Boomer TV Trivia: The F.B.I.
Q1. Did J. Edgar Hoover (real-life Director of the F.B.I. from March 1935 until his death in May 1972), ever appear on The F.B.I.?
Q2. In April 1968, suspected assassin and fugitive did Efrem Zimbalist Jr. ask the public to provide information about, during the real-life “Most Wanted” segment at the end of The F.B.I. episode?
Below from left, the cast of The F.B.I. in 1965 – Stephen Brooks (Special Agent Jim Rhodes), Lynn Loring (Barbara Erskine), and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Inspector Lewis Erskine).
(1965 Photo: ABC Television | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
For 9 years (1965-1974) Quinn Martin Productions and Warner Bros. Television co-produced The F.B.I. TV series, starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. as F.B.I. Inspector Lewis Erskine. The F.B.I. was the longest-running of all of Quinn Martin’s TV shows, surpassing his other popular baby boomer series The Fugitive, The Streets of San Francisco, Cannon, and Barnaby Jones. Erskine’s back story was that of a widower whose wife died as a result of an ambush intended for him. At the end of most episodes of The F.B.I., Efrem Zimbalist would present the real, current F.B.I.’s “Ten Most Wanted” list of fugitives.
Right, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. with the FBI Ten Most Wanted List, October 1969. (Efrem Zimbalist on The F.B.I. 1969 Photo: ABC Television | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
Likable and already well-established movie and television (77 Sunset Strip) actor Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. spent considerable time with F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover to prep for his role in The F.B.I., and the two men were remained on very good terms with each other during and after the series ended. When The F.B.I. ended, Zimbalist went on to guest-star in many other series, including a recurring role as con man Daniel Chalmers on his daughter Stephanie Zimbalist’s series Remington Steele. He lost both his first wife Emily McNair (m. 1945-1950) and second wife Loranda Spaulding (1956-2007), to cancer. Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. was a 95-year-old nonagenarian senior citizen when he died from natural causes in May 2014. (Efrem Zimbalist Jr 1971 The F.B.I. Photo: ABC Television | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
Inspector Erskine reported to J. Edgar Hoover’s assistant director, Arthur Ward (played by Philip Abbott for all 9 seasons of The F.B.I.).
Philip Abbott got his start on television on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow (1951) as Dr. Dan Walton, and was a popular guest-star on television before and after his co-starring role on The F.B.I.
Philip Abbot returned to the soaps as Grant Stevens for 18 episodes of The Young and the Restless in 1986. Abbott was a septuagenarian senior citizen when he died from cancer in February 1998.
(Philip Abbott 1958 Steve Canyon Photo: NBC Television | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
Erskine’s assistant was for the first two seasons of The F.B.I. was handsome Special Agent Jim Rhodes (Stephen Brooks).
The F.B.I. was actor Stephen Brooks’ claim to fame, although he was also a regular as Dr. Greg Pettit on The Interns from 1970-1971. In Season 9, former football player turned actor Shelly Novack was Agent Chris Daniels. Both Stephen Brooks and Shelley Novack died of heart attacks; Novak was only 34 years old when he died in May 1978, and Stephen Brooks was 57 when he died in December 1991.
(Stephen Brooks 1966 The F.B.I. Photo: Warner Brothers Studios | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
For Seasons 3-9, Erskine’s assistant was Special Agent Tom Colby (William Reynolds). Reynolds was already married with two children, and had been acting for 16 years when The F.B.I. began. When The F.B.I. television series ended in 1974, he retired from show business and became a businessman. William Reynolds is a widower and octogenarian senior citizen as of October 2016.
Former child actress Lynn Loring was a regular on daytime soap Search for Tomorrow for 10 years (1951-1961) as Patti Barron Tate Whiting McCleary, from the age of 7 to 17. Loring played Barbara Erskine, Inspector Erskine’s daughter and Special Agent Jim Rhode’s fiance, in 12 episodes of The F.B.I. during the first season in 1965, before her character was dropped. Lynn Loring quit acting in 1975, became a TV and feature film producer, and was the President of MGM/UA Television Productions until she announced her retirement in 1990. (Lynn Loring & Mary Stuart 1951 Search for Tomorrow Photo: CBS Television | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
Lynn Loring had two children with actor and first husband Roy Thinnes (married 1967-1984), and married lawyer Michael Bergman in 1988. As of October 2016 Lynn Loring is a septuagenarian senior citizen.
Notable recurring guest-stars appearing in 5 or more episodes during The F.B.I.‘s 9-year run included:
- Peter Mark Richman as Hammond
- Richard Anderson as Alex Ramsey
- Wayne Rogers (M*A*S*H) as Bryan Carlson
- Harold Gould as Arnold Bruzzi
- Dabney Coleman as Allen Clarke
- Bradford Dillman as Curtis Breer
- Ellen Corby (The Waltons) as Auntie Florrie Buell
- Jessica Walter as Carla Payne
- Robert Duvall as Ernie Milden
- William Windom (Murder, She Wrote) as David Roger Spiers
- Arthur Hill (Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law) as Max Griswold
- Lee Meriwether (Barnaby Jones) as Joanna Lauren
- Dana Wynter as Barbara Holman
A1. J. Edgar Hoover never appeared on The F.B.I., although he was a consultant for the show up until his 1972 death.
A2. 40-year-old James Earl Ray was already a previously convicted felon for multiple offences, when he became a suspect in the assassination of American Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968.
James Earl Ray was arrested on June 8, 1968 at London’s Heathrow Airport, and later convicted of the assassination of Dr. King when he entered a guilty plea to forestall a jury trial, thus avoiding the death penalty.
Ray later took back his confession in an unsuccessful attempt to get a retrial.
He was a 70-year-old septuagenarian senior citizen when he died in prison in 1998.
(James Earl Ray FBI 1968 Wanted Poster Photo: U.S. F.B.I. | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
Baby boomer Anita Hamilton lives in Hamilton, Ontario with her family and 3 mini-dachshund minions. She’s a lifelong voracious reader who enjoys researching and has extensive experience in sales, marketing and copy writing. Senior City was inspired when she had difficulty finding local housing, products and services online for her elderly parents.