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All Episodes Talk: Private Eyes (Are Watching You)

"Ten Cents a Death." (Season 2, Episode 18)  Roscoe visits Herky's Danceland to brush up on his Cha Cha to impress his girlfriend, Mary Field (comic actress Bea Benaderet needs no introduction, best known for her work on CBS' "rural comedies" and "Burns and Allen", here she has a basically serious role), the club's cashier. No sooner does he show up than a riot breaks out, started by unemployed sailor Ernie Pozen  (hard-working actor Robert Colbert, Dr. Doug Phillips on "Time Tunnel") and Roscoe gets arrested, along with the rest of the denizens of the club. It turns out that every time there's a disturbance at Herky's one of the girls ends up murdered.

Mary and Jeanne (Linda Lawson, Las Vegas showgirl and singer), one of the club's b-girls, hire Stu to investigate.  Stu puts Roscoe on stakeout, only for him to be rolled in the alley behind the club by two thugs who attempt to the drugged Jeanne.  Stu shows up in time to foil the kidnapping.

Gil gives Stu the lowdown on the club.  The owner, Nick "Herky" Hercules (Anthony George, Burke Devlin on "Dark Shadows") is an ex-con, who was in on a $500,000 robbery masterminded by the mysterious Mr. Nuchio. Though Herky was arrested for the crime, the money was never found, and if Herky had the dough, he wouldn't be running a cheap dancehall with b-girls drinking expensive tea at the customers' expense and passing off blank house keys and phony addresses as pickup spots. Customers at the club include nebbish Mr. Neidorf (Jay Novello, again), referred to as "Mr. A.D." for arrested development, who is a daily fixture.

Stu forms a plan with Gil to solve the case.  While Gil watches Ernie and Roscoe stakes out the club, Suzanne goes undercover as one of the club's b-girls, taking Jeanne's place.  Stu shows up and makes trouble so he can meet with Herky, while Ernie tries to pick up Suzanne.  After being roughed up by Herky's muscle, Herky accuses Stu of being in the pay of Mr. Nuchio.  Gil stops Ernie from taking Suzanne out on a "date." Leaving her alone in the alley behind the dancehall. Stu gets the drop on Herky, while Mr. A.D. gets the knockout drops in Suzanne.  Roscoe tries to save Suzanne only to come under fire. Stu and Herky rush out to stop Mr. A.D./Mr. Nuchio from getting away, saving Suzanne.

Suzanne get put in danger again. Roscoe wants Suzanne to resign with him and get safer jobs.  We learn that Roscoe doesn't have a last name, he's just "Roscoe." Kookie is missed (despite still getting third billing in the opening). Having Kookie dance up a storm at Herky's would have had teenage hearts all aflutter.

Ex-Playboy model Saundra Edwards appears at the beginning of the episode as Stu's Palm Springs date, she shot and killed her husband, Tom Gilson, who also appeared in a number of 77SS episodes, in a domestic violence incident.

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"Who Killed Cock Robin." (Season 2, Episode 19) Tom Lopaka (Robert Conrad) unnecessarily shows up, promoting "Hawaiian Eye", while introducing Jeff to blind former Hollywood director Wilson James (famous face Jacques Aubuchon, oddly played Chief Urulu on “McHale’s Navy”). James is in town for the "reading" of Hollywood legend J. Cedric Usher's will. According to the instructions regarding the reading the sightless James is allowed to bring an assistant, Jeff.  Suzanne drives Jeff and James to the Usher estate, getting stranded when a storm washes out the road in traditional mystery fashion. 

Gathered for the "reading", besides Jeff, Suzanne and James, are: Clara Moore ("King Kong"'s Fay Wray), star of all of Usher's pictures; the unpleasant Walter Legal (actual New York actor Richard Rust), a low-rent Marlon Brando;  his shy and retiring sister, Amelia Legal (Susan Crane, guest starred on most of the WB shows, then had an abbreviated career); costume designer Robin Wells (John Holland) and his wife Lynn (Myrna Fahey, Madeline in “Fall of the House of Usher” subject of death threats for dating Joe DiMaggio after Marilyn Monroe’s death), professional drunks.  Also on hand are Barnaby Olsen (bad guy famous face Don Barry), Usher's assistant director, and the ubiquitous Hamilton Ronday ("Batman"'s Neil Hamilton), former actor turned overly romantic butler. Many of the attendees have suspicious backgrounds, according to Walter Amelia watched her fiancé drown without trying to save him and Lynn propositions Jeff to murder her husband Robin.

Usher's will is his last production, a film explaining that on the morning the heirs will get clues leading to numbers which will open a safe containing one million dollars. The heirs retire to their rooms, each done up to look like the set of one of Usher's epics. That night, while attempting to pick the lock on the safe, Robin is murdered.  The next morning the heirs get their clues, each clue is a scene from one of Usher's films.  Jeff discovers that the clues relate to nursery rhymes.  As the heirs search for the clues their true natures come forth.  The final solution is well done.

An Agatha Christie-esque mystery actually remains a mystery until the end.  All the Hollywood actors get to make fun of "New York Actors" as exemplified by Method actor Walter.  Jeff explains that Kookie is visiting his mother.  Jeff gets to kiss Fay Wray, a step up from an ape for Wray.

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"Condor's Lair." (Season 2, Episode 20) The show opens with aspiring method actor Star Bright (bland, but good-looking Troy Donahue, you might remember him from such films as "The Godfather" and “Cry-Baby”), filling in for Kookie, telling Stu and Jeff that Kookie (Kookie? Kookie who?) is visiting his mother.  Stu is meeting wacky, snooty teenage author and international madcap, Kitten Lang (sex kitten Tuesday Weld, back for another go), at Dino's. Kitten, who's staying at the haunted Hollywood mansion, Condor's Lair, wants Stu to investigate the person who's blackmailing her (she's already paid out two payments of $10,000 each).

Besides being pretentious, Kitten is also troubled over the death of her racing driver lover, Rico Martinique, in an accident where they were both in the car, and by a mysterious figure in white haunting the estate.  Is it the ghost of Rico? Back at 77SS, Stu is told he's had a threatening call, telling him to stay away from Kitten, and a threatening visitor, Paname (David Cross, appeared in a few b-movies), Rico's French car mechanic and Kitten's driver and self-appointed bodyguard. Stu teaches the Frenchman not to mess with the USA.

Stu is called back to Condor's Lair, somebody spiked Kitten's hot cocoa with a Mickey Finn.  Kitten's guardian, aunt Maggie Lang (Andrea King, WB contract player), tells Stu Kitten thinks someone tried to poison her. Maggie hints that the whole thing might be the product of Kitten's overactive imagination. She says she was unaware of the blackmail. Washed up singer/actor, and pencil-mustached Frank Sinatra, Stacy Noble (Robert Lowery, “Circus Boy”) shows up for his date with the 17-year-old Kitten, who's too upset to see him.  Leaving Condor's Lair, a mysterious figure in white takes a pot shot at Stu's car.

Stu questions Stacy, who egotistically thinks Kitten tried to kill herself over him, and that Kitten has an overactive imagination. Leaving, Stu runs into Stacy's wife, Lydia Noble (Jeanne Bates, long career in bit parts), who explains that, though her husband is a cheap Romeo and cradle-robber (and a lousy singer to make matters worse) wooing a minor, she still loves him.  Stu assigns Roscoe to investigate Stacy, and he discovers that Stacy has suddenly paid off big losses he ran up at Las Vegas, where he was performing.  Stu returns to Stacy's apartment to confront him and discovers Lydia shot dead.  Stacy's bank book shows two deposits of $10,000 each.

Stu sends Star Bright to Condor's Lair to protect Kitten.  Star and Kitten have a long, pretentious discussion about Transcendentalism before making out.  Their make out session is interrupted by a figure in white flitting through the garden.  Stu and Roscoe rush over and chase the figure, who has taken a shot at Kitten's bedroom window.  Stacy and Paname (dressed in white) join the search for good measure.  With all the suspects together, Stu catches the perpetrator and everyone lives happily ever after.  Stu asks Kitten what she's going to do now, and is told she's "going to Disneyland", with Star.

