The Green Hornet (TV series)

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For the comic character, see Green Hornet.
The Green Hornet
Van Williams Bruce Lee Green Hornet 1966.JPG
Van Williams and Bruce Lee, 1966.
Genre Action/Adventure
Created by George W. Trendle
and Fran Striker
Directed by William Beaudine
Leslie H. Martinson
Larry Peerce
Allen Reisner
Seymour Robbie
Starring Van Williams as The Green Hornet
Bruce Lee as Kato
Walter Brooke
Lloyd Gough
Wende Wagner
Narrated by William Dozier
Opening theme "Flight of the Bumblebee"
composed by
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,
arranged by
Billy May,
conducted by
Lionel Newman,
performed by
Al Hirt
Composer(s) Billy May
(background score)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1[1]
No. of episodes 26[2] (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) William Dozier
Producer(s) Richard M. Bluel (23 episodes)
Stanley Shpetner (2 episodes)
Editor(s) Fred R. Feitshans Jr.
Noel Scott
Cinematography Jack Marta
Carl Guthrie
Charles Clarke
Running time 30 min.
Production company(s) Greenway Productions
20th Century Fox Television
Original channel ABC
Picture format Color
Original release September 9, 1966 – July 14, 1967

The Green Hornet is a television series on the ABC US television network that aired for the 1966–1967 TV season starring Van Williams as the Green Hornet/Britt Reid and Bruce Lee as Kato.


The Green Hornet followed the adventures of playboy-media mogul Britt Reid, the owner and publisher of The Daily Sentinel. As the masked vigilante Green Hornet, Britt fights crime with the assistance of his martial-artist partner Kato, Britt's valet, and his weapons-enhanced car the Black Beauty with license plate V-194. On police records, the Green Hornet is a wanted criminal, but in reality, the Green Hornet pretends to be a criminal in order to infiltrate and battle the criminal gangs, leaving them and the incriminating evidence for the police's arrival. Britt's dual identity is known only to his secretary at The Sentinel, Lenore "Casey" Case and the District Attorney Frank P. Scanlon.

The motive behind Britt's becoming a crimefighter was explained on-screen that his father had died in prison after having been framed and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.

The single-season series premiered September 9, 1966, and ran through March 17, 1967, lasting 26 episodes; ABC repeated the series after its cancellation by the network, until July 14, 1967, when The Green Hornet had its last broadcast on network television.[3]

The character had originated as the star of a 1930s to 1950s radio series, and had previously been adapted to movie serials, comic books, and other media. Britt Reid shares the same last name as The Lone Ranger, as Britt's father was Dan Reid, the Lone Ranger's nephew.


Despite character co-creator George W. Trendle's failed efforts to generate interest in a Green Hornet TV series in 1951 and 1958,[citation needed] the success of ABC's 1960s Batman series prompted the network to adapt the venerable radio and movie-serial character. The series starred Van Williams as the Green Hornet, and, introduced martial artist Bruce Lee to American television audiences as his partner, Kato.[3] Unlike the campy and humorous Batman series, The Green Hornet was played straight. Though it was canceled after one season, Lee became a major star of martial arts movies. Lee's popularity in Hong Kong, where he was raised, was such that the show was marketed there as The Kato Show.[4] The Green Hornet and Kato also appeared in two episodes of Batman titled "A Piece Of The Action/Batman's Satisfaction," with Reid mentioning that he and Bruce Wayne had been acquaintances and rivals since childhood.[5] Though other characters in the story were all led to believe wrongly that the Green Hornet and Kato were villains, as on The Green Hornet: The Series, Roger C. Carmel acted out the show's real villain, who called himself Colonel Gumm.



