New on getTV: Ironside Starring Raymond Burr
At the time of the detective drama Ironside’s debut (in the form of a television movie on March 28, 1967), Raymond Burr was firmly entrenched in the mind of TV viewers as the criminal defense attorney Perry Mason. The legal drama aired for nine seasons, from 1957 to 1966. So, the question to ponder: Would the audience accept Mr. Burr as detective Robert T. Ironside, who after retiring when a sniper’s bullet to the spine paralyzes him from the waist down, is appointed a special department consultant on Ironside?
The answer was a resounding yes.
Telecast on NBC from 1967 to 75, Ironside produced 199 episodes in total, plus the reunion movie, The Return to Ironside, in 1993. Peaking at No. 4 overall among all primetime TV series in season four (in 1970-71, and behind medical drama Marcus Welby, M.D., variety hour The Flip Wilson Show, and everyone’s favorite redhead, Lucille Ball, in comedy Here’s Lucy), Ironside was a consistently solid attraction. But perhaps its greatest achievement was the casting of Don Mitchell as Mark Sanger, Det. Ironside’s delinquent turned assistant who subsequently attends and graduates from law school and joins the San Francisco police force in season six.
In an era when the portrayal of African-American individuals on television was limited, Don Mitchell on Ironside helped break racial barriers. In 1965, Bill Cosby in the espionage drama I Spy made him the first Black actor to perform in a starring dramatic role on network television. In 1966, Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek was the first Black woman to be prominently featured on a series. Next was Ironside’s aforementioned Don Mitchell, followed in 1968 by Diahann Carroll in comedy Julia, who all helped to advance the status of African Americans on television.
Also included in the supporting cast on Ironside was Don Galloway as Det. Sgt. Edward “Ed” Brown, and Barbara Anderson as Eve Whitfield, a young socialite-turned-plainclothes police officer.
To whet your appetitive for the arrival of Ironside weekdays on getTV from 11a ET to 1p ET, here are 8 factoids about the series you may not know. Or do you?
- In its first three seasons, Ironside aired on Thursday evenings out of the western family drama Daniel Boone and into the crime drama reboot Dragnet.
- Ironside replaced the original Star Trek on the night, which moved to Friday.
- The interior set of Det. Ironside’s office was originally constructed for the 1964 Alfred Hitchcock film, Marnie, starring Tippi Hedren.
- On Ironside, Raymond Burr was a heroic individual in a wheelchair fighting crime. In Hitchcock classic Rear Window in 1954, Burr was a villain fighting a man (Jimmy Stewart) recovering in a wheelchair from a broken leg.
- Barbara Anderson won the Emmy Award in 1968 for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Drama. Her tenure on Ironside, however, was short-lived. In 1971, she exited the series to spend more time with her husband.
- Steven Bochco, who created the Emmy Award-winning dramas Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law, worked on Ironside early in his career.
- Two short-lived dramas – Sarge starring George Kennedy in 1971, and Amy Prentiss with Jessica Walter in 1974 – were introduced in episodes of Ironside. Amy Prentiss was one of the four rotating series in the NBC Mystery Movie.
- Combined with Perry Mason (and excluding television movies), Raymond Burr appeared in 470 hours of primetime television in a 17-year period. A typical scripted series on a streaming service, at present, normally produces between 8 and 10 episodes per season.
Catch Ironside, starring Raymond Burr, on getTV --- WEEKDAYS from 11a to 1p ET!