Nothing much special, other than Tuesday Weld. Written by Gloria Elmore, who wrote many of the better episodes.

 

*

 

"The Starlet" (Season 2, Episode 21) Mrs. Donnelly, mother of aspiring actress Kay Donnelly (Kaye Elhardt), heirs Jeff to investigate two failed attempts on her daughter's life.  Jeff gets an invitation to the Hollywood Film Club where Kay lives, a rooming house for aspiring actresses and a hornet's nest of estrogen and mean girls, for the Starlet of the Year Award ceremony. When Hollywood romance items Rhonda Saxon (Nancy Valentine, married the maharaja of Cooch Behar), former resident of the club, and actor Derek Rand (Joel Lawrence) announce the winner, it turns out that shy and retiring Ellie Hayes (very cute Jean Blake, who had a low-level career in Hollywood) won rather than favorite Kay.  Despondent, Kay runs to her room and apparently commits suicide.

Mrs. Donnelly wants Jeff to continue his investigation, believing Kay wouldn't kill herself over losing the award.  Jeff returns to the Club to investigate, getting the lowdown from the Club's receptionist, Marge (well-played by the always reliable Christine Nelson).  She tells Jeff that Paula Harding (Diane McBain, played either "bad girls" and "spoiled rich girls", appeared in eight 77SS episodes), Kay's roommate, and Mrs. Wetherby (Linda Watkins, made her name on the stage), the Club's housemother, both disliked Kay. Jeff searches Kay and Paula's room, finding a note in Kay's purse with a description and license plate number of a card on it, only to be caught by Paula.  Jeff blackmails Paula into keeping quiet. Later he runs into Paula and talent agent Johnny Kamsler (Howard McLeod) at Dino's.  Kamsler tells Jeff Kay lost the Starlet contest because the clip seen by the judges was "a dog." Jeff drives Paula home with a stop so Paula can drop off a letter at her aunts.     

A little sleuthing leads Jeff to discover Paula's aunt's place was actually Derek Rand's apartment. Finding out that Rand is at Palm Springs he drops in to pick up Rand's mail to read Paula note, only to get trounced by Rand's roommate and bodyguard, meathead Steve Lucy (Paul Lukather, long career but never made it big).  Nursing his injuries back at 77SS, Jeff gets a visit from Ellie, who wants to use her award money to hire Jeff to investigate Kay's death. Jeff sets up a date with Ellie so he can get into the Club and do some sleuthing.  Jeff and Kay investigate the projection booth at the Club and discover that Kay's clip was switched. They then search Mrs. Wetherby's room and find that Rhonda Saxon is actually Mr. Wetherby's daughter.  Jeff also uncovers that Kay was secretly married to Derek Rand. Wetherby confesses she switched the reels to wreck Kay career and give Rhonda a chance to marry Derek.

Since all roads lead to Rand, Jeff drops in again at Derek's penthouse apartment, and gets clobbered again by Steve Lucy.  Steve tells Derek that he got rid of Kay so Derek could marry Rhonda.  Jeff, who was just playacting being unconscious gets into a knock down drag out fight with a boy named Lucy, who falls over the balcony of the penthouse's terrace (oddly the same balcony and terrace that Jay North almost fell from in Season 1, Episode 19 “Eyewitness”).  

This episode gives TV viewers probably what they wanted from a 77SS episode, a Hollywood setting, glamorous dames, a little mystery and a little humor.

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"Safari" (Season 2, Episode 22) Utter asshole billionaire industrialist Simon Galbraith (famous face Arch Johnston, two 77SS appearances) almost dies in a scuba diving accident, after two other "accidents" almost killed him.  Galbraith hires Stu to accompany him and all the suspects on a white rhino hunt in Africa.  The suspects are: his wife Miriam (Julie Adams, five 77SS appearances), former professional photographer, who Galbraith mentally and physically abuses.  Kurt Hafner (famous face Kurt Krueger, five 77SS appearances), ex-Nazi POW, scientific prodigy and head of Galbraith's engineering department, who Galbraith steals all his ideas from and claims as his own. His unloved daughter Joyce Galbraith (Janet Lake, three 77SS appearances), and her lover, Pete Mellon (Robert Colbert, seven 77SS appearances), LA health club owner and former gangster, who wouldn't mind marrying the girl who inherits Galbraith's fortune. Also on the safari is American great white hunter, Doug Walters (Richard Coogan, “Captain Video”, only appearance), former lover of Miriam.

By the end of the first 10 minutes of the show, I would gladly kill Galbraith, and obviously everyone had motive to do the son of a bitch in. Before the first day of the hunt, Mellon sabotages Galbraith's hunting rifle.  On the hunt, the gun misfires and Galbraith is unfortunately almost mauled by a lion, which Stu unfortunately shoots. Galbraith blames Walters for the misfire, but Stu reveals that he found the missing firing pin in Mellon's gear.  The next day the local police take Mellon in and Kurt makes a play for the now abandoned Joyce.

Back on the hunt Galbraith finds his white rhino, but misses as the enraged animal attacks him, unfortunately Miriam shoots the Rhino instead of Galbraith, who is cowering in the dirt begging Miriam not to kill him.  Stu finally loses his temper and puts Galbraith in his place, despite Galbraith's threats. The rest of the safari members have had enough and decide to leave, in spite of Galbraith ordering them all to stay. As the rest of the safari prepare to leave, Galbraith sabotages the trucks.  When Stu tries to stop him, they end up in a fight, with Galbraith shooting at Stu. In the end one of the porters makes the final point, which Galbraith finally gets.

Not your typical 77SS episode, but a nice little mystery, with a strong cast. Episode is like old home week.  Almost every actor appeared in other, often multiple, episodes.

 

*

"Blackout." (Season 2, Episode 23) "The Gang That Couldn't Heist Straight." The thing with heist stories is the criminals have a clever plan to steal some fabulous McGuffin that is complicated by something unexpected, like Bruce Willis showing up.  Here the criminal's plan is elaborate, but totally unnecessary.  The gang, led by "mastermind" Monty (Rex Reason, “This Island Earth”) want to steal a collection of giant Australian cultured pearls from Cadwell's department store, not exactly Goldfinger breaking into Ft. Knox.  Bailey & Spencer are hired to protect the pearls during the day, and at night they are locked in the store's safe unguarded. The job falls on Jeff, who also enlists Roscoe to take shifts.

Meanwhile Suzanne is organizing a birthday surprise for Jeff.  She collects money from Stu and Roscoe to buy a gold cigarette lighter at Cadwell's. At the store, Suzanne tries on hats while the lighter is engraved.  Store owner Mr. Cadwell (Damian O’Flynn, generally played doctors, judges. Etc.) takes care of it personally, telling Suzanne she can pick the lighter up later in his office.  She's so excited by her new feathered topper that she leaves without retrieving Jeff's gift.

As the store gets ready to close, one gang member Dink (movie star Warren Oates) hides in a closet.  That's the first clever step in the master plan, Warren Oates in a closet!  Just relying on Warren Oates already dooms the heist.  Another gang member, Tip (Donald May), a disgrace electrical engineer, who was planted long before at the city's power plant, throws a spanner in the works and knocks out the power for the whole city. Presumably this is to keep the stores alarm from going off.  Back at B&S Suzanne decides to try to visit the closed store to be let in to retrieve the lighter. If Suzanne could possibly get in just by ringing the bell, what would stop the crooks from ringing the bell and knocking out the guard, cutting the alarm wires and not having to blackout the entire city (or involve Warren Oates in the plot).

