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Daktari Clarence Judy 1967.JPG
Clarence and Judy
GenreChildren's drama
Created byArt Arthur
Ivan Tors
Written byWilliam Clark
Meyer Dolinsky
Lawrence L. Goldman
Alf Harris
John Hogan
Jack Jacobs
Robert Lees
Robert Lewin
D.D. Oldland
S.S. Schweitzer
Stanley H. Silverman
Malvin Wald
Directed byPaul Landres
Andrew Marton
Otto Lang
StarringMarshall Thompson
Cheryl Miller
Hari Rhodes
Yale Summers
Hedley Mattingly
Theme music composerShelly Manne
Henry Vars
ComposersHerbert Doerfel
Shelly Manne
Henry Vars
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes89 (list of episodes)
Executive producerIvan Tors
ProducerLeonard B. Kaufman
CinematographyWilliam A. Fraker
Fred Mandl
Paul Ivano
Richard Moore
EditorGeorge Hively
Running time45–48 minutes
Production companiesIvan Tors Productions
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Television
DistributorMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer Television
Warner Bros. Television
Original networkCBS
Picture formatMetrocolor
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseJanuary 11, 1966 (1966-01-11) –
January 15, 1969 (1969-01-15)
Preceded byClarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion

Daktari (Swahili for "doctor") is an American family drama series that aired on CBS between 1966 and 1969. The series is an Ivan Tors Films Production in association with MGM Television starring Marshall Thompson as Dr. Marsh Tracy, a veterinarian at the fictional Wameru Study Center for Animal Behavior in East Africa.


The show follows the work of Dr. Tracy, his daughter Paula (Cheryl Miller), and his staff, who frequently protect animals from poachers and local officials. Tracy's pets, a cross-eyed lion named Clarence and a chimpanzee named Judy, were also popular characters.[1]

Daktari was based upon the 1965 film Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion, which also stars Thompson as Dr. Tracy and Miller as his daughter. The concept was developed by producer Ivan Tors, inspired by the work of Dr. Antonie Marinus Harthoorn and his wife Sue at their animal orphanage in Nairobi.[2] Dr. Harthoorn helped invent the capture gun, and was a tireless campaigner for animal rights. He was known as Daktari by the local Swahili people.

On the series, Clarence did not do all his own stunts; he had a stand-in. Leo (previously known as Zamba), another lion trained by Ralph Helfer, doubled for Clarence whenever any trucks were involved because Clarence was frightened by those vehicles. Leo had his own makeup artist apply cosmetic scarring like Clarence's so that he would resemble Clarence in closeups. An inside joke from the preview trailer for the film Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion was that Leo the MGM logo was not related to Clarence (in addition to similar appearances, the lions had similar temperaments).

Another less friendly lion, also named Leo, doubled for Clarence in some scenes. He was used only for the snarling scenes and scenes not involving proximity with humans. His ferocity was genuine, the result of physical abuse by his previous owners.

In the show's final season, child star Erin Moran joined the cast as Jenny Jones, a seven-year-old orphan who becomes part of the Tracy household.


Judy the Chimp also portrayed "Debbie the Bloop" on Lost in Space.

Clarence the Lion died at the age of 7 on July 14, 1969, six months after Daktari was last telecast on CBS. When he was not being filmed, the lion was booked as an attraction at expositions and died in Peoria, Illinois, where he was scheduled to appear at the "Heart of Illinois Fair".[3]

Notable guest stars over the years included Louis Gossett Jr., Sterling Holloway, Bruce Bennett, Virginia Mayo, Chips Rafferty and Paul Winfield.

Bruno the Bear also appeared as a guest star before he became the main bear playing the title role in the later Ivan Tors series, Gentle Ben.


The series was broadcast in four seasons, the first in early 1966, and the last three each beginning in September of 1966, 1967, and 1968.

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
118January 11, 1966 (1966-01-11)May 17, 1966 (1966-05-17)
229September 13, 1966 (1966-09-13)April 11, 1967 (1967-04-11)
327September 5, 1967 (1967-09-05)March 12, 1968 (1968-03-12)
415September 25, 1968 (1968-09-25)January 15, 1969 (1969-01-15)

Broadcast history and Nielsen ratings[edit]

The original broadcasts in the US were on CBS.

