Show Type: Police Drama

First Telecast: September 19, 1965

Last Telecast: September 8, 1974

Executive Producer: Quinn Martin

Theme Music: "F.B.I. Theme," by Bronislaw Kaper

Broadcast History:

September 1965 – September 1973, Sunday 8:00-9:00 on ABC

September 1973 – September 1974, Sunday 7:30-8:30 on ABC


Inspector Lewis Erskine..... Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

Arthur Ward..... Philip Abbott

Barbara Erskine (1965-1966)..... Lynn Loring

Special Agent Jim Rhodes (1965-1967)..... Stephen Brooks

Special Agent Tom Colby (1967-1973)..... William Reynolds

Agent Chris Daniels (1973-1974)..... Shelly Novack


The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been the subject of several highly popular radio and TV shows (remember The F.B.I. in Peace and War?), but none portrayed the cool, professional operation of the agency so thoroughly as this long-running series starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., as Inspector Lewis Erskine. Zimbalist personified the calm, business-suited government agent who always tracked his quarry down, scientifically and methodically, and with virtually no emotion whatever.

The cases were supposedly based on real F.B.I. files. They ranged across the United States and involved counterfeiters, extortionists, organized crime, Communist spies, and radical bombings (during the era of Vietnam dissent). Arthur Ward was the assistant to the F.B.I. director and the man to whom Inspector Erskine reported, while several agents served as Erskine’s sidekick over the years. Barbara Erskine, his daughter, appeared only during the first season, later being written out apparently because there was no room for anything so fallible as family ties in The F.B.I.

The program always portrayed the agency in a favorable light. It won the commendation of real-life F.B.I. Director, J. Edgar Hoover, who gave the show full government cooperation and even allowed filming of some background scenes at the F.B.I. Headquarters in Washington. Bringing the program even closer to real-life, many telecasts closed with a short segment asking the audience for information on the F.B.I.'s most-wanted men (including, in April of 1968, the fugitive James Earl Ray).

Associate with the program as sponsor throughout its run with the Ford Motor Company, which accounted for the fact that those agents were always seen driving Ford cars.