Last updated
Tightrope Mike Connors 1960.JPG
Mike Connors with Leigh Snowden (left) and Claire Kelly, 1960
GenreCrime drama
Created by Clarence Greene
Russell Rouse
Written byFrederick Brady
Berne Giler
Clarence Greene
Steven Ritch
Russell Rouse
Al C. Ward
Directed by Abner Biberman
Irving J. Moore
Russell Rouse
Oscar Rudolph
Starring Mike Connors
Theme music composer George Duning
Opening theme Vic Schoen & Orchestra
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes37
ProducersClarence Greene
Russell Rouse
CinematographyScotty Welbourne
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time2224 minutes
Production companiesGreene-Rouse Productions
Screen Gems
Original network CBS
Original releaseSeptember 8, 1959 (1959-09-08) 
September 13, 1960 (1960-09-13)

Tightrope! is an American crime drama series that aired on CBS from September 1959 to September 1960, under the alternating sponsorship of the J.B. Williams Company (Aqua Velva, Lectric Shave, etc.), and American Tobacco (Pall Mall). Produced by Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene in association with Screen Gems, the series stars Mike Connors as an undercover agent named "Nick" who was assigned to infiltrate criminal gangs. The show was originally to have been titled Undercover Man, but it was changed before going to air. [1] Actor Robert Phillips, a former Los Angeles undercover policeman and US Marine claimed the show was based on his exploits, but that he was not chosen to portray himself. [2]



Mike Connors' character narrated the episode, echoing film noir technique. He starred as an undercover police officer, known only as "Nick" (although some sources revealed that his last name was "Stone", his last name was never shown in the series' ending credits). [3] Only his immediate superior on the police force knew he was working undercover. Because the police often did not know that Nick was working for the law, he was often in danger from both the good guys and the bad guys, as he walked the "tightrope" between good and evil. A special gimmick was that in addition to a gun in a shoulder holster, he carried a second gun, a snubnosed revolver, in a holster behind his back; he was often searched by both cops and bad guys, but they stopped searching after finding the first gun.


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
1"Getaway Day"Russell RouseRussell Rouse & Clarence GreeneSeptember 8, 1959 (1959-09-08)
2"The Casino"Russell RouseRussell Rouse & Clarence GreeneSeptember 15, 1959 (1959-09-15)
3"The Frame" Abner Biberman Story by: Robert Bloomfield
Teleplay by: Tony Barrett
September 22, 1959 (1959-09-22)
4"Stand on Velvet"Abner BibermanStirling SilliphantSeptember 29, 1959 (1959-09-29)
5"The Cracking Point"Abner BibermanFrederic BradyOctober 6, 1959 (1959-10-06)
6"Thousand Dollar Bill"Abner BibermanAl C. WardOctober 13, 1959 (1959-10-13)
7"Music and Mink"Russell RouseRussell Rouse & Clarence GreeneOctober 20, 1959 (1959-10-20)
8"Man in the Middle"Abner BibermanFrederic BradyNovember 3, 1959 (1959-11-03)
9"The Patsy"Abner BibermanBerne GilerNovember 10, 1959 (1959-11-10)
10"The Money Fight"Abner BibermanAl C. WardNovember 17, 1959 (1959-11-17)
11"Black Tie Kill"UnknownUnknownNovember 24, 1959 (1959-11-24)
12"The Perfect Circle"Abner BibermanTony BarrettDecember 1, 1959 (1959-12-01)
13"The Lady"Abner BibermanAl C. WardDecember 8, 1959 (1959-12-08)
14"Cold Kill"UnknownUnknownDecember 15, 1959 (1959-12-15)
15"The Neon Wheel"Irving J. MooreFrederic BradyDecember 22, 1959 (1959-12-22)
16"Two Private Eyes"Don TaylorFrederic BradyDecember 29, 1959 (1959-12-29)
17"Night of the Gun"Paul WendkosFrederic BradyJanuary 5, 1960 (1960-01-05)
18"Broken Rope"Irving J. MooreFrederic BradyJanuary 12, 1960 (1960-01-12)
19"Cold Ice"John RichTony BarrettJanuary 19, 1960 (1960-01-19)
20"Appointment in Jericho"Abner BibermanStirling SilliphantJanuary 26, 1960 (1960-01-26)
21"Three to Make Ready"Irving J. MooreSteven RitchFebruary 2, 1960 (1960-02-02)
22"The Model and the Mobster"Irving J. MooreFrederic BradyFebruary 9, 1960 (1960-02-09)
23"The Long Odds"Oscar RudolphFrederic BradyFebruary 16, 1960 (1960-02-16)
24"The Brave Pigeon"Irving J. MooreSteven RitchFebruary 23, 1960 (1960-02-23)
25"First Time Out"UnknownUnknownMarch 1, 1960 (1960-03-01)
26"Park Avenue Story"UnknownUnknownMarch 8, 1960 (1960-03-08)
27"Big Business"Oscar RudolphGeorge BruceMarch 15, 1960 (1960-03-15)
28"The Chinese Pendant"Irving J. MooreSteven RitchMarch 29, 1960 (1960-03-29)
29"Achilles and His Heels"Irving J. MooreFrederic BradyApril 5, 1960 (1960-04-05)
30"The Gangster's Daughter"Irving J. MooreKitty BuhlerApril 12, 1960 (1960-04-12)
31"The Penthouse Story"Irving J. MooreSidney MarshallApril 19, 1960 (1960-04-19)
32"The Shark"Sidney MillerBerne GilerApril 26, 1960 (1960-04-26)
33"The Horse Runs High"Oscar RudolphSteven RitchMay 3, 1960 (1960-05-03)
34"The Hired Guns"Reginald Le BorgFrederic BradyMay 10, 1960 (1960-05-10)
35"Borderline"Irving J. MooreAl C. WardMay 17, 1960 (1960-05-17)
36"A Matter of Money"UnknownUnknownMay 24, 1960 (1960-05-24)
37"Bullets and Ballet" Allen H. Miner Steven RitchMay 31, 1960 (1960-05-31)

Guest stars


Despite the show's popularity, it was canceled after only one season. Mike Connors stated in an interview that the show's primary sponsor (J.B. Williams) refused the network's request to move it to a later timeslot on a different day. When CBS head James Aubrey stated that the show was indisputably going to move timeslot, the sponsor dropped Tightrope!, and underwrote another program on another network. Connors also did not agree with suggested changes to the show's format, that would have extended its length to one hour and added a sidekick, to be played by Don Sullivan. [4] He thought such an alteration would eliminate the suspense element of the program. [5] Yet another factor in the show's eventual cancellation were complaints concerning its alleged excessive violence.[ citation needed ]

Seven years later, Connors would go on to star in the successful, long-running CBS crime series Mannix .

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  1. "Tightrope!". Broadcasting. Cahners Pub. Co. 56: 71. 1959.
  2. p. 60 Freese, Gene Richard Jaeckel, Hollywood's Man of Character McFarland (2 May 2016)
  3. Terrace, Vincent (29 October 2003). The Television Crime Fighters Factbook: Over 9,800 Details from 301 Programs, 1937-2003. McFarland & Company. ISBN   9780786415335 . Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  4. Interview by Paul & Donna ParlaSULLIVAN’S TRAVELS IN HOLLYWOOD An Interview with ‘B’ Monster Movie Hero Don Sullivan copyright 2008 Paul Parla/Anthony Di Salvo
  5. Weaver, Tom (2003). "Mike Connors". Eye on Science Fiction: 20 Interviews with Classic SF and Horror Filmmakers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 29–30. ISBN   0-7864-1657-2.