Suzanne, still wearing her precious hat, rings the employee's entrance bell, then knocks on the front door, then goes back around to the employee's entrance, while the crooks watch and wonder what this nut is trying to do. Just then the city goes into its blackout, the crooks grab Suzanne and Warren Oates lets them in.  Do they blindfold Suzanne so she can't identify them, do they not even not call each other by their real names so Suzanne can't hear them? Not these geniuses.  The gang's yegg man, Red (Sammy White, his last job before passing away March 1960) picks the lock on the safe, while the sole night watchman for the store is trapped in a stall elevator. In a couple of minutes the safeman has it open and they switch the real pearls for fakes. The crooks get away with Suzanne, leaving Warren Oates inside to lock the door.  Really? Leave Warren Oates behind so that he can lock the door after you? Pure genius!

Back at B&S, Jeff shows up for his birthday bash, but where's Suzanne?  Jeff and Roscoe decide to go to Cadwell's and find her. Searching the store they find a clue, the feathers from Suzanne's new hat.  From this Jeff deduces Suzanne's in trouble  and a check of the safe finds the switched pearls. Jeff guesses the crooks had an inside man and Gil has the cops find Warren Oates in his closet.

In the getaway car Suzanne tells the crooks she needs to visit the ladies room, so the accommodating criminals stop at a gas station to let Suzanne freshen up. Back at Cadwell's Jeff gets Gil to give him five minutes alone with Warren Oates.  About thirty seconds of Jeff pretending to be a mad dog shamus, breaks Oates down so he spills the location of the gang's hideaway.  Suzanne charms Tip as the gang delivers the loot to their fence.  The police and Jeff show up, there's a shoot out, and Suzanne is rescued in time to go to Dino's for the blowing out of the birthday candles.

None of 77SS heist episodes really worked as heists, and this follows the tradition.

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"Publicity Brat." (Season 2, Episode 26) "She's No Angel." Stu is vacationing in Palm Springs with Roscoe (I guess he couldn't get a date).  Nine-year-old child star Angel Conway (Evelyn Rudie) is also staying at Stu's resort, while acting in a flop at the local playhouse directed by failed movie director Lotsie Becker (Maurice Manson, “The Creature Walks Among Us”).  Angel will do anything for publicity to stimulate her failing career, including trying to convince Nurella Parsons (sic) that she's going to have the title role in a remake of "David Copperfield" and having herself endlessly paged at the pool.

A bit actor in the play, Nick Devlin Beau Gentry), suggests to Angel they fake a robbery of her mother's precious necklace, then have angel recover the jewels, which Angel readily agrees to. In reality Devlin plans to steal the necklace and use the money to go to Mexico.  When the necklace disappears, Paula Conway (Pamela Britton, was TV’s “Blondie” and was the nosy landlady on “My Favorite Martian”), Angel's mother, gets Stu to do a little sleuthing.  Stu sees through Angel immediately and suggests they let Angel return to necklace on her own, while Angel's scatterbrained ex-silent movie star grandmother Mavis Matthews (Billie Burke, she of "The Wizard of Oz") encourages the bratty child star in her bad behavior.

The next day, when Angel shows up at the theater to recover the loot, she finds the necklace missing just before someone grabs her and locks her in a closet.  Angel only has time to lock her choppers into the mysterious stranger's hand.  Paula and Stu, who have been following Angel, arrive in time to free Angel from the closet.  With the necklace truly gone, Paula confesses that she's broke and she was planning to sell the necklace to Herbert Goulet (Ralph Clanton), a New York jeweler in Palm Springs to buy the gems.

With Angel's confession of guilt, Stu goes to Devlin's hotel to find him with a knife sticking out of his back.  Fred (famous face Ken Lynch, played cops sheriffs, military men, etc. Sgt. Grover “McCloud” ) and Mrs. Thorn (famous face Virginia Christine, best known from her long run in the Folgers coffee lady commercials), the motel owners are suspiciously dumb about the comings and goings at their establishment.  Stu questions Mr. Thorn alone, who tells him that Barbara Sondermann (Della Sharman, please don't squeeze the Sharman), another actress in Angel's play, who is also staying at the motel, was close to Nick, and split town unexpectedly that morning.  Checking out Barbara's empty room, Stu gets karate chopped.  When he wakes up, Barbara and her things are back and Barbara and Fred claim she was out sketching when Stu visited.

Jeweler Goulet tries to manhandle Paula to keep his name out of the case, but is stopped by Stu. Angel and her grandmother decide to solve the case themselves, rather than letting hawkshaw schnook Stu get the credit, and start compiling a list of suspects. In the morning Stu gets a note saying the writer wants to confess and he should meet them at the playhouse.  He arrives, along with the rest of the cast getting notes saying Bailey wanted them to show up or else.  Angel, clad in a trench coat, has called all the suspects together in clichéd mystery fashion. 

Angel storms off the stage when her mother threatens punishment. Backstage, Angel discovers the true culprit while out in the playhouse Stu figures the whole thing out, leading to a car chase with the whole Palm Springs police force chasing the killer.  The police and Stu catch the killer and Angel catches a long-awaited spanking.   

Actually a quite funny episode with the monobrow Rudie laying the brattiness on thick.  Stu usually doesn't get the funny episodes but he's actually an effective comic actor. Rudie was basically playing herself, and the story could well have been inspired by Rudie famous disappearance. Rudie disappeared from her LA home, with newspapers hinting she'd been kidnapped. Later it turned out she took a cab to the airport, bought a plane ticket and flew to Washington, D,C. on her own with the idea of convinceing Mamie Eisenhower to get her a starring role in a TV series.  Though Roscoe is in the episode, he has very little to do.  Little known Stooge, Mousie Garner, plays Barney, the comic bellhop.

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"The Legend of Crystal Dart." (Season 2, Episode 28) "Snowbound." Former Folies Bergère star, Crystal Dart (Marilyn Maxwell, sang in Bob Hope’s USO shows, was a “beard” for friend Rock Hudson, worked mainly in TV from the 50s on), hires Stu to go up to the mountains with her and the ghost writer of her memoirs, Ken Dexter (famous face William Schallert, best known as Patty Duke’s father but probably appeared on almost every show that ran for any time), to evict her ski bum/failed actor estranged husband, Kurt Weibel (Kurt Krueger again), from her ski lodge. As Stu is leaving Crystal's house Dexter threatens Stu not to go up into the mountains with Crystal.  Later at 77SS Ken's wife Janice Dexter asks Stu to investigate the relationship between Crystal and Ken.  While Janice is in the office Crystal calls telling Stu to be sure to bring his gun.

At the ski lodge, located between stock footage mountain and sound stage 14 on the WB lot, Stu (wearing the world's ugliest and most ill-fitting ski sweater), Ken and Crystal meet Kurt, who is in a wheelchair and a cast from a skiing accident, and his nurse and current lover Marie Lang (Bek Nelson). As if the situation isn't tense enough, Janice Dexter (Patricia Michon) shows up to reveal the road is blocked and they are snowed in at the lodge. Stu pumps Kurt for info before everyone retires. Kurt claims it was Crystal who wanted him to be an actor and he just wanted to live simply in the mountains. An introspective Crystal sings "As Time Goes By" before the orchestra leaves.  She also admits that everyone, but Stu, hates her.  The song spurs Ken to retire with his wife. Marie begs Stu to get Crystal to leave because she has forebodings that something bad is going to happen

After everybody goes to bed, Marie gets up, puts on Crystal's ski jacket and goes for a late-night schuss. Stu, hearing the noise, goes outside fore his daily coshing. Marie is followed by another skier, who stabs her to death with a ski pole.  The next morning Stu, well-rested from his coma, and Crystal go for an early ski. Crystal confesses that she's broke and her only assets are the ski lodge and whatever proceeds she'll get from her book. On the way back they find the body of Marie with a ski pole still sticking out of her back. At the lodge, Kurt accuses Crystal of the murder, while Crystal claims the murder was a case of mistaken identity because Marie was wearing her ski sweater.  With all the suspects snowbound in the lodge and the discovery that the phone line has been cut, it's up to Stu to catch the culprit with the assistance of a bear rug. 

