Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Who’s who on Route 66

[George Maharis as Buz Murdock and Martin Milner as the other guy, “The Swan Bed,” October 21, 1960.]

When Route 66 aired on Nickelodeon some years ago, we were never able to keep track of the other guy’s name. You know, the one played by Martin Milner, who later starred in Adam-12. Elaine came up with the name Not Buz.

We are now watching Buz and Not Buz on DVD, with more than cursory attention. Among the actors in the first four episodes: Lew Ayres, Whit Bissell, Keir Dullea, Betty Field, Henry Hull, Patty McCormack, and Everett Sloane. Mind, boggle.

Elaine has now come up with a name for the series: Naked Country. Like Naked City (also filmed on location), Route 66 was the creation of Stirling Silliphant and Herbert B. Leonard.

Related reading
The end of the trail (Route 66, Santa Monica)
Naked City posts

[It’s a shame that George Maharis never got to play Jack Kerouac, though in a way, as Buz Murdock, he did. Not Buz’s real name: Tod Stiles.]

comments: 8

Adair said...

I love this series. Some of the episodes are powerful, even disturbing. Every episode, practically, has a fistfight, which I don't like, but then, in the early 60's, that really was a common way for men to settle their differences. "Let's step outside."

In some shots, Maharis actually looks like Kerouac! Milner was great in this series too---he has this American "Boy Scout" decency about him, square but reliable, that contrasts perfectly with Maharis's beat, jazzy, more complicated nature. The look and type of American that Milner plays seems all but extinct today. In fact, the show depicts a country that, on the whole, has vanished.

Michael Leddy said...

Adair, I was hoping that you’d weigh in here. Yes, the content is often dark, dark. I was wondering last night how some of it ever made it to television in 1960. It’s a series for grown-ups, for sure.

Kerouac appeared on Steve Allen’s show in 1959, so I will guess that a good number of viewers must have seen the resemblance. If they didn’t, they were missing out!

Adair said...

The episode "Love is a Skinny Kid" traumatized me when I saw it as a boy and is still hard for me to watch. Chloris Leachman (who later starred in the great great Mary Tyler Moore Show) is in it. There are some very painful scenes. Definitely not for kids! Yet in syndication in the later 60's, the series was often shown during the afternoon, around the same time as children's programming, and of course I thought the fistfights were very cool then, not to mention the Corvette!

Michael Leddy said...

I’ll let you know when we get there. (It’s a long road.)

Adair said...

I read somewhere that Kerouac considered suing the producers of Route 66 for the show's similarities to On the Road. Forgive me, Michael and all Kerouac fans,I hate to say this, but I find the characters and situations on the tv show generally more interesting than those in Kerouac's novel. I also find the actual writing better. I am intrigued by Kerouac himself, by his life and personality---he must have been amazing to know---and by what he was trying to achieve linguistically, but I just have never been able to enjoy his novels. (I have however found passages in his poetry that are startling.)

Michael Leddy said...

I’ve read that too, but I can’t tell if it’s anything more than a plausible story.

Adair, our likemindedness is sometimes embarrassing: I much prefer Kerouac’s poetry to his prose.

Barbara said...

Or as we say in our circle..

Michael Leddy said...

Very nice. Having watched the whole series, I now know both names. :)