Monday, August 20, 2018

THE LOVELY LEE GRANT BLOGATHON: Ironside - Eat, Drink and Be Buried (1967)

Reel Widgie Midget Reviews and Angelman's Place aka Gill and Chris are co-hosting a blogathon tribute to Lee Grant. Now, that's an idea whose time has come! Click HERE for the contributions to the blogathon running from August 20th to 23rd.

The pilot for Ironside was aired as an NBC Tuesday Night at the Movies film on March 28, 1967, and received the lion's share of the ratings for the night at 27.5 with a 48 share. Fans were excited to see Raymond Burr in a new role after his nine-year run as Perry Mason. The response was so positive the series was put into production that fall.

San Francisco Chief of Detectives, Robert T. Ironside was left paralyzed by a would-be assassin. He has become a consultant to the police department with his own staff and living/office space in a loft in HQ. The staff consists of his former assistant Sgt. Ed Brown played by Don Galloway, rookie policewoman Eve Whitfield played by Barbara Anderson, and Mark Sanger played by Don Mitchell. Mark is a street kid who met the Chief on the opposite side of the law. Mark needed a job and the Chief needed a driver and personal assistant. They will both get more than they bargained for.

Eat, Drink and Be Buried aired on October 5, 1967, and was the fourth episode of that first season. The episode was written by Tony Barrett (Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome, Impact, Peter Gunn) and directed by William A. Graham (Naked City, The Fugitive, Checkmate). The guest stars were Lee Grant, Farley Granger, Richard Anderson and a special appearance by the composer of the Ironside theme, Quincy Jones.

Lee Grant

Meet Francesca Kirby, a woman with everything that makes life worth living. This former police reporter writes an advice column that is straight-forward with a generous helping of sarcastic humour. The public loves it and her, in print and on the air. Francesca is big money.

Francesca has a sprawling country estate with a pool and stables. She has a dishy husband at her beck and call. She has powerbrokers begging for her favour. She has fans, and she has detractors. Currently, she has more than her share of threatening letters and has been the victim of an attempted kidnapping. What next? Poison?

Farley Granger

This is Mitch Kirby, a wannabe musician, but a drummer should be able to keep time. He only keeps time with other women now that his wife Francesca has paid to have him dried out at a ritzy sanitarium. Nonetheless, she appears to be crazy about him and he is good at playing the devoted spouse.

Richard Anderson

Darren Sanford is a newspaper publisher who gave Francesca her big break with the column. Of course, this was after Francesca threatened to go to his wife about their affair. Francesca kept her mouth shut, but the wife left him anyway. He's not happy with Francesca, but he's happy with the money she makes.

Maria Lennard

Doris Keller is Francesca's sister. She's a little down-on-her-luck right now. She and Francesca were both fledgeling journalists when Doris told her sister her idea for a new kind of advice column. Francesca ran with it creating permanent rancour between the two sisters. Nonetheless, Francesca is always good for a buck or two if Doris begs sufficiently.

John Lodge

Vic Durrant is Francesca's business manager. He laughingly refers to himself as her slave, but actually, the two are partners in every sense.

Quincy Jones, Don Mitchell

Les Appleton is a musician who runs his own jazz club called The Key of C. Les is the club's artist at night and its labour during the day. He is willing to part with information about Mitch Kirby to Mark although he makes a comment about Mark living with the Fuzz. Mark is still sensitive about the arrangement at this point in the series. Les does remind him that it is a lot better than what Mark had been doing with his life.

Lee Grant, Raymond Burr

This is another one of Francesca's acquisitions, a boat perfect for cruises to Mexico. Isn't it nice? The Chief knew Fran back in her police reporting days and he is flummoxed about her refusal to get more involved in her own safety. Especially as a sniper takes a shot at her from the dock. Ed and Mark are unable to run him down and the Chief is slightly wounded.

Raymond Burr, Don Mitchell, Don Galloway

In the early seasons, the Chief and staff relied on a board to help them make sense of their cases. Mark settles this one: "With the exception of Durