Honey West (TV series)

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Honey West
Honey West complete series DVD cover (UK version)
Genre Crime drama
Based on Honey West
by G.G. Fickling
Starring Anne Francis
John Ericson
Theme music composerJoseph Mullendore
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes30 (list of episodes)
Executive producer Aaron Spelling
ProducerRichard Newton
Camera setup Single camera
Running time25 minutes
Production company Four Star Television
Original network ABC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original releaseSeptember 17, 1965 (1965-09-17) 
April 8, 1966 (1966-04-08)
Related Burke's Law

Honey West is a ground-breaking American crime drama television series that aired on ABC from September 17, 1965, to April 8, 1966, as an entry in the 1965–1966 television season. Based upon a series of novels that had launched in 1957, the series starred Anne Francis as female private detective Honey West and John Ericson as her partner Sam Bolt. The popular series was historic in that it marked the first time a woman played the lead character in a network TV series with her character's name as the title (the syndicated Annie Oakley had a similar distinction in its category a decade earlier).


Thirty half-hour episodes were produced. The entire series is available on DVD.


The Honey West character was created by Gloria and Forrest E. "Skip" Fickling under the pseudonym "G.G. Fickling" in the late 1950s. Skip had been a United States Army Air Forces air gunner during World War II, then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve after the war, when he was called back into active service during the Korean War. [1] The G.G. represented the initials of his wife, Gloria Gautraud, whom he married in 1949, with initials used so the sex of the author would remain vague. Though Gloria said that most of the writing was done by Forrest, Forrest said Gloria's ideas were used to make a plausible female character, with Gloria also providing Honey's dress sense. Forrest told the Los Angeles Times , "I first thought of Marilyn Monroe, and then I thought of [fictional detective] Mike Hammer and decided to put the two together ... We thought the most used name for someone you really like is Honey. And she lives in the West, so there was her name." [2]

West was one of the first female "private eyes" to ever appear on television. Francis first played West in the second-season episode of Burke's Law , entitled "Who Killed the Jackpot?", broadcast on April 21, 1965, which led to this series being commissioned as a spin-off. West drove a Jaguar convertible in the Burke's Law episode and was twice referred to as the "private eyeful". She carried a gun and was trained in martial arts. Honey West was intended to be the American equivalent of characters Cathy Gale and Emma Peel in the British series The Avengers .

Producer Aaron Spelling's first choice for the role of Honey was Honor Blackman, whom he had seen in England playing Cathy Gale on The Avengers and as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger . Blackman turned down the role. [3] Anne Francis' fashions in the Honey role were by Nolan Miller, [4] and her action scenes choreographed by Gene LeBell. [5] The series was developed for television by Gwen Bagni and Paul Dubov, writers of several Burke's Law episodes.


Francis as Honey West with Bruce Anne Francis Honey West 1965.JPG
Francis as Honey West with Bruce
John Ericson John Ericson in Rhapsody.jpg
John Ericson

As in the Burke's Law episode introducing her, West has a partner and man-Friday, Sam Bolt (John Ericson), who communicates with Honey via a radio hidden in her lipstick case. In the television series, she keeps a pet ocelot named Bruce. (In "The Fun-Fun Killer", which originally aired on March 4, 1966, the series Daktari , set in Africa, is showing on Honey's TV and Honey asks, "Oh Bruce, why do we always have to watch your show?")

Honey's alluring feline qualities were reflected in her animal-print wardrobe and apartment decor. For sneaking around at night and engaging in energetic fight scenes, she wears a black fabric bodystocking reminiscent of Emma Peel's leather jumpsuit. Like Peel's Lotus Elan sports car, Honey's similar-looking AC Cobra convertible emphasized her independence and vitality. Although the racy content of the novels was excised for television, West often went on solo undercover missions that required a provocative or revealing outfit.

She uses a number of James Bond-like gimmicks: a high-tech surveillance van, an exploding compact, a garter-belt gas mask, and tear-gas earrings. West is a black-belt in judo, as is Sam, who is an ex-Marine.

