24 September 2006 | Cheyenne-Bodie
Richard Denning as the Miami Beach private eye
Richard Denning ("Mr. and Mrs. North") was perfect casting for the red headed, Irish private detective, who had a taste for cognac, brawls and broads.
Michael Shayne had a voluptuous blond secretary named Lucy Hamilton (Patricia Donahue). Lucy's younger brother Dick Hamilton (Gary Clarke) was a college student who sometimes got involved in Shayne's cases. Tim Rourke (Jerry Paris) was a reporter friend. Shayne was also friends with police Lt. Will Gentry (Herbert Rudley).
In one scene Shayne returns to his office. He is in the outer office used by Lucy. He overhears Tim and Lucy in his inner office. Tim Rourke is moaning in pleasure. Lucy says that feels good doesn't it. Tim says "Oh yes. Don't stop". Shayne closes his eyes and walks into his office. Lucy is massaging Tim's neck because he has a headache.
All these characters except Dick Hamilton came out of a series of novels by Brett Halliday, who was a consultant for the series. Each of the roles was extremely well cast, but the series chose to focus pretty much entirely on Shayne. Richard Denning was a terrific B-movie actor and easily carried the show. (The great Lloyd Nolan played Michael Shayne in a series of 1940's movies that ignored the other characters in the novels and the Miami setting. Hugh Beaumont played Shayne in a later, cheaper movie series. Jeff Chandler and Robert Sterling, among others, played Shayne on radio.)
The hour long "Michael Shayne" was produced by Dick Powell's Four Star Productions ("Richard Diamond", "Dante"). Young writers Richard Levinson and William Link ("Columbo", "Mannix") were under contract to Four Star at the time (rather unhappily), and they wrote many of the episodes.
Actor Mark Goddard had a role in Four Star's "Johnny Ringo" the previous season. Four Star offered Goddard the choice of playing Dick Hamilton or being on "The Detectives" with Robert Taylor. Goddard chose the latter.
The "Shayne" episodes had great pulpy titles that were taken from the novels: "No Shroud for Shayne", "Dolls are Deadly", "Die Like a Dog", "Framed in Blood", "Marriage Can be Fatal", "The Body Beautiful", "Murder and the Wanton Bride" and "Blood on Biscayne Bay".
Some of the luscious women Shayne encountered: Julie Adams, Lola Albright, Julie London, Carol Ohmart, Susan Oliver, Carol Rossen, Patricia Crowley, Mona Freeman, Alexis Smith and Rita Moreno. One episode even had Helen Hayes.
The producers should have spent a few extra dollars to get Lloyd Nolan to guest star as Shayne's father.
All the series regulars except Denning were fired during the second half of the season and replaced by much younger actors. This could have been a cost containment move, or maybe they were trying to compete with the glamorous "Surfide Six", a series about much younger Miami Beach private eyes. "Surfside Six" premiered the same year and drew a larger audience.
The new Lucy was explained by saying the old Lucy ran off and got married (to Tim Rorke?) and Shayne's replacement secretary just happened to be named Lucy too. I seriously missed sexy Paticia Donahue.
Shane Black's movie "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (2005), where Val Kilmer plays a gay private detective, was based on a Michael Shayne novel by Brett Halliday. The novel was called "Bodies Are Where You Find Them" (1941). That novel was turned into a Dell comic book at the time of the TV series.