Willie Dante

Created by Blake Edwards

In the fifties, too long in the tooth to reprise his role as Richard Diamond for television, Dick Powell turned to directing and producing. In 1952, along with David Niven, Charles Boyer and Ida Lupino, Powell created create Four Star Television (later Four Star Films), which produced Four Star Playhouse, an anthology show, as well as several other series.

But it turned out Powell wasn't quite done with acting, or the tough guy persona he'd created in film and radio. Powell decided he wanted another crack at a Diamond-like character, and so he teamed up with his old pal Blake Edwards to create Dante's Inferno, which appeared sporatically on Four Star Playhouse.

WILLIE DANTE was essentially an older, kinder take on Diamond; not a detective this time but a successful restaurant owner and man-about-town who had a not-so-secret casino tucked in the back, and a propensity for sleuthing. Regis Toomey co-starred as Lt. Manny Waldo, the by-the-book cop yearning to shut down Dante, despite the fact he had a begrudging respect for Dante.

But this show lacked Diamond's warmth. Missing a regular girlfriend to keep Dante warm. Helen Asher or her counterpart was sadly needed. Only eight episodes of of the show were produced.

But Powell and Edwards still believed in the concept, and tried again several years later with Dante, this time starring Howard Duff as Willie, still up to his old tricks, running a "legit" San Francisco nightclub with his old-time buddies Biff and Stewart. Problem is neither the cops nor the crooks think Willie has gone straight.

TELEVISION

  • DANTE'S INFERNO
    (1952-56, CBS)
    Created by Blake Edwards
    Starring Dick Powell as WILLIE DANTEand Regis Toomey as Lt. Manny Waldo

An anthology series with alternating stars. There were eight episodes of Dante's Inferno.

  • "Dante's Inferno" (October 9, 1952)
  • "The Squeeze" (October 1, 1953)
  • "The Hard Way" (November 19, 1953)
  • "The House Always Wins" (April 28, 1955)
  • "High Stakes" (January 26, 1956)
  • "No Limit" (February 16, 1956)
  • "A Long Way from Texas" (May 3, 1956)
  • "The Stacked Deck" (June 28, 1956)
    • DANTE
      (1960-61, NBC)
      26 30-minute episodes
      Created by Blake Edwards
      Starring Howard Duff as WILLIE DANTE
      With Alan Mowbray as Stewart Styles
      and Tom D'Andrea as Biff

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  • Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.