|Created by||Harry Julian Fink|
|Written by||Ronald Austin
James D. Buchanan
Harry Julian Fink
Bernard C. Schoenfeld
|Directed by||Alan Crosland, Jr.
|Country of origin||USA|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||26|
|Running time||30 mins.|
|Production company(s)||NBC Productions|
|Original run||September 16, 1966 – March 31, 1967|
T.H.E. Cat is an American action drama that aired during the 1966-1967 television season on NBC, co-sponsored by R.J. Reynolds (Winston) and Lever Brothers. The series was created by Harry Julian Fink, the creator of Dirty Harry .
Robert Loggia starred as the title character, Thomas Hewitt Edward Cat. T. H. E. Cat is a forerunner of television characters such as The Equalizer, who skirt the edges of the law and bring skills from earlier careers on behalf of those needing more help than the police can offer.
The series preceded the 1968-1970 ABC television series It Takes a Thief, which was also about a cat burglar who used his skills for good.
'Out of the night comes a man who saves lives at the risk of his own. Once a circus performer, an aerialist who refused the net. Once a cat burglar, a master among jewel thieves. Now a professional bodyguard. Primitive... savage... in love with danger. The Cat!'
This was the intro of a series that was, for a variety of reasons, truly ahead of its time. It had a hero who was a reformed thief, having spent an unspecified term in prison, and of Gypsy heritage. In the mold of famed private-eye Peter Gunn and the waterfront bar 'Mother's', Cat operated out of the 'Casa Del Gato' (House Of The Cat) in San Francisco, of which he was part owner.
The show was dark and moody, fitting the character, and was one of the first to use martial arts in a realistic way. (The other was The Green Hornet, which premiered on ABC the same year.) This was unknown on TV at that time and rarely seen even in films (an exception was The Manchurian Candidate, the first Hollywood movie to show martial arts in realistic fashion instead of the 'judo chops' usually depicted). The series also featured a number of highly gifted guest stars and relied heavily on the film noir school to set the tone of the series.
Despite rumors to the contrary, Cat was not an assassin. Nor did he work for San Francisco P.D., although he was brought in on certain operations (such as the pilot episode) where a specialist was called for. In the October 7th episode "Brotherhood", Cat performed sniper duty during a hostage situation - this was long before S.W.A.T. was born. Cat carried a Walther PP automatic in .32 caliber and a balanced throwing knife strapped to his left forearm. He was lethal with both.
Series star Robert Loggia had previously played a character known as "the cat" in the 1958-1960 Walt Disney television series The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca, in which Loggia played Baca, an Old West Mexican-American lawman whose nickname was "the cat," a fact viewers were reminded of each week in the series' theme song. The series ran for ten episodes and was recut into a feature movie.
After T.H.E. Cat, Loggia, an actor with a long history of film and television credits, went on to star in a number of high-profile hit Hollywood films including The Tom Hanks hit film Big, the sci-fi film Independence Day, An Officer and a Gentleman, Scarface, and Sylvester Stallone's Over the Top. In 1985, Loggia was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of crusty private detective Sam Ransom in the thriller Jagged Edge, and had the starring role in another NBC series, Mancuso, FBI, for which he was nominated for an Emmy in 1989.
- Robert Loggia......Thomas Hewitt Edward Cat
- R.G. Armstrong.....Captain McAllister
- Robert Carricart.....Pepe Cordoza
- "Elfago Baca". Legends: Outlaws & Lawmen (Boulder, Colorado USA: Active Interest Media, Inc.). June 2013. Special edition of American Cowboy magazine. Page 28: "Walt Disney, the only producer of 1950s TV Westerns to focus on minority issues, powerfully told the full story of Baca's career in a ten-episode mini-series for ABC between 1958-1960, starring Robert Loggia. The title The Nine Lives of Elfago Baca, played off the hero's nickname 'El Gato,' the cat."