Thursday, January 30, 2014

Seven Things to Know About "The Fugitive"

1. According to Mel Proctor's The Official Fan's Guide to The Fugitive, David Janssen's "salary" was 20% of the show's earnings plus $10,000 per week. He also owned 20% of the show. Needless to say, The Fugitive made Janssen a multimillionaire.

2. Stanford Whitman, who wrote the pilot episode "Fear in a Desert City," came up with the name of Kimble's "relentless pursuer" Philip Gerard. The police lieutenant's name was an homage to Inspector Javert from Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. Roy Huggins, who created The Fugitive, intended the series to be a modern day version of Hugo's novel.

Stafford resident Phil Gerard.
3. Kimble returned to Stafford, Indiana--the site of Helen Kimble's murder and Lieutenant Gerard's home--on at least three occasions. In "Home Is the Hunted," Richard visits his ailing father, Dr. John Kimble (Robert Keith), brother Ray (Andrew Prine), and sister Donna (Jacqueline Scott). Donna (always played by Scott) appeared in a total of five episodes. Other episodes set in Stafford include "The Survivors" (Kimble confronts Helen's family) and "The Judgment" (the two-part series conclusion). Originally, Stafford was a town in Wisconsin and there are references to that in some of the early episodes. When the writers learned that Wisconsin did not have a death penalty, Stafford's location was changed to Indiana, which has capital punishment.

4. The Fugitive cracked the Top Ten in the Nielsen ratings only once during its four seasons. It finished its second season at No. 5. In all, 120 episodes were broadcast, with only the final season in color.

5. Richard Kimble held many short-term jobs during his four years of running, with the most common ones being truck/bus driver, bartender, and cook. Still, he found work where he could get it in places such as: a department store, dog kennel, health resort, orphanage, lemon orchard, carnival, horse farm, hotel, and liquor store. He also worked in the medical field in a handful of episodes--but not as a physician, of course.

6. The train crash, featured in the opening of each episode during the first season, was lifted from a French film. If you look carefully in the still below, you can make out the letters "MIN DE FER" on the side of one boxcar. "Chemin de Fer" is French for "railroad." In Proctor's book, Barry Morse reveals that his seven-year-old daughter noticed it wasn't an American train. No one else took note, though, and the producers never changed the footage (though only stills were shown from the crash after season one).

7. Richard Kimble used over 100 aliases on The Fugitive, from Pete Allen to Steve Younger. The ones used the most frequently were Frank, Pete, Tom (or Thomas), Paul, Steve, and Ben. Questionably, he used his real first name on a couple of occasions.


  1. Love this post, Rick! "The Fugitive" is one of my favorite of the old TV shows. I absolutely love it!

    My mom likes to tell the story of the final episode. We were camping as a family, and, thus, she was going to have to miss it. Instead, she discovered that a lady had taken a portable TV and plugged it in at the ladies' restroom, for the sole purpose of catching that episode. My mom, and a host of others gals, watched from there.

    1. Patti, how exciting to imagine all of those ladies, vacationing strangers brought together by their mutual fondness for a riveting serial drama.

      Thank you for sharing this tid bit.

  2. Excellent post on a favorite show.

  3. "The Fugitive" is one of the best TV shows I have ever seen. David Janssen is brilliantly assisted by a phenomenal cast of co-stars in each new episode. Thanks for a wonderful post highlighting a true classic.

  4. I haven't seen "The Fugitive" (does the Harrison Ford/Tommy Lee Jones movie count?) but I just searched and YouTube has a few episodes. I'll be checking them out!

  5. My new wife and I were racing the clock back home to Macon, Georgia after spending a few days in New Orleans - it was the night of the final episode of The Fugitive. We ended up stopping at her mother and father's house to watch it since we were not going back home when it started. :)

  6. I've enjoyed the anecdotes about watching the final episode. It was the highest-rated television event for many years. Interestingly, ABC didn't air it at the end of the regular TV season, but in August after all the reruns had been broadcast.

  7. I'm 53 so I was too young to watch the series when it originally ran. Over the years I don't remember the series getting many runs in syndication (or maybe if it did I was still too young to have an interest in it) and was only aware of it and it's infamous ending episode. I did see the film and enjoyed it a lot, didn't bother with the Tim Daly remake but still had never seen an episode of the Janssen original. (hell, I've even seen Bixby's "The Incredible Hulk" loosely based on "The Fugitive's premise, tons of times too) Finally, about 7 months ago my satellite TV added METV to it's lineup and I saw they ran the series every Sunday at 11:00, so I was able to watch the show (starting with the first episode, lucky me). It's even better then I could imagine!

    Unfortunately….. METV has changed it's lineup and have placed it on the shelf. Just as I was getting into the second season.

  8. Although i too enjoyed the hulk it was fantasy and not real apart from bixbys performance,the fugitive was totally believable and the music better or just as good as the music cues on the hulk,brilliant understated perfo
    rmance from David Janssen

  9. The story line behind this series has always hit so very close to home for me. For some reason I identify with the Richard Kimball character.

  10. Harrison Ford could not hold a candle to David janssens...twitching halfsmiling brooding put upon man against the world performance...brilliant was obsessive Barry Morse as lieutenant Philip gerard

  11. David Janssen made The Fugitive the outstanding television series that it has become. It saddens me that he was not awarded an Emmy for his excellent portrayal of Dr. Kimble.