1 9 5 9 – 1 9 6 0 (USA)
39 x 60 minute episodes
Bourbon Street Beat was the least successful of the many cloned 77 Sunset Strip detective shows churned out by Warner Bros for the ABC network in the late 50s and early 60s.
Set in New Orleans, the series starred Richard Long as Rex Randolph and Andrew Duggan (all 6′ 5″ of him) as Cal Calhoun. Together, they operated the ‘Randolph & Calhoun, Special Services’ private detective agency.
In their desire to make the series look authentic, ABC obtained proprietary rights to a historic New Orleans restaurant (the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street) and bought the adjoining property, placed the Randolph & Calhoun office above the historic dining room, and filmed many of the show’s location shots there.
Ivy league man Randolph came from one of the oldest families in the South. In college, he studied law, passed the bar examinations and eventually found himself working for the District Attorney’s office. During this period he became fascinated with criminology and decided to make this his real career.
Because of Rex’s family connections, many of Randolph & Calhoun’s clients were prominent and wealthy. Some of the biggest men in the state trusted him with their problems, and Rex never betrayed their trust.
Cal Calhoun was a former New Orleans cop who had been raised in the bayou country where his parents worked as sharecroppers.
Arlene Howell (a former Miss USA) played their attractive southern receptionist and file clerk, Melody Lee Mercer, and newcomer Van Williams was their young part-time assistant, Kenny Madison.
Kenny was from an oil-rich Texas family and was attending Tulane University, where he was studying to become a lawyer. While he didn’t need the money, he worked for Rex for the experience he acquired in apprehending lawbreakers.
Eddie Cole (brother of Nat King Cole) played “the Baron”, a piano player with the fastest ten fingers in town at the Absinthe House.
Lusti Weather (Nita Talbot) was a beautiful singer and dancer at the Racquet Club in the French Quarter. She also played the bongo drums which she said: “keep my torso from becoming more so”.
Rex called her ‘Lusti Love’ and she had such colourful (unseen) friends as Sunset Strip and Midnight Frenzy.
Bourbon Street Beat was intended to be the centre of ABC’s powerhouse trio aimed at dominance on Monday nights (preceded by Cheyenne and followed by the South Sea series, Adventures In Paradise) but the show was cancelled after its first season.
Andrew Duggan died of cancer in May 1988 at the age of 64.
Melody Lee Mercer