Mark Saber

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It was a long and winding road for TV's MARK SABER, who started off life as a British cop working for a big city American police force and ended his career as a one-armed private eye in London.

The first time he showed up was in Mystery Theater. It was an American production, and ran on ABC for three seasons, from 1951 to 1954 (it wandered all over the schedule, changing names frequently).

It starred Tom Conway (previously best known for playing The Falcon) as a rather foppish Saber -- a sauve Brit, dapper, well-dressed and sporting a jaunty pencil-thin mustache. This Saber was a cop, working homicide for the police department of an (as far as I know) unnamed American city. He was aided in his rather Holmesian leaps of deductive logic by the rather dim, though loyal, Watson-like figure of Sergeant Tim Maloney.

Mystery Theater (or whatever it was called by this time) went off the air in 1954, but Saber returned the next year on NBC's The Vise. Gone, however, was the gentleman homicide inspector working in the United States, but a decidedly more down to earth one-armed private eye based in London. He was played by South-African-born Donald Gray, who had, in fact, lost an arm in World War II. Not that a missing arm slowed Saber down. He was a determined gumshoe, and he could always count on his partner and legman, Barney O'Keefe, and his devoted, albeit rather bubbly, blonde secretary Stephanie.

The Vise ran on ABC for two seasons, ending its run in June 1957.

But you can't keep a good man down. A few months later, Gray reprised the role in Mark Saber's third incarnation, Saber of London, only now -- despite the title -- his cases were just as likely to take him to the streets of various hot spots around Europe, most notably glamour spots like Paris and the Riviera. This time, he was backed up by Peter Paulson, Bob Page and Eddie Wells, a reformed criminal. He even had a girlfriend for a while. And there was a new Scotland Yard detective hanging around, Inspector Parker (played by Colin Tapley, who had played the similar Inspector Chester in the previous series).

HUH?

  • Several character pronounce Saber's name as "Sabber."

TELEVISION

  • MYSTERY THEATER
    (
    aka "Mark Saber Mystery Theater," "Mark Saber," "Inspector Mark Saber--Homicide Squad" and "Homicide Squad")
    (1951-54, ABC)
    78 30-minute episodes, black and white
    First telecast: October 5, 1951
    Last telecast: June 1954
    Director: Eugene Forde
    Producers: J. Donald Wilson, Roland Reed
    Starring Tom Conway as MARK SABER
    with James Burke as Sergeant Tim Maloney

  • THE VISE
    (aka "Mark Saber in the U.K." Possibly syndicated in the U.S. as "Uncovered")
    (1955-57, ABC)
    52 30-minute episodes, black and white
    First telecast: September 1955
    Last telecast: June 1957
    Producers: Edward and Harry Lee Danziger
    Starring Donald Gray as MARK SABER
    with Michael Balfour as Barry O'Keefe
    Diana Decker as Stephanie Ames
    Patrick Holt as Inspector Brady
    and Colin Tapley as Inspector Chester

  • SABER OF LONDON
    (Later syndicated in the U.S. as "Detective's Diary")
    (1957-60, NBC)
    83 30-minute episodes, black and white
    First telecast: October 13, 1957
    Last telecast: May 15, 1960
    Producers: Edward and Harry Lee Danziger
    Starring Donald Gray as MARK SABER
    with Neil McCallum as Peter Paulson
    Robert Arden as Bob Page
    Jerry Thorne as Eddie Wells
    and Colin Tapley as Inspector Parker

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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