Harry O

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Harry O
Harry O.png
Title screen
Also known as Harry-O
Genre Crime drama
Created by Howard Rodman
Written by Robert C. Dennis
Robert Dozier
Larry Forrester
Herman Groves
Stephen Kandel
Joanna Klasson
John Meredyth Lucas
Howard Rodman
Michael Sloan
Norman Strum
Gene Thompson
Directed by Richard Benedict
Daryl Duke
Harry Falk
Richard Lang
Jerry London
Joseph Manduke
Russ Mayberry
John Newland
Jerry Thorpe
Paul Wendkos
Don Weis
Starring David Janssen
Henry Darrow
Anthony Zerbe
Farrah Fawcett-Majors
Les Lannom
Tom Atkins
Bill Henderson
Theme music composer Billy Goldenberg
Composer(s) Billy Goldenberg
Kim Richmond
John Rubinstein
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 44
Executive producer(s) Jerry Thorpe
Producer(s) Alex Beaton
Robert Dozier
Buck Houghton
Robert E. Thompson
Running time 60 mins. (approx)
Production company(s) Warner Bros. Television
Original channel ABC
Original release September 12, 1974 – April 29, 1976
Preceded by Such Dust as Dreams Are Made On (1973)
Smile Jenny, You're Dead (1974)

Harry O, sometimes spelled Harry-O, is an American crime drama series that aired for two seasons on ABC from 1974 to 1976. The series starred David Janssen and was executive produced by Jerry Thorpe. Harry O followed the broadcast of two pilot films: Such Dust as Dreams Are Made On (airing March 11, 1973) and then the second (with noticeable retooling), Smile Jenny, You're Dead (airing February 3, 1974), both starring Janssen.[1]


Janssen starred as the title character Harry Orwell, a San Diego cop forced into retirement when he is shot in the back. To support himself, he sets up a private investigation practice out of his beach house on Coronado Island, in San Diego. Henry Darrow originally starred as Lt. Manny Quinlan.

For the second half of the first season, the series was retooled, with the location of the series shifted to Los Angeles, California, due to the high production costs of filming in and around San Diego.[2] The retooling consisted of more than just a location change: a revised theme song and incidental music were composed and new supporting characters were added, notably Lt. Trench of the Santa Monica Police Department, who became Orwell's new foil/contact. (Henry Darrow's character Lt. Manny Quinlan was killed off in a crossover episode.) Most noticeably a lighter tone for the scripts and acting was adopted. Harry would still live in a beach cottage−this time somewhere along the PCH between Santa Monica and Malibu. (This beach location was the same location used for both pilot movies.)

The second season would see a further reworking of the opening credits and theme song and recurring characters added. Anthony Zerbe, who played Lt. Trench won a Primetime Emmy Award for his role on the series.

Recurring characters included Farrah Fawcett-Majors, as Harry's attractive next-door neighbor and sometime girlfriend Sue Ingram; Paul Tulley as Sgt. Don Roberts, Lt. Trench's assistant; Les Lannom as Lester Hodges, a bumbling private-eye wannabe; Tom Atkins as Sgt Frank Cole; and Bill Henderson as Spencer Johnson, Harry's frustrated car mechanic.

Harry's small Austin-Healey, which spent almost all of the first season in non-running condition, would later see more time on the road, and Harry himself would have an operation to remove the bullet in his back, that improved his ability to get around.

Reception and cancellation[edit]

Ratings for the series were initially fair and got a boost after the series was retooled in January 1975. Harry O was picked up for a second season and continued to gain viewership and critical acclaim; however, then-ABC president Fred Silverman decided to take the network in a different direction and canceled the series in favor of Charlie's Angels. The last original episode aired on April 29, 1976.[3] The series cancellation greatly disenchanted star Janssen, who vowed never to participate in a television series again. Reviewing the 2012 Warner Bros.' Archive Collection DVD release of the first season, Paul Mavis of DVDTalk.com wrote, "Unlike the spit-and-polish, no-nonsense defenders of the California Penal Code over on Adam-12, or the glamorous, almost-Bondian cops and detectives of Hawaii Five-O or Mannix, or even the portly-but-pleased-with-himself Cannon, Harry O was a mess, an existential character in constant physical pain and frequent psychological distress. He didn't have a lot of money, he didn't seem to have very many prospects, and that bullet in his back wasn't ever going to go away. Too bad the ABC "suits" and the producers tinkered their way right out of what could have been one of best detective series of the 1970s."[4]


