In the 1960'S, an era of prime-time series about high-tech espionage and high-wire intrigue, when spies lived or died engaging their sophisticated weapons more often than their well-honed wits, Los Angeles private eye, Joe Mannix was both a rugged individualist and a welcome throwback to a simpler and grittier time.Television's most heroic, anti-hero, Mannix was a rebel who still believed in the establishment cause, if not its dehumanizing effect.
In 1967, propelled by the unqualified success of perhaps the most complex and intellectually challenging spy series of that decade, Mission: Impossible,CBS-TV , DESILU studios and Executive Producer Bruce Geller,decided it was time to explore the case files of an iconoclast detective who fought the crime that threatened the innocent and battled the bureaucracy that eroded individual identity.
The video vehicle they selected was a crime drama, created by Richard Levinson and William Link (who also devised COLUMBO ),called MANNIX, and which starred film, leading man Mike Connors as Joe Mannix. He played a two fisted private detective with a singular sense of justice and a one track mind. Mannix believed that his job was to nail the bad guys, even if it meant bending the rules with a left hook or a .38 caliber slug.
In the first season, Joe Mannix was employed by Intertect LTD.,an omni-present, global security firm, headed by Lew Wickersham. Joseph Campanella, one of 1960's television's most prolific character actors, portrayed the boss as a constrained,draconian authority figure , who reluctantly and secretly admired Mannix's lack of inhibition and conformity in crime solving. Intertect LTD. issued Mannix a specially designed Oldsmobile Tornado convervtible, replete with computer technology.Their offices were anti-septic and equipped with vast banks of 1960's cyber-systems.
It was no place for a loner like Joe Mannix.
That plot rubric lasted only one season.
By the Fall of 1968, producers had Joe take leave of Intertect ltd.,and open his own, one man investigation agency in the Paseo Verde building. Mannix lived in the back room of his office, which was managed by the lovely and loyal Peggy Fair,played by the late Gail Fisher. She was one of the first African-American actresses to achieve a co-starring role on network television.
Veteran character actors Robert Reed, Larry Linville and Ward Wood played his police contacts over the eight year, 194 episode, run of Mannix on CBS-TV.
The musical score , which featured a vibrant, jazz waltz as the show's theme song, was, like the sound track from MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE, written by Lalo Shiffrin. He was one of the most sought-after film and television composers of the 1960's and 70's.
The durable series was only recently released on DVD. For eight seasons, MANNIX was a show that never achieved the rating success of its CBS-TV AND DESILU studios sibling, MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE, but one that consistenly delivered a quality program to an appreciative audience.
Below are clips that constitute the September 16,1967 debut episode of MANNIX. Enjoy!!!!!