Starring Hollywood Oscar winner Broderick Crawford as Chief Dan Mathews, Highway Patrol is today seen as the father of the TV Cop show genre with it's all-action storylines involving the pursuit of murderers, bank robbers, smugglers and hijackers, by car, bike or helicopter across the highways and byways of the Western United States.
Made on a shoestring budget and starring no other regulars apart from the star himself (who was also a part-owner in the production company that made the series, Ziv TV), the series was a massive hit around the world. In Italy it was known as Policia Della Strode, in Spain -Petrulla de Seguridad and by various other titles in twenty other countries. Its most enduring legacy was the introduction to the phrase 'Ten-Four', meaning 'message received and understood.' Crawford, a Californian, had begun his career in the 1930's playing tough gangster roles and won his Best Actor Oscar in 1949 for All The King's Men, plus a special critics award for Of Mice and Men. He insisted on doing most of his own stunt work and as a result of this incurred a number of injuries, as he explained in 1958. "Running around filming in helicopters and fast cars for three years you're bound to have accidents, and I've certainly had my share. So far I've fractured my skull, broken an arm and an ankle and taken hundreds of falls."
The series ran from 1955 to 1958 and at the end of its run Crawford secured the lead in King of Diamonds and later in The Interns before popping up as a guest star in Get Smart, Burke's Law and Fantasy Island, to name a few.
Published on December 21st, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.