Described as televisions most beautiful private eye, Honey West was arguably the first female TV PI, who had inherited both the family detective business and partner Sam Bolt (John Ericson) from her late father. On the wave of the James Bond gadgetry fad, Honey came equipped with a fountain pen capable of spraying tear gas, a lipstick radio transmitter, a powder compact that was really a walkie-talkie, and to round off this ensemble of aids, a vicious looking pet ocelot!
The lead role had gone to attractive New York born model turned actress Anne Francis, who had first appeared before television audiences in 1949 as 'Bonny Maid', for commercials for floor coverings in the series 'Versatile Varieties'. At the age of seven Anne was already a radio star, and later went on to the M.G.M. studio school with the likes of Liz Taylor and Jane Powell. But it wasn't until she played Honey West in an episode of Burke's Law that Anne found true TV fame.
A full series of Honey West was commissioned by ABC, and even though Anne won the 1965 Golden Globe Award as the most popular television actress, the series never returned for a second run. Anne Francis returned in a variety of TV roles down the years, most notably as Terri Dowling in My Three Sons (1971-72) and as Arliss Cooper in Dallas (1981) and continued acting with TV roles up to 1996. In 1965 she said, "So long as I function, so long as the next day is a mystery, so long as life's up there ahead like an open road with no guideposts, I'll be fine."
Published on December 21st, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.