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Banacek

1 9 7 2 – 1 9 7 4 (USA)
1 x 90 minute pilot
16 x 90 minute episodes

Shrewd Polish-American Tom Banacek (George Peppard) was in a lucrative line of work.

He was a freelance insurance investigator who recovered stolen goods for the Boston Insurance Company and collected 10% commission on the goods tracked down. And he never went after anything cheap.

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Not that he needed the money. He rode around in a chauffeur-driven limo and lived in a mansion in the exclusive Beacon Hill section of Boston. He had impeccable taste in clothes, food, art and women and he was a connoisseur of difficult cases (A plane that disappeared and a missing three-ton statue, for example).

Mostly a solo operator, Banacek did get occasional help from native New Yorker Jay Drury (Ralph Manza) who drove his car, and from his up-market bookshop proprietor friend Felix Mulholland (Murray Matheson).

At the end of each episode, it was the mystified viewer’s turn for help as Banacek revealed how he cracked the case.

Other series regulars were rival investigators Penniman (Linden Chiles) and, from the second season, Carlie Kirkland (Christine Belford), who fell for his charms.

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The show’s gimmick was ethnic – Polish proverbs were sprinkled through the shows (such as “Only the centipede can hear all the footsteps of his uncle” and “A truly wise man never plays leapfrog with a unicorn” – or our personal favourite, “Though the hippopotamus has no stinger in his tail, the wise man would rather be sat on by the bee”.

Banacek’s cool, successful character (who was able to make it in the States without abandoning his roots) won the series an award from the Polish-American Congress for positive portrayal of Polish Americans.

Banacek was one of the rotating elements of NBC’s Mystery Movie produced by Universal.

It was introduced by a 90 minute TV movie, then moved into the slot when previous occupants McCloud and McMillan and Wife were shifted to Sunday.

Banacek‘s creators, producer-writer team Levinson and Link, were also the power behind other TV successes including MannixColumboEllery Queen and Tenafly.

Thomas Banacek 
George Peppard
Jay Drury 

Ralph Manza
Felix Mulholland 

Murray Matheson
Carlie Kirkland 

Christine Belford
Penniman 

Linden Chiles

Episodes

Let’s Hear it For a Living Legend | Project Phoenix | No Sign of the Cross | A Million the Hard Way | To Steal a King | Ten Thousand Dollars a Page | The Greatest Collection of Them All | The Two Million Clams of Cap’n Jack | No Stone Unturned | If Max is So Smart, Why Doesn’t He Tell Us Where He Is? | The Three Million Dollar Piracy | The Vanishing Chalice | Horse of a Slightly Different Color | Rocket to Oblivion | Fly Me – If You Can Find Me | Now You See Me, Now You Don’t