77 Sunset Strip / Hawaiian Eye, etc.

Ree

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I suspect that WB may have hoped to have a spare Connie Stevens in Kathie Bennett. She appeared in an episode of HE (Across the River Lethe) late in the third season as Cricket's cousin, Junebug Blake. The character had little to do with the plot, and the movie magazines of the time implied that Connie was in the midst of a contract dispute and was briefly suspended. I was a 14 year old TV addict at the time and believed what those magazines said - that fans must write WB in Connie's defense, so I did. It was almost a year before they brought Tina Cole in to cover Connie's next absence.
FWIW, Kathie was in one of the Hitchcock hour-longs (Bed of Roses), playing a ditzy young bride who resembled Wendy, )but with a Hitchcockian dark side).
I'm afraid I had my Kathy(ie)'s mixed up. K. Browne was the Connie-clone in the Hitchcock, but Bennett was Junebug.
 

Rustifer

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Episode Revisit*
77 Sunset Strip
"88 Bars" (S6E7)

If you were to drive along the 8500 block of Sunset Boulevard today, all you would see are cloned modern glass and steel towers. Long gone are the decades old mish-mash of unrelated architectures that housed the existence of Dino’s, 77 Sunset Strip (Mary Webb Davis building), the Sea Witch, etc. lining the block. In the black and white world of the early '60's, this was the vibrant color that painted the series. All disappeared now in the mists of inevitable renovation.

I make the same correlation to Season 6 of the show. To me, this season deserted almost all the earmarks of the previous seasons that were so familiarly wrapped in a jacket of ambiance. As a result, I studiously avoided watching any of it for years. At least until now, when some of my valued colleagues in this thread convinced me to catch a few selected episodes to see if my view could be changed. At first, no. Then came "Queen of the Cats", and I was pleasantly surprised. I was therefore curious to see if "88 Bars" would follow suit.

Opening Scene: Vic Connors (Bobby Troup) tickling the ivories in a fancy club, champagne glass balanced atop the piano. At one of the tables sits admiring Connie Wingate (Cloris Leachman), third richest woman in the world, with her faithful secretary Lisa Cabot (Joanna Barnes) and brother Phil Wingate (DeForest Kelley). You now have the checklist of most of the main characters in the story. As they leave the club, a shot is fired at Phil. Pay attention. The whole story revolves around this.

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Stu with Connie; Stu with Lisa, Brother Phil

Stu Bailey is confronted in his office by a strange fellow by the name of Mainwaring, the chauffeur of the Wingates who has been dispatched to take him to Connie's estate. "Where does she live?" inquires Stu. "In Pasadena", offers Mainwaring. Stu wearily nods "Of course. Doesn't everyone?" As they drive through the neighborhood, Stu observes "estates the size of Grand Central. Just screams capital gains." Lisa the secretary greets him at the door and immediately kisses him. No reason. Just wants to. Stu learns he has been hired to find out who wants brother Phil to end up on the wrong side of the grass. Phil laughs off his attack.
"Not too many laughs in a bullet", opines Stu. I half expected Deforest Kelley to respond "Dammit! I'm a doctor, Stu!"

Stu embarks on his investigation for the culprit, taking him through Las Vegas, a burlesque joint, a bar and any number of other places where the Wingates seemingly have more enemies than ATMs have $20 bills. He learns that Connie's one true love is pianist Vic Connors, whom Phil regards as useful as a boil on his derriere. Part of Stu's travels lands him in Lisa's apartment, where she serves up coffee as well as herself. Both piping hot. To her disappointment, Stu falls asleep on the couch before even one blouse button can come undone.

Bailey eventually determines that Phil had hired a professional hit man (Lee Van Cleef) to make it appear as if Vic Connors was the aspiring shooter. Never mind that poor Vic was busy playing the piano when the shot was fired. Phil feared that if Connie married Vic, he'd be put out on the doorstep like a cat with a pending hairball, since all the money was in Connie's name. Not to fear, for she had already set up a tidy trust fund just for him. So the whole charade was for nuthin'.

Notes:
Production endeavored to set up a lot of arty close-ups swathed in shadow--a nice nod to a noirish effort.
There's also some interesting footage of downtown LA at that period and although stock, a nice departure from the ubiquitous WB back lot.
A fight scene between Lee Van Cleef and EZ was too obviously staged with stunt doubles.
Stu maintained a Philip Marlowe-style patter that just doesn't suit his Bailey character.
I still can't get over the opening credits underlaid with Stu walking through the Bradley building. It just seems to defeat the purpose of the series' title.

Admittedly, although I enjoyed the episode I did not hold it as highly as "Queen of the Cats" --which had a great script, superior acting and a smooth flow.
There were way too many characters forced into this story, as if to accommodate all the guest stars instead of accentuating the plot.

*I re-post these past commentaries with some trepidation. Upon re-reading, I find them to be not half as clever as I thought when writing them. It also boils my bouillon that I can't get my pics to sit side by side when I copy over the original. Apologies for taking up so much space.
 
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criblecoblis

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Episode Revisit*
77 Sunset Strip
"88 Bars" (S6E7)
Russ,

This is one of my favorites of your reviews. I enjoyed reading it again. As I probably said the first time, the Pasadena of the story, with a South Orange Grove Avenue lined with massive and quite lovely Victorian mansions, was already gone by the time this episode aired; the only one left is the Wrigley mansion, used as the Tournament of Roses headquarters. They have mostly been replaced with low-rise, high-class apartment buildings; there are some very nice examples of mid-century architecture to be seen there (and I usually hate mid-century architecture).
 

