|Roger Smith, Edd Byrnes, and|
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
|Franchot Tone as the|
original Stu Bailey.
Warner Bros. picked up the series, but the show's convoluted creation led to a dispute with Huggins over royalties and who held the rights to any future film involving the characters. Huggins eventually left 77 Sunset Strip to devote more time to Maverick, another show he created. Huggins enjoyed a long and extremely successful career as a studio executive and TV producer, creating classic series such as The Fugitive and The Rockford Files.
|Kookie combing his hair|
77 Sunset Strip debuted on ABC in October 1958 and was an instant hit. It climbed in popularity, peaking at #6 in th Nielsen ratings for the 1959-60 season (tied with Father Knows Best). It also became a cultural phenomenon with its hip theme song (complete with snapping fingers) and Kookie, who unexpectedly became the most popular member of the cast. His "Kookie-isms"--his personal slang expressions--appealed to the show's young viewers. Examples include: "a dark seven" (a depressing week); "headache grapplers" (aspirin); and the "ginchiest" (the greatest).
Edd Byrnes even parlayed his fame to a brief singing career, scoring a novelty hit with "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb" (a No. 4 hit on the Billboard Top 40). At the height of his popularity, Byrnes demanded a larger part on the series and walked out. He returned after a short hiatus, though, and Kookie was promoted to partner in the detective firm.
|Zimbalist moved from one|
hit to another.
Zimbalist wasn't out of work for long. The next fall, he was headlining a new TV series, Quinn Martin's long-running The F.B.I. Roger Smith retired from acting in 1965 and became a full-time agent for his wife, Ann-Margret. Edd Byrnes never matched his "Kookie" success, but appeared in numerous TV series and films, include the musical Grease.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this profile of Warner TV detective series, to include Hawaiian Eye, Surfside 6, and Bourbon Street. And if you feel an urge to hear the theme to 77 Sunset Strip, click on the link below. And, yes, the Dino's Lodge that appears in the opening was owned by Dean Martin.