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ELLERY QUEEN 1975-76  b a c k

Ellery Queen

Click on left and/or right sidePublicity shot of the 'Dynamic Duo' David Wayne & Jim HuttonNBC, 1975-1976


Creator/Executive Producers: Richard Levinson, William Link
Music: Elmer Bernstein, Hal Mooney 
Cast:
Ellery Queen: Jim Hutton
Inspector Richard Queen: David Wayne

Sgt. Velie: Tom Reese

Simon Brimmer: John Hillerman
Frank Flanagan: Ken Swofford
Deputy Commissioner Hayes: Arch Johnson

In 1975, Levinson and Link, lifelong Queen fans, were allowed by NBC to do Queen the way they wanted. The result was "Ellery Queen" which ran for only one full season. Stylistically,  the producers went back to the radio show, setting this series in 1947. Although the pilot was based on a Queen novel, and one episode on a short story, the rest of the episodes were original stories, but stories that well-captured the spirit of an Ellery Queen mystery. Jim Hutton played Ellery as a good-natured, absent-minded young man for which there were legitimate bases in the books. Frederic Dannay said Hutton's portrayal reminded him not so much of the fictional Ellery, but of himself at about Hutton's age. Hutton's charm and natural manner played perfectly against David Wayne's crusty Inspector (despite lacking the moustache so often mentioned in the books, the definitive depiction of 'The Old Man'). The show had a sense of good humor, and its setting in 1947 lent a welcome sense of  nostalgia to the stories.
Although the episodes varied in quality, none was poor, and even the weakest of them is redeemed by the plot, the production values, and the marvelous casts.


Every episode of this 1975-1976 TV show has distinct repeating features. Adding to the authentic feel of the series is the
"Challenge to the viewer," in which Hutton, as Queen, turns to the camera, and invites the audience to review the clues and deduce the culprit. This device was, of course, a direct visual analogue to the "Challenge to the Reader" that appeared in the earlier Queen novels and radio plays just before the solution was revealed.
The
original episodes had a clever opening montage (often cut in syndication, but restored in the DVD collection), in which the announcer says something like, "This famous song-writer is about to be murdered. Who is guilty? Is it ..." Each suspect is shown in a brief clip, speaking a short phrase (sometimes deliberately excerpted to look off-beat and humorous), then: "Match wits with Ellery Queen and see if you can guess whodunit"! followed by the stylish opening credits, accompanied by Elmer Bernstein's Big-Band 40s-type theme music. NBC's 1975 through 1976 Ellery Queen series is as fine a mystery series as American television has given us.

Ellery Queen and his father appear in every episode of the 1975-1976 TV show Ellery Queen. Sgt.Velie appears in all but one (The Sinister Scenario), and either Simon Brimmer or Frank Flannigan serve as competition for Ellery (in the case of Simon Brimmer) or a source of information (in the case of Frank Flannigan) in many of the others. We  like to offer you the story-outlines of those episodes.

 

 If you haven't seen the series. You're fine. 
This is the
spoiler free page.  If you want to access the same pages with comments (spoilers included) by film critic Christopher J. Mulrooney click here


 

 


Part 1: 1975 Episodes

1* "Ellery Queen Too Many Suspects" US (1975)

Too Many Suspects - Beelden uit de generiek

Oozing style, this pilot opens with a view of the Manhattan-skyline 1947, and then immediately gives us an intriguing look into the production of the immensely popular radio plays. A look behind the scenes of  "The Casebook of Simon Brimmer" where the star reminds us most of an first Ellery we find in the early novels, a wise-guy who sets out to smart out each and everyone. Brimmer, unsatisfied with his scriptwriters tempts Ellery with a lucrative deal to deliver storyboards. A bored Ellery, already struggling with a deadline for his book, refuses the honor. Brimmer decides to get his inspiration an other way. Monica Grey, fashion designer, gets murdered but not before she manages to pull out the plug of her television and clock. A dying clue which, as his father points out, Ellery just can't resist. A strongly simplified plot based on "The Fourth Side of the Triangle" had its clues dramatically changed to make way to portray Ellery as some sort of Columbo "avant la lettre", a forgetful slob who a sharp observant mind. No shortage of suspects as it becomes clear that Grey had a love affair with her married neighbor Carson McKell (Ray Milland,  "Dial M for Murder"). Carson call on Ellery to get him acquitted and in doing so provides Simon Brimmer a new topic for his radio show. Brimmer points out a loose end in the investigation and a irritated Ellery sets out to bring a classic denouement with the obligatory mise en scène.