Flashgear

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One of the reunions of 77 Sunset Strip's Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Edd Byrnes from the Vicki Lawrence talk show Vicki! broadcast January 21, 1994 (with original commercials)...the show also featured other favorite TV stars of her youth...George Maharis (and his "hair") and Martin Milner from Route 66...and Johnny Crawford from The Rifleman...this is a guaranteed fun hour of TV nostalgia...
 

Jeff Flugel

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Thanks very much for posting that, Randall! Great to see all those guys and hear their stories (in between tons of commercials...so nice to not have to watch broadcast TV anymore).

Boy, you weren't kidding about Maharis' hairpiece...yikes! Otherwise, the guys all looked great...we should all be lucky enough to look half as good at 76 as Efrem Zimbalist Jr. does above. Sweet story, too, about Johnny Crawford reuniting with his high school sweetheart in the early '90s. Seems as though they got married not long after this Vicki episode aired, and have been together ever since. Pity about Mr. Crawford's Alzheimer's.
 
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MartinP.

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My memory isn't detailed about the evening, but sometime around 1986 a friend of mine who was involved with some singing choral group, something like that, invited me to a home in the Hollywood Hills where this group and some other singers were going to perform for an audience there, so I went to see my friend. Johnny Crawford was one of the other singers there!

Around the time of this Vicki Lawrence show video, George Maharis was a regular visitor to the West Hollywood Video West store where I worked at the time. I'm sorry to say I didn't know much about Route 66 then. I also wasn't very familiar with Maharis, though I understood he was an actor or something, but then I'd wonder if I was just mixing the name up with George Chakiris. There wasn't an internet like we know then to look up any random bits of information or anything if one was inclined to, though if we couldn't, why would we be inclined to?
 

Rustifer

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How about that Johnny Crawford! I still have one of his photo cover 45's, but would never have guessed that he'd be such a reunion show scene stealer!
Nothing against Johnny Crawford, but I think The Rifleman jumped the shark when the studio tried to groom the kid into the next Ricky Nelson within a Western format. A singing cowboy show might have worked for Gene Autry, but not necessarily a teen craze initiator.

Ricky Nelson was successful because Ozzie and Harriet was the perfect platform to launch his career and ultra-boost the show's ratings. It didn't hurt that Ricky had a fair amount of talent, too.
 
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Rustifer

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One of the reunions of 77 Sunset Strip's Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Edd Byrnes from the Vicki Lawrence talk show Vicki! broadcast January 21, 1994 (with original commercials)...the show also featured other favorite TV stars of her youth...George Maharis (and his "hair") and Martin Milner from Route 66...and Johnny Crawford from The Rifleman...this is a guaranteed fun hour of TV nostalgia...
What a great clip, Randall! I'm astounded that I never ran across it until now. You always bring the best tequila to the party, dude!
 
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Ree

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Anne
Nothing against Johnny Crawford, but I think The Rifleman jumped the shark when the studio tried to groom the kid into the next Ricky Nelson within a Western format. A singing cowboy show might have worked for Gene Autry, but not necessarily a teen craze initiator.

Ricky Nelson was successful because Ozzie and Harriet was the perfect platform to launch his career and ultra-boost the show's ratings. It didn't hurt that Ricky had a fair amount of talent, too.

I think it was all about money. If a singing Johnny could attract a teenage audience, a singing cowboy he could be. Admittedly, I missed that episode(s), so can't critique it.
From the perspective of a teenage girl (at that time), it wasn't just Ricky's talent at covering "race titles" that accounted for his success, but rather that he was drop-dead gorgeous. I saw him at the state fair one summer and, to this day, can't say his looks have ever been topped!
 

criblecoblis

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Ricky Nelson was successful because Ozzie and Harriet was the perfect platform to launch his career and ultra-boost the show's ratings. It didn't hurt that Ricky had a fair amount of talent, too.
We're huge fans of Rick(y) Nelson here at the Farm House. We have well over 100 of his songs in our playlist.
 

Gary16

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We're huge fans of Rick(y) Nelson here at the Farm House. We have well over 100 of his songs in our playlist.
Same here. My wife became personal friends with Rick starting in the 70s which continued until his untimely death. I met Rick and found him extremely nice as expected. I was privileged to meet Ozzie, Harriet and David too on different occasions and kept up correspondence with each of them (since this was pre-email I’ve saved every letter received from them). We visited Harriet at her Laguna Beach home several times. Also visited David at his LA production company. A great great family. Sorry to go off on a tangent here since this has nothing to do with the thread topic but the last couple of posts inspired me. Now back to our regular program.
 

Rustifer

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Same here. My wife became personal friends with Rick starting in the 70s which continued until his untimely death. I met Rick and found him extremely nice as expected. I was privileged to meet Ozzie, Harriet and David too on different occasions and kept up correspondence with each of them (since this was pre-email I’ve saved every letter received from them). We visited Harriet at her Laguna Beach home several times. Also visited David at his LA production company. A great great family. Sorry to go off on a tangent here since this has nothing to do with the thread topic but the last couple of posts inspired me. Now back to our regular program.
Great personal story, Gary! It's always interesting to hear one-on-ones with celebrities, regardless of the thread topic.
 

Mysto

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Same here. My wife became personal friends with Rick starting in the 70s which continued until his untimely death. I met Rick and found him extremely nice as expected. I was privileged to meet Ozzie, Harriet and David too on different occasions and kept up correspondence with each of them (since this was pre-email I’ve saved every letter received from them). We visited Harriet at her Laguna Beach home several times. Also visited David at his LA production company. A great great family. Sorry to go off on a tangent here since this has nothing to do with the thread topic but the last couple of posts inspired me. Now back to our regular program.
Yea - I'm thinking what a great memory to have.
 

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