A good mystery, with an Agatha Christie-like plot.

 

*

 

"Stranger than Fiction." (Season 2, Episode 29) Jeff is hired by millionaire Rediger (famous face John Howard, played Bulldog Drummond in the movies, also in “Lost Horizon” and “The Philadelphia Story”) to investigate the disappearance of his young wife, ex-chorus girl Eve Rediger (Suzanne Lloyd, Maya the Catgirl in “The Twilight Zone”).  The family butler, after a small gratuity, gives Jeff a lead to Delgado's a small bistro Eve visits frequently to meet with her lover, Rediger's stockbroker Carl Packard (Mike Road, the voice of Race Bannon) and a former chorus girl pal of hers, Lisa (Jackie Russell).  Of course Jeff sends Roscoe to investigate Packard, while he checks out the chorus girl.

No sooner than Roscoe shows up at Packard's house (a home that formerly belonged to Crystal Dart and many other 77SS suspects, the stage set front door doesn't even match the front door on the establishing shot, nor did it in the Crystal Dart episode), than Eve Rediger arrives.  Packard and Eve have already, in the opening, decided that they couldn't get away with murdering Rediger and Rediger had made Eve sign a pre-nup in the event of divorce.  Packard suggests a phony kidnapping. Meanwhile Jeff questions scantily-clad chorus girl Lisa, who tells him pre-nups are the worst for chorus girls who marry millionaires. Back at Packard's Zuma Beach home, aging beach bum and accomplice Dan Pepperday (Sam Gilman, had a long career as a character actor, worked as an artist during the Golden Age of comics) and his St. Bernard dog shows up to plot the kidnapping.

Rediger calls Jeff to tell him his wife's been kidnapped. Jeff tells Rediger that Eve is alive and well at Packard's. Jeff meets Rediger and they drive to the motel where Roscoe has Eve staked out. Eve and Roscoe are nowhere to be found. Rediger still seemingly reluctant to believe his wife is plotting to scam him out of $200,000 in ransom money, confesses to Jeff that he already paid the ransom. They decide to stroll along the beach back to Packard's house, where they find Roscoe unconscious and Eve dead.

With what is now a murder case, the police have an APB out for Jeff for sitting on a kidnapping/murder. Roscoe, now recovered from his beating, tells Jeff he saw Packard shoot Eve.  A call to Gil gets Jeff the dope that Packard has already been released on bail because, even though he shot her, Eve was already dead from strangulation (really, they let him go within 24 hrs., even though he admitted to shooting someone he thought was alive? WTF?).  Jeff drops into the local kennel club to find the address of a Dan who lives at the beach and owns a St. Bernard. Jeff goes to Pepperday's house and finds him dead (the St. Bernard is okay, thank God).

Roscoe drops in on Packard, trying to shake him down for $25,000 of the ransom money, and gets him to confess, with Jeff overhearing the whole thing.  Rediger shows up as well to kill Packard. Two stuntmen have a fight before Jeff gets the drop on Packard retrieving the ransom.  

Craig Curtis is not memorable as Joey, this episode’s not-Kookie.  Despite the holes in the plot, it’s a watchable episode.

Edited by Tom Holmberg.
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"Genesis of Treason." (Season 2, Episode 30)  Icy beauty and fashion designer Marta Wentworth (Dianne Foster, turned down the part of the new wife of Fred MacMurray on “MY Three Sons”) hires Stu to prove there was no relationship between her and Lt. Hollister (Donald May, one of the leads on the WB series “The Roaring 20’s”, 77SS in 1920s Chicago), a military spy who let his commanding officer Brig. Gen. O. B. Myerson (Robert Carson, older brother of actor Jack Carson)) die of a heart attack.  The publicity over Hollister's arrest has ruined Marta's career chances and she claims she barely knew Hollister.  Stu visits Ben Salway (Raymond Bailey, "The Beverly Hillbillies"), editor of the magazine "Front Weekly", who arranges for Stu to have an interview with Hollister in the military brig for an article for the magazine.

At the base, while Roscoe gets a tour for no reason but comic relief, Stu talks to Hollister, who gives him a bunch of mysterious jibber jabber, quoting heavily from the bible, and also confesses he had a long relationship with Marta.  Stu writes up the first part of the story for the magazine, only to discover that Hollister has hung himself in his cell and Marta's phone is disconnected and she's left town.

At 77SS the next day Stu gets a visit from the non-existent Quick and Speedy Messenger Service wanting to pick up part two of his story. That evening at Dino's (with some welcomed entertainment from Frankie Ortega, who's been largely AWOL from the show for a while) Marta shows up angry over Stu's article, but admitting to her relationship with Hollister.  Marta admits also that it was foolish of her to runaway.  After Stu drives Marta home he picks up a tail. He loses the tail but has a nice comedy bit with a crazy old bat (Charity Grace) talking pulp detective slang.

Back at B&S Stu finds his office ransacked and a couple of g-men show up who tell Stu that his story is somehow the key to America's greatest secret and that Hollister offed himself just to get the story more publicity (which seems a bit extreme). The g-men tell him he'll learn more when he comes to the military base the next day. At the base the g-men explain that there was a hidden camera in Myerson's office which revealed that Hollister let Myerson die and also saw the top secret paper on Myerson's desk. The g-men believe Stu's story holds the clue to the location of the missing information.  Somehow all the bible jibber jabber is the key to the case.

Stu visits Marta looking for a bible. Marta, already visited by government agents looking for her bible, gets mad again. Stu picks Roscoe, the obvious choice, to help him with his bible studies. Going through the bible references in his story Roscoe gives Stu the clue that solves the mystery.  Back at Marta's Stu finds a tricked out spy car in the driveway, a tied up Marta in the house, and two enemy thugs looking for Marta's bible.  Stu, for once, gets to bash somebody else's head in, locates the hidden info and saves the day.

The story is compact and coherent, based on a book by thriller writer Holly Roth.  Episodes based on books or other material tend to be the best story-wise. Writer Holly Roth died a short time later under somewhat mysterious circumstances when she fell off the yacht her and her husband were sailing from Gibraltar to the Canary Islands and was lost at sea. Despite being about spies and traitors, the Red bashing is thankfully kept to a minimum. Famous Face Kathleen Freeman (“The Penguin” in “The Blues Brothers) plays Roscoe's WAF love interest.

 

*

 

"Fraternity of Fear." (Season 2, Episode 31) "Accidental Murder." Freshman Jimmy Connors falls off a cliff during a fraternity hazing at college.  The coroner's jury finds the death was accidental despite the judge's opinion that it was a case of "accidental murder", with the blame being put on Brad "The Beast" Curtis (Gary Vinson, “McHale’s Navy”). Jimmy's parents hire Jeff to find out the truth about their son's death, accident, murder or suicide. Jeff goes undercover as an extremely old transfer student from the East Coast and Roscoe gets a job as a soda jerker at the local college hangout, called imaginatively The Hangout (it was still the "50s" after all, a few years later it would be the PsycheDeli or the Electric Wombat).

Jeff's first stop is the Delta frat house where Jimmy lived and he'll be staying.  The frat is on double secret probation by the Dean and none of the frat brothers are eager to talk about Jimmy or Brad, who they kicked out of the frat.  Jeff's next stop is a visit to the college newspaper offices.  Jeff tells editor Mari Ellen Taylor (Shirley Knight, had a long acting career, still kicking) he wants to work on the paper, while he tries to pump her for information and make a date with her.  Jeff waylays Brad about buying one of his old textbooks and finds out he's actually a nice guy, a working class boy who's in school only because of a football scholarship and that he's eaten up with guilt over Jimmy's death, which he doesn't remember because he was drunk.