Too Many Suspects - publicity shotToo Many Suspects - James Hutton, Monte Markham and Ray Milland (NBC Station Advertising)

Pilot Airdate 03/23/75 and 09/07/75
Directed by David Greene
With: Ray Milland (Carson McKell), Monte Markham (Tom McKell), Kim Hunter
(Marion McKell), Gail Strickland ( Gail Stevens), Tim O'Connor (Ben Waterson),
 Vic Mohica (Ramon), Franny Michel (Penny), Nancy Mehta (Monica Gray)

2* "The Adventure of Auld Lang Syne"

"What's a little murder here and there on New Year's Eve"

Joan Collins (Lady Daisy Frawley) waves a cigarete holder, attempting to learn Guy Lombardo's baton techniqueNew Year's Eve at the Astor Hotel and Guy Lombardo & the Royal Canadians are playing "Everybody loves my baby" whilst Inspector Queen is trying to dodge Mrs.Velie's dancing shoes. The wealthy Marcus Halliday reveals his plans to eliminate each and everyone from his will. He steps out to the phone boot and... gets stabbed. Not before he makes a last phone call to a man he doesn't know. Ellery, as absentminded as ever, tries to get to the scene of the crime by taxi and has some explaining to do to the lovely Kitty McBride. He gets there in time to find the solution and toast to a Happy 1947!

Airdate 9/11/75
Production: Richard Levinson, William Link, Peter S. Fisher and Michael Rhodes
Production: #43606
Teleplay: Peter S. Fisher 
Story by: Richard Levinson, William Link and Peter S. Fisher 
Director: David Greene
With: Ray Walston (Howard Pratt), Joan Collins (Lady Daisy Frawley), Karen Machon
(Kitty McBride), Thayer David (Marcus Halliday), Farley Granger (Paul Quincy),
Arch Johnson (Commissioner), David Doyle (Don Becker), George Wyner (Joe
Kemmelman), Herb Edelman (Taxi driver) and Guy Lombardo (himself)

3* "The Adventure of the Lover's Leap"

"A major breakthrough... the butler didn't do it!" 

Publicity shot - Ida Lupino in The Adventure of Lover's LeapFountain Pen Heiress Stephanie Kendrick awakens one night and picks up an Ellery Queen book, soon reality and fiction don't seem all that different.  She's found dead at the bottom of that balcony... Suicide? Not so as the body seems to be moved after death, but why? - Simon Brimmer thinks he has it all worked out!
All of the episode-specific characters were named after well-known mystery writers: Marsh,
Chandler, etc.. Several insights into the making of old-time radio, which some referrals to shows e.g. "Abott & Costello"(sound bit) and "The Gangbusters"

Airdate 9/18/75
Directed: Charles S. Dubin
Script: Robert Pirosh

With:  Anne Francis (Evelyn Chandler),Don Ameche (Dr. Norman Marsh), Craig Stevens
(Jonathan Kendrick), Susan Strasberg (Cathy Kendrick),  Jason Wingreen (Roy Miller),
James Lydon (Radial Actor), Jack Kelly (J.T. Latimer), Ida Lupino (Stephanie Kendrick ),
Joan Bennett (? )
 

Stars and guest stars step into the 1940s, time setting for the who-done-it mysteries Ellery Queen. They are (from left) John Hillerman, Anne Francis, series Star Jim Hutton, Ida Lupino, series star David Wayne, Susan Strasberg, Don Ameche, Craig Stevens and Jack Kelly. All appear in the episode 'The Lover's Leap' (NBC-photo)

4* "The Adventure of the Chinese Dog"

"What do you have in your pockets right this minute?"
"I tell you ... a hole. - I know because I had to pick up the tab for breakfast."

The Queens take a 202 miles fishing trip to Wrightsville. Little do they know that Warren Wright, grandson of the town's founder and owner of a lucrative The Adventure of the Chinese Dog, an Ellery Queen episode. Left to right are Murray Hamilton, Orson Bean, Katherine Crawford and Geraldine Fitzgeraldgaloshes factory is about to be murdered. Beaten do death with his half a million dollar wedding gift for his daughter Julia: a Chinese Temple Dog. Despite Inspector's Queen intention on focusing on fishing, Ellery (reading a book on famous American Murderers) is drawn into the investigation by Henry Palmer. Palmer is Sheriff Oscar Eberhardt's rival in the upcoming election. Wright didn't trust his future son-in-law and had him investigated, his nephew was frustrated by Warren's lack of trust in his capabilities and Tilda McDonald, the housekeeper was in love with Warren...

