1970 - United States

Richard Widmark starred as New York homicide detective Daniel Madigan, a grim-faced loner who lived alone in a sparsely furnished one-room apartment. His cool indifference may well have put people off but in reality his rough exterior hid a genuinely soft centre. 

Madigan began life as a novel, The Commissioner by Richard Dougherty, before getting the big screen treatment by co-writers Howard Rodman, Abraham Polonsky and Harry Kleiner with direction by Don Siegel. Apparently, Rodman wasn't happy with the way it turned out and changed his name on the credits to Henri Simoun, mainly because what started out as a deliberate attack on police department hierarchy finished up as a pretty standard (although in many critics opinion - stylish) action packed cops and robbers story. Rodman at the time was active with a local construction union and Polonsky may have still felt some bitterness about being a blacklisted writer in the 1950s. 

There were also well documented instances of Siegel and producer Frank Rosenberg clashing behind the scenes as each tried to stamp his authority on the project. Nonetheless, the cast, Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Inger Stevens and Harry Guardino overcame any upheavel off set by producing the goods in front of the cameras and sending audiences home more than happy. The titular character was played by Academy Award nominated actor Richard Widmark who first entered show business in 1943 after a perforated eardrum stopped him from joining the military. In 1950 and 1952 Widmark starred in Panic In The Streets and Night and the City, respectively - each considered classic examples of film noir. 

In 1971 NBC began a series called The NBC Mystery Movie an umbrella title for a trio of rotating series that appeared in the same time slot (Wednesday 8:30 - 10pm) every week. These included Columbo, McCloud and McMillan and Wife. The series became so popular that in 1972 it was moved to Sunday night where it was imaginatively titled The NBC Sunday Mystery Movie and at the same time three new series were introduced for the Wednesday night version; Banacek, Cool Million and Madigan. None of them faired as well as their predecessors and only six episodes of Madigan were made. Several of these took Dan Madigan out of the country ('The Lisbon Beat', 'The London Beat' and 'The Naples Beat' give a clue to their location) but as a quintessential New York creation Madigan only ever worked well when seen on home ground. 

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Widmark has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and in 2002 he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He last worked professionally in 1996 just a year before his wife of 55 years, writer Jean Hazlewood, passed away. Now retired, Widmark resides in Roxbury, Connecticut, where he has lived since the 1950s.

Published on December 31st, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.

Read Next...

The Untouchables

Incorruptible Treasury Agent goes face-to-face with The Mob in 1930s America

Also tagged Us Police Series

The Naked City

Semi documentary style police procedural series.

Also tagged Us Police Series

Crime of Passion TV series

In France crime passionnel (or crime of passion) was a valid defence during murder cases; during the 19th century, some cases could result in a custodial sentence for two years for the murderer.

Also released in 1970

Interpol Calling

The International Police investigate everything from murder to blackmail, drugs to hijacking and assassination to slavery.

Also tagged Cops On The Box

Edward Judd in Intrigue

Industrial espionage series starring Edward Judd

Also tagged Cops On The Box

Hill Street Blues

US police series based around the dangerous professional and private lives of the officers who worked out of the aging, dilapidated, Hill Street Stationhouse.

Also tagged Us Police Series

Albert and Victoria

Alfred Marks starring comedy vehicle produced by Yorkshire Television and set, as the title suggests, in the late 19th century when Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert were the figureheads on the British throne.

Also released in 1970

Brights Boffins

Children's comedy series about a group of scientists who work in a rambling long-forgotten Government establishment called Halfwitt House.

Also released in 1970


Allegedly based on the case-files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, The F.B.I. was endorsed by none other than the Bureau's real-life chief of operations, J. Edgar Hoover.

Also tagged Us Police Series