1 9 6 0 – 1 9 6 4 (USA)
116 x 60 minute episodes
Route 66 told the story of Tod Stiles (Martin Milner) and Buz Murdock (George Maharis), two young men who travelled around the USA together in Tod’s Corvette in search of adventure and romance.
The show was initially a vehicle for Maharis as stormy Lower East Side New York orphan Buz Murdock, opposite Martin Milner as boyish, Yale-educated Tod Stiles.
When Tod’s father died the two young men set out on the road looking for “a place to put down roots.”
Maharis left the show in 1963 – because of the lingering effects of a case of hepatitis – and was replaced by Glenn Corbett as Linc Case, a troubled Vietnam vet from Houston also seeking meaning on the road.
The series was filmed on location as the duo crossed the United States in their seemingly destination-free travels, meeting all sorts of people and getting into all kinds of situations.
By the end of its four-season run, the Route 66 production caravan had travelled to twenty-five states – As far from LA as Maine and Florida – as well as Toronto.
The show’s stark black and white photography and spectacular locations provided a powerful backdrop to its downbeat stories and yielded a photographic and geographical realism that has never been duplicated on American television.
Guest roles were filled by an array of Hollywood faces, from fading stars like Joan Crawford and Buster Keaton to newcomers such as Suzanne Pleshette, Robert Duvall, and Robert Redford.
The driving jazz theme tune by Nelson Riddle was on the hit parade in 1962.
In 1993 the Corvette took to the highway once more in a nominal sequel, a summer series (on NBC) that put Buz’s illegitimate son, Nick (James Wilder) at the wheel with a glib Generation-X hitchhiker named Arthur (Dan Cortese) in the passenger seat. The new Route 66 lasted only a month.