No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date Production
1 "The Silent Gun" Leslie H. Martinson Ken Pettus September 9, 1966 9804
In this premiere episode, Dave Bannister is shot at a funeral with 20 witnesses present and not a shot was heard, not even by the Green Hornet's friend, the District Attorney, who was also attending. A messenger from a Brokerage House, carrying $5000 in negotiable bonds, is the Silent Gun's second victim. The Green Hornet and Kato respond in the infamous Black Beauty and hit the streets to track down the villainous culprit.
2 "Give 'Em Enough Rope" Seymour Robbie Gwen Bagni,
Paul Dubov
September 16, 1966 9806
Joe Sweek, waiting to meet Sentinel reporter Mike Axford to sell him photos proving an insurance claim to be fraudulent, is manipulated into a nearby warehouse and murdered by a man in black swinging from a rope. The Green Hornet plans a surprise visit to the claimant, Alex Colony, to propose a partnership with him in his "accident" racket.
3 "Programmed for Death" Larry Peerce Lewis Reed September 23, 1966 9802

After reporter Pat Allen is killed in the Daily Sentinel 's eighth floor city room by a leopard, Britt Reid finds a transmitter in a cigarette box. Later, D.A. Scanlon informs Britt of the discovery of a perfect diamond on Allen's desk. Digging around, Reid suspects that the gemologist had been working on producing synthetic diamonds, and the Green Hornet takes an interest in him.

Although the third episode aired by ABC, this is generally believed to be the series' original pilot, in part due to the fact that stars Van Williams and Bruce Lee wear angularly stylized masks rather than those molded to their faces seen in other episodes.[6] This episode was also released as a Sawyers' ViewMaster stereoscopic set.
4 "Crime Wave" Larry Peerce Sheldon Stark September 30, 1966 9803
A scientist predicts crimes with a computer that implicates the Green Hornet.
5 "The Frog Is a Deadly Weapon" Leslie H. Martinson William L. Stuart October 7, 1966 9805

Private Investigator Nat Pyle informs Britt that he has proof, for a fee, that presumed dead racketeer Glen Connors is still alive. Shortly later, Nat is found floating dead in the harbor from a possible boating accident. The Green Hornet thinks otherwise and has a special interest, because... Glen Connors framed Britt Reid's father.

Hollywood veteran Victor Jory plays the villain.[7]
6 "Eat, Drink, and Be Dead" Murray Golden Richard Landau October 14, 1966 9807
An illegal bootleg liquor ring devised by Henry Dirk forces a stronghold on bars in the town to buy from them. As reporter Mike tries to follow a lead to the racketeers, he becomes kidnapped. To get in and save Axford, the Green Hornet approaches Dirk for a cut of his action. The bootlegger and his helicopter, from which he drops bombs on his non-conformists, is a challenge to the Black Beauty.
7 "Beautiful Dreamer: Part 1" Allen Reisner Lorenzo Semple, Jr.,
Ken Pettus
October 21, 1966 9808
Seems that wealthy and prominent members of the community have been executing crimes and then forgetting that they ever happened. Eventually the District Attorney and the Green Hornet find that Peter Eden, owner of the very high class spa called the Vale of Eden, has been implanting "suggestions" into his clients' subconscious minds via his treatments.
8 "Beautiful Dreamer: Part 2" Allen Reisner Lorenzo Semple, Jr.,
Ken Pettus
October 28, 1966 9809
Part two picks up with a Green Hornet visit and proposition for Peter Eden, owner of the Vale of Eden. After Peter uses Vanessa Vane in an almost successful attempt to double-cross the Hornet, the Hornet re-visits Eden and uses his own dream machine on Peter to foil the last crime for the evening and get him to confess everything to the police.
9 "The Ray Is for Killing" William Beaudine Lee Loeb November 11, 1966 9801
A charity art auction of fine paintings at Britt Reid's home is interrupted on live television by three masked, gun-toting criminals. The police, nearby, manage to wound one of the thieves, but before they can arrest the other two, a laser ray is unleashed on their squad car with devastating results. The Green Hornet and Kato find themselves in quite a confrontation against this portable killing machine.
10 "The Preying Mantis" Norman Foster Charles Hoffman November 18, 1966 9810

Organized crime's "Protection" Boss Duke Slate decides it's time to acquire "the city's Chinatown district" and uses Low Sing's tong to handle his influence. Low Sing, a martial arts professional, instructs his craft to his gang using the actions of a caged Praying Mantis, analogizing its intricate moves to proper Kung-Fu application. After a kidnapping engineered by Low Sing, a challenge between Low Sing and Kato is inevitable.