Some episodes of this series, including the final one, were scripted by Richard Levinson and William Link, who would later be affiliated with such noted series as Columbo and Murder, She Wrote . [6]


Guest stars

Among those appearing during the series' 30-episode run were Joe Don Baker, James Best, Lloyd Bochner, Edd Byrnes, Dick Clark, Charlene Holt, Nancy Kovack, Kevin McCarthy, Maureen McCormick, Bert Parks, Michael J. Pollard, Wayne Rogers, Everett Sloane and Bobby Sherman.


Episode 3, "The Abominable Snowman" has a plot where cocaine is being smuggled inside snow globes, and is one of the earliest references in popular TV culture to cocaine as "snow".


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
1"The Swingin' Mrs. Jones" Paul Wendkos Gwen Bagni & Paul Dubov September 17, 1965 (1965-09-17)
Honey sets out to solve a mystery at a resort.
2"The Owl and the Eye"Paul Wendkos William Bast September 24, 1965 (1965-09-24)
A jade owl is stolen from a museum.
3"The Abominable Snowman"Paul WendkosGwen Bagni & Paul DubovOctober 1, 1965 (1965-10-01)
When a man is murdered, Honey and Sam discover and expose a cocaine ring.
4"A Matter of Wife and Death" John Florea Tony Barrett October 8, 1965 (1965-10-08)
Honey and Sam take action when Maggie's life is threatened....or is it?
5"Live a Little... Kill a Little" Murray Golden Tony BarrettOctober 15, 1965 (1965-10-15)
Karen has been targeted for death. Will Honey and Sam be able to keep her safe?
6"Whatever Lola Wants...."John PeyserWilliam BastOctober 22, 1965 (1965-10-22)
When Honey agrees to go to Lola's party with Vargas, she discovers Lola is a criminal mastermind.
7"The Princess and the Paupers" Virgil W. Vogel Leonard StaddOctober 29, 1965 (1965-10-29)
Honey and Sam investigate the kidnapping of a rock group's frontman(Bobby Sherman).
8"In the Bag" Seymour Robbie Gwen Bagni & Paul DubovNovember 5, 1965 (1965-11-05)
Honey has her hands full with a bratty child and a gang of gem smugglers.
9"The Flame and the Pussycat" James Goldstone George Clayton JohnsonNovember 12, 1965 (1965-11-12)
Honey and Sam are on the trail of a mysterious arsonist.
10"A Neat Little Package"Murray GoldenGwen Bagni & Paul DubovNovember 19, 1965 (1965-11-19)
An amnesiac, a hotel room key, and a huge wad of money are essential clues in a bizarre mystery.
11"A Stitch in Crime"John PeyserGwen Bagni & Paul DubovNovember 26, 1965 (1965-11-26)
En route to a fashion show in San Francisco, Honey and Sam are carjacked, and a number of very expensive gowns are stolen along with their van.
12"A Million Bucks in Anybody's Language"John FloreaTony BarrettDecember 3, 1965 (1965-12-03)
When their friend, Charlie is killed by a car bomb, Honey and Sam discover a counterfeiting ring.
13"The Gray Lady (Pilot Episode)" Walter Grauman Richard Levinson & William Link December 10, 1965 (1965-12-10)
Honey comes up with a plan to prevent the theft of a valuable diamond.
14"Invitation to Limbo" Tom Gries Richard Levinson & William LinkDecember 17, 1965 (1965-12-17)
Local businessmen are being hypnotized into committing inside jobs.
15"Rockabye the Hard Way"Bill ColleranGwen Bagni & Paul DubovDecember 24, 1965 (1965-12-24)
Honey and Sam deal with bad guys in Mexico.
16"A Nice Little Till to Tap" Jerry Hopper Tony BarrettDecember 31, 1965 (1965-12-31)
Honey and Sam take on bank robbers.
17"How Brillig, O, Beamish Boy" Ida Lupino Don Ingalls January 7, 1966 (1966-01-07)
A criminal gang led by Mr. Brillig is after a package containing a large amount of cash.
18"King of the Mountain" Thomas Carr Jay SimmsJanuary 14, 1966 (1966-01-14)
A wheelchair-bound paraplegic may be behind the murder of his own nurse.
19"It's Earlier Than You Think"James H. BrownMarc BrandelJanuary 21, 1966 (1966-01-21)
A newspaper with a front page story about Lincoln's assassination, a murder victim's cryptic statement, and three men claiming to be the dead man's brother draw Honey into her most baffling case yet.
20"The Perfect Un-Crime" Sidney Miller Ken KolbJanuary 28, 1966 (1966-01-28)
A thief recruits Honey and Sam to put back the money he stole from his own department store. Note: The scene of Honey posing as a mannequin was inspired by The Twilight Zone episode "The After Hours", which starred Anne Francis.
21"Like Visions and Omens and All That Jazz"John FloreaTony BarrettFebruary 4, 1966 (1966-02-04)
A psychic's predictions endanger the life of a young heiress.
22"Don't Look Now, But Isn't That Me"James H. BrownGwen Bagni & Paul DubovFebruary 11, 1966 (1966-02-11)
A woman disguised as Honey frames her for a series of robberies. Note: Anne Francis plays both Honey West and the impostor, Pandora.
23"Come to Me, My Litigation Baby"Thomas CarrGwen Bagni & Paul DubovFebruary 18, 1966 (1966-02-18)
A gang of criminals are committing insurance fraud by faking accidents.
24"Slay, Gypsy, Slay"James H. BrownTony BarrettFebruary 25, 1966 (1966-02-25)
When a rich man is kidnapped by a band of gypsies, things are not what they appear to be.
25"The Fun-Fun Killer"Murray GoldenArthur WeingartenMarch 4, 1966 (1966-03-04)
The owner of a toy factory, and a researcher at the factory's testing lab have both been murdered by a life-sized robot.
26"Pop Goes the Easel"James H. BrownStory by: Gail Allen & Chris Christensen
Teleplay by: Lila Garrett & Bernie Kahn
March 11, 1966 (1966-03-11)
Aunt Meg can't understand why thieves stole a can of chicken gumbo that she just bought at the supermarket.
27"Little Green Robin Hood"Sidney MillerKen KolbMarch 18, 1966 (1966-03-18)
A man suffers from delusions about being Robin Hood.
28"Just the Bear Facts, Ma'am"James H. BrownGwen Bagni & Paul DubovMarch 25, 1966 (1966-03-25)
Honey and Sam look into criminal activity on a movie set where they're working as stunt doubles.
29"There's a Long, Long, Fuse A'Burning"Thomas CarrGwen Bagni & Paul DubovApril 1, 1966 (1966-04-01)
An ex-convict realizes criminals are framing him for robberies by setting off explosives.
30"An Eerie, Airy, Thing"James H. BrownRichard Levinson & William LinkApril 8, 1966 (1966-04-08)
George Forbes is discovered on the ledge of a hotel, calling out for his wife, Diana. Trouble is, she's been murdered.


