The Red Hand Gang

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The Red Hand Gang
Genre Adventure
Children's
Directed by Charles R. Rondeau
Starring Matthew Laborteaux
J.R. Miller
Jolie Newman
Johnny Brogna
James Bond III
Country of origin USA
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 12
Production
Executive producer(s) R.S. Allen
Harvey Bullock
William P. D'Angelo
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) D'Angelo-Bullock-Allen Productions
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Audio format Monaural
Original run September 10, 1977 (1977-09-10) – November 26, 1977 (1977-11-26)

The Red Hand Gang was an American live-action Saturday morning television series on NBC, first broadcast in 1977. The show featured five crime-solving pre-teens and their dog, who lived in the inner city. The group was so named because its members left red hand prints on fences to mark where they had been.

Main Cast[edit]

Members of the Red Hand Gang include:

  • Joanne played by Jolie Newman, who went on to become a professional producer and who died on March 31, 2002 aged 36.[1]
  • Lil' Bill played by Johnny Brogna, who starred with Gregory Peck in the film, MacArthur.
  • J.R. played by J.R. Miller
  • Their dog, Boomer, who would later have his own series, Here's Boomer.

The episodes of The Red Hand Gang, unlike those of other Saturday morning shows, were grouped into multiple shows: one of five parts, one of four, and one of three. Each episode ended in a cliffhanger.

Synopsis and Supporting Cast[edit]

The first adventure is split across the first 5 episodes. A young boy called Johnny, played by Robert Ahlers,[2] is kidnapped and held for ransom in an old house. The Red Hand Gang find out where the boy is being held by trailing one of the kidnappers, played by Maureen Arthur to their hideout. The gang set traps to scare the other kidnappers, played by Anthony Zerbe and James Hampton but the kidnappers move to another location with the gang in pursuit.

The second story is split across the next four episodes. The gang go to a hotel to meet their hero, a football player called O.K. Oakins, played by Van Williams, who is the special guest at a charity auction. The star attraction of the auction is a priceless jewel. Whilst at the hotel the gang stumble across a plot to steal the jewel by replacing O.K. Oakins with a lookalike and replacing the real gem with a fake. The two jewel thieves are played by Buck Kartalian and James Griffith.

The final story is set over the final three episodes. The gang visit an animal sanctuary with their friend Holly, who is deaf, played by Dawn Lyn. The animal sanctuary features a chimpanzee called Maxwell who can understand sign language. Unbeknownst to the gang, the chimpanzee is going to be used by two crooks to help them carry out a museum robbery. The two museum thieves are played by Tom Reese and Walter Burke.

Filming Locations[edit]

Scenes for the series were shot in and around Los Angeles, California.

The opening credits contain scenes that were shot on South Seaside Avenue in San Pedro, showing the gang running along a pier that is part of Terminal Island in the Port of Los Angeles. The same location was used in the first adventure for the scene where the kidnappers are holding the kidnapped boy on board a boat. The pier is located opposite Marine Sheet Metal Works. The pier itself is located at berth 259/260 of the Port of Los Angeles and next to the building of the Southern California Marine Institute. Coordinates: 33°44′9.22″N 118°16′13.79″W / 33.7358944°N 118.2704972°W / 33.7358944; -118.2704972.

Some of the outdoor scenes for the first adventure (5 episodes) were filmed in Venice, Los Angeles. During one scene, the character Frankie trails a female kidnapper along what is Windward Avenue, pausing at the intersection of Windward Avenue and Pacific Avenue outside a shop. The shop is now a cafe called Cafe Collage. Coordinates: 33°59′16.29″N 118°28′19.98″W / 33.9878583°N 118.4722167°W / 33.9878583; -118.4722167.

During the second adventure about a jewel heist. The fictional football player O.K. Oakins is kidnapped and replaced with a stooge, in order to steal a priceless diamond during a charily auction taking place in a hotel. The hotel used for filming is now the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. At the time of the filming, the hotel was called the Wentworth Hotel, but uses the fictitious name, The Park Hotel, in the episode. Coordinates: 34°7′7.77″N 118°8′1.67″W / 34.1188250°N 118.1337972°W / 34.1188250; -118.1337972.

In the third adventure about a museum robbery, the street scenes are filmed on Clinton Street and North Norton Avenue in Hollywood. The rear of Raleigh Studios doubles as the entrance to the museum. This location is about one block from Melrose Avenue. Coordinates: 34°4′53.98″N 118°19′2.97″W / 34.0816611°N 118.3174917°W / 34.0816611; -118.3174917.

Cancellation[edit]

The Red Hand Gang was cancelled in November 1977 — not even halfway into the television season. The cancellation was partly due to its 12:30PM ET time slot, when many key affiliates tend to preempt NBC programming after 12 Noon ET for their own programming, especially college football.

Episodes[edit]

Episode # Episode title Original airdate
1-1 "The Face at the Window" September 10, 1977
1-2 "The Spooky Hideout" September 17, 1977
1-3 "The Search" September 24, 1977
1-4 "Beware the Red Hand Gang" October 1, 1977
1-5 "The Mystery Boat" October 8, 1977
1-6 "The Man in the Mask" October 15, 1977
1-7 "The Missing Jewels" October 22, 1977
1-8 "Search and Rescue" October 29, 1977
1-9 "Doc's Big Idea" November 5, 1977
1-10 "The Photo Clue" November 12, 1977
1-11 "Monkey Business" November 19, 1977
1-12 "Devil's Canyon" November 26, 1977

Syndication and DVD release[edit]

The series has often been broadcast in the United Kingdom, where it is considerably better known than in its home country. The Red Hand Gang was initially released on DVD in the U.K. only, on September 30, 2008 in its first ever retail release. A 2-disc DVD set was released on July 28, 2009 in the U.S. The series was also broadcast in the early 80's in syndication in Italy under the title La Gang della Mano Rossa (same meaning as in English).

References[edit]

External links[edit]