Season Time slot (ET) Rank Rating[4]
1965–66 Tuesday at 7:30 pm 14 23.9
1966–67 7 23.4 (tied with Bewitched and The Beverly Hillbillies)
1967–68 33 19.7
1968–69 Wednesday at 7:30 pm 69 N/A

According to IMDB it was also broadcast on TV channels in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and (dubbed) in France.

Production notes[edit]


According to the show's closing credits, it was "filmed in Africa and Africa U.S.A.", a 600-acre (2.4 km2) wild-animal ranch created by animal trainers Ralph and Toni Helfer in Soledad Canyon 40 mi (64 km) north of Los Angeles.[5] Ralph Helfer was the animal coordinator of the show. Leonard B. Kaufman, the producer, wrote in liner notes for Shelly Manne's Daktari that he shot the series on location close to a ranch once owned by Antonio Pintos' father in Mozambique.[6] Indeed, the outdoor scenes involving the actors were shot in the Africa, U.S.A. compound in California, with footage of African landscape and animals in between to get the African look and feel. Some of the animals shown were, however, at odds with the location – a tiger (not native to Africa) is shown in the starting credit sequence, as well as an Indian elephant.

Other indoor and some outdoor scenes of the animal hospital were shot in Ivan Tors' studios in Florida.


The show had distinctive theme and incidental music, a fusion of jazz and African influences, conducted by American jazz drummer Shelly Manne. Manne released the associated record, Daktari: Shelly Manne Performs and Conducts His Original Music for the Hit TV Show, on the Atlantic label in 1967. On the album, Mike Wofford plays a tack piano to evoke an African sound, and Manne is joined by percussionists Emil Richards, Larry Bunker, Frank Carlson, and Victor Feldman. According to the record liner notes, Manne and fellow percussionists play ankle and wrist jingles, Thai mouth organs, angklungs, ocarinas, vibraphones, tympani, and different kinds of marimbas.


The series featured several Land Rover four-wheel-drive cars and also a Jeep Gladiator pickup truck with an iconic zebra-striped paint job. Corgi Toys produced a green and black zebra-striped toy version of a Land Rover, available in several different action sets.[7]

Home media[edit]

Warner Bros. has released all four seasons on DVD in Region 1 via their Warner Archive Collection manufacture-on-demand series.[8][9][10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Woolery, George W. (1985). Children's Television: The First Thirty-Five Years, 1946-1981, Part II: Live, Film, and Tape Series. The Scarecrow Press. pp. 135–136. ISBN 0-8108-1651-2.
  2. ^ Hart, Susanne (1969). Life with Daktari: Two Vets in East Africa. Atheneum. p. 35.
  3. ^ "TV Daktari's Clarence The Lion Is Dead", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 15, 1969, p1
  4. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present (Ninth ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 1684. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4.
  5. ^ "Vasquez Rocks". Bonanza: Scenery of the Ponderosa. Retrieved on July 15, 2013.
  6. ^ Leonard B. Kaufman, liner notes for Shelly Manne, "Daktari", Atlantic Records SD 8157
  7. ^ CORGI GS7 & CORGI GS14 DAKTARI corgitoys.free.fr, accessed 2021-05-04
  8. ^ Lambert, David (November 15, 2011). "Daktari - 'The Complete 1st Season' is Now Available from the Warner Archive" Archived 2012-09-18 at the Wayback Machine. TVShowsOnDVD.com.
  9. ^ Lambert, David (March 12, 2013). "Daktari - Packaging Pics for 'The Complete 2nd Season' Shows It's 2 Half-Season Sets Bundled" Archived 2013-03-15 at the Wayback Machine. TVShowsOnDVD.com.
  10. ^ MOD Release for 'The Complete 3rd Season' is Now Available Archived 2014-06-27 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ The 4th and Final Season is Coming to DVD Very Soon Archived 2015-05-27 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]