Garrison's Gorillas

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Garrison's Gorillas
Opening Screen for Garrison's Gorillas
Created byMort Green
StarringRon Harper as First Lt. Craig Garrison
Cesare Danova as Actor
Brendon Boone as Chief
Rudy Solari as Casino
Christopher Cary as Goniff
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes26
Running time60 minutes
Production companySelmur Productions
DistributorABC Films
Original networkABC
Original releaseSeptember 5, 1967 (1967-09-05) –
March 12, 1968 (1968-03-12)

Garrison's Gorillas is an ABC TV series originally 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.

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]

Back row, L-R: Goniff (Christopher Cary) and Chief (Brendon Boone). Front, L-R: Garrison (Ron Harper), Casino (Rudy Solari) and Actor (Cesare Danova).


This action series focused on a 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 cat burglar; and "Chief" (Brendon Boone), a rugged, somber American Indian who handled a switchblade like he was born to it. No real names were ever used, only their "monikers" or aliases. Led by West Pointer First Lt. Craig Garrison (Ron Harper) and headquartered in a secluded mansion in London, 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's character is recruited to help loot a vault. In "The Magnificent Forger", comedian Larry Storch plays 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 is a dead ringer for a German field marshal who was part of a plot to assassinate Hitler. The episodes are set in 1941, 1942, 1943 and 1944.



No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1"The Big Con"Joseph SargentDavid KarpSeptember 5, 1967 (1967-09-05)
2"Breakout"Michael CaffeyPaul PlaydonSeptember 12, 1967 (1967-09-12)
3"The Grab"Nicholas ColasantoJames MenizesSeptember 19, 1967 (1967-09-19)
4"Banker's Hours"Georg FenadyTony BarrettSeptember 26, 1967 (1967-09-26)
5"48 Hours to Doomsday"Gerald MayerJerry Thomas,
Bill Yagemann
October 3, 1967 (1967-10-03)
6"The Great Theft"Michael CaffeyNorman HudisOctober 10, 1967 (1967-10-10)
7"The Deadly Masquerade"Nicholas ColasantoAlan CaillouOctober 17, 1967 (1967-10-17)
8"Now I Lay Me Down to Die"Georg FenadyEdward J. LaksoOctober 24, 1967 (1967-10-24)
9"Operation Hellfire"Michael CaffeyJerry Thomas,
Bill Yagemann
October 31, 1967 (1967-10-31)
10"Thieves' Holiday"John PeyserJames MenizesNovember 7, 1967 (1967-11-07)
11"20 Gallons to Kill"Nicholas ColasantoBarry TriversNovember 14, 1967 (1967-11-14)
12"Friendly Enemies"Michael CaffeyEdward J. LaskoNovember 21, 1967 (1967-11-21)
13"Black Market"Georg FenadyTony BarrettNovember 28, 1967 (1967-11-28)
14"The Great Crime Wave"Nicholas ColasantoNorman HudisDecember 5, 1967 (1967-12-05)
15"The Magnificent Forger"Georg FenadyWilliam R. YatesDecember 19, 1967 (1967-12-19)
16"The Expendables"Georg FenadyPaul PlaydonDecember 26, 1967 (1967-12-26)
17"War Games"Michael CaffeyWilliam R. YatesJanuary 2, 1968 (1968-01-02)
18"Run from Death"Nicholas ColasantoShimon Wincelberg,
Richard Shapiro
January 9, 1968 (1968-01-09)
19"The Death Sentence"John PeyserPaul PlaydonJanuary 16, 1968 (1968-01-16)
20"The Big Lie"Georg FenadyJerry Thomas,
Bill Yagemann
January 23, 1968 (1968-01-23)
21"Ride of Terror"Alan CroslandWilliam FrougJanuary 30, 1968 (1968-01-30)
22"War and Crime: Part 1"Georg FenadyS : Tony Barrett;
T : William Robert Yates
February 13, 1968 (1968-02-13)
23"The Plot to Kill: Part 2"Georg FenadyS : John Draft;
T : William Robert Yates
February 20, 1968 (1968-02-20)
24"The Frame-Up"John PeyserHenry SlesarFebruary 27, 1968 (1968-02-27)
25"The War Diamonds"Michael CaffeyWilliam Robert YatesMarch 5, 1968 (1968-03-05)
26"Time Bomb"Georg FenadyPaul PlaydonMarch 12, 1968 (1968-03-12)


Cesare Danova, Ron Harper and Gena Rowlands in a 1968 episode
Larry Storch in "The Magnificent Forger" episode, 1967.

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]

Because it was one of the first U.S. television shows exported to China, Garrison's Gorillas (《加里森敢死队》 Jiālǐ sēn gǎnsǐduì, or "Garrison's Death Squad") developed a certain cult status in the 1980s; supposedly, high-level meetings of the Chinese Communist Party were rescheduled so the members could watch the program. Garrison's Gorillas was even awarded a Public Security Award in Shanghai, as many Chinese people (even criminals) stayed home to watch it.[3]

Spin-offs 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.

In 1967 Leaf produced a trading card set consisting of 72 black and white photographs from the series.[4]


  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.
  3. ^ "The World of Chinese | How People Live in Contemporary China".
  4. ^

External links[edit]