Keye Luke, the man who previously played Kato in the 1940s film serials, has an uncredited role as Mr. Chang.
11 "The Hunters and the Hunted" William Beaudine Jerry Thomas November 25, 1966 9811
Big game hunters are using mobsters as quarry but their next target may be their most dangerous game yet, the Green Hornet.
12 "Deadline for Death" Seymour Robbie Ken Pettus December 2, 1966 9812
After a rash of wealthy homes are burglarized shortly after reporter Mike Axford writes a feature on them, he becomes so suspicious he places himself at the next possible home to be targeted, only to find himself being arrested and put behind bars, for suspicion of murder when the home's butler is killed in the robbery. D.A. Scanlon is so convinced of Axford's guilt that only the Green Hornet is willing to investigate Mike's photographer.
13 "The Secret of the Sally Bell" Robert L. Friend William L. Stuart December 9, 1966 9813
The Sally Bell, a cargo ship with $2 million in narcotics en route to the U.S. from Hong Kong, is initially lost with her crew at sea, now mysteriously shows up at a salvage yard. The only survivor, Gus Wander, knows "The Secret" of her special cargo with only one big problem — he's currently unconscious due to a blast from the Hornet Sting.
14 "Freeway to Death" Allen Reisner Ken Pettus December 16, 1966 9815
Britt Reid orders Mike Axford to team up with the Green Hornet to uncover the ringleader in an insurance scam. Mike reluctantly agrees, but later tries to expose the ringleader alone, leaving it up to the Green Hornet & Kato to save him before it is too late.
15 "May the Best Man Lose" Allen Reisner Judith & Robert Guy Barrows December 23, 1966 9814
It's election time again and District Attorney Scanlon is running although someone wants to permanently remove him from the ballot.
16 "The Hornet and the Firefly" Allen Reisner William L. Stuart December 30, 1966 9817
An arsonist wreaks havoc setting fire to buildings at the stroke of midnight. The Green Hornet and the District Attorney work behind the scenes to aid the Commissioner to put a stop to this hot situation. The commissioner refuses to enlist the aid of a retired top arson investigator because his work previously cost him an eye, but reporter Mike Axford suggests to Britt Reid that the Sentinel can put him to work. Unfortunately, Mike is in for a very big surprise.
17 "Seek, Stalk and Destroy" George Waggner Jerry Thomas January 6, 1967 9816
A tank crew who served together in Korea steals a tank to free their former captain from prison before he is executed for the murder of their ex-commanding officer. It's up to the Green Hornet & Kato to stop them before they can accomplish their goal, and uncover the real killer.
18 "Corpse of the Year: Part 1" James Komack Ken Pettus January 13, 1967 9818
A carbon copy of the Green Hornet's Black Beauty attacks a Daily Sentinel delivery truck and terminates its driver right in front of Britt Reid. Then the Sentinel offices have an explosive visit from a Green Hornet impostor, leading the real Hornet on a cat and mouse chase of his shadow car disrupting Sentinel deliveries. Celia Kaye guest stars as Melissa Neal.
19 "Corpse of the Year: Part 2" James Komack Ken Pettus January 27, 1967 9819
After another death—of Simon Neal, publisher/owner of the Daily Express—by the phony Green Hornet, part 2 begins with Britt Reid bringing on-board the Express 's previous employee, Dan Scully, to help investigate Simon's termination. After finding out from Sabrina Bradley, Managing Editor of the Daily Express, that Simon had a copy of Black Beauty produced for the Press Club's Masquerade Ball, the real Green Hornet sets a trap with her help.
20 "Ace in the Hole" William Beaudine Stan Silverman,
Robert Lees
February 3, 1967 9820
When Mike Axford unexpectedly shows up at a meeting of mobsters Phil Trager, Steve Gant and...the Green Hornet, he gets shot. The Hornet fools the other two into believing Mike has been killed and tries to manipulate them into taking each other out. The plan may fail and cost Axford, the Green Hornet, and Kato their lives when the reporter reveals that he is still very much alive.
21 "Bad Bet on a 459-Silent" Seymour Robbie Judith & Robert Guy Barrows February 10, 1967 9821
Britt Reid must figure out how to get medical attention for a wound he received as the Green Hornet, as well as how to stop two cops who are using silent alarm calls for their own profit.
22 "Trouble for Prince Charming" William Beaudine Ken Pettus February 17, 1967 9822
After the Green Hornet prevents the assassination of Prince Rafil, his blonde American fiancée Janet Prescott is kidnapped and the prince is ordered to abdicate in order to save her.
23 "Alias The Scarf" Allen Reisner William L. Stuart February 24, 1967 9823