Pilot Movies[edit]

Movie title Original airdate Summary Notable Guest Stars Notes
Such Dust As Dreams Are Made On March 11, 1973 Harlan Garrison, a member of the gang that shot Harry in a drug store robbery four years earlier, hires Harry to find Garrison's two accomplices, Walter Scherer and his girlfriend Marilyn Bedestrum. With the help of a police lab technician Harry is able to create drugs with which to smoke out Scherer, but when Harry and Garrison find their lab Harry is injured by Bedestrum and Garrison shot to death by Scherer, and despite being abandoned Bedestrum refuses to cooperate with police. The reason why becomes clear to Harry when he realizes where Scherer is hiding out - and how he plans to escape. Martin Sheen, Sal Mineo, Will Geer, Margot Kidder, Mel Stewart The film was intended to launch the series but it was not picked up; footage was later used for the episode "Elegy For A Cop"
Smile Jenny, You're Dead February 3, 1974 Jennifer English, the daughter of Harry's police friend Humphrey Kenner, is a model who is estranged from her husband Charlie English and is seeing John Lockport, a retired Army colonel. Jenny is being tailed by Roy St. John, a deranged photographer obsessed with Jenny and determined to eliminate any man he sees as standing in her way. When Charlie English is found shot to death, Harry must comfort Jenny, who is emotionally unstable because of her relationship with the abusive Charlie. Kenner wants Harry to protect Jenny and also prove John Lockport is innocent as he must now be the prime suspect in Charlie's murder. Harry gets permission to investigate Jenny's apartment, but when he gets there he is confronted by Roy, who stabs him with a fork and fires a shot. Roy gets away, but Harry digs out the bullet and has it sent to ballistics; when Lockport is found shot to death the investigator, Milt Bosworth (a rival of Harry's from when he was on the San Diego force), believes it the endgame of a murder-suicide, but Harry calls ballistics and they both find this isn't the case. When Roy gives Jenny a stack of photos of her he has taken, Harry figures out that Roy has been watching Jenny from a hillside apartment, but Roy, seeing Jenny hugging Harry when she breaks down upon learning of John's murder, concludes that he must "purify" Jenny - by kidnapping her, forcing her into a white dress, and photographing her atop a building under construction. Andrea Marcovicci, Clu Gulager, Jodie Foster The film's subplot revolves around Liberty Cole (played by Foster), a homeless girl who takes up residence in Harry's boat; Harry finds out her mother is in jail for shoplifting and manages to get her cleared of all charges.

Season 1[edit]