Working title  'The Chinese Cat'
Airdate 9/25/75
Directed by Ernest Pintoff
Teleplay: Robert Van Scoyk
Story: Gene Thompson
With: Geraldine Brooks (Tilda McDonald), Orson Bean (Warren Wright),
Murray Hamilton (Henry Palmer), Robert Hogan (Gordon Wilde), Bill Quinn (Reverend
Dell), Eugene Roche (Sheriff Oscar Eberhardt), Robert F. Simon (Eben Wright), Hal Smith
(Willy Bailey), Dee Wallace (Waiter), Katherine Crawford (Julia Wright
) 

5"The Adventure of the Comic Book Crusader"

"That doesn't even look like me!"
"Does Mickey Mouse look like a mouse?"

An unusually fiery-angry Ellery Queen rampages in the office of Comic book owner, Bud Armstrong. His Capricorn Comics is putting out a Ellery Queen comic loaded with heavy-handed violence. Even more enraged to learn that the small print in his contract allows them to do so, he ends up threatening Mr. Armstrong. Armstrong, making no effort to be a likeable character and unwilling to give credit for his employees work gets shot.
Armstrong left a dying clue, he crossed out Ellery's name in a completed panel...  Frank Flannigan, columnist for The New York Gazette
, is all to eager to put the story in the newspaper 'Cop shields Kin". Ellery surrenders himself, goes to jail and starts looking for clues in comic books. FF gets one for free as he gets a package with the Ellery Queen book "The Adventure of the Purloined Gun".
Episode contains references to comedian Milton Berle and the comic Orphan Annie.

Airdate 10/02/75
Directed by: Peter H.Hunt
Story: Robert Van Scoyk
With:  Donald O'Connor (Kenny Freeman), Tom Bosley (Bud Armstrong),
Lynda Day George (Alma Van Dine), Eddie Firestone (Phil Collins), Herbie Faye
(Moe Fletcher), George Sperdakos (Vincent Porter), Joseph Maher (Lyle Shannon),
Alan Landers (Ronald Himes), Arch Johnson (Commissioner), Sandy Ward (?)
 

6* "The Adventure of the 12th Floor Express"

"Queen - comma - Ellery. Mystery writer of some renown. Born April 2nd. New York City 1912. Father - Queen - comma - Richard. Inspector New York City Police Department."

Dina Merrill, George Furth, Pat Harrington in Ellery Queen's The Adventure of the 12th Floor ExpressNews Mogul Henry Manners of the New York Daily Examiner is murdered in an elevator - an express elevator to the 12th Floor to be exact - with no one inside but the victim. A crafty plot that will test the mettle of the best whodunit fans. And the key clue is right up there on the screen - for a lengthy period of time with Ellery and the Inspector framing it - for anyone who can recognize it. Wrightsville is mentioned in this episode when Ellery states that he's going there for some rest and relaxation. The "howdunit" of this episode is very similar to a Perry Mason episode entitled The Case of the Wednesday Woman.

Airdate 10/09/75
Directed by: Jack Arnold
With:
Ruth McDevitt (Zelda Van Dyke), Paul Stewart (Thornton Johns), Dina Merrill
(Harriet Manners), Tyler McVey (Henry Manners), Kristin Larkin (Dorothy),  Pat Harrington Jr. (Mitchell McCully), George Furth (Albert Klinger), John Finnegan
(Fred Dumhoffer), Kip Niven (Arthur
Van Dyke)

7* "The Adventure of Miss Aggie's Farewell Performance"

"Queen... Queen! He's not the fellow who writes all the whodunits?!
Oh, my dear - I thought you said he was an author!"

Jim Hutton with Eve Arden (Vera Bethune, Miss Aggie)Radio Soap Opera diva, Vera Bethune - known to her fans as dear Miss Aggie, beloved school teacher - is poisoned during a taping of the show. She survives, and asks Ellery at the hospital to stay on the case, but in short order, Miss Aggie is found shot to death. Both Ellery and Inspector Queen feel responsible for not protecting her and dive into the sea of suspects who might have wanted her dead. But hot on their heels is Simon Brimmer, determined to beat them to it and win back his lost Vita-Cream sponsor.