Later that night at a sorority barn dance (not a toga in sight) Jeff serenades all the coeds and Blutto doesn't smash his guitar. He meets football Coach Jarech (famous face Kenneth Tobey, had his own series “Whirlybirds”, plus every other show on TV) and his wife/college newspaper adviser Connie (Joan Marshall, briefly married to Hal Ashby who turned her life into the movie “Shampoo”), as well as campus slut and Brad's former girlfriend Doris Skinner (series favorite "bad girl" Diane McBain).  Doris publicly dumps Brad at the party, humiliating him, and tries to pick up Jeff, because no woman can resist a B&S man. Connie suggests that the school paper should do a major exposé on cheating at the school.

At the hangout called The Hangout Roscoe discovers that Jimmy was due to go before the school's honor board on the night he died.  Jeff visits Dean Wormer who tells him he better give up investigating cheating. Further investigation by Jeff discovers that the school has fired Brad from his campus job and that his teachers are actively trying to make him flunk out. Jimmy's roommate confesses to Jeff that Jimmy had been tricked into helping the frat cheat and Mari Ellen gets evidence of cheating with the help of Mari Ellen from Doris's room.

Jeff takes the evidence to the police, who question Doris and Dean Wormer.  Mari Ellen refuses to back Jeff up and the police reveal that Jeff is really a P.I.  The fraternity kicks Jeff out and the police demand Jeff leave town, but the faculty finally rises up and it turns out that the Administration knew about the cheating and informed the fraternity to clean house.  Brad was framed as the fall guy and Jimmy was being hazed for his part in ratting the cheating scandal out.  Jimmy's father turns up with a gun to kill Brad just as Brad is leaving town. Jeff talks Jimmy's father out of shooting, but everything else is a loose end.  

77SS did a number of these college episodes.  This one isn't the worst of them.  Kookie is missed as this would have been a perfect episode for him, who could better pass as a student that Jeff.

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"The Silent Caper." (Season 2, Episode 35) "Speak up, I can't hear you!" Not a typical 77SS episode, not even a typical episode for ant show of the era (except maybe "The Twilight Zone"), but probably the best known episode of the run of the show for its uniqueness.  The silent gimmick (sound effect and music, but no talking.  Even the sound is out on Jeff’s TV) would be more typical of shows of the 80s or 90s, but 77SS goes silent for a whole episode.

Driving through the city, Jeff sees a woman being attacked in the window of an apartment.  Investigating Jeff finds a bell earring near the front door of the apartment house where the attack occurred.  The next morning Jeff steals his neighbor's newspaper and reads a story about burlesque queen Jingle Bells (Ann Duncan), witness in a murder case.  Jeff recognizes her and her signature bell earrings as the woman he saw the night before. Visiting the apartment building again, Jeff finds the apartment unlocked and deserted and the matching bell earring.  He also finds a notepad with an address impressed on it.   

Getting his kicks on Route 66, Jeff ends up at a ranch high up in the mountains of Stage 14 on Warner Bros.'s backlot. This being 77SS, Jeff gets blackjacked and wakes up literally out in the woodshed, guarded by a rustic type with a rifle and a German shepherd. Jeff escapes from the woodshed before he winds up in a shallow grave. He leads the yokel on a chase into the papier-mâché mountains where he hides out in a convenient cave.  The yokel tries to smoke Jeff out, but Jeff turns the tables on him and garrotes him.

Back at the ranch, Jeff rescues Ms. Bells from the Hood (Dale van Sickel, former football player and stuntman for Republic Pictures, long-time actor, seriously injured doing a stunt on the film “No Deposit, No Return”) holding her.  He steals the Hood's car and takes off as the Hood shoots a hole in the car's gas tank.  The car runs out of gas at Petticoat Junction, so Jeff hides in the water tank (unfortunately none of Kate's three daughters are home).  The Hood catches up with him, leading to fistfight.  Jeff saves the day.  Hoorah!    

Directed by george WaGGner and written by Roger Smith. Not a great story, but the silent gimmick provides the episode's interest. Roscoe rides his scooter and almost hits it big at the track.

 

*

 

"Family Skeleton." (Season 2, Episode 36) Frankie Ortega swings, afterwards Dr. Northrop reports to Stu that millionaire Phil Staunton (Walter Reed, had a long career mostly as a supporting player, appeared on 77SS 6 times), an old client, has been kidnapped.  Unknown to everyone Phil has one of the mysterious fictional diseases that requires him to get an injection every day or he dies.  While Northrop is engaging Stu to investigate, Phil's wife, Terry (Gale Robbins, actress/singer) former torch singer and ex-wife of murdered small-time hood Nicky Ranger, is visiting mob Mr. Big, Bennie Cannon (tough guy Frank Gerstle), for help finding her husband.

At the Staunton mansion, Stu questions Diane Loring (Suzanne Storrs), Phil personal secretary, and Luanna Staunton (Yvonne Craig, TV's "Batgirl"), Phil's sister, who were present when the kidnappers called.  Terry comes home and tells Stu to keep out of the case and, by implication, let the mob deal with it.  Stu tells her he's obligated to go to the local police.  The local police chief, an old friend of Stu's, gives Stu 24 hours to clear up the case before he calls in the Feds.

Roscoe, working the streets, reports that the whole underworld is out looking for the kidnappers.  He also reports that small-time sleazeball Johnny Ritchie (Boyd Santell) was dating Luanna, who was dropping big bucks on her loser boyfriend.  Stu visits one of Ritchie's hideouts and roughs up the bartender for info on Ritchie.  Returning to the office, Stu gets his obligatory daily beating. At the Staunton's slutty Luanna (who makes more passes than a pro quarterback, according to Stu) tries to make time with Kookie who Stu has planted in the house with a tape recorder to tape the next call from the kidnappers.  Stu gets a visit from mob boss with a heart of gold Bennie, who explains that despite what Stu may think Terry's a "real lady."  Stu and Roscoe drop in on sleazy himbo Ritchie, who actually has Roscoe as an alibi.

The kidnappers call with instructions on paying the ransom. Stu, Dianne and Luanna drive out to the sticks to deliver the $200,000.  Stu and Luanna go into the woods to leave the money, leaving Diana with the car.  Diana takes off, and when Stu tries to see what's going on, Luanna drops off the ransom and joins him.  They find the car gone and when they go back for the ransom, that's gone too.  Diana rescues Phil and with all the suspects back together at the Staunton's Stu solves the case.

Kookie is now riding Roscoe's scooter!  I didn't think it was possible to sink lower that his Ford Falcon, but a scooter?  Really?  Maybe they were still punishing Edd Byrnes for going on strike. God, Yvonne Craig is a cutie, but that hairdo!

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"Attic." (Season 3, Episode 1) Fresh off the "Silent Caper," Jeff doesn't get to say much again. Jeff follows sultry suspect Vetta Nygood (Kathleen Crowley) to a farm that looks suspiciously like the farm in "The Silent Caper", where's he's waylaid by misplaced hillbilly Kim MacGowen (Robert Colbert). Vetta, Kim and criminal mastermind Mark Hammet (John Dehner) are hold up at the farm waiting for fourth gang member Deek (Lee van Cleef) to show up for the split of the loot from the Onyx payroll robbery.  Jeff being Jeff, tries to woo Vetta before the gang tie him up and gag him and stuff in the shack's attic with a nest of rattlesnakes.  They do a three way split of the dough and then do a split, leaving Jeff in a bind.  If all that's not bad enough, Beaver's pal Larry Mondello (Rusty Stevens) and Dennis the Menace’s pal Seymour (Robert Pittman) show up and threaten to burn down the old shack with Jeff in it just for fun (they don’t know he’s there, but I suspect it wouldn’t matter to Seymour).

