Daktari

1966 | United States

Based on the 1965 movie 'Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion,' and appearing on television in the same year as the motion picture 'Born Free' this series tapped into the public's sudden affection for all things wildlife. 

Daktari (the Swahili name for doctor) which replaced Rawhide on CBS was set at the Wameru Study Centre for Animal Behaviour in East Africa and was run by Dr. Marsh Tracy (Marshall Thompson) and his daughter/assistant Paula (Cheryl Miller), assisted by US conservationist Jack Dane (Yale Summers), and Mike (Hari Rhodes), a native African. In truth, the series was filmed (rather convincingly) at Africa, USA, a wildlife park near Los Angeles. 

The real stars of the series were Clarence the lion and Judy the chimpanzee. Judy loved to climb on Clarence's back for a free ride and the lion was so mild mannered that it let her. The concept was developed by producer Ivan Tors who was inspired by the work of Dr. A.M. Harthoorn at his animal rights orphanage in Nairobi and a visit to Africa, USA where he first came across Clarence and the animal's odd physical condition. When the audience saw what Clarence saw, it was in double vision. In the last season a seven-year old orphan joined the family. Young Jenny Jones was played by Erin Moran who would find even greater television fame as Joanie Cunningham in both Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi

Published on December 6th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.

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