 1961. The Lawless Years actually preceded The Untouchables by a half-season, but did not enjoy Untouchables-level success .
The other Untouchables were played by:
- Abel Fernandez as Agt. William Youngfellow
- Nick Georgiade as Agt. Enrico "Rico" Rossi
- Paul Picerni as Agt. Lee Hobson, (2nd season on)
- Steve London as Agt. Jack Rossman  *
- Jerry Paris as Agt. Martin Flaherty, (1st season only)
- Chuck Hicks as Agt. LaMarr Kane (1st season only)
- Anthony George as Agt. Cam Allison, (1st season only)
Other recurrent actors were:
- Bruce Gordon as Frank Nitti and
- Frank Dekova as Jimmy Napoli
- Announcer: Les Lampson - Very distinctive dramatic voice.
- Narrator: Walter Winchell .
- * Contrary to popular belief, Steve London's character of Untouchable Jack Rossman (played in the "Scarface Mob" pilot by Paul Dubov), was in the series since the original season 1 series episode, "The Empty Chair", not from Season 2 on as is commonly reported.
A significant number of guest-stars from "The Untouchables" were and became major motion picture and television stars:
- Edward Asner as Fedor Bartok in episode 3.16 "The Death Tree"
- Martin Balsam in episodes 3.3 "Tunnel of Horrors" and 3.21 "Man in the Middle"
- John Banner as Franz Koenig in episode 3.17 "Takeover"
- William Bendix as Wally Legenza in episode 1.9 "The Tri-State Gang"
- Charles Bronson in episode 3.16 "The Death Tree"
- Victor Buono as Melanthos Moon in episode 2.25 "Mr. Moon" and as Pamise Surigao in episode 3.13 "The Gang War"
- James Caan (actor) as Keir Brannon in episode 4.10 "A Fist of Five"
- Dyan Cannon as Mavis Carroll in episode 3.14 "Silent Partner"
- Mike Connors in episode 4.7 "The Eddie O'Gara Story"
- Russ Conway in episodes 2.12 and 2.13 "The Big Train", 2.25 "Mr. Moon"
- Francis De Sales in episodes 1.23 "Three Thousand Suspects" and 2.9 "The Larry Fay Story"
- Robert Duvall in episode 4.17 "Blues for a Gone Goose"
- Peter Falk in episode 1.26 "The Underworld Bank" and as Nate Selko in episode 3.1 "The Troubleshooter"
- Herbie Faye in episode 3.12 as Lefty in "Fall Guy"
- Anne Francis as Doreen Maney in episode 1.24 "The Doreen Maney Story"
- Richard Jaeckel as Hans Eberhardt in episode 2.10 "The Otto Frick Story"
- Robert Karnes (also a co-star of The Lawless Years) in episodes 2.9 "The Larry Fay Story" and 4.15 "Snowball"
- Jack Klugman as Morton Halas in episode 3.6 "Loophole"
- Martin Landau as Larry Coombs in episode 3.6 "Loophole" and as Jerry Fanning in episode 1.7 "Mexican Stake-Out"
- Cloris Leachman as Mrs. Mailer in episode 3.7 "Jigsaw"
- Robert Loggia as Leo Mencken in episode 3.17 "Takeover"
- Jack Lord in episode 1.3 "The Jake Lingle Killing"
- Lee Marvin as Nick Acropolis in episode 2.31 "The Nick Acropolis Story"
- Gavin McLeod as Whitey Metz in episode 3.6 "Loophole"
- Ricardo Montalban as Frank Makouris in episode 2.27 "Stranglehold"
- Elizabeth Montgomery as Rusty Heller (for which she received an Emmy Award nomination) (1960)
- Leslie Nielson as Tom Sebring in episode 1.23 "Three Thousand Suspects"
- Leonard Nimoy as Packy in episode 3.17 "Takeover"
- Lloyd Nolan as 'Bugs' Moran in episode 1.4 "The George 'Bugs' Moran Story"
- Carroll O'Connor as Barney Lubin in episode 3.2 "Power Play"
- Gregg Palmer as Paul Di Marco in episode 2.12 "The Big Train: Part 1"
- Robert Redford in episode 4.15 "Snowball"
- Cliff Robertson as Frank Halloway in episode 1.12 "The Underground Railway"
- Telly Savalas in episodes 2.20 "The Antidote", 3.5 "The Matt Bass Scheme" and 4.14 "The Speculator"
- Henry Silva as Joker in episode 3.15 "The Whitey Steele Story"
- Barbara Stanwyck in episodes 4.8 "Elegy" and 4.13 "Search for a Dead Man"
- Jan Sterling as Francie McKay in episode 2.8 "Kiss of Death Girl"
- Frank Sutton as Benny Stryker in episode 3.18 "The Stryker Brothers"
- Roy Thinnes as Denny Brannon in episode 4.10 "A Fist of Five" and as Red Thomas in episode 4.19 “An Eye for an Eye”
- Rip Torn as Harry Strauss in episode 2.14 "The Masterpiece"
- Claire Trevor in episode 1.2 "Ma Baker and Her Boys"
- Lee Van Cleef in episode 1.20 "The Unhired Assassin"
- Jack Warden as Otto Frick, in episode 2.10 "The Otto Frick Story" and as George Halloran in episode 1.4 "The George 'Bugs' Moran Story
The series aired on Thursdays during its first three seasons and was switched to Tuesday evenings for its final season. It aired at 9:30 Eastern each season except for the third season, when it was placed at the 10 p.m. slot after the failed sitcom Margie, starring Cynthia Pepper.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date|
|Season 1- Volume 1||14 + 2-part pilot||April 10, 2007|
|Season 1- Volume 2||14||September 25, 2007|
|Season 2- Volume 1||16||March 18, 2008|
|Season 2- Volume 2||16||August 26, 2008|
|Season 3- Volume 1||16||August 25, 2009|
|Season 3- Volume 2||12||November 10, 2009|
- Tucker, Kenneth. Eliot Ness and the Untouchables: The Historical Reality and the Film and Television Depictions. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2000. ISBN 0-7864-0772-7
- The Untouchables at the Internet Movie Database
- Encyclopedia of Television
- The Untouchables, Then and Now by Ed Robertson, an article about the show