The punk kids take off when they hear Deek show up late for the split.  Obviously Deek is annoyed that the rest of the gang took off with the loot.  Meanwhile Gil is searching for Jeff, who he knows was following gang member Vetta. Kim gets run over and killed by a car after getting in a bar fight, while Vetta lounges at the pool of a Las Vegas hotel feeling guilty about abandoning Jeff in the old shack.  Hammet returns to his apartment only to find an angry Deek waiting.  Hammet kicks the bucket just after Gil and the cops show up, but before he can say where Jeff is.  In Las Vegas Vetta meets a Jeff look-alike who stirs her conscience and she returns to the scene of the crime at the same time as Deek.  She's last on Deek's list, but Jeff manages to free himself in time (using a method given to him by talkative mastermind Hammet) and save the day.

John Dehner manages to sneak in a plug for the WB western "Lawman," a show he only appeared on once. I was hoping Jeff would drop the rattlesnake on Deek, but no such luck.  As mentioned, Jeff is only slightly more talkative than in the "Silent Caper." Gil has little to do, as do Kookie, Roscoe and Suzanne.  Despite the simplicity of the plot, the episode works thanks to the top-notch cast including some frequent 77SS guest stars, so there’s no need to give their backgrounds.

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"The Office Caper." (Season 3, Episode 4) Another somewhat unusual episode in that the leads have very limited airtime. Criminal contractor, Hugo Womack (famous face Bruce Gordon, Frank Nitti on "The Untouchables" and frequent gangster bad guy) has been hired by the mob to eliminate Stu before he can testify as a witness in a mob trial.  Womack has rented an office on the second floor of 77SS to facilitate his nefarious plan.  Womack engaged nerdy criminal subcontractor Vern Fletcher (Robert McQueeney, looking a bit like an early Michael Caine, with his horn-rimmed glasses and blonde hair. McQuenney quit show biz to become a Catholic priest.) to line up the talent for the hit.

Unfortunately for Womack, Roscoe recognizes Womack's name on the building directory as an ex-bookie who owes him a double sawbuck from way back.  Womack manages to get rid of Roscoe by offering him $100 and expenses to go the San Diego and pick up some papers for him.  Roscoe sets out on his new scooter.  Vern taps Bob (famous face Richard Jaeckle, "The Dirty Dozen" and many other tough guy roles) and Shirley (77SS semi-regular Sherry Jackson, going against type as a hard-boiled bad-girl) Bent, to actually do the job, Bob as the triggerman and Shirley the getaway driver.  The plan consists of waiting in the upstairs office until morning and shooting Stu when he arrives (okay, it’s not the world's most clever plan, but would probably work in the real world).

The impetuous Bob is the first fly in the ointment. First Shirley has to take his gun away from him before he shoots one of them, then he gets bored and decides to drop into Dino's for a nightcap. New partner Rex Randolph shows up at 1:30 am to sleep in his office, but Kookie offers him a bed at his pad. Then jealous Bob gets into a fight with Kookie over Shirley.  Shirley has to solve the problem by sandbagging Bob.  Back in the upstairs office, Bob finally comes to and they enact the plan.  Bob's going to wait in Stu's office for Stu to arrive, while Hugo and Vern wait upstairs and Shirley acts as lookout in the getaway car. Hugo explains to Bob that Stu could come through the door to his office, or he could come in through the door from Jeff's office, or he could come in through the door from the alley. Even dumbbell Bob looks a bit dubious at the way the clever plan plays out.

Instead of Stu, Jeff comes in early, as does Suzanne.  The plan starts to look less and less clever.  Jeff hears incompetent Bob in Stu's office, and when he checks he sees the smoke from behind the desk where genius Bob is hiding.  He ends up shooting Bob, which alerts Womack and Vern, who get the drop on Jeff and Suzanne.  Shirley comes in to announce the Stu dropped into Dino's for morning coffee and discovers Bob's been shot.  Shirley shoots Vern and Jeff gets the gun away from Womack.  Jeff's stunt double and Womack's stunt double get in a knock down, drag out, while Shirley and Suzanne get in a cat fight Suzanne has a mean right uppercut).  Roscoe turns up just in time to get KO'd.

Though the regular cast has minimum screen time the episode works, moving swiftly to the inevitable conclusion.  Hint: Stu doesn't get assassinated. Again a decent cast of guest stars helps the episode.

 

*

 

"The Widescreen Caper." (Season 3, Episode 5) "Someone is Killing the Mediocre Actors of Hollywood."  Celebrity astrology columnist Jon Keith (famous face Jim Millhollin, TV’s Franklin Pangborn impersonator) has predicted violence at the Hollywood Film Festival.  Agent to the (bad) stars Shelly Blair (Walter Reed) hires Bailey & Spencer to protect his stable of stars after another client of his died in mysterious circumstances at the previous year's festival, a death also predicted by Keith. Keith predicts that violence will befall one of Shelly's clients. A klieg light already almost crushed actress Sprite Simpson. Stu assigns each of the cast members to protect one of the client's stars: Kookie is to protect high school publicity hound and ingénue Sprite Simpson (Sharon Hugueny, Mrs. Robert Evans); Jeff is to protect sexy eurotrash importee Helga Heller (Swedish actress Lili Kardell); Rex gets phony, julep-swigging Southern belle Melissa Mateneau (series semi-regular Ruta Lee); Roscoe is to protect race tout, former silent movie star Eleanor Ferris (Beatrice Kay in spite of her age, never appeared in the silents); Suzanne is to protect egomaniac French actor Jean-Paul Cartier (David Cross, appeared three times on 77SS as Frenchmen, even though he was born in New Jersey) and Stu is to protect nice-girl Hong Kong native Lotus Lee (Judy Dan). 

Later that night, after a press party at Dino's where the myriad cast and their idiosyncrasies are introduced, Stu gets a call that someone tried to shoot Cartier at Keith's palatial mansion. At Keith's Gil explains that a bullet just missed Cartier.  Stu questions Keith who tells him he was standing next to Cartier when the shot was fired.  Stu and Keith disagree over the veracity of astrology. After investigating Keith further, Stu obviously concludes that Keith uses his column to blackmail Hollywood stars, who then pay him big bucks for "personal horoscopes" (even though Stu doesn't say so until later).  Stu questions agent Shelly's wife and ex-partner Karen Blair (Paula Raymond, a near-fatal 1962 car crash hurt her career, as did a later series of accidents), who's bitter about Hollywood, the movie business and her life (Keith is hinting in his column that a well-known Hollywood agent is unfaithful to his wife). However she won't admit that Keith is blackmailing her.

At the big film festival gala, the B&S crew are again protecting their charges.  Stu follows Keith backstage, only to get locked in a dressing room.  Stu escapes in time for Lotus to win the festival award, discover the truth before Keith gets his comeuppance. 

A Hollywood story, which is probably what most viewers at the time wanted.  There's a lot (too many?) of suspects, though the writers really don't really develop their characters or give them much motivation. The real killer comes as a bit of a surprise. Real life insult comic Buddy Lester is the emcee for the festival (Lester appeared in a number of Rat Pack movies, and Jerry Lewis flicks).

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"The Laurel Canyon Caper." (Season 3, Episode 8) Everyone in Hollywood wants sleazy scandal sheet publisher Mike Ransome (Fredd Raye, best known for portraying Benjamin Franklin) dead including former Dino's headliner, lounge singer Barry James (Jock Mahoney, stunt man and actor, Yancey Derringer and Tarzan). Ransome uses his rag to blackmail Hollywood personalities. After a confrontation with Barry at Dino's, Ransome tries to hire new Bailey & Spencer partner Rex Randolph to be his bodyguard. Later that night Barry's wife Lois James (Gayla Graves) calls Rex and tells him she's afraid her hubby is going after Ransome.  Rex shows up in time to get Barry to leave and KO Ransome, only to be sandbagged himself in Ransome's garden.

