Rocky Fortune

Created by George Lefferts

In the days prior to From Here To Eternity, Frank Sinatra's popularity was waning and this short-lived private eye radio show was an attempt to remedy that. Frank played ROCKY FORTUNE, a "footloose and fancy-free young man," frequently unemployed, who took numerous, adventurous odd jobs. It was a relatively undistinguished series; definitely "B grade," saved only by Sinatra's charm and a tongue-in-cheek approach.

Employed or not, Rocky (whose real name was "Rocko Fortunato") possesed a variety of skills. During the course of the series, he worked as a process server, museum tour guide, cabbie, bodyguard, chauffeur, truck driver, social director for a Catskills resort and a carny. He could also fake enough bass to play at weddings and bar-mitzvahs. For most of the series, Rocky received his job assignments from the Gridley Employment Agency, usually referred to as just "the agency".

The only recurring character, throughout the series, besides Rocky himself, is the long-suffering Sergeant Hamilton J. Finger -- a solid, although not-too-bright cop who works out of what is frequently referred to as "the Irish clubhouse," who seemed to be constantly running into Rocky, whether he wanted to or not.

At about the same time, November 10, 1953 to July 9, 1954, Sinatra also starred in a musical show on NBC called To Be Perfectly Frank. And, no matter how you look at it, Rocky Fortune was really just another chance for the ever-ambitious Sinatra to be himself, and to promote his career. From Here To Eternity had opened that August, and Sinatra used the series to promote the film (and his Oscar nomination). As the series wound to a close and the date of the Academy Awards presentation drew near, it became a running gag that Rocky seemed to work the phrase "from here to eternity" into almost every show.

Fortunately for his career, his Oscar for his role in Eternity came and rescued him from all this.


    (1953-54, NBC)
    26 weeks, 25 episodes
    First broadcast: October 6, 1953
    Last broadcast: March 30, 1954
    Writers: George Lefferts, Norm Sickel, Ernest Kinoy, Robert Senadella (story), Doc Sanford
    Directors: Andrew C. Love, Fred Weihe, Howard Wiley
    Announcer: Eddie King
    Starring Frank Sinatra as ROCKY FORTUNE
    and Barney Phillips as Hamilton J. Finger
    Guest stars: Lynn Allen, Parley Baer, Tony Barrett, Richard Beales, Raymond Burr , Ed Begley, Howard Culver, Don Diamond, Georgia Ellis, Herb Ellis, Frances Eurey, Stanley Frasier, Frank Gerstel, Maurice Hart, Mandell Kramer, Jack Kruschen, Lou Mal, Marvin Miller, Shep Mencken, Jack Nestel, William Oiler, Jack Maither, Steven Chase, Vivi Janis, Eddie Fields, Barney Phillips, Frank Richards, Marion Richman, Bill Justine, Ted Von Eltz, Jean Tatum, Tim Holland, Elaine Ross, Leslie Wood, Stotts Cottsworth, Bill Zuckert, Arnold Moss, Roger DeKoven, James Muntz, Jan Miner, Ted Osborne, Leon Janney, Joseph Julian, Bryna Raeburn, David Seffer, Mary McGovern, Kay Stewart, Norma Varden, Betty Lou Gerson, John Stevenson.

  • "Oyster Shucker" (October 6, 1953 ; aka "Pearl Smugglers")
  • "Steven In A Rest Home" (October 13, 1953; aka "Insurance Fraud"; "Double Indemnity")
  • "Ship's Steward" (October 20, 1953; aka "Shipboard Jewel Robbery")
  • "Pint-Sized Payroll Bandit" (October 27, 1953; aka "Short Order Cook")
  • "$100 An Hour Messenger" (November 10, 1953 ; aka "Messenger Boy"; "Messenger for Murder")
  • "A Little Jazz Goes A Long Way To Murder" (November 17, 1953; aka "A Hepcat Kills the Canary")
  • "Drama Critic's Bodyguard" (November 24, 1953; aka "Nursemaid To a Drama Critic; Murder on the Aisle")
  • "Art Store Handyman" (December 1, 1953; aka "Parlormaid To a Statue; Murder Among the Statues")
  • "The Kid And The Carnival" (December 8, 1953; aka "Carnival One Way")
  • "Paid Companion" (December 15, 1953; aka "Companion To A Chimp")
  • "Department Store Santa" (December 22, 1953; aka "The Plot To Murder Santa Claus")
  • "Prize Fighter" (December 29, 1953; aka "Prize Fighter Setup")
  • "On the Trail of a Killer" (January 5, 1954; aka "Love And Death"; "On The Trail Of A Killer; Sister Ellie's Dead")
  • "Ride 'em Cowboy" (January 12, 1954; aka "Rodeo Murder")
  • "Murder In The Museum" (January 19, 1954; aka "The Museum Murder"; "Museum of Ancient History")
  • "Hollywood Or Boom" (January 26, 1954; aka "Hauling Nitro")
  • "Football Fix" (February 2, 1954)
  • "Social Director" (February 9, 1954; aka "Catskills Cover-up")
  • "Too Many Husbands" (February 16, 1954; aka "The Too Much Married Blonde")
  • "Hit List" (February 26, 1954; aka "Decoy For Death"; "The Grinder")
  • "Drug Addict" (March 2, 1954; aka "The Doctor's Dilemma")
  • "Let's Find A Murderer" (March 9, 1954; aka "Incident In A Bar"; "Fresh Corpse")
  • "The Little Voice Of Murder" (March 16, 1954; aka "Psychological Murder"; "Witness To A Will/Witness To A Kill")
  • "Rocket To The Morgue" March 23, 1954; aka "Rocket Racket"; "Zenith Foundation")
  • "Boarding House Doublecross" (March 30, 1954)

Respectfully submitted by Stewart Wright, who set me straight on this one. Also, thanks to Joe Berg's Rocky Fortune Log, part of the extensive Sinatra List Home Page, and a special thanks to Lois Culver, wife of Howard Culver, who actually appeared on the show.

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