Home Television Drama Martin Kane, Private Eye

Martin Kane, Private Eye

1 9 4 9 – 1 9 5 4 (USA)
75 x 30 minute episodes

One of television’s earliest detective/drama series, NBC’s Martin Kane, Private Eye starred four Hollywood leading men during the five years it was on the air.

The series, which was telecast live, originally featured William Gargan (who had played the role on the radio) as Martin Kane. He was replaced in 1951 by Lloyd Nolan, who played the part for one year and then by Lee Tracy and Mark Stevens successively, also playing the role for a year each.

Kane was originally a smooth-talking private detective – he referred to women as “doll face” and “sweetheart” – who worked closely with the New York City police department.

He had an office in the Wood Building in Manhattan and hung out at McMann’s Tobacco Shop where he bought Old Briar pipe tobacco at 15 cents a pouch. The shop was a vital part of the live series, as the sponsor’s products were prominently displayed there – and when Kane placed tobacco in his pipe, the camera zoomed in for a closeup of the product name.

As the series progressed, Kane became tougher and his liaison with the police diminished.

In 1953 the title of the show was shortened to Martin Kane, and the programme became more mystery – and suspense – oriented.

Also appearing in the series were Fred Hillebrand as Lieutenant Bender, Horace McMahon as Captain Willis, Nicholas Saunders as Sergeant Ross, Walter Greaza as Captain Leonard, Frank Thomas as Captain Burke, and King Calder as Lieutenant Grey.

In 1957, three years after it departed network television, the series resurfaced as a syndicated show called The New Adventures of Martin Kane. Kane now had moved to London, and the role was played once again by the original Martin Kane, William Gargan.

Martin Kane, Private Eye was initially syndicated under the title Assignment Danger.

Martin Kane
William ‘Bill’ Gargan (1)
Lloyd Nolan (2)
Lee Tracy (3)
Mark Stevens (1)
Tucker “Happy” McMann
Walter Kinsella
Lieutenant Bender
Fred Hillebrand
Captain Willis
Horace McMahon
Sergeant Ross
Nicholas Saunders
Captain Leonard
Walter Greaza
Captain Burke
Frank Thomas
Lieutenant Grey
King Calder