Mike Longstreet

Developed for television by Stirling Silliphant
From a character created by Baynard Kendricks

The seventies were the golden age of the TV Dick, when the airwaves were saturated with private eyes and cops of all sizes and shapes. There were so many of them that the nightly barrage of cases began to blur, and it didn't take long for writers and producers to saddle their sleuths with various gimmicks, all the better to separate their detectives from the rest of the ever-increasing herd. And so there were fat dicks, bald dicks, wheelchair-bound dicks, rough'n'tumble dicks, Polish dicks, black dicks, old dicks and even chick dicks.

MIKE LONGSTREET had a gimmick, too -- he was blind. He lost both his wife and his eyesight in a bomb blast meant to kill him. But Longstreet refused to give in, or be less than what he was -- the best damn insurance investigator in New Orleans. Along with -- and often over the objections of -- his secretary/assistant Nikki and his best friend and former boss Duke Paige (head of investigations for a major insurance company in the Gulf Coast) Mike persevered in an occupation usually reserved for sighted people.

The premise is pretty goofy -- I mean, really. A blind private investigator? But anyone familiar with Sterling Silliphant productions knows his style is aimed at showing viewers a slice of life they normally wouldn't see. This time, we "see" it through Longstreet's other senses.

Granted, Mike wasn't your typical blind person. Okay, he wasn't Daredevil, but Mike trained himself to rely heavily on his remaining senses, noticing sounds, textures, scents, and tastes others might overlook. As a mutant kid myself, I thought that was pretty cool.

But his real strength lay in his understanding of human nature, which made him one hell of a detective.

And that was the show's ace in the hole. For all the detective derring do, what was most fascinating about the show was Mike himself. Franciscus brought a lot of depth and humanity to the role, which could have so easily descended into schtick. His Longstreet was a smart, intelligent man; a multi-faceted survivor trying as best as he could to rise above his disability and retain some pride and autonomy.

Mind you, he had some pretty good scripts to work with, as well, and a decent cast.

Bruce Lee, still a relative unknown at the time, guest starred in the very first episode, "The Way of the Intercepting Fist," as Li Tsung, an antique dealer and parttime martia; arts instructor who teaches Mike the art of Jeet Kune Do in order to defend himself, and move past "accepting" his "condition." Lee returned for three more episodes. (And no, I don't know where you can buy these episodes. If you find out, tell me.)

The premise was only loosely based on Baynard Kendrick's Captain Duncan Maclain, although Kendrick's was credited in every episode.

TELEVISION

  • LONGSTREET...Buy on DVD
    (1971-72, ABC)
    Pilot
    Premiere: February 23, 1971
    Based on characters created by Baynard Kendrick
    Written by Stirling Silliphant
    Directed by Joseph Sargeant
    Producer: Joseph Sargeant
    Executive Producer: Sterling Silliphant
    Starring James Franciscus as MIKE LONGSTREET
    with Bradford Dillman as Duke Paige
    Martine Beswick as Nikki
    and Pax, The Seeing Eye Dog
    Guest stars: John McIntire, Jeanette Nolan, Barry Russo, Judy Jones, Barney Phillips, Martin Kosleck, Lisabeth Field, Lincoln Demyan, James DeCloss

  • LONGSTREET...Buy on DVD
    (1971-1972, ABC)
    Series
    23 60-minute episodes
    Based on characters created by Baynard Kendrick
    Writers: Stirling Silliphant
    Story consultant: Howard Browne
    Produced by Stirling Silliphant
    Starring James Franciscus as MIKE LONGSTREET
    Peter Mark Richman as Duke Paige
    Marlyn Mason as Nikki
    Bruce Lee as Li Tsing
    and Pax, The Seeing Eye Dog
    Guest stars: Bruce Lee, Lou Gossett Jr., Murray Macleod, Tyne Daly, Barry Sullivan,Victor French, Victor Jory, Martha Scott, Michael Ontkean, Stacy Keach, Sr., Shelley Fabares, Marion Ross, Lee Meriwether, Leif Erickson, Neville Brand, John Colicos

  • Season One
  • "The Way of the Intercepting Fist" (September 16, 1971)
  • "A World of Perfect Complicity" September 23, 1971)
  • "One in the Reality Column" (September 30, 1971)
  • "So, Who's Fred Hornbeck" (October 7, 1971)
  • "Elegy in Brass" (October 14, 1971)
  • "Spell Legacy Like Death" (October 21, 1971)
  • "The Shape of Nightmares" (October 28, 1971)
  • "The Girl with the Broom" (November 4, 1971)
  • "Wednesday's Child" (November 11, 1971)
  • "I See, Said the Blind Man" (November 18, 1971)
  • "This Little Piggy Went to Marquette" (December 2, 1971)
  • "There Was a Crooked Man" (December 9, 1971)
  • "The Old Team Spirit" (December 16, 1971)
  • "The Long Way Home" (December 30, 1971)
  • "Let the Memories Be Happy Ones" (January 6, 1971)
  • "Survival Times Two" (January 13, 1972)
  • "Eye of the Storm" (January 20, 1972)
  • "Please Leave the Wreak for Others to Enjoy" (January 27, 1972)
  • "Anatomy of a Murder" (February 3, 1972)
  • "Sad Songs and Other Conversations" (February 10, 1972)
  • "Field of Honor" (February 17, 1972)
  • "Through Shattering Glass" (February 24, 1972)
  • "The Sound of Money Talking" (March 2, 1972)

RELATED LINKS

A continuation of The Lonstreet Fan Website, originally run by Allie Percy. Complete with information on cast, crew and guest stars, plus features articles, interviews, photos and sounds, an episode guide and collector info.

No, I don't sell videos. But you fanboys looking for the Bruce Lee episodes of Longstreet on video who keep pestering me might find them here, according to Mark. You might even find some Green Hornet episodes -- the web slinger for the site is a "major collector. He even owns the Black Beauty, the car from the Green Hornet series.

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. The illustration was part of a press package prepared by ABC and sent out to promote the series.


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