Episode # Episode title Original airdate Summary Notes
1-1 "Gertrude" September 12, 1974 The sister of an AWOL sailor hires Harry to find him, and his only clue is one of his shoes mailed to her Les Lannom plays the AWOL sailor, having first appeared in "Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On"
1-2 "The Admiral's Lady" September 19, 1974 Harry is hired to find an Admiral's wife who is presumed dead by the police but who turns out to be alive and in genuine danger
1-3 "Guardian at the Gates" September 26, 1974 Harry must protect an obnoxious architect who witnessed a murder and is oblivious to attempts on his own life This was the first episode filmed. Co-stars Linda Evans.
1-4 "Mortal Sin" October 3, 1974 A man confesses to murder to a priest and Harry is brought in to help stop the man The working title was "The Twelfth Tradition."
1-5 "Coinage of the Realm" October 10, 1974 Harry must find a man to donate a kidney to his daughter before two hired killers find the man
1-6 "Eyewitness" October 17, 1974 A blind teenager is the only witness to a murder The episode's working title was "Underground Man."
1-7 "Shadows At Noon" October 24, 1974 Harry infiltrates a mental hospital that holds people as prisoners.
1-8 "Ballinger's Choice" October 31, 1974 Harry is hired in a divorce case that turns into a murder.
1-9 "Second Sight" November 7, 1974 Fay Conners, a psychic, predicts a series of murders that all come true amid Harry's search for a missing psychiatrist Janssen re-teams with Stefanie Powers from his film Warning Shot and Robert Doyle from two episodes of The Fugitive.
1-10 "Material Witness" November 14, 1974 Harry is hired to protect Dr. Noelle Kira, a witness to crimes by one Joe Kiley; Kira hates Harry and the police and it impedes Harry's efforts as he discovers a mole in the department.
1-11 "Forty Reasons to Kill (Part 1)" December 5, 1974 A friend of Harry's is framed for drug dealing when he tries to purchase a parcel of land Janssen re-teams with Joanna Pettet, from The Fugitive episode "Shadow of the Swan"
1-12 "Forty Reasons to Kill (Part 2)" December 12, 1974 Harry find himself framed for murder as his investigation of a 40-acre purchase continues.
1-13 "Accounts Balanced" December 26, 1974 Harry is hired by a woman who believes her husband is having an affair. Co-stars Robert Reed
1-14 "The Last Heir" January 9, 1975 Harry is hired to smoke out a killer of a woman's heirs This was the last episode shot in San Diego
1-15 "For the Love of Money" January 16, 1975 A woman helps her boyfriend steal $25,000 and now the boyfriend has disappeared The working title was "Mind Over Matter." It is also the first episode with Anthony Zerbe as Lt. Trench
1-16 "The Confetti People" January 23, 1975 An arthritic painter and his wife frame his brother, a mental patient, for murder, until the plan goes awry and the painter is shot dead by the brother Janssen reteams with Diana Hyland, a periodic guest star on The Fugitive
1-17 "Sound of Trumpets" January 30, 1975 A recently released jazz trumpeter is pursued by a vengeful record executive who has a left-handed knife killer take the trumpeter's daughter hostage Guest starring Jim Backus and jazz legend Cab Calloway
1-18 "Silent Kill" February 6, 1975 A deaf-mute janitor is framed for arson
1-19 "Double Jeopardy" February 13, 1975 A former crime boss mistakenly believes Todd Conway, an aspiring actor, killed the man's daughter, and the evidence points to Conway when it is found the girl was pregnant Janssen reteams with two guest stars from The Fugitive - Kurt Russell, from the episode "Nemesis," and Will Kuluva, from the episode "Never Wave Goodbye." This is also the first episode with Farrah Fawcett, who plays Orwell's neighbor Sue Ingram.
1-20 "Lester" February 20, 1975 A college student who wants to be a detective becomes a suspect in the murder of two coeds Les Lannom's character became a recurring character in the series' second season.
1-21 "Elegy for a Cop" February 27, 1975 Harry must pursue the killers of his former police friend Most of this episode is reused footage from "Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On", used in the episode's original 1973 airing
1-22 "Street Games" March 2, 1975 The mother of a teen-age girl who is an addict hires Harry to find her after her boyfriend is murdered by a narcotics dealer. Guest stars Maureen McCormick

Season 2[edit]

