Gene Barry played a Los Angeles chief
of detectives who also was a millionaire, a role not unlike his cowboy-dandy in
the earlier Bat Masterson series. The character of Amos Burke was first seen two seasons earlier
in a Dick Powell Theatre presentation ("Who Killed Julia Greer?"),
where it was played by Dick Powell. As portrayed by Barry, Amos Burke
was high-living, elegant, and witty yet cagey and tough when required. He
lived in a palatial mansion and habitually arrived at the scene of a crime in a Rolls-Royce
driven by his chauffeur, Henry. Burke also had a magnet attraction for beautiful
women, and interrupted his romances only for interesting homicide cases, usually
involving the elite.
His sidekicks were Det. Tim Tilson, a smart, young college
Les Hart, a seasoned veteran of the force; and in 1964-1965, a pretty
policewoman, Sgt. Ames. Amos Burke was highly promoted during its first season
and featured dozens of Hollywood stars as guests, ranging from Annette Funicello
to Sir Cedric Hardwicke; 63 stars appeared in the first eight episodes according
to one press release.
change in format and title was made in September 1965. Glamour and
sophistication remained the series' trademarks, but Amos Burke severed his
connection with the police and became a debonair, globe-trotting secret
agent for a United States intelligence agency. His only contact at the
agency, and the only other regular during the last season, was known simply as "The Man." The title of the series
was simultaneously changed to Amos Burke - Secret Agent.
three decades after the original series had left the air, Burke's Law
returned to television. Gene Barry was back as the remarkably well-preserved and
cop, now chief of homicide for the L.A.P.D. During the intervening years,
the womanizing Burke had been married and fathered a son, Peter. Peter had inherited his father's
good looks, charm, wit and love of the law. He was now a homicide detective
solving cases with his dad. Despite differences in both style and attitude -
Peter was more impulsive and less patient than
Amos - together they made an effective team. Other
regulars were Amos's loyal manservant, Henry, who chauffeured him around in his
Rolls Royce; Lily, the forensics expert and Amo's friend Vinnie, a gourmet chef who
popped up in almost every episode.
Burke's Law revival looked a bit like a land-locked
Boat. The dialogue was incredibly corny, and every episode was
stars long past their prime. Among them were George Segal, Polly Bergen, Carol Channing,
Connie Stevens, Buddy Epson, Anne Francis,
Tanya Roberts, Edd Byrnes, Milton Berle, Jack Carter, Eva Gabor, Ed McMahon, John Astin,
Audrey Meadows, Roddy McDowall, Bonnie Franklin, Florence Henderson, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.,
and Don Knotts.