Eve Arden's radio character, Miss Aggie, is based on the character she played in the 1950's comedy Our Miss Brooks.

Airdate 10/19/75
Directed by: James Sheldon
With:  Eve Arden (Vera Bethune, Miss Aggie), John McGiver (Mr. Pearl),  Paul Shenar (Wendell Warren), Betty White (Louise Demery), Penelope Windust (Anita Leslie),
Nan Martin (Olivia Burns), Beatrice Colen (Mary Lou), Don Keefer, Sidney Miller,
Nina Roman.

8* "The Adventure of Colonel Niven's Memoirs"

"Uh, Dad - Think you could take care of that for me? Now, I got that
  while I was working on the case."
"Ellery! You want me to fix a parking ticket? Pay the two dollars."

Jim Hutton (standing) and Pernell Roberts in Ellery Queen's 'The Adventure of Colonel Niven's Memoirs'Self absorbed author Colonel Alec Niven is in New York for a signing of his new book, "Memoirs of a Spy". It's a character assassination novel in which he accuses a myriad of people of war crimes and treasonous acts. It seems that Niven was with the British Intelligence during the war and got his hands on some Nazi files that they didn't burn when they evacuated Paris.
Ellery's latest girlfriend, Jenny O'Brien, worked at Gotham Bookstore where the signing was held and was invited to dinner with the Colonel that evening, but when she arrived, she found him dead - stabbed with an antique Kashmir dagger. She and Ellery spend the rest of the episode chasing down clues and suspects' true identities and motives.

Airdate 10/23/75
Directed by: Seymour Robbie
With: Lloyd Bochner (Colonel Alec Niven), Gretchen Corbett (Jenny O'Brien), Pernell Roberts (Rosh Kaleel / Barney Groves / May. Pearson), Robert Loggia (Alexsei Dobrenskov), Peter Bromilow (Colin Esterbrook), René Auberjonois (Marcel Fourchet), Nina Van Pallandt (Sonja Dobrenskov), Jonathan Hole (Salesman), Claude Earl Jones

9"The Adventure of the Mad Tea Party"

"Dad come on. You trust me, don't you?
 - NO!"

Thunderbolts and rain throughout this episode as Ellery takes a train to
Douglaston. He arrives late at the Greenhaven Estate. He is accompanied by his agent Howard Biggers. Wealthy, eccentric Spencer Lockridge intends to have Ellery's book  "The Adventure of the Alabaster Apple
" made into a five hundred thousand dollar Broadway play.


"I don't want the Alabaster Apple, alabasterized"

Stunner Stunned: Stunning Rhonda Fleming, guest star, sags into a chair as she learns her husband has vanished in 'The Adventure of the Mad Tea Party'The whole family is present as Spencer is staging a dressed rehearsal for a birthday surprise for little Johnny Lockridge to be held tomorrow.
The party centers on an episode from Alice in Wonderland, and family members are appropriately attired.
At night Ellery can't sleep and goes looking for a book. Next morning it appears Spencer, alias the Mad Hatter, has disappeared.

The story, actually based on an Ellery Queen short story from 1934, was a favorite both in print and in the TV-series. The only series entry based on an actual Queen story, this episode is regarded by many as the best filming of a Queen story ever. We learn that Sgt. Velie once played Captain Hook in a high school play. Ray Bolger is mentioned, as is Jane Wyman 'who took a part as a deaf country girl, a part which Emmy Reinhardt turned down'. This is a reference to Wyman's part in Johnny Belinda (1948), which earned her an Oscar.  Also there is a clear reference to Forever Amber 'the book one can't put down' from Kathleen Winsor. Written in 1944 as a compulsive historical novel, it still is remembered "naughty".

Airdate 10/30/75
Directed by: James Sheldon
Art director: John J.Lloyd, Set decorations: John McCarthy, Assistant director: Jerry Ballew, Unit Manager: Jack Terry, Costumes: Charles Waldo
With:
 Jim Backus (Howard Biggers), Edward Andrews (Spencer Lockridge), Larry Hagman (Paul Gardner), Julie Sommars (Emmy Reinhardt), Rhonda Fleming (Laura Lockridge), Lew Brown (Lt. Carr ), Julius Harris (Butler), William Benedict (Cab Driver), Olan Soule (Conductor), Carmen Mathews (Letetia), Patricia Smith (Diana), George Janek (Johnny).

