The Matt Helm TV show was a 60 minute detective drama series on ABC about a former spy who had opened a one man private investigation agency. One can only imagine how bored Matt Helm was with the hum drum cases he took after the exciting life as a spy. Apparently audiences were bored with them too as the series only lasted through the original 13 episodes ordered by ABC.
Matt Helm Cast:Anthony "Tony" Franciosa ........... Matt Helm
Laraine Stephens ................... Claire Kronski
Gene Evans ......................... Sergeant Hanrahan
Jeff Donnell ....................... Ethel
Matt Helm Trivia:The title character of this series was loosely based on Matt Helm in novels written by Donald Hamilton. Dean Martin also starred in four movies as Matt Helm from 1966-1969. In this TV series Helm was a private detective but in the novels he was a killer working for a secret government agency and in the movies he was a suave ladie's man who worked as a secret agent.
In this series, Matt Helm mostly took cases referred to him by a gorgeous blonde lawyer named Claire Kronski who was portrayed by actress Laraine Stephens who had previously starred as Diane Warin on "Bracken's World".
Considering its poor ratings, it's surprising that Matt Helm managed to draw some pretty decent guest stars including Catherine Bach ("Dukes of Hazzard"), Lynda Carter ("Wonder Woman"), Susan Dey ("L.A. Law"), Shelley Fabares ("Donna Reed Show") and Richard Mulligan ("Soap").
Matt was fortunate to have a friend on the police force named Sergeant Hanrahan who often helped him with his cases. That character was portrayed by Gene Evans. Many of our older fans will fondly remember Gene as the dad on the 1955 series, "My Friend Flicka".
Matt Helm's executive producer David Gerber was one lucky guy. He survived a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany during World War II after his B-17 Flying Fortress bomber was shot down. He had a successful career producing a huge list of TV movies and series including "Nanny and the Professor", "Police Woman" and "Police Story". But perhaps his luckiest event was his 40 year marriage to his beautiful star on Matt Helm ... Laraine Stephens!
Tony Franciosa made no secret of the fact that he wasn't thrilled with the direction of his career. He was in demand in the movies in the mid to late 1960s and many industry insiders expected him to become a major star. Then in 1968 he took a starring role on a series titled "Name of the Game" that died after 17 episodes. After a few TV and movie roles he starred on another series called "Search" that only lasted 7 episodes! By the time the regular episodes of Matt Helm began shooting he obviously wasn't thrilled with his career. He even got into a fist fight with Richard Benedict who directed the first episode! While he never reached the heights that his early career promised, he worked steadily in TV movies and as a guest star on TV series until shortly before his death in 1984 at age 64.
Episodes List With Original Air Dates
TV Pilot:Matt Helm (5/7/1975)
The First and Only Season
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