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The Untouchables (1959)
The Untouchables Cast.jpg
The Untouchables
Format Crime / Drama
Starring Robert Stack
Abel Fernandez
Nicholas Georgiade
Paul Picerni
Steve London
Bruce Gordon
Neville Brand
Country of origin  United States
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 118 & 2-part pilot
Producer(s) Desilu Productions
Langford Productions
Running time 60 minutes per episode
Distributor Paramount Television
CBS Paramount Television
CBS Television Distribution
Original channel ABC
Original run October 15, 1959 – May 21, 1963

The Untouchables is a television series that ran from 1959 to 1963 on the American Broadcasting Company. Based on the memoir of the same name by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley, it fictionalized the experiences of Eliot Ness, a real-life Prohibition agent, as he fought crime in Chicago during the 1930s with the help of a special team of agents handpicked for their courage and incorruptibility, nicknamed the Untouchables. It was remade into a 1987 film by Brian De Palma also called The Untouchables, with a script by David Mamet.


Series overview

The stories often revolved around Ness' enmity with the criminal empire of Chicago mob boss Al Capone, and many focused on crimes related to Prohibition. The show starred Robert Stack as Eliot Ness and Neville Brand as Al Capone, and was narrated by Walter Winchell. The show drew harsh criticism from some Italian-Americans including Frank Sinatra[1], who felt it promoted negative stereotypes of them as mobsters and gangsters. The Capone family sued the show for $1,000,000 for its unauthorized use of Al Capone's likeness for profit.

The series had 118 episodes which ran 50 minutes each. Though the book it was based on chronicled the experiences of Ness and his cohorts over a span of time ranging from 1929 to 1935, the overwhelming majority of episodes were set in the early 1930s (for example, one episode, You Can't Play This Number, begins with Winchell's words, "October 1932 ... the depths of the Depression"). A few episodes were set primarily in a locale other than Chicago (such as the one dealing with the shootout involving Ma Barker and her gang). The theme music was by Nelson Riddle.

Similar to The Untouchables was the NBC series The Lawless Years starring James Gregory, a half-hour crime drama set in the 1920s which ran between 1959 and 1961. The Lawless Years actually preceded The Untouchables by a half-season, but did not enjoy Untouchables-level success .

The other Untouchables were played by:

Other recurrent actors were:

* Contrary to popular belief, Steve London's character of Untouchable Jack Rossman (played in the "Scarface Mob" pilot by Paul Dubov), was in the series since the original season 1 series episode, "The Empty Chair", not from Season 2 on as is commonly reported.

Guest stars

A significant number of guest-stars from "The Untouchables" were and became major motion picture and television stars:

  • Claire Trevor in episode 1.2 "Ma Baker and Her Boys"
  • Jack Lord in episode 1.3 "The Jake Lingle Killing"
  • Francis De Sales in episodes 1.23 "Three Thousand Suspects" and 2.9 "The Larry Fay Story"
  • Robert Karnes (also a co-star of The Lawless Years) in episodes 2.9 "The Larry Fay Story" and 4.15 "Snowball"
  • Lee Marvin, James Caan and Roy Thinnes in episode 4.10 "A Fist of Five"
  • Mike Connors in episode 4.7 "The Eddie O'Gara Story"
  • Martin Balsam in episodes 3.3 "Tunnel of Horrors" and 3.21 "Man in the Middle"
  • Peter Falk in episode 1.26 "The Underworld Bank" and as Nate Selko in episode 3.1 "The Troubleshooter"
  • Gregg Palmer as Paul Di Marco in episode 2.12 "The Big Train: Part 1"
  • Telly Savalas in episodes 2.20 "The Antidote", 3.5 "The Matt Bass Scheme" and 4.14 "The Speculator"
  • Russ Conway in episodes 2.12 and 2.13 "The Big Train", 2.25 "Mr. Moon"
  • Lee Van Cleef in episode 1.20 "The Unhired Assassin"
  • Herbie Faye in episode 3.12 as Lefty in "Fall Guy"
  • Charles Bronson in episode 3.16 "The Death Tree"
  • Barbara Stanwyck in episodes 4.8 "Elegy" and 4.13 "Search for a Dead Man"
  • Robert Redford in episode 4.15 "Snowball"
  • Robert Duvall in episode 4.17 "Blues for a Gone Goose"
  • Elizabeth Montgomery as Rusty Heller (for which she received an Emmy Award nomination) (1960)
  • Cliff Robertson as Frank Halloway in episode 1.12 "The Underground Railway"
  • William Bendix as Wally Legenza in episode 1.9 "The Tri-State Gang"
  • Jan Sterling as Francie McKay in episode 2.8 "Kiss of Death Girl"
  • Rip Torn as Harry Strauss in episode 2.14 "The Masterpiece"
  • Lee Marvin as Nick Acropolis in episode 2.31 "The Nick Acropolis Story"
  • Jack Klugman as Morton Halas in episode 3.6 "Loophole"
  • Martin Landau as Larry Coombs in episode 3.6 "Loophole" and as Jerry Fanning in episode 1.7 "Mexican Stake-Out"
  • Gavin McLeod as Whitey Metz in episode 3.6 "Loophole"
  • Victor Buono as Melanthos Moon in episode 2.25 "Mr. Moon" and as Pamise Surigao in episode 3.13 "The Gang War"
  • Jack Warden as Otto Frick, in episode 2.10 "The Otto Frick Story" and as George Halloran in episode 1.4 "The George 'Bugs' Moran Story
  • Richard Jaeckel as Hans Eberhardt in episode 2.10 "The Otto Frick Story"
  • Cloris Leachman as Mrs. Mailer in episode 3.7 "Jigsaw"
  • Lloyd Nolan as 'Bugs' Moran in episode 1.4 "The George 'Bugs' Moran Story"
  • Anne Francis as Doreen Maney in episode 1.24 "The Doreen Maney Story"
  • Leslie Nielson as Tom Sebring in episode 1.23 "Three Thousand Suspects"
  • Ricardo Montalban as Frank Makouris in episode 2.27 "Stranglehold"
  • Carroll O'Connor as Barney Lubin in episode 3.2 "Power Play"
  • Dyan Cannon as Mavis Carroll in episode 3.14 "Silent Partner"
  • Edward Asner as Fedor Bartok in episode 3.16 "The Death Tree"
  • Henry Silva as Joker in episode 3.15 "The Whitey Steele Story"

The series aired on Thursdays during its first three seasons and was switched to Tuesday evenings for its final season. It aired at 9:30 Eastern each season except for the third season, when it was placed at the 10 p.m. slot after the failed sitcom Margie, starring Cynthia Pepper.

DVD releases

CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) has released the complete first three seasons of The Untouchables on DVD in Region 1.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1- Volume 1 14 + 2-part pilot April 10, 2007
Season 1- Volume 2 14 September 25, 2007
Season 2- Volume 1 16 March 18, 2008
Season 2- Volume 2 16 August 26, 2008
Season 3- Volume 1 16 August 25, 2009
Season 3- Volume 2 12 November 10, 2009

Further reading

  • Tucker, Kenneth. Eliot Ness and the Untouchables: The Historical Reality and the Film and Television Depictions. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2000. ISBN 0-7864-0772-7


External links


  1. ^ Talese, Gay: "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold", page 27. Esquire, April 1966


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