The Wild, Wild West
(the TV series -- not to be confused with the atrocious movie of the same title)
Text courtesy of Rocker H.
James T. West: Robert Conrad
Artemus Gordon: Ross Martin
The Wild Wild West series made its television debut in September of 1965 and ran for four action-packed season. It starred the amazingly athletic Robert Conrad as James T. West, and the multi-talented Ross Martin as Artemus Gordon. It's been reported that Ross Martin would read each script and then do a pen and ink drawing of the character he was going to play, down to the last detail of glasses, mustache, clothes, etc. He would give the sketch to the make-up and costume crew, who in turn worked with Martin until they got his character to look like the drawing. Charles Aidman was added to the cast to fill in while Ross Martin was off the show for a short time while recovering from a mild heart attack.
West and Gordon were undercover agents for the newly-formed Secret Service. Each episode would find them fighting for law and order and the American way against a crazy lineup of villains, mad scientists, assassins, and would-be world dictators. Pretty much everybody who was anybody in 1960's entertainment found their way to this show, including Sammy Davis Jr., Victor Buono, Agnes Morehead (who won an Emmy for her performance), Don Rickles, Suzanne Pleshette, Michael Dunn, Ricardo Montalban, and a host of others. Michael Dunn's performance as the ingeniously evil Dr. Miguelito Loveless was consider particularly memorable and resulted in multiple appearances of the villain on the series.
The show was groundbreaking in several respects, including the use of special effects (this show predated Star Trek), amazing fight choreography (much of it done by star Robert Conrad), phenomenal recycling of set pieces and scenery, and numerous fun spy gadgets. Each episode title began with the phrase "The Night of...", a unique way to name the episodes.
The series was ultimately canceled due to CBS being "uncomfortable with the excessive violence" of the series, rather than declining ratings.
Campy? sure. Violent? Maybe, in a cartoon way. Classic TV? Absolutely.
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