My father would have turned 80 this month. As it turns out, two of his favorite shows debuted 40 years ago this month.
On September 8, 1966, the original Star Trek series debuted on NBC. I must admit that I didn’t “get it” at the time, but my father did. He was hardly a “trekkie” or “trekker”, but he appreciated the fact that the stories were (quoting Brooks and Marsh) “dealing with current social issues thinly disguised in extraterrestrial settings.” BTW, Walter Koenig, who played Ensign Pavel Chekov, will turn 70 tomorrow.
But Dad’s favorite show when I was growing up was probably the original Mission: Impossible series, which debuted on September 17, 1966 on CBS. There was Daniel Briggs, played by Steven Hill (later to play D.A. Adam Schiff on the original Law and Order series); he was replaced by Peter Graves as James Phelps after the first season. Each was the leader of the Impossible Missions Force; in fact, Graves, as Phelps, was also the leader in the 1989-90 TV series. Barney Collier was the technogeek, played by Greg Morris; Greg’s son, Phil, played Barney’s son Grant in the later series. Peter Lupus portrayed strongman Willy Armitage.
Then there was the power couple. Martin Landau was Rollin Hand, master of disguise. And the sultry Cinnamon Carter was played by Landau’s wife at the time, Barbara Bain, who MAY have been an additional enticement for my father’s viewing.
After Landau and Bain left in 1969 in a contract dispute, Landau was replaced by Leonard Nimoy, who had just finished doing Star Trek. A year later, the female role was taken over by Lesley Ann Warren. But the show, save for that great Lalo Schifrin theme was never the same after Rollin and Cinnamon’s departure. Landau and Bain perform together again in the mid-1970s series Space: 1999.
Not so incidentally, Barbara Bain turns 75 today.
The late Greg Morris appeared in one of my absolute favorite episodes of the Dick van Dyke Show, That’s My Boy???
Marketing executive Arthur Schiff died late last month at the age of 66. You may never have heard of Arthur Schiff. I had never heard of Arthur Schiff. But if you’ve ever heard, or said:
But wait, there’s more!
Isn’t that amazing?
Now how much would you pay?
Act now and you’ll also receive . . .
You’ve heard the work of Arthur Schiff.
And since I’m in a milestone mood, I’ll note that Jean Smart, who went from the naive Charlene on Designing Women, to the crazy like a fox First Lady on 24, turns 55 today.