10* "The Adventure of Veronica's Veils"

"The name is Simon Brimmer.  Surely you've heard of me, Officer nine-three-seven"

Jack Carter & Barbara Rhoades in "The Adventure of Veronica Veils"Before a new burlesque-revival show called "Take It Off" can open, its producer, Sam Packer (cameo by George Burns) is found dead of an apparent heart attack. But the dead man has left a video behind to be shown at his funeral declaring that no matter what it looks like, he was murdered. And he asks Simon Brimmer to solve the case. The widow, however, goes to Ellery for help, who realizes that the disappearance of the stripper's bird is more than a coincidence.

In this episode we learn that Inspector Queen once walked a beat in the Hell's Kitchen section of Manhattan during his early years on the NYPD.

Airdate 11/13/75
Directed by: Seymour Robbie
Script: Robert Pirosh
With:  Julie Adams (Jennifer Packard), George Burns (Sam Packer), William Demarest (Alexander Denny), Hayden Rorke (Marcus Brady), Jack Carter (Risky Ross / Joey Flanders), John Dennis (Tolson), Don Porter (Gregory Layton), Barbara Rhoades (Veronica Vale), Joshua Shelley (Dick Bowie), Romo Vincent (Gus Banana), Peter Hobbs (Dr. Steiner)

11* "The Adventure of the Pharaoh's Curse"

Inspector Queen: "It's past your bedtime."
Margie Coopersmith: "Is it really past your bedtime?"
Ellery: "He's been trying to get me to go to bed at ten o'clock since I was 14..."

Taped outline of where the body fell provides grim meeting place for principals in the "Ellery Queen" colorcast of "The Pharoah's Curse" The men are (from left) Wallace Rooney as museum guard, Ross Martin as museum director, Tom Reese as police sergeant Velie, Jim Hutton as Ellery Queen and David Wayne as Inspector Queen.Norris Wenthworth has brought an Egyptian sarcophagus from Germany to display at the Tremane Museum, but there's a curse on it that's killed its previous six owners. Simon Brimmer is on hand to interview the new owner and ponder his fate, when lo and behold, he does indeed become the mummy's 7th victim. Or could someone else have had murder on his mind? Seems that Norris Wenthworth was a former aircraft manufacturer who had been investigated by a Select Senate Committee on charges of war profiteering 

Airdate 12/11/75
Production: Richard Levinson, William Link, Peter S. Fisher and Michael Rhodes
Production: #43603
Teleplay: Peter S. Fisher 
Story by: Rudolph Borchert 
Directed by Seymour Robbie
With: June Lockhart (Claudia Wentworth), Simon Oakland (Norris Wentworth),
Nehemiah Persoff (Mustafa Haddid), Ross Martin (Dr. Otis Tremane), John Larroquette (Bellboy), Nancy Belle Fuller (Margie Coopersmith), Wallace Rooney (Harry), 
Charles Macaulay (Critic).

.

12* "The Adventure of the Blunt Instrument"

"We're going to nip this thing in the bud. I've got the most fantastic cure-all. Hot lemonade and sassafras - mixed with the extract of a pound of calves' liver. And after a rub-down with menthol and oil of peppermint, you take a bath in scalding chicken soup - hold the noodles...."

The episode opens with an awards dinner sponsored by the "Crime Writers of America" announcing this years' recipient of their Blunt Instrument Award to be mystery writer, Edgar Manning for his book, "The Shanghai Solution". Ellery Queen is not in attendance, as he's at home with a head cold - a great running gag throughout this episode. At a gathering after the awards dinner, we see the story's principals at Manning's residence where each one seems to feel equal disdain for their host. After a sour toast, Manning goes into his study to call Ellery - intending to gloat over his win, where he is murdered while speaking to Ellery on the telephone. All Ellery hears is Manning's remark that some "rash person is there to balance the books".

Airdate 12/18/75
Directed by: Ernest Pintoff
With: John Dehner (George Tisdale) Joanna Barnes  (Camellia Justice),  Dean Stockwell (Cliff Waddell), Richard Jaeckel (Nick McVey),  Eva Gabor (Magda Szomony), 
Ellen Weston (Mary Parks), Clyde Kusatsu (Mateo) , Keene Curtis (Edgar Manning), 
Robert Cornthwaite (Osterwald)

 

Part 2: 1976 episodes...

(top)

References
(1) Ellery Queen on the Small Screen by Francis M.Nevins Jr.
     in The Armchair Detective volume 12, 1979
(2) Ellery Queen - the TV series

Last updated October 23, 2016 

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