Combat! – Forgotten Front
Combat! series staring Vic Morrow and Rick Jason.
Home Video DVD Cover
Combat! is an American television program that originally aired on ABC from 1962 until 1967. (The exclamation point in “Combat!” was a stylized bayonet.) The show covered the grim lives of a squad of American soldiers fighting the Germans in France during World War II, and starred Rick Jason as platoon leader Second Lieutenant Gil Hanley and Vic Morrow as Sergeant “Chip” Saunders.
“Combat!” premiered on ABC October 2, 1962 and was broadcast for five seasons. TV’s longest-running World War II drama (through May 2012), “Combat!” aired 152 hour-long episodes. The first four seasons, spanning 127 episodes, were produced in black and white, with the final season, 25 episodes long, filmed in color. The show was developed by Robert Pirosh, who wrote the pilot episode.
Although the series ran for five seasons, King Company (the Army unit around whose fictional experiences the program was centered) never fought its way out of France, despite the fact that the real U.S. Army fought there for less than a year.
CBS Television Distribution (inherited from ABC Films, Worldvision Enterprises and Paramount Television) owns American television distribution rights to the series, while Disney-ABC International Television has international rights–original producer and copyright holder Selmur Productions was a division of ABC. The domestic rights for DVD are held by Image Entertainment, under license from co-copyright holder Buena Vista Television (now ABC Studios).
Behind the scenes – Cast
- Rick Jason as 2nd Lt. Gil Hanley
- Vic Morrow as Sgt. “Chip” Saunders
- Pierre Jalbert as PFC Paul “Caje” LeMay
- Jack Hogan as PFC William G. Kirby
- Dick Peabody as PFC “Littlejohn”
- Conlan Carter as “Doc” (seasons 2–5); nominated for Emmy Award, 1964
- Tom Lowell as Pvt. Billy Nelson (first and second season)
- Shecky Greene as Pvt. Braddock (first season)
- Steven Rogers as “Doc Walton” (first season)
- William Bryant as Pvt. McCall (fifth season; other characters in first season)
- Paul Busch, frequently played different parts, mostly Germans
Starring billing alternated between Morrow and Jason every episode so that each was top-billed in the opening credits exactly 76 times. At the bottom line, Morrow appeared much more often than Jason, and accumulated much more screen time, though their contracts were virtually identical. Jason’s contract allowed him considerable time off to pursue his passion of big game hunting in season and other various interests, as described in his autobiography,Scrapbooks Of My Mind.
Guest stars appeared as additional squad members, French citizens or German soldiers. In the first season, the then little-known Ted Knight and Frank Gorshin made appearances. Other notable guest stars included Lee Marvin, James Coburn, Telly Savalas, Luise Rainer, Charles Bronson, Richard Basehart, Eddie Albert, James Caan, Jeffrey Hunter, Leonard Nimoy, Warren Spahn, Frankie Avalon, Sal Mineo, Claude Akins, Mike Farrell, Beau Bridges, John Cassavetes, Robert Duvall, Roddy McDowell, Mickey Rooney, James Whitmore, Dennis Hopper, and Dean Stockwell.
Producers for the series were:
- Series pilot: Robert Pirosh
- Season one: Robert Altman, Robert Blees, Burt Kennedy, Gene Levitt, Richard Maibaum,Paul Stanley
- Seasons two through four: Gene Levitt
- Season five: Richard Caffey
- The executive producer for all five seasons was Selig J. Seligman, head of Selmur Productions.
Directors for the series were:
- Jus Addiss (1 episode)
- Robert Altman (10 episodes)
- Laslo Benedek (2 episodes)
- Richard Benedict (2 episode)
- Michael Caffey (11 episodes)
- Alan Crosland, Jr. (6 episodes)
- Richard Donner (1 episode)
- Georg J. Fenady (6 episodes)
- Tom Gries (3 episodes)
- Herman Hoffman (1 episode)
- Burt Kennedy (6 episodes)
- Bernard McEveety (31 episodes)
- Byron Paul (1 episode)
- John Peyser (27 episodes)
- Vic Morrow (7 episodes)
- Ted Post (6 episodes)
- Sutton Roley (15 episodes)