Honey West (TV series)

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Honey West
HoneyWestDVD.gif
Honey West complete series DVD cover (UK version)
Genre Crime drama
Action
Starring Anne Francis
John Ericson
Theme music composer Joseph Mullendore
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 30
Production
Executive producer(s) Aaron Spelling
Producer(s) Richard Newton
Camera setup Single camera
Running time 25+ minutes
Production company(s) Four Star Television
Release
Original network ABC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original release September 17, 1965 (1965-09-17) – April 8, 1966 (1966-04-08)
Chronology
Related shows Burke's Law

Honey West is an American crime drama television series that aired on ABC during the 1965–1966 television season. Based upon a series of novels that had launched in 1957, the series starred Anne Francis as female private detective Honey West and John Ericson as her partner, Sam Bolt.

Only 30 half-hour episodes were produced. The entire series is available on DVD.

Creation[edit]

The Honey West character was created by Gloria and Forrest E. “Skip” Fickling under the pseudonym “G.G. Fickling” in the late 1950s. Skip had been a United States Army Air Forces Air Gunner during World War II, then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve after the war where he was called back into active service during the Korean War.[1] The G.G. represented the initials of his wife, Gloria Gautraud, whom he married in 1949, with initials used so the sex of the author would remain vague. Though Gloria said that most of the writing was done by Forrest, Forrest said Gloria’s ideas were used to make a plausible female character with Gloria also providing Honey’s dress sense. Forrest told the Los Angeles Times, “I first thought of Marilyn Monroe, and then I thought of [fictional detective] Mike Hammer and decided to put the two together ... We thought the most used name for someone you really like is Honey. And she lives in the West, so there was her name.”[2]

West was one of the first female “private eyes” to ever appear on television. Francis first played West in the second season episode of Burke’s Law, entitled “Who Killed the Jackpot?”, broadcast on April 21, 1965, which led to this series being commissioned as a spin-off. West drove a Jaguar convertible in the Burke's Law episode and was twice referred to as the "private eyeful." She carried a gun and was trained in martial arts. Honey West was intended to be the American equivalent of the popular characters Cathy Gale and Emma Peel in the British series The Avengers.

Producer Aaron Spelling's first choice for the role of Honey was Honor Blackman, whom he had seen in England playing Cathy Gale on The Avengers and as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. Blackman turned the role down.[3] Anne Francis’ fashions in the Honey role were by Nolan Miller,[4] and her action scenes choreographed by Gene LeBell.[5] The series was developed for television by Gwen Bagni and Paul Dubov, writers of several Burke's Law episodes.

Synopsis[edit]

Francis as Honey West with Bruce.

As in the Burke's Law episode introducing her, West has a partner and man-Friday, Sam Bolt (John Ericson), who communicates with Honey via a radio hidden in her lipstick case. In the television series, she keeps an exotic pet ocelot named Bruce. (In “The Fun-Fun Killer”, which originally aired on March 4, 1966, the African series Daktari is showing on Honey’s TV, and Honey asks, “Oh Bruce, why do we always have to watch your show?”)

Honey’s alluring feline qualities were reflected in her animal-print wardrobe and apartment decor. For sneaking around at night and engaging in energetic fight scenes, she wears a black fabric bodystocking reminiscent of Emma Peel’s leather jumpsuit. Like Peel’s Lotus Elan sports car, Honey’s similar-looking AC Cobra convertible emphasized her independence and vitality. Although the racy content of the novels was excised for television, West often went on solo undercover missions that required a provocative or revealing outfit.

She uses a number of James Bond-like gimmicks: a high-tech surveillance van, an exploding compact, a garter-belt gas mask, and tear-gas earrings. West is a black-belt in Judo, as is Sam, who is an ex-Marine.

Some episodes of this series, including the final one, were scripted by Richard Levinson and William Link, who would later be affiliated with such noted series as Columbo and Murder, She Wrote.[6]

Cast[edit]

Guest stars[edit]

Among those appearing during the series' 30-episode run were Joe Don Baker, James Best, Lloyd Bochner, Edd Byrnes, Dick Clark, Charlene Holt, Nancy Kovack, Kevin McCarthy, Maureen McCormick, Bert Parks, Michael J. Pollard, Wayne Rogers, Everett Sloane and Bobby Sherman.

