The Deliberate Stranger

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The Deliberate Stranger.jpg
Genre Crime
Based on The Deliberate Stranger 
by Richard W. Larsen
Screenplay by Hesper Anderson
Directed by Marvin J. Chomsky
Starring Mark Harmon
Frederic Forrest
George Grizzard
Maggie Roswell
Theme music composer Gil Melle
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Marvin J. Chomsky
Editor(s) Lori Jane Coleman
Howard Kunin
Ronald LaVine
Cinematography Michael D. Margulies
Running time 185 minutes
Production company(s) Lorimar Productions
Distributor Warner Bros. Television
Original network NBC
Original release
  • May 4, 1986 (1986-05-04)

The Deliberate Stranger is a book and television film about American serial killer Ted Bundy.


Bundy: The Deliberate Stranger was written by Seattle Times reporter Richard W. Larsen and published in 1980. Larsen covered politics for the Times and had interviewed Bundy in 1972, years before he became a murder suspect, when Bundy worked as a volunteer for the re-election campaign of Gov. Daniel J. Evans and had been seen trailing the campaign of Evans' Democratic opponent with a video camera. Larsen would go on to cover the "Ted" murders in 1974 and then cover the Ted Bundy story up until Bundy's execution in 1989. Bundy: The Deliberate Stranger was published in paperback in editions as late as 1990 but has since gone out of print.

Television film[edit]

The Deliberate Stranger was adapted into a two-part television movie originally broadcast on NBC in May 1986.[1] The film, based on Larsen's book, starred Mark Harmon as Bundy. The film omits Bundy's childhood, early life, and first six known victims (five murders and the first victim who survived), picking up the story with the murder of Georgeann Hawkins and following Bundy's further crimes in Washington, Utah, Colorado and Florida. Frederic Forrest starred as Seattle detective Robert D. Keppel, and George Grizzard played reporter Larsen.

Bundy's lawyer Polly Nelson, in her book Defending the Devil, characterized the film as "stunningly accurate" and said it did not portray anything that was not proven to be factual. She singled out for praise Harmon's portrayal of Bundy, noting how Harmon reproduced Bundy's rigid posture and suspicious expression.[2] According to Nelson, her client, still on death row when the program aired, showed no interest in seeing the film.[3] Ann Rule, who had known Bundy before the murders when they worked together on a suicide crisis hotline, felt that Harmon's portrayal missed the insecurities that lurked under Bundy's confident facade.[4] Harmon was nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Bundy.[5]

While the film is accurate in its portrayal of events, the names of all the victims (as well as Bundy's girlfriend) have been changed, with the sole exceptions of victim Denise Naslund and her mother Eleanor Rose.

According to The New York Times, the two shows ranked seventeenth and sixth in the Nielsen ratings.[6] Howard Rosenberg of the Los Angeles Times described it as "taut, suspenseful, scary".[7]


  1. ^ O'Connor, John J. (1986-05-02). "TV WEEKEND; NETWORKS INTRODUCING NEW SHOWS". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-06-05. 
  2. ^ Nelson 1994, p. 68.
  3. ^ Nelson 1994, p. 66.
  4. ^ Rule 2000, p. 482.
  5. ^ Carter, Alan (1998-08-31). "Times Have Changed for Mark Harmon". New York Daily News – via Lakeland Ledger. 
  6. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (1986-10-07). "2 MINI-SERIES TO LOOK AT SAME KILLING". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-06-05. 
  7. ^ Rosenberg, Howard (1986-05-03). "Weekend Tv : 'Stranger': Cold Look At A Killer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-06-05. 

External links[edit]