Honey West was cancelled after just one season. This came down to two factors: competition from Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. , and financial considerations. ABC executives reportedly decided it would be cheaper to import The Avengers and air it in the same time slot rather than produce Honey West at a significantly steeper price. [7] Nonetheless, Francis received nominations for a Golden Globe Award and a Best Actress Emmy for her performance.

The series was rerun in the late 1990s as part of TV Land's inaugural lineup, and occasionally airs on Decades.

Home media

In 2006, Delta Home Entertainment released the entire series on Region 0 DVD in the UK. [8]

VCI Entertainment issued a North American Region 1 DVD release of the series in September 2008. [9]

Gold Key Comics issued a one-shot comic book adaptation of the television series in 1966, scripted by Paul S. Newman, with artwork by Jack Sparling. Overlook Press published "Honey West - This Girl For Hire", a novel, in 2005. From 2010-2013, Moonstone (comics) produced Honey West comics, a hardcover novel, and a two paperbacks. BearManor Media, in 2011, published a profusely illustrated 228-page tribute to the series, examining it in detail with interviews of the surviving cast members, and listings of websites, addresses, bibliographies, episode synopses, and an appendix.

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  3. Mizejewski, Linda (2004). Hardboiled & High Heeled: The Woman Detective in Popular Culture. Routledge. p. 55.
  4. Wagner, Laura (November 18, 2008). "Private Eyeful". Classic Images website. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  5. "Gene's Film & Television Career". Gene Lebell website. Archived from the original on December 30, 2005. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  6. Britton, Wesley Alan (2004). Spy Television p. 183. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN   978-0-2759-8163-1.
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