Episodes[edit]

No.TitleOriginal air date
1"The Swingin' Mrs. Jones"September 17, 1965 (1965-09-17)
2"The Owl and the Eye"September 24, 1965 (1965-09-24)
3"The Abominable Snowman"October 1, 1965 (1965-10-01)
4"A Matter of Wife and Death"October 8, 1965 (1965-10-08)
5"Live a Little, Kill a Little"October 15, 1965 (1965-10-15)
6"Whatever Lola Wants...."October 22, 1965 (1965-10-22)
7"The Princess and the Paupers"October 29, 1965 (1965-10-29)
8"In the Bag"November 5, 1965 (1965-11-05)
9"The Flame and the Pussycat"November 12, 1965 (1965-11-12)
10"A Neat Little Package"November 19, 1965 (1965-11-19)
11"A Stitch in Crime"November 26, 1965 (1965-11-26)
12"A Million Bucks in Anybody's Language"December 3, 1965 (1965-12-03)
13"The Gray Lady"December 10, 1965 (1965-12-10)
14"Invitation to Limbo"December 17, 1965 (1965-12-17)
15"Rockabye the Hard Way"December 24, 1965 (1965-12-24)
16"A Nice Little Till to Tap"December 31, 1965 (1965-12-31)
17"How Brillig, O, Beamish Boy"January 7, 1966 (1966-01-07)
18"King of the Mountain"January 14, 1966 (1966-01-14)
19"It's Earlier Than You Think"January 21, 1966 (1966-01-21)
20"The Perfect Un-Crime"January 28, 1966 (1966-01-28)
21"Like Visions and Omens and All That Jazz"February 4, 1966 (1966-02-04)
22"Don't Look Now, But Isn't That Me"February 11, 1966 (1966-02-11)
23"Come to Me, My Litigation Baby"February 18, 1966 (1966-02-18)
24"Slay, Gypsy, Slay"February 25, 1966 (1966-02-25)
25"The Fun-Fun Killer"March 4, 1966 (1966-03-04)
26"Pop Goes the Easel"March 11, 1966 (1966-03-11)
27"Little Green Robin Hood"March 18, 1966 (1966-03-18)
28"Just the Bear Facts, Ma'am"March 25, 1966 (1966-03-25)
29"There's a Long, Long, Fuse A'Burning"April 1, 1966 (1966-04-01)
30"An Eerie, Airy, Thing"April 8, 1966 (1966-04-08)

Reception[edit]

Honey West was cancelled after just one season. This came down to two factors: competition from Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., and the network reportedly decided it would be cheaper to import The Avengers and run it in the same time-slot than to keep producing Honey West.[7] Francis nonetheless received a Golden Globe Award and a Best Actress Emmy nomination for her performance.

The series was rerun in the late 1990s as part of TV Land's inaugural lineup.

Home release[edit]

In 2006, Delta Home Entertainment released the entire series on Region 0 DVD in the UK.[8]

VCI Entertainment issued a North American Region 1 DVD release of the series in September 2008.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Niebuhr, Gary Warren (2005). "Honey West: A fresh look". Mysteryfile.com. Steve Lewis. Retrieved 2013-05-15. 
  2. ^ McLellan, Dennis (April 11, 1998). "Skip Fickling, Honey West Creator, Dies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 14, 2013. 
  3. ^ Mizejewski, Linda (2004). Hardboiled & High Heeled: The Woman Detective in Popular Culture. Routledge. p. 55. 
  4. ^ Wagner, Laura (November 18, 2008). "Private Eyeful". Classic Images website. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved May 14, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Gene's Film & Television Career". Gene Lebell website. Archived from the original on 2005-12-30. Retrieved May 14, 2013. 
  6. ^ Britton, Wesley Alan (2004). Spy Television p. 183. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-2759-8163-1. 
  7. ^ "The Rap Sheet: A Taste of Honey". Therapsheet.blogspot.com. 2009-07-29. Retrieved 2013-05-15. 
  8. ^ "Amazon.co.uk, ''Honey West'' DVD info". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-05-15. 
  9. ^ "Amazon.com, ''Honey West'' Product Details". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-05-15. 

External links[edit]