Garrison's Gorillas

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Garrison's Gorillas
Opening Screen for Garrison's Gorillas
Format World War II series
Created by Mort Green
Starring Ron Harper as First Lt. Craig Garrison
Cesare Danova as Actor
Brendon Boone as Chief
Rudy Solari as Casino
Christopher Cary as Goniff
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 26
Running time 60 minutes
Original channel ABC
Original run September 1967 – March 1968

Garrison's Gorillas is an ABC TV series broadcast from 1967 to 1968; a total of 26 hour-long episodes were produced. It was inspired by the 1967 film The Dirty Dozen, which featured a similar scenario of training Allied prisoners for World War II military missions.

The series' main cast. Top row, left to right: Goniff (Christopher Cary) and Chief (Brendon Boone). Bottom row, left to right: Garrison (Ron Harper), Casino (Rudy Solari) and Actor (Cesare Danova).

Garrison's Gorillas was canceled at the close of its first season and replaced by The Mod Squad in 1968. It managed to gather a cult following in China in the 1980s.[1]


Larry Storch in "The Magnificent Forger" episode, 1967.

This action series focused on a motley group of commandos recruited from stateside prisons to use their special skills against the Germans in World War II. They had been promised a parole at the end of the war if they worked out. And if they lived. The alternative was an immediate return to prison. If they ran, they could expect execution for desertion. The four were: Actor (Cesare' Danova) a handsome, resonant-voiced con man; Casino (Rudy Solari), a tough, wiry safe-cracker and mechanic; Goniff (Christopher Cary) a slender, likable Cockney cat burglar; and Chief (Brendon Boone) a rugged, somber American Indian who handled a switchblade like he was born to it. His nomination for a 1968 Golden Globe, while much deserved, was disregarded by producers. Led by West Pointer First Lt. Craig Garrison (Ron Harper) and headquartered in a secluded mansion in England, this slippery group ranged all over Europe in exploits that often took them behind enemy lines. Other recruits were sometimes brought in where special skills were required. In the episode "Banker's Hours", Jack Klugman is recruited to help loot a vault. In "The Magnificant Forger" comedian Larry Storch turns in a solid dramatic performance as a con brought in to help 'doctor' a Gestapo list of American agents. And in the two-parter "War And Crime/Plot to Kill" a con played by Richard Kiley is recruited because he was a dead ringer for a German field marshal who was part of a plot to assassinate Hitler.

TV Guide reviewer Cleveland Amory said of the show in 1968 that despite it being ludicrously one-sided, a second-hand idea, and third degree violence, that it was a first rate show.[2]

Spinoffs and tie-ins[edit]

Dell Comics published a short-lived five issue comic book based on the series lasting from January 1968 to October 1969)

Two spin-off novels were written by Jack Pearl: the first a mass-market adult paperback published by Dell, called, simply GARRISON'S GORILLAS; the second aimed at the Young Adult (YA) market and published by Whitman, titled GARRISON'S GORILLAS AND THE FEAR FORMULA. Both are long out of print.

"Garrison's Gorillas" lasted one season only and was not a spinoff nor in any way related to the "Combat!" series which ran from 1962 through 1967.


  1. ^ Manfred, Kops; Ollig, Steven (2007). Internationalisation of the Chinese TV Sector. Berlin: LIT Verlag Hamburg Berlin Munster. p. 80. ISBN 978-3-8258-0753-5. 
  2. ^ Altschuler, Gleen C.; David I. Grossvogel (1992). Changing Channels: America in TV Guide. University of Illinois Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-252-01779-7. 

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