Route 66

Route 66

1966 - United States

Capturing the early emerging free roaming spirit of American youth at the beginning of the decade that would eventually come to be known as the "Swinging Sixties", Route 66 was an hour-long adventure series that ran on the CBS network between 1960 and 1964. 

Produced by Herbert B. Leonard, the show took the lessons of successful television location filming learned by the producer during the course of his ground-breaking earlier hit The Naked City, and applied them to the much wider canvas afforded by a format which saw the central characters exploring the country in a cool red 1960 Corvette, via what was then the U.S.'s premiere highway, "America's Main Street", the historic Route 66 of the title. 

The series featured Martin Milner as Tod Stiles, a wealthy Yale graduate, and George Maharis as Buz Murdock the tough kid from New York's notorious Hell's Kitchen. The two young men of radically differing backgrounds nonetheless formed a strong bond of friendship, which enticed them out on the road in search of adventure and excitement. George Maharis was forced to leave the series in November 1962 due to the unfortunate lingering after-effects of a case of hepatitis. However, he continued to appear intermittently in episodes that aired throughout to the March of 1963. In that same month Maharis' replacement as Milner's full-time travelling companion debuted in the form of Glenn Corbett's directionless former Vietnam war-hero from Huston, Texas, Linc Case. 

Notable guest appearances on the series included a youthful Alan Alda, Joey Heatherton (in her first TV dramatic role), Robert Redford, Rod Steiger, and perhaps most importantly, Ethel Waters in the 6th October 1961 episode "Goodnight Sweet Blues", a performance that led to Ms. Waters being nominated for an Emmy award, the first such nomination for a black actress. 

A direct forerunner of the rebellious, more overtly anti-establishment feeling of American youth which would find its ultimate expression in movies such as Easy Rider, Route 66 was a slick, well made and viewer pleasing series, which not only helped free US TV from the confines of the Hollywood back-lots, but also succeeded in capturing and mirroring the changing mood of a nation's youth in the process.

Published on January 25th, 2019. Written by SRH (July 2001) for Television Heaven.

Read Next...

Alfred Hitchock Presents tv series

The instantly recognisable, deceptively benign visage of arguably the world's greatest director of cinematic suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, side-stepped deftly to the smaller screen of US television and welcomed viewers to a polished series of stories...

Also tagged Us Drama


"The real stars of the series were Clarence the lion and Judy the chimpanzee."

Also released in 1966

The Fugitive

"Name: Richard Kimble. Profession: Doctor of medicine. Destination: Death Row, state prison. Richard Kimble has been tried and convicted for the murder of his wife. But Richard Kimble is innocent..."

Also tagged Us Drama


Dirty dealings in Texas among the oil-rich magnates.

Also tagged Us Drama

Cathy Come Home

Harrowing drama of one family's downward spiral into poverty that sparked a national debate in the Houses of Parliament on the plight of the homeless.

Also released in 1966

Alice in Wonderland

Unimpressed with Disney's 1951 animated version of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Jonathan Miller was keen to develop a new version which would bring to the fore undertones of the story that had been glossed over in the often 'traditional' presentation of this classic children's tale.

Also released in 1966

Batman TV Series

Unable to secure the rights to a new television revival of the classic masked western hero the Lone Ranger, producer William Dozier instead turned his attention to another masked vigilante...

Also released in 1966

Honey West

Described as television's most beautiful private eye

Also tagged Us Drama