Episode # Episode title Original airdate Summary Notes
2-1 "Anatomy of a Frame" September 11, 1975 Lt. Trench is framed for murder and must hire Harry Orwell to clear his name Guest stars Gordon Jump and Rene Auberjonois
2-2 "One for the Road" September 18, 1975 A beautiful lawyer is framed for drunk driving by her deranged husband, who when cornered tries to kill himself Janssen reteams with Carol Rossen, a periodic guest star on The Fugitive. Also co-stars Larry Hagman
2-3 "Lester Two" September 25, 1975 Lester Hodges gets mixed up with Harry when diamond smugglers kidnap Harry's neighbor Sue Ingram Ina Balin guest stars. Loni Anderson makes an early appearance in her career
2-4 "Shades" October 2, 1975 A housekeeper is accused of killing a small-time hood; Harry is hired to clear her name and must work with the hood's ex-partner to find the real killer David Janssen's wedding to Dani Crayne Greco occurred two days after this episode aired. The episode co-stars Lou Gossett, Jr.
2-5 "Portrait of a Murder" October 9, 1975 Harry must clear a retarded young man accused of a series of murders he says were committed by "a lion," which turns out to be the shirt of the actual murderer Co-stars Adam Arkin and Katherine Helmond
2-6 "The Acolyte" October 16, 1975 Harry must rescue a woman taken in by a religious cult The working title was "Image Of Murder"
2-7 "Mayday" October 23, 1975 A pilot friend of Harry's dies in a plane crash and Harry discovers he was involved in an attempted murder Co-stars Geoffrey Lewis
2-8 "Tender Killing Care" October 30, 1975 Harry must investigate a nursing home suspected of murder.
2-9 "APB Harry Orwell" November 6, 1975 Harry is framed for murder and must escape his cell to find the real guilty party The opening dialogue between Harry and Lt. Trench involves them eating crackers covered with peanut butter; this scene was ad-libbed by David Janssen
2-10 "Group Terror" November 13, 1975 A psychiatrist who takes a sensual liking to Harry hires him to help smoke out a killer among the members of her group Guest stars Linda Lavin
2-11 "Reflections" November 20, 1975 Harry must remember his bitter divorce when his ex-wife is taken hostage Guest stars Andrew Robinson and Felicia Farr
2-12 "Exercise in Fatality" December 4, 1975 A hotheaded policeman is accused of murder when the boyfriend who fathered his daughter's unborn child is found dead; making it worse for Harry a former lover returns to his life and gets swept into the case
2-13 "The Madonna Legacy" December 11, 1975 A former partner of Harry's is killed investigating an old murder, and Harry learns that a violent man convicted of the murder was recently released Guest starring John Colicos
2-14 "Mister Five and Dime" January 8, 1976 Harry, Lester, and Lt. Trench run into repeated cases of mistaken identity as they pursue a gang of armored car thieves Harry mentions Lester's mentor Dr. Crieghton Fong for the first time in the series
2-15 "Book of Changes" January 15, 1976 A gambling club owner is murdered and a book of clients must be found before extortionists get to it
2-16 "Past Imperfect" January 22, 1976 A con artist takes his ex-partner and Harry hostage to get back a suitcase he claims contains several thousand dollars, and they are themselves pursued by two mob hitmen
2-17 "Hostage" February 19, 1976 Harry must intervene to help settle a hostage crisis in which Lt. Trench is one of the hostages
2-18 "Forbidden City" February 26, 1976 Harry investigates the killing of a private detective in Chinatown.
2-19 "Victim" March 4, 1976 A rape victim hires Harry This was the final episode shot
2-20 "Ruby" March 11, 1976 Harry must help one of his informants after a youth gets mixed up in a car theft that results in the death of a policeman.
2-21 "The Mysterious Case of Lester and Dr. Fong" March 18, 1976 Lester Hodges and his mentor, Dr. Creighton Fong (Keye Luke), must find the murderer of members of Lester's family Harry's role is little more than a cameo as the episode was intended to launch a spin-off series titled "Fong and Hodges"
2-22 "Death Certificate" April 29, 1976 Harry investigates a doctor suspected by two women of fatal malpractice.

DVD release[edit]

On July 11, 2012, Warner Bros. released Harry O: The Complete First Season on DVD in region 1 via their Warner Archive Collection. This is a manufacture-on-demand (MOD) release, available exclusively through Warner's online store and only in the US.[5] The 6-disc set features all 22 episodes of the season as well as the original pilot tele-film "Such Dust as Dreams Are Made On". The second and final season was released by Warner Archive on February 5, 2013.[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Result Category Recipient
1975 Edgar Award Nominated Best Television Episode Howard Rodman
(For episode "Gertrude")
1976 Primetime Emmy Award Won Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Anthony Zerbe


  1. ^ "Television Obscurities - Fall 1974: ABC". tvobscurities.com. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  2. ^ Snauffer, Douglas (2006). Crime Television. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 87. ISBN 0-275-98807-4. 
  3. ^ Snauffer, Douglas (2006). Crime Television. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 87–88. ISBN 0-275-98807-4. 
  4. ^ "Harry O: The Complete First Season". DVD Talk. 
  5. ^ "Harry O DVD news: Announcement for Harry O - The Complete 1st Season - TVShowsOnDVD.com". tvshowsondvd.com. 
  6. ^ "Harry O DVD news: Announcement for Harry O - The Complete 2nd Season - TVShowsOnDVD.com". tvshowsondvd.com. 

External links[edit]