Sunday, May 20, 2012

15 Greatest TV Characters of the 1960s: Richard Kimble

Name: Dr. Richard Kimble

Portrayed by: David Janssen

TV series: The Fugitive

Occupation: Pediatrician before getting arrested for his wife's murder.

Lifestyle: Since he was constantly trying to evade police Lieutenant Philip Gerard, Kimble rarely stayed in one place for long. His occupations included: truck driver; farm laborer; bartender; chauffeur; construction worker; fisherman, masseuse, bellhop, and carnival worker.

Family and Friends: Father was Dr. John Kimble, who had a heart attack and retired to a home in the country. Had a strained relationship with his brother Ray, but was very close to his sister Donna Taft (who appeared in five episodes). Deceased wife was Helen Kimble; her sister Terry was in love with Richard. Kimble developed feelings for several women during his years on the run. In the final episode, "The Judgment," he appeared to have found true love with Jean Carlisle (Diane Baker).

Trademark: Quick, slight smile with only one side of the mouth turned up.

Adversaries:  Stafford, Indiana detective detective Philip Gerard (who appeared in 37 episodes) and Fred Johnson (10 episodes), the one-armed man who murdered Helen Kimble. Interestingly, Kimble had encounters with both Gerard's wife (the two-part "Landscape With Running Figures") and son Phil Jr. ("Nemesis").

Useful Skills:  He was a physician!

Classic quote: "I didn't kill my wife."

Classic episodes: "Landscape with Running Figures"; "The 2130" (a computer is used to track Kimble); and "Corner of Hell" (Kimble saves Gerard from moonshiners).


  1. Never saw the series, but loved the movie.

  2. I don't like to throw the word around, but Richard Kimble is indeed "iconic". I was too young to realize the impact of "The Fugitive" on its original run, but my folks loved the show - and it really holds up today for fine drama and wonderful performances.

  3. I LOVE this show!!! It is quite close to being my all-time favorite old TV drama.

    I was quite young in the 60's when this was on, so I didn't watch it, but my mom and dad did. My mom still talks about how she watched the final episode. We were on a family camping trip, and she went down to the ladies' restroom where someone had set up a portable TV. She didn't want to miss it!

  4. You reminded me about the delicious spoof of "The Fugitive" on "Get Smart". It's a season 3 episode called "Don't Look Back". The episode was directed by Don Adams and it's a dandy.

    1. I cracked up seeing don Adams on the run! Funny!

  5. Rick, I really enjoyed your dossier on Dr. Richard Kimble in THE FUGITIVE. Both the TV series and the Harrison Ford movie were excellent! Although I've only seen a few episode, I was really into the ones I saw, and David Janssen was a terrific actor with compelling screen presence. Like Caftan Woman, I too remember and loved that hilarious FUGITIVE spoof on GET SMART! Great post, as always!

  6. I love "The Fugitive" and highly recommend the series as a gift suggestion. David Janssen is wonderfully believable and the writing quite consistently strong. The series boasted excellent guest star performances. I was glad you mentioned Richard Kimble's smirk smile because my husband and I would practice that after we watched some of the episodes. Fabulous post!

  7. I watched a few episodes of this TV series but decided I didn't care for it. My Mother watched them all and adored Janssen. I am no Janssen fan but he was a good actor. I definitely agree with Kim about the movie The Fugitive. It is one of my favorite movies and I love Harrison Ford!!!! Interesting post Rick and I enjoyed reading it.

  8. Oh my goodness. I love this list. Dr. Richard Kimble is a perfect choice. And David Janssen was just brilliant. Considering the impact of this show, and the fact that Janssen had to carry almost every single scene, Kimble really is one of the most iconic characters of all time!

    Also: his trademark is a officially called "The Twitchy, Little Smirk." ;-D

  9. I worked that night in August 1967, and missed the final episode but bought DVDs and love to watch it!