The romantic comedy/detective TV series Remington Steele, produced by MTM, debuted on the NBC television network in the U.S. on October 1, 1982 and ran until February 17, 1987, for a total of 91 episodes. Originally airing on Friday nights, it switched to Tuesdays for most of its run, moving to Saturdays in a last ditch effort for high ratings, finally ending on Tuesdays for a series of 2 hour movies [see "Season 5"].
The show made household names out of previously obscure actors Pierce Brosnan -- who catapulted from obscurity to the cover of People magazine just over 12 months after the show's debut -- and Stephanie Zimbalist, daughter of veteran actor Efrem Zimbalist Jr. The series followed the adventures of private detectives Laura Holt and Remington Steele in Los Angeles.
In the first season, James Read (as Murphy Michaels) and Janet DeMay (as Bernice Fox, but called "Miss Wolf" by Steele) were featured as employees of the Remington Steele Agency, but they were replaced for the duration by Doris Roberts (as Mildred Krebs), a former IRS auditor who became the agency's secretary and mother hen. In the 5th and last season, Jack Scalia was added as a "love interest" for Stephanie's character Laura Holt, but the less said about this, the better.
By the spring of 1986, Remington Steele had run for nearly 4 full seasons. It was cancelled by NBC in May of that year due to low ratings. During this time, the producers of the James Bond films were looking to cast a new actor as 007, and Pierce Brosnan was the front-runner for the job. This had the effect of reviving interest in the show, and television audiences to begin watching summer re-runs in vast numbers, even placing it in the ratings Top 10 for the first time.
These high ratings caused NBC programming chief Brandon Tartikoff to cancel the cancellation. Just hours away from being Bond, Pierce Brosnan lost his license to kill. NBC ordered just 6 more hours of episodes, which culminated in the shortened 5th season, after which the show was finished for good.
Actors who guest starred on the show included then-unknowns Sharon Stone, Geena Davis, Paul Reiser, Jane Kaczmarek, David White (Larry Tate on Bewitched), Tom Baker (the fourth Doctor Who) and at least 5 actors who have appeared in James Bond films. Veteran actors Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Stephanie's father) and Beverly Garland also appeared, as Steele's mentor and Laura's mother, respectively. Producer Glen Caron left after the first season, and went on to create Moonlighting.
The tall buildings used for the establishing outdoor views of the Steele offices are the Century Plaza Towers located at 2029 & 2049 Century Park East, Century City, California. The series was filmed on location in the Los Angeles area for the most part, but they filmed in Malta, Ireland and Cannes (France) while the 1984 Summer Olympics were being held in Los Angeles. Other shows were filmed in Las Vegas and England, and the finale was filmed in Ireland, at Ashford Castle.
After the series ended, in loudly rumored acrimony, the actors went their separate ways. Pierce Brosnan finally became 007 in 1995's GoldenEye and Stephanie Zimbalist remains active in made-for-TV movies and in theatrical work. Doris Roberts moved on to the long-running Everybody Loves Raymond. James Read (Murphy) works often in films and TV.
Trivia: Laura's car was a Volkswagon Golf convertible. Steele's car was a 1936 Auburn Speedster. The theme song by composed Henry Mancini.
Before they were confiscated by Scotland Yard, Steele had 5 different passports, in 5 different names. All were characters played by Humphrey Bogart in movies. "What does this tell us?" "He likes Humphrey Bogart."
|Passport Name||Country||Movie Character||Movie|
|Michael O'Leary||Ireland||Michael O'Leary||Dark Victory|
|Richard Blaine||Australia||Rick Blaine||Casablanca|
|Douglas Quintaine||England||Douglas Quintaine||Stand-In|
|Paul Fabrini||Italy||Paul Fabrini||They Drive By Night|
|Jacques Murell||France||John Murell||Virginia City|
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