Rex wakes to find Gil investigating Ransome's shooting.  Ransome's dying words are that Barry shot him.  Rex doesn't believe Barry is the killer despite the deathbed confession.  Back at 77SS Gil gives Rex the nod to investigate, but says Barry is suspect number one. Gil arrests Barry who's been hiding out in Stu's office, leaving Rex to find the real killer.  Rex suspects corn-fed country comic, America's Neighbor Chick Little (famous face Peter Leeds, supposedly appeared over 8000 times on television shows), who Ransome was also blackmailing.  Lois tells Rex that the info Ransome had on her husband was that he was an ex-con.  She also confesses that she was formerly married to Ransome and that that was the reason Ransome hated Barry.

Pursuing his Chick Little theory, Rex sneaks on to the set of Little's corny comedy show and questions the married Little's Playmate girlfriend April Moon (Roxanne Arlen, nicknamed “The Wiggle,” ‘nuff said), before getting beat up by a couple of thugs in the studio parking lot.  One of the thugs leaves an El Llano Club matchbook behind.  At the smoke-filled club Rex runs into teen heart-throb Johnny Poe (Gary Conway, "Land of the Giants" and “Burke’s Law”), who is being blackmailed by Ransome, and his girlfriend, the club's torch singer Belinda Lane (Kaye Elhardt, appeared in eight 77SS episodes). Leaving the club, Rex spots one of the thugs and slaps some sense into him before his partner sticks a gun in his back and takes him to see mob boss, Nicky Nardo (famous face Lewis Charles).

Nardo tells Rex he'll pay him $10,000 if he finds Ransome's stash of blackmail material. Honest and upright Rex refuses to play ball. Belinda visits Rex and tells him she's the daughter of Nardo and that she was paying off Ransome. Rex sends Kookie to stakeout Ransome's hose and when the cops leave Rex shows up to look for Ransome's stash of dirt and finds Kookie's been coshed (making him a full-fledged B&S man). In the house Rex finds Ransome's neighbor, retired doctor Robillard (John Hubbard, busy character actor wit seven 77SS appearances), who had pronounced Ransome dead way back at the beginning of the episode, also looking for Ransome's stash.  With the help of Kookie, Rex gets the drop on Robillard, just as Nick Nardo shows up. Needless to say Rex solves the case, finds the stash, saves all of Hollywood's reputations and gets paid $5,000, to boot. All in a night's work for our faithful gumshoe.

A decent Hollywood mystery, with too many suspects, some good-looking chicks, a musical number or two, and a surprise killer.  The rest of the cast get brief appearances (except for Stu).  How did Barry James knock the Frankie Ortega Trio out of headlining at Dino's?      

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"Double Trouble." (Season 3, Episode 8) After Roscoe scams the whole Bailey & Spencer crew in a fix card game, Stu gets an urgent call from government man Emory Blaine (famous face Bert Freed, played tough guy cops, gumshoes, gangsters, etc.) in Washington, D.C.  Stu flies out to Washington where Blaine gives him the job of impersonating his double, a top-notch mob hitman nicknamed The Executioner, but also known as Sandy. In one of those coincidences that only occur in popular fiction, Stu looks exactly like Sandy except Sandy has graying hair and blue eyes.  Elusive mob boss Silk Cipriano (Bruce Cabot, “King Kong” and a regular in John Wayne’s films) is trying to muscle into Baldy Mike Hannigan's West Coast drug racket and he needs his old buddy Sandy to eliminate Baldy, who won't play Cipriano's game.

The feds train and make up Stu to act and look like Sandy. Smuggling Stu into Cipriano's San Francisco hotel, he switches places with the assassin in an elevator and the fed put Sandy on ice while Stu tries to put one over on the mob boss, and Cipriano's bodyguards Nelse (John Dennis, longtime character actor) and Scotty (Frank Nechero).  Stu also has to fool Rena (Dolores Donlon, last of five 77SS appearances), Nelse's wife and Sandy's secret love interest. Stu gets the feds to bring in Kookie to act as his contact at the hotel.  Stu and the feds (including Max Baer in a bit part) waylay Baldy and put him on ice, while Stu returns to Cipriano's suite for his payoff and a chance to get Cipriano to brag about his previous crimes while Stu tapes his confession.

That night Rena shows up in Stu's room for a little of the old in-and-out to discover that it turns Stu's blue eyes brown.  Rena rats Stu out to Cipriano, but Stu manages to cleverly talk his way out of it.  Just as he tries to leave the apartment for some "fresh air," who should show up at the door but the real Sandy, who somehow gave the feds the slip (I blame Jethro, the incompetent double-naught spy). How's Stu gonna get out of this predicament? I think you can guess who saves the day (I'll give you a hint, it's NOT Roscoe.).   

A better than middling episode, somewhat typical of Stu, who just can't stay in L.A. and solve crimes among Hollywood's rich and famous. At least he's not overseas fighting the Red Menace, though he is still trading on his OSS reputation.

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"The Duncan Shrine." (Season 3, Episode 10) Wallace Friend (famous face Richard Deacon, "The Dick Van Dyke Show", "Leave It to Beaver" and thousands of guest shots), manager of Celestial Acres cemetery, hires Rex Randolph to locate the missing memorial statue honoring the late singing cowboy star Dustin W. Duncan.  Each year the cemetery wallows in the publicity it gets from the annual visit of unknown "The Veiled Lady" who leaves a wreath at the statue.  This year, when the mysterious woman appears, the statue is gone.

Rex assigns Roscoe the improbable task of locating the sculptor of the statue (Hasn't Rex been watching the show? Roscoe's supposed to scour the underworld of L.A.'s bowery hangouts and cheap bars for clues.) Meanwhile ever-resourceful Kookie reports he's got a lead on the identity of "The Veiled Lady." Meeting a Dino's, Kookie's lead Wendy Wayne (Judith Rawlins, Mrs. Vic Damone) tells Rex that a talent agency tried to hire her to be this year's "The Veiled Lady."  At the L.A. art museum, where the lady curator is a fellow degenerate gambler, Roscoe gets tips on the races and the identity of the sculptor. Back at 77SS Rex and Jeff find "The Veiled Lady" by comparing photos in the casting directory with the photo of the un-Veiled Lady in the newspapers, and Duncan buddy Frank Baker (famous face Donald Woods, known as the "King of the Bs") shows up to try to buy off Rex from continuing the investigation. Rex has to slap Baker around a little to convince him that a Bailey & Spencer man can't be bought off.

Rex visits Carla Roland (Sally Todd, pinup model and Feb. 1957 Playmate of the Month), this year's "Veiled Lady" who throws him out on his ear, only to call Rex later that night with fears that she is being watched. By the time Rex arrives at Carla's bungalow, he finds his lead deceased on the floor. Roscoe discovers that the sculptor of the Duncan statue is dead, but his daughter Jennifer Cross (Barbara Gates, another 77SS wacky lady artist) is also a sculptor.  While trying to get a lead on who paid for the statue, Ms. Cross wants the "anthropoid beast" Roscoe to pose for her.  Rex visits "Vada-Voom Girl" Bessie St. Clair (famous face Marjorie Bennett, usually playing snobby socialites and comic foils), Dustin's usual co-star and the one everybody thinks is "The Veiled Lady." The dotty old lady seems to be still living in the 1920s, but after Rex leaves, she makes a blackmail phone call.

Artist's model Roscoe has discovered that it was a Rose Durkee (famous face Meg Wyllie, first “Star Trek villain in the pilot “The Cage”, “Golden Girls” frequent regular) who commissioned the Duncan statue.  When Rex turns up at Rose's house he finds no one home, but investigated the backyard garden he finds an empty pedestal and gets sandbagged (of course). Returning to Bessie's house Rex finds the nutty old broad's been coshed as well and is conscious enough to say Rose Durkee.  Returning to 77SS Rex is surprised to find the Duncan statue on his desk and Rose Durkee waiting in his office, Rose confesses that she stole the statue and that she was the original "Veiled Lady."  When Rex figures out who Rose really is, she flees from the office and is involved in a hit-and-run on the Strip.

