Fictional mystery writer and super
Queen had been the main character in a number of popular mystery novels written
by Frederic Dannay and Manfred Bennington Lee, before he became a regular
feature on the CBS Radio Network in 1939. A decade later, he mad the first of 4 appearances on television.
Ellery was a slightly absent-minded
mystery writer who would sort through a mass of evidence and a large collection
of suspects to determine the guilty party in a crime - usually murder. His aid was regularly
sought by his Father, an inspector with the New York Police Department.
Inspector Queen never ceased to marvel at the way his son could reach the proper
conclusion by unearthing the most obscure clues - often left by the dying victim
- and piecing them together.
Richard Hart was television's first
Ellery Queen, portraying the role in The Adventures of Ellery Queen,
a live series that premiered on DuMont in the fall of 1950. The following
January, Hart died of a sudden and unexpected heart attack - he was in his 30's
- and was replaced by Lee Bowman. Bowman stayed with the series when it moved to
ABC in December of 1951 and played Ellery until its cancellation in December
1952. In 1954, a syndicated film version appeared, also title The Adventures of Ellery Queen,
and starring Hugh Marlowe, one of four actors who had played the role on radio.
Florenz Ames continued as Inspector Queen in these films. The title of the
syndicated version was changed in 1956 to Mystery Is My Business.
Ellery returned to live network
television on NBC in the fall of 1958 with George Nader in the title role.
To distinguish it from its predecessors, this edition was titled
The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen
but, effective with the October 24, 1958 telecast, the title was once again
When production of this edition shifted from Hollywood to New York, and went
from live to videotape, both of the principal actors - George Nader and Les
Tremayne - left the series. The role of Ellery was assumed by Lee Philips and
that of Inspector Queen was dropped.
After a gap of 16 years, NBC once
more brought the series back to television, with Jim Hutton in the title role.
This version, also titled
was done as a period piece set in New York City in the late 1940's. Sergeant Velie, the plain-clothes assistant to Inspector Queen, was now a regular
in the cast; he had appeared in the novels and radio series, but had
not been seen regularly in any of the previous TV versions. Also added to this
latest TV cast were
Simon Brimmer, a radio detective who vied with Ellery in trying to
solve the murders and newspaper columnist Frank Flannigan.
the end of each episode, just before resolving the case, Ellery would turn
to the television audience and ask, "Have you figured it out? Do you
know who the murderer is?"