1 9 6 3 – 1 9 6 7 (USA)
120 x 60 minute episodes
“Name: Richard Kimble. Profession: Doctor of Medicine. Destination: Death Row, State Prison. Richard Kimble has been tried and convicted for the murder of his wife. But Richard Kimble is innocent…”
Produced by the prolific Quinn Martin, The Fugitive Starred David Janssen as Doctor Richard Kimble, a man wrongly tried and convicted for the murder of his wife, Helen.
The series concerned his escape from custody (after the prison train taking him to his execution derailed) and his quest to clear his name and bring to justice the real killer- the shadowy, ever elusive, One-Armed Man.
Kimble’s single-minded quest enthralled audiences worldwide as he crossed the USA in pursuit of his wife’s killer, whilst trying to escape the clutches of the law himself, and in particular the man responsible for his capture, his police escort Lieutenant Gerard (Barry Morse).
Prisoners in the USA regularly wrote to Janssen saying that they had been framed too, convicts on a chain gang in the deep south threatened to riot when a warden said he’d stop them watching The Fugitive, and old ladies reported sightings of suspicious one-armed men.
In Britain, when Granada TV suddenly stopped showing the series halfway through, 600 Liverpool factory girls formed an action committee to persuade the company to change its mind. Shortly afterwards it returned to English TV.
The quest was actually resolved in a two-part special in 1967 (“The Day The Running Stopped”) which saw Kimble finally bring his wife’s elusive murderer to ultimate justice, and clear his own name.
The finale had a 72% viewing share of the audience in the USA – At that time the largest recorded for a single episode of an on-going series.
To keep the outcome secret, the second and final segment was televised all over the world on the same day and everyone was able to see Gerard shoot the One-Armed Man (pictured at left) as he wrestled with Kimble in a life-and-death struggle.
The lot of Dr Kimble had not been an easy one. Over four years and 120 episodes he had been blinded by an explosion, run down by a car, knocked unconscious 10 times and stabbed four times. He had survived 30 fights, three concussions, eight gunshot wounds (four in the arms, four in the legs), acute cases of amnesia and pneumonia, and the affections of numberless sympathetic but entirely untrustworthy ladies.
With the exception of Minnesota, New England and the Deep South, Kimble had spun out his misery in every state of the Union and parts of Canada and Mexico. He had worked as a truck driver, chauffeur, delivery man, merry-go-round operator, sail mender, bartender, fruit picker, janitor, orderly, assistant veterinarian and invalid sitter.
He had gone under many aliases, usually nondescript Anglo-Saxon names like George, Bill, Bob, Len and Jeff. His most frequent choice was Jim; he had shown up as Jim Lincoln, Jim Fowler, Jim Russell, Jim Wallace, Jim Owen, Jim McGuire and Jim Corbin.
Janssen went on to play Harry O before his well-publicised alcoholism brought about his premature death.
In 1993 Harrison Ford portrayed Richard Kimble in a new and highly successful movie version of The Fugitive which also inspired a sequel, US Marshals.
Dr Richard Kimble
Lt Philip Gerard
One-Armed Man (Fred Johnson)
J D Cannon