John Cassavetes as Johnny Staccato with guest star and spouse, Gena Rowlands, 1959.
|Also known as||Staccato|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||27|
|Executive producer(s)||William Frye|
Irving M. Schoenberg
John L. Russell
William A. Sickner
John F. Warren
|Running time||30 min. (approx)|
|Original release||September 10, 1959 – March 24, 1960|
Titular character Johnny Staccato, played by John Cassavetes, is a jazz pianist/private detective. The setting for many episodes is a Greenwich Village jazz club belonging to his friend, Waldo, played by Eduardo Ciannelli. The show featured many musicians, such as Barney Kessel, Shelly Manne, Red Mitchell, Red Norvo, and Johnny Williams. (Ironically, given the show's New York setting, all of these men were closely identified with the West Coast jazz scene, as the show was filmed largely in Los Angeles.) Elmer Bernstein composed both of the main theme tunes used and Stanley Wilson was music supervisor. Cassavetes also directed five episodes.
On October 12, 2010, the series was released on Region 1 DVD by Timeless Media Group.
Reruns currently air Saturday mornings on GETtv.
Notable guest stars
- Warren Berlinger
- Geraldine Brooks
- Walter Burke
- Elisha Cook, Jr. (twice)
- Lloyd Corrigan
- Frank DeKova
- Norman Fell
- Marianne Gaba
- Ingrid Goude
- Harry Guardino
- Arline Hunter
- Martin Landau
- Michael Landon
- Cloris Leachman
- Ruta Lee
- Sylvia Lewis
- Charles McGraw
- John Marley
- Walter Maslow
- Elizabeth Montgomery
- Mary Tyler Moore
- Susan Oliver
- J. Pat O'Malley
- Gena Rowlands
- Vito Scotti
- Dean Stockwell
- Nita Talbot
- Jack Weston
Johnny Staccato aired at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on Thursdays opposite ABC's sitcom, The Real McCoys, created by Irving Pincus and starring Walter Brennan, Richard Crenna, and Kathleen Nolan, and CBS's western series, Johnny Ringo, starring Don Durant and Mark Goddard.
|Episode #||Episode title||Original airdate||Plot|
|1-1||"The Naked Truth"||September 10, 1959||Staccato investigates a scandal magazine's blackmail scheme that could end the promising career of a young male vocalist.|
|1-2||"Murder for Credit"||September 17, 1959||A bandleader making a comeback (Charles McGraw) tells Staccato that he has been marked for death by four men, just before he is killed.|
|1-3||"The Parents"||September 24, 1959||A young married couple is expecting a child and is about to lose it to the black market before Staccato comes to their aid.|
|1-4||"The Shop of the Four Winds"||October 1, 1959||Staccato goes searching for a ruthless swindler who has cheated a group of Japanese immigrants seeking citizenship papers.|
|1-5||"Nature of the Night"||October 15, 1959||A neighborhood is terrorized by a young man (Dean Stockwell), whose wife has left him and whose victims all have her blonde hair.|
|1-6||"Viva, Paco!"||October 22, 1959||Staccato traces a boxer's disappearance, then sets out to find the person who is trying to frame the pugilist in order to prevent him from fighting the champion.|
|1-7||"Evil"||October 29, 1959||Staccato must choose between exposing a dishonest preacher (Alexander Scourby) and destroying the faith the preacher has kindled in the small mission.|
|1-8||"Murder in Hi-Fi"||November 5, 1959||Staccato receives a beating from hoodlums after he pays attention to a new singer that's just been hired by Waldo.|
|1-9||"Fly, Baby, Fly"||November 12, 1959||Staccato is involved in a mystery after he is hired to deliver what is supposed to be a briefcase full of gems to Arizona, but instead is a bomb.|
|1-10||"Tempted"||November 19, 1959||Staccato becomes involved in a double-cross when he agrees to guard a valuable necklace from the ex-wife (Elizabeth Montgomery) of one of his former bandmates.|
|1-11||"The Poet's Touch"||November 26, 1959||In his search for a missing poet, Staccato's search leads him through a number of off-beat places, as well as murder.|
|1-12||"The Wild Reed"||December 3, 1959||Staccato visits a nightclub and uncovers a narcotics racket.|
|1-13||"A Piece of Paradise"||December 10, 1959||The murder of a dance hall girl leads to a startling discovery.|
|1-14||"The Return"||December 17, 1959||A Korean War veteran, suspicious of his wife over imagined affairs, escapes from a mental hospital and is intent on killing her.|
|1-15||"The Unwise Men"||December 24, 1959||A department store Santa Claus is threatened when he refuses to help in a robbery plan that was set up by his brother.|
|1-16||"Collector's Item"||December 31, 1959||Staccato investigates when a man kills his former girlfriend and then frames a jazz pianist for murder.|
|1-17||"The Man in the Pit"||January 7, 1960||A young man believes that a trumpet player is his father, who deserted the family years before, and attacks him with murder on his mind.|
|1-18||"The Only Witness"||January 14, 1960||Staccato is hired to protect the younger sister of a racketeer, but when he arrives at the racketeer's apartment, he is shot and his client is found dead.|
|1-19||"Night of Jeopardy"||January 21, 1960||A counterfeiting ring that believes Staccato is in possession of their stolen plates gives him two hours in which to save his life.|
|1-20||"Double Feature"||January 28, 1960||A dead ringer for Staccato murders the owner of a bowling alley and the young detective is accused.|
|1-21||"The List of Death"||February 4, 1960||A hunted criminal hires Staccato as a bodyguard and promises to turn himself over to police in exchange for letting him visit family members.|
|1-22||"Solomon"||February 11, 1960||A pacifist movement leader (Cloris Leachman) is accused of murdering her husband, which results in the woman's lawyer (Elisha Cook, Jr.) coming to Staccato for help.|
|1-23||"An Act of Terror"||February 18, 1960||Staccato hears a ventriliquist talking in his sleep and gets clues to the disappearance of the man's wife.|
|1-24||"An Angry Young Man"||February 25, 1960||A mobster uses a bookstore as a front for fencing stolen gems until Staccato finds out about it.|
|1-25||"The Mask of Jason"||March 3, 1960||Staccato is hired by a beauty pageant contestant (Mary Tyler Moore) to protect her from a disfigured man who keeps threatening her, but the man turns out to be her husband.|
|1-26||"A Nice Little Town"||March 10, 1960||After a former soldier comes home after defecting to China, he is killed by a group of local vigilantes.|
|1-27||"Swinging Long Hair"||March 17, 1960||Staccato is mistaken for a concert pianist who has come to the United States to avoid his repressive government.|
In popular culture
- The show was later parodied on SCTV as Vic Arpeggio (portrayed by Joe Flaherty), a saxophonist/private investigator whose cases were usually solved by accident. Arpeggio claimed to have been “framed” for drug possession, and that the detective gig was merely a sideline until he got his solo career back on track.
- Thomas Pynchon references Johnny Staccato in his 2009 novel Inherent Vice, set in late 1960s Los Angeles. Pynchon's main character, private investigator Larry "Doc" Sportello, praises Staccato as "the shamus of shamuses," ranking him with past greats Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade.
- The theme, performed by Elmer Bernstein, received little attention in the US, but went to #4 in Britain.
- Legendary artist Harvey Kurtzman parodied the show in his classic "Jungle Book" (Ballantine Books 1959) as "Thelonius Violence"
- The Colts Drum and Bugle Corps' 2015 show was called "...and a Shot Rings Out: A Johnny Staccato Murder Mystery", which was a play on the TV show.
- Alex McNeil, Total Television, New York: Penguin Books, 1997, p. 782
- The Complete Series starring John Cassavetes Arrives on DVD in October
- Pynchon, Thomas. Inherent Vice. New York: Penguin, 2009, 97.