Though hit by a car Rose feels well enough for Rex to drive her home, where they confront the real person behind the whole mystery.  Having solved the crime Rex and Jeff relax at Dino's to the strains of the Frankie Ortega Trio.  Roscoe shows up with his statue and Kookie shows up with Rex's date, Wendy Wayne.  All is right in the world, except for Stu who doesn't appear in the episode (he's probably fighting Communism somewhere).     

The basic plot of a mysterious visitor to a dead star's gravesite is, as Rex mentions, a copy of the famous "Lady in Black" who annually visited Valentino's grave (http://allanellenberger.com/18552/). The episode was written by Gloria Elmore who wrote a number of good 77SS episodes, not deep, dark mysteries, but enjoyable stories that have quirky characters and a mix of mystery and humor. 

*

"The Double Death of Benny Markham." (Season 3, Episode 11) It's Jeff's turn to have a case overseas.  Jeff is on London visiting the stock footage sites and solving a blackmail case when yeggman Benny Markham (famous face diminutive Walter Burke, known for playing leprechaun's, petty criminals and jockeys) shows up to hire Jeff to find the person who murdered him. Benny had been hired by British mobster Blackpool Eddie (Peter Forster, an actual Englishman) to steal a tube of metal from the safe of a warehouse. The tube, as Benny only learned later, was a deadly new radioactive isotope, that the possession of has poisoned Benny and he only has two weeks to live according to underworld doctor Wm. Macdougal (Tudor Owen, a Hollywood go-to Britisher, Towser in “101 Dalmatians”).

Benny gives Jeff a lead to China Mary's (cute Gale Garnett, actually from New Zealand, won the 1964 Grammy Award beating out a bunch of famous musicians) pub in Limehouse.  On the way there he stops off at Scotland Yard, who not being Gil, tells Jeff that they don't want any of his American private eye shenanigan's in Jolly Old England and to stay out of police business, by Jove. The Yard puts a tail on Jeff just to be safe.  China Mary's is a low dive filled with stereotypical lower class scum extras.  Mary hasn't seen Blackpool Eddie lately. Doc Macdougal has no clues to offer, but confirms Benny only has a couple of weeks to live before he dies a horrible painful death.

The next night Jeff is supposed to meet Benny at China Mary's (Benny's enjoying his last few days at the dog track with a bevy of lamppost Jezebel's and a bottle of champagne instead), where Mary points out Eddie's old flame, Sheila.  Jeff plies Sheila with drink, getting her drunk enough to reveal Eddie's address.  At Eddie's apartment, Jeff barely has time to introduce himself before Eddie is shot and killed. His Scotland Yard tail and the local bobbies chase Jeff over the rooftops of the London set in Stage 14 at WB's before Jeff gives them the slip and returns to China Mary's looking worse for wear. Benny finally shows up, but so does Scotland Yard. Jeff and Benny hideout in a secret room at China Mary's.

The next morning Benny buys Jeff clean clothes, dressing him in Hollywood's idea of a proper English toff. Going through the clues Jeff stole from Eddie's wallet and pockets, they find a ticket from the garage where Eddie stashed Benny's getaway car from the isotope robbery. Searching the car, they find a clue to Strohmann's art gallery.  Checking the gallery out in his Canadian gentleman persona, Jeff conveniently spots a mummy case Strohmann's (Frederick Ledebur, pals with John Huston, improbably played the cannibal Queeqeg in “Moby Dick”) selling to a museum in Poland and a picture of Strohmann from after the big war, WWII, with an ex-Nazi field marshal who went over to the Russkies. Jeff pretends to be interested in a sculpture and says he'll be back the next day. 

Doc Macdougall gets Jeff a bunch of radiation detecting film strips which he stashes around the gallery the next day when Strohmann's assistant isn't looking. Jeff retrieves the strips later and Macdougal has them tested.  The strips, especially those that were hidden under or near the mummy case show high concentrations of radiation.  Benny, getting sicker from radiation poisoning, hears that Strohmann was the mastermind in the fatal robbery and decides to get revenge while he can. Jeff follows the vengeful safecracker.  At the gallery Benny gives his life so Jeff can capture Strohmann.

Despite being overseas, and despite the stupid early 60s stereotypes of any foreigner 77SS always indulges in, this is a decent story. They could have just set it in L.A., but WB has that library of stock footage so why not use it. The clues come to easily, but don't they usually, and despite the grim background to the story, it works.

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"The Affairs of Adam Gallante." (Season 3, Episode 13)  Mousy librarian Alice Smith Gallante (the always cute, never mousy Sue Randall) hires Jeff to locate her missing husband of three weeks Adam Gallante after someone has taken a shot at her.  Alice, still in love with Adam, describes him as "medium." Adam disappeared after passing out during their wedding ceremony at city hall.

With Rex and Stu out of town, Jeff gets Kookie to assist on the case. That night Alice phones Jeff that she is being followed by a black sedan.  Jeff sends Kookie to follow her and the black sedan tries to run Alice off the road as she drives down one of L.A.'s many deserted country dirt lanes.  Jeff investigates Adam's former digs, questioning Adam's gorgeous movie star landlady, Sheila Storm (Marilyn Monroe wannabe Carol Ohmart), who tells him Adam was the kind of man every woman dreams about. Kookie visits Adam's former place of employment, Oooh La La Imports, but other than learning the owner Joey Webb (Robert Quarry, “Count Yorga, Vampire”) is a complete ass, gets nowhere.

Roscoe gets a job selling door-to-door Oooh La La's sexy lingerie and beach wear, with Kookie assisting because he figures selling sexy lingerie is a good way to pick up chicks.  Roscoe learns that the women won't buy anything if Adam Gallante isn't selling.  Suzanne schools him on ladies' undergarments.  One of Kookie's Oooh La La customers, former dime-a-dance girl Peaches Schultz (Marianne Caba, Sept. 1959 “Playmate of the Month”,), turns out to also be married to Adam, who disappeared on their wedding night.  Peaches tells Kookie that she had had a visit from another Gallante wife, Karma Onyx. As Kookie leaves Peaches' house she is almost killed when the sabotaged porch railing collapses.

Roscoe visits Gallante wife number three Karma Onyx (former showgirl Carmen Phillips, played Mime #2 in “Easy Rider”), a far-out Vampira-esque student of the occult.  She tells Kookie that Adam disappeared immediately after the wedding but not before confessing to another marriage under hypnosis, saying "I killed Cecily."  Research at the newspaper morgue by Jeff turns up a story of Adam inheriting the late Cecily Courtwright's fortune. At the Courtwright mansion, Maude Courtwright (famous face Norma Varden, played supercilious society dames, haughty nobility and comic foils), Cecily's aunt, who is as impressed by the gallant Gallante as all the other females, explains how Cecily was trampled to death by a wildebeest on Cecily and Adam's honeymoon.  Maude adds that Cecily died with a smile on her face.

Jeff and Kookie are at 77SS, with Kookie explaining his scientific criminal detection system for the case, when who should show up but Mr. Wonderful himself, the surprising Adam Gallante (famous face Alvy Moore, best known as county agent Hank Kimball from "Green Acres"). Adam explains that he dropped out of sight to undergo rigorous treatment by a psychoanalyst who determined that his problem was that he was born into the wrong century and that he's "the last romantic."  While Jeff pretends to call the police, Gallante takes it on the lam, with Kookie following in his new, less interesting hotrod. Kookie follows Gallante to Oooh La La with Jeff showing up shortly after.  Jeff solves not only the whole case, but Gallante's marital difficulties and all the other loose ends in time for a number by the Frankie Ortega Trio and Rex and Stu to turn up.

Another good Gloria Elmore written script. Pretty much a perfect light-hearted 77SS episode, with quirky characters, bits for the secondary cast and a fun story. Apparently some people don't like these light-hearted episodes and only want noirish episodes, but frankly 77SS did the comic episodes better than the serious ones.        

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