Bourbon Street Beat

Cal Calhoun, Rex Randolph and Kenny Madison

Created by Charles Hoffman (?)

Bourbon Street Beat (1959-60) was the first (but least commercially successful) of all the 77 Sunset Strip clones churned out by Warner Brothers TV factory back in the sixties (it didn't even rank a board game!), despite the intriguing setting of New Orleans.

In the debut, loosley based (okay, maybe ripped off) from Hammett's The Maltese Falcon, Big Easy private eye CAL CALHOUN, a lanky, easy-going ex-bayou cop, takes on a junior partner, REX RANDOLPH, a young, yuppie-ish Ivy Leaguer from one of New Orlean's "best" families. Together they run "Randolph and Calhoun Special Services" next to The Old Absinthe House in the French Quarter.

Of course, no 77 clone would be complete without an attractive secretary holding down the fort, a trainee gumshoe, a buffoon for comic relief, and some sort of "hip" gimmick," like Kookie's comb. In Bourbon's case, the secretary was Melody Lee Mercer, and the rookie was Texas rich kid KENNY MADISON, who was working his way through law school by doing part-time PI work. The buffoon chores were ably handled by local jazzman Billy the Baron. Sometimes popping up was Billy's singer Lusti Weather.

The gimmick in Bourbon was in the way Rex and Cal greeted each other. No mere handshake, or funky hi-five for these cats. Nope, the two dicks would place their shoes "sole to sole", in a supposedly hip, "New Orleans-style" greeting.

Evidently, Warner Bros. really thought this one would hit -- they even bought an interest in a real New Orleans restaurant, The Absinthe House, and placed the agency, Randolph and Calhoun, Special Services above it, even though the actual show was shot on a Hollywood backlot (the one used for A Streetcar Named Desire, in fact)

Unfortunately, despite some decent scripts, an appealling cast, and a real attempt to rise above the formula, the show bombed. Not that Warner let anything go to waste -- Rex eventually showed up in the cast of 77 Sunset Strip and Kenny surfaced a year later in the same time slot as one of the Surfside Six Miami PI's. Only Cal never surfaced again.

Maybe they should have given him a comb.

UNDER OATH

  • "I am so happy that someone put up a discription of this show. I am a die-hard Richard Long fan and I can never find much of his stuff, let alone a discription of it. (well, except The Big Valley) anyway. You said that you didn't mind people who liked to talk, and since I like to talk I figured you would like my opinion..
    P.S. I'm only 14 yrs. old. :-)"

-- Olivia

TRIVIA

  • Supposedly, the Paul Pine novels by Howard Browne (who worked on the show) were the inspiration for lead character Rex Randolph, and the very first episode, "The Taste of Ashes," was based on the fourth novel in that series.

TELEVISION

  • BOURBON STREET BEAT
    (1959-60, NBC, ABC)
    Working title: Angels Corner
    A Spartan Production
    39 60-minute episodes
    Writers: Charles Hoffman, Ivan Goff, Howard Browne, William Bruckner, Marie Baumer, William Spier and Stephen Lord*
    Directors: William Hole Jr., Leslie Martinson, James V. Kern, Charles Rondeau, Reginald LeBorg
    Produced by William Orr, Charles Hoffman
    Starring Andrew Duggan as CAL CALHOUN
    Richard Long as REX RANDOLPH
    with Van Williams as KENNY MADISON
    and Arlene Howell as Melody Lee Mercer
    Also starring Eddie Cole as Billy the Baron
    and Nita Talbot as Lusti Weather

* Thirty-two writers were given credit on the 39 shows. According to Dick Martin, producer Charles Hoffman got most of the credits since he rewrote a number of scripts and earned an "and" team credit thru abritration.

  • "The Taste of Ashes" ( October 5, 1959)
  • "Mourning Cloak" (October 12, 1959)
  • "Tourch Song for Trumpet" (October 19, 1959)
  • "Woman in the River" (October 26, 1959)
  • "Girl in Trouble" (November 2, 1959)
  • "Tiger Moth" (November 9, 1959)
  • "Secret of Hyacinth Bayou" (November 16, 1959)
  • "Invitation to a Murder" (November 23, 1959)
  • "Mrs Viner Vanishes" (November 30, 1959)
  • "Light Touch of Terror" (December 7, 1959)
  • "The Golden Beetle" (December 14, 1959)
  • "The Black Magnolia" (December 21, 1959)
  • "Portrait of Lenore" (December 28, 1959)
  • "Kill With Kindness" (January 4, 1960)
  • "Inside Man" (January 11, 1960)
  • "Find My Face" (January 18, 1960)
  • "Knock on Any Tombstone" (January 25, 1960)
  • "Key to the City" (February 1, 1960)
  • "The 10% Blues " (February 8, 1960)
  • "Melody in Diamonds" ( February 15, 1960)
  • "The House of Ledezan" (February 22, 1960)
  • "Target for Hate" (March 7, 1960)
  • "The Missing Queen" (March 14, 1960)
  • "Neon Nightmare" (March 21, 1960)
  • "Wall of Silence" (March 28, 1960)
  • "Twice Betrayed" (April 4, 1960)
  • "Swampfire" (April 11, 1960)
  • "If a Body" (April 18, 1960)
  • "Six Hours to Midnight" (April 25, 1960)
  • "Last Exit" (May 2, 1960)
  • "Deadly Persuasion" (May 9, 1960)
  • "Suitable for Framing" (May 16, 1960)
  • "False Identity" (May 23, 1960)
  • "Green Hell" (May 30, 1960)
  • "Ferry to Algiers" (June 6, 1960)
  • "Wagon Show" (June 13, 1960)
  • "Interupted Wedding" (June 20, 1960)
  • "Reunion" (June 27, 1960)
  • "Teresa" (July 4, 1960)

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Dick Martin for filling in some of the blanks.


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