When a wax museum's figure of The Scarf, an infamous strangler from 20 years ago, is replaced in the center display spot by effigies of the Green Hornet & Kato, the waxen form of Scarf seemingly comes to life and starts attacking people. Using the museum researcher's manuscript about the Scarf, the Green Hornet & Kato attempt to snare the killer before he claims any more victims.

Horror film star John Carradine plays the researcher.[8]
24 "Hornet Save Thyself" Seymour Robbie John Tait March 3, 1967 9824

As a surprise birthday party begins for Britt, a handgun given as a present to Britt seemingly discharges itself, fatally shooting ex-employee Eddie Rech. In a reverse of his usual situation, Britt Reid hides from the police by becoming the Green Hornet.

There is no "Produced by..." credit on this episode.[9]
25 "Invasion from Outer Space: Part 1" Darrell Hallenbeck Arthur Weingarten March 10, 1967 9825
The arrival of visitors from outer space seemingly coincides with an Air Force convoy transporting top secret electronic equipment and an H-Bomb missile warhead. Having Britt's secretary Casey taken hostage makes the situation very touchy. Brett King guest stars in this episode, his last screen role, as Major Jackson.
26 "Invasion from Outer Space: Part 2" Darrell Hallenbeck Arthur Weingarten March 17, 1967 9826
Part 2 begins with the Green Hornet using his tracking signal to close in on the visitors from outer space and their mystery. This is the last episode.

Differences from radio version[edit]

As with the later years of the radio version, secretary Lenore "Casey" Case (played by Wende Wagner) is again aware of Reid's secret, and the Hornet also has a confidant within the law enforcement community, but now he is District Attorney Frank P. Scanlon (played by Walter Brooke).[3] This character was changed from the original's police commissioner because the Batman TV series was already using a man in that post as the hero's official contact, and William Dozier, the executive producer of both programs, wanted to downplay comparisons between the two shows.[citation needed] Michael Axford (Lloyd Gough), the bodyguard turned reporter of the radio series, is now solely a police reporter for The Daily Sentinel, the newspaper owned by Britt Reid/the Green Hornet.[3] (The first episode, "The Silent Gun", provides a connection between the radio and the TV series, as Axford reminds Reid of the "old days" when he lived in the same apartment with Reid's father, which hints that Reid's father may have been the Green Hornet of the radio series.) In this series, Reid owned a television station as well.[3]

There were visual differences as well. Promotional artwork for the radio program and the comic books of the day depicted the Hornet wearing a mask that covered all of his face below the eyes (the two Universal Studios Saturday matinee serials contained a full face mask with eye holes) while Kato wore goggles. Here, both men wear masks that cover only the upper portions of their faces. These masks initially had a stylized angularity that soon proved problematic: neither man could see much. They were soon replaced with masks molded to the performers' faces.[10]

In a technological update, the Hornet carried a telescoping device called the Hornet's Sting, which projected ultrasonic soundwaves. He most frequently used it to open locked doors, although he was also seen using it to set things on fire (presumably by vibrating them and causing friction heat) and to threaten criminals to get information. In the episode "The Secret of the Sally Bell", the Hornet used it to explode the thug's gun, causing the thug to fall and suffer a concussion, resulting in the criminal's being hospitalized. He also had a Hornet knock-out gas gun.


The television version also had Kato using green "sleeve darts" to give him a ranged attack he could use to counter enemies both at a distance and in hand-to-hand combat. The impression Bruce Lee made at the time is demonstrated by one of the TV series tie-in coloring books produced by Watkins & Strathmore, titled, Kato's Revenge Featuring the Green Hornet.[11]

Theme music and opening[edit]

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral interlude, "Flight of the Bumblebee", used for the radio series, was so strongly identified with The Green Hornet that it was retained as the theme, rearranged by Billy May (who also composed the new background scores),[citation needed] and conducted by Lionel Newman,[citation needed] with trumpet solo by Al Hirt, in a jazz style nicknamed "Green Bee".[citation needed] Each episode begins with the following monologue, narrated by producer William Dozier.[citation needed]

Another challenge for the Green Hornet, his aide Kato, and their rolling arsenal, the Black Beauty. On police records a wanted criminal, the Green Hornet is really Britt Reid, owner-publisher of The Daily Sentinel; his dual identity known only to his secretary, and to the district attorney. And now, to protect the rights and lives of decent citizens, rides the Green Hornet!

Years later, the Billy May music was featured in the 2003 film, Kill Bill, Vol. 1, in which Quentin Tarantino paid tribute to Kato by featuring dozens of swordfighters wearing Kato masks during one of the film's fight sequences.[12][13]

Black Beauty[edit]

A Black Beauty used in the series

The TV series featured the Green Hornet's car, The Black Beauty, a 1966 Imperial Crown sedan customized by Dean Jeffries at a cost of US$13,000. Two cars were built for the show and both exist today. Black Beauty 1 is located in the Petersen Museum collection and Black Beauty 2 has been fully restored and is located in a private collection in South Carolina.

Storage and deployment[edit]

The Black Beauty was stored underneath Britt Reid's garage.[14] A set of switches on a secret control panel behind a tool wall would sequentially set the lights to green, attach clamps to the bumpers of Reid's personal car, rotate the floor of the garage – hiding Reid's car and bringing up the Black Beauty – finally unclamping the Black Beauty's bumpers. The Black Beauty would then exit the garage through a hidden rear door, and enter the street from behind a billboard advertising the fictitious product Kissin' Candy Mint (with the slogan "How sweet they are") designed to separate down the middle and rejoin.

Weaponry, surveillance and security features[edit]

The Black Beauty, which carried rear license plate number V194, could fire explosive charges from tubes hidden behind retractable panels below the headlights which were said to be rockets with explosive warheads; had a concealed-when-not-in-use, drop-down knock-out gas nozzle in the center of the front grille and the vehicle could launch a small flying video/audio surveillance device (referred to as the scanner) through a small rectangular panel in the middle of the trunk lid. It was a foreshadowing of today's small helicopter like drones. Working rockets and gas nozzles were incorporated into the trunk lid as well.[15]

Other appearances[edit]

Crossover with Batman TV series[edit]

Main article: Batman (TV series)

Van Williams and Bruce Lee made a cameo appearance as the Green Hornet and Kato as "window cameos" (while the Caped Crusaders were climbing a wall). This was in part one of a two-part second season episode of the Batman TV series: "The Spell of Tut", which aired on September 28, 1966.[16] Later that same season, the Green Hornet and Kato appeared in the two-part second season episodes "A Piece of the Action" and "Batman's Satisfaction", which aired on March 1–2, 1967. In the two episodes, the Green Hornet and Kato are in Gotham City to bust a counterfeit stamp ring run by Colonel Gumm (portrayed by Roger C. Carmel).[17] The "Batman's Satisfaction" episode leads up to a mixed fight with both Batman & Robin and The Green Hornet & Kato fighting Colonel Gumm and his gang. Once Gumm's crew was defeated, Batman and Robin squared off against The Green Hornet and Kato, resulting in a stand-off that was interrupted by the police. In this episode, Batman, Robin and the police consider the Green Hornet and Kato as criminals, though Batman and Robin were cordial to the duo in the earlier window cameo.

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story[edit]

The 1993 American semi-fictionalized film biography of Bruce Lee depicts Lee (Jason Scott Lee) meeting fictional producer Bill Krieger (Robert Wagner) after a martial arts tournament, and being hired to play Kato in The Green Hornet series. The movie shows the fictionalized shooting of the first episode, where cast and crew are impressed by Lee's martial arts skills. Van Williams plays the director of the episode.[18]

Batman '66 Meets the Green Hornet[edit]

Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman are co-writers of a Batman and Green Hornet team-up titled Batman '66 Meets the Green Hornet.[19] The artist is Ty Templeton. The six-issue miniseries is being co-produced by DC Comics (publishers of Batman) and Dynamite Entertainment (current publishers of the Green Hornet titles). The overall story is a sequel to the above-mentioned Batman/Green Hornet two-part TV crossover episodes, reuniting Hornet & Kato with Batman & Robin, and pitting both teams against the now "General Gumm" and his new criminal cohort, the Joker. The series is being published both in physical comic book form and in an extended 12-part digital format (splitting each regular issue's material into two digital issues). [20]


  1. ^ Lidz, Franz (2011-01-07). "Float Like a Franchise, Sting Like a ...". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-10. 
  2. ^ Boucher, Geoff (2010-07-23). "Getting 'The Green Hornet' off the ground". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-13. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Brooks, Tim, and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, Eighth Edition (Ballantine Books : New York, 2003), pp. 486-487
  4. ^ "Bruce Lee's Biography". Kung Fu Magazine. Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  5. ^ "Bruce Lee Biography". Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  6. ^ Van Hise, James, The Green Hornet, Schuster and Schuster, Inc., 1988, p. 39.
  7. ^ Van Hise, p. 44.
  8. ^ Van Hise, p. 94.
  9. ^ Van Hise, p. 98.
  10. ^ Murray, Will, "Van Williams After the Mask," Starlog #135, October 1988, O'Quinn Studios Inc., p. 73.
  11. ^ Bonnet, Jean Pierre, "The Buzz Word" Letter to the Editor, The Green Hornet, vol. 2, # 18 (Feb. 1993), NOW Comics.
  12. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (2003-10-26). "FILM; The 'Kill Bill' Soundtrack: D.J. Quentin's Recycled Mix". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  13. ^ "Kill Bill -- Vol. 1". Entertainment Weekly. 2003-10-09. Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  14. ^ Bowles, Scott (2011-01-13). "Green Hornet spins hero-sidekick dynamic in new ways". USA Today. Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  15. ^ "Seth Rogen Unveils 'Green Hornet' Car At Comic-Con". MTV. Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  16. ^ Eisner, Joel The Official Batman Batbook Contemporary Books, Inc. 1986 ISBN 0-8092-5035-7 p.70
  17. ^ Eisner pp. 114-115
  18. ^ Galbraith, Jane (May 16, 1993). "A Look inside Hollywood and the movies : Cameo Corner : Green Hornet Pays Homage to His Kato". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  19. ^ Kevin Smith & Ralph Garman Announce New Batman/Green Hornet Project - (DCAA 206)
  20. ^ Official DC Comics' website page for BATMAN '66 MEETS THE GREEN HORNET #1

External links[edit]