Monday, September 21, 2009

Coronet Blue -- Where You From and What You Done?

If you were a tween or a teenager during the summer of 1967 you may have become enthralled with the short-lived replacement television series "Coronet Blue", which ran on CBS from May 29, 1967 to September 4, 1967. After airing 11 of 13 episodes originally scheduled, the show was abruptly canceled by CBS without divulging the secret that was at the core of the plot. It was many years before this mystery was resolved.

In 1965 CBS ordered 22 episodes of the series for its 1965 -- 66 fall schedule. During that time James Aubrey was fired as president of CBS and those who replaced him took the opportunity to put their own stamp on the network, and in the schedule shuffling that followed "Coronet Blue" was left without a timeslot. However, filming began on the series in the spring of 1965 and by the end of July 13 episodes were ready for broadcast. The producers hoped that CBS would insert "Coronet Blue" into its 1966 -- 67 schedule, instead of using it as a midseason replacement in January 1966; but "Coronet Blue" wouldn't appear on national television until the summer of 1967, two years after filming had been completed.

In the pilot episode, Frank Converse portrays a young man who is attacked aboard a luxury liner and tossed overboard. He is rescued, but with no memory of his past except for the words, "coronet blue". He is taken to a hospital for treatment of his memory loss, where he adopts the name Michael Alden, and sets out to determine the truth about his identity. In each episode Michael travels around the country searching for clues to his past, interacting with different people and becoming involved in their various personal crises. The show's debut on May 29, 1967 was greeted by mostly negative reviews, although to the surprise of producers and critics alike it became popular with viewers. Nevertheless the last show ran on September 4, 1967 without any sort of conclusion. It had been preempted several times and only 11 of 13 episodes were aired.

Fans irked by the abrupt ending without resolution clamored for new episodes that would solve the mystery of Michael's identity. But even if CBS had wanted to resurrect the series, it couldn't; Frank Converse had accepted the lead role in ABC's NYPD.

In subsequent interviews given by series creator Larry Cohen and star Frank Converse it was learned that the words " coronet blue" had no meaning whatsoever. But the speculation about Michael's real identity continued until 2003. In an article in the New York Times about Larry Cohen, critic Elvis Mitchell revealed that Michael was in fact a Russian agent who had been sent to the United States to participate in espionage operations. When it was learned that he had decided to defect to America he became the target of assassins.

In spite of being trashed by critics, the series somehow touched a chord in many younger viewers, and today "Coronet Blue" has attained somewhat of a cult status. Those viewers, now in their 50s, most vividly remember its theme song performed by Lenny Welch.


  1. You know, Sazball, I don't remember this series at all. It reminds me of the current show "Lost" where nothing ever seems to be wrapped up!

  2. iam with Becky i do not remember this series at all. i am however going to look it up..

  3. Sazball, I do remember this series! And as I mentioned in an e-mail, I had discussed this on my Facebook page about three weeks ago (pretty ironic...great minds think alike). My sister thought Frank Converse was cute. In addition to NYPD, I fondly recall Converse from DR. COOK'S GARDEN, one of my favorite ABC MOVIE OF THE WEEK telefilms, and from the ANNE OF AVONLEA, the sequel to the endearing ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (future blog topic there).

  4. I was a huge fan of the show & was deeply upset it was canceled. The fate of most inovative and/or original programs to make their way to being broadcast at all. Not much has changed in the way TV execs think these days. Karen Cisco, Keen Eddie, The Man Who Never Was, the above mentioned T.H.E. Cat and on and on.