Johnny Staccato

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Johnny Staccato
John Cassavetes Gena Rowlands Johnny Staccato 1959.JPG
John Cassavetes as Johnny Staccato with guest star and spouse, Gena Rowlands, 1959.
Also known as''Staccato''
GenreCrime drama
StarringJohn Cassavetes
Eduardo Ciannelli
Frank London
Composer(s)Elmer Bernstein
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes27
Executive producer(s)William Frye
Producer(s)Everett Chambers
CinematographyRay Cory
Lionel Lindon
John L. Russell
William A. Sickner
Bud Thackery
John F. Warren
Editor(s)Edward Haire
Eugene Pendleton
Irving M. Schoenberg
Running time30 min. (approx)
Production company(s)Revue Studios
DistributorMCA TV
Original networkNBC
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 10, 1959 –
March 24, 1960

Johnny Staccato is an American private detective series starring John Cassavetes which ran for 27 episodes on NBC from September 10, 1959 through 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. (Although the show was set in New York City, all of these men were closely identified with the West Coast jazz scene, and it 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.

After its initial airing on NBC, ABC presented reruns of the series from March 27 to September 25, 1960.[1]

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[edit]

Production notes[edit]

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 list[edit]

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. Opening scene, Waldo's Jazz Club, featuring Barney Kessel.
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.

Home media[edit]

Timeless Media Group released the complete series on DVD in Region 1 on October 12, 2010.[2]

Mary Tyler Moore in Johnny Staccato, 1960

In popular culture[edit]

  • 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.[3]
  • The theme, performed by Elmer Bernstein, received little attention in the US, but went to #4 in Britain.
  • 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.


  1. ^ Alex McNeil, Total Television, New York: Penguin Books, 1997, p. 782
  2. ^ The Complete Series starring John Cassavetes Arrives on DVD in October Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Pynchon, Thomas. Inherent Vice. New York: Penguin, 2009, 97.

External links[edit]