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Peter Gunn


Peter Gunn

Stars: Craig Stevens, Herschel Bernardi and Lola Albright Sep. 22, 1958. A gang attempts to extort money from Mother. When she refuses to pay, the gang dynamites her club and critically injures its owner. When the police investigation into the bombing moves too slowly for Gunn, the detective goes hunting for the man he holds responsible.

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Peter Gunn is an American private eye television series which aired on the NBC and later ABC television networks from 1958 to 1961. The show’s creator (and also writerand director on occasion) was Blake Edwards. It was also directed by Boris Sagal,Robert GistJack ArnoldLamont Johnson and one episode by Robert Altman and several others. A total of 114 thirty-minute episodes were produced by Spartan Productions. Season one was filmed at Universal Studios, seasons two and three were filmed at Metro-Goldwyn-MayerPhilip H. Lathrop and William W. Spencer were cinematographers on many episodes. Stevens’ wardrobe was tailored by Don Richards and Albright’s fashions by Jax.

The series is probably best remembered today for its music, especially the popular “Peter Gunn Theme”, which won an Emmy Award and two Grammys for Henry Mancini and has been subsequently covered by many jazz, rock, and blues recording artists. The series was #17 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1958-1959 TV season.

Peter Gunn

Craig Stevens as Peter Gunn (left) with guest stars Lari Laine and Lewis Charles in the 1959 episode “The Ugly Frame.”

The title character, played by Craig Stevens, is a well-dressed private investigator whose hair is always in place and who loves cool jazz. Where other gumshoes might be coarse, Peter Gunn is a sophisticate with expensive tastes. He operates in a nameless waterfront city, a regular patron of Mother’s (a smoky wharfside jazz club) that he uses as his “office”, often meeting clients there. Pete’s standard fee is $1,000. He has a reputation of being one of the best investigators and trustworthy. He sometimes works cases out of the state and on at least one occasion out of country with one case occurring in Mexico. Gunn drives a 1958 two-tone DeSoto two door hardtop in the first few episodes of the first season, then a 1959 Plymouth Fury convertible with a white top and a mobile phone.

Herschel Bernardi played Lieutenant Jacoby, a police detective and friend of Gunn; He sometimes refers people to Pete as clients. Bernardi received his only Emmy nomination for the role. Pete’s girlfriend, Edie Hart (Lola Albright), was a sultry singer employed at Mother’s; she later opens her own place. Pete’s pet name for Edie is “Silly”. Hope Emerson played “Mother”, who had been a singer and piano player in speakeasies during Prohibition. She received an Emmy nomination for the role. For the second season, “Mother” was played by Minerva Urecal. Associate producer Byron Kane portrayed Barney, the bartender; Kane was never credited for playing this role. Bill Chadney played Emmett, the piano player at Mother’s. (Chadney and Albright married in 1961).

Both Billy Barty as pool hustler Babby and Herbert Ellis as Beat bistro owner, painter and sculptor Wilbur appeared in several episodes as occasional “information resources”, as “Mother” also often is. Capri Candela played Wilbur’s girlfriend Capri. Frequent director Robert Gist appeared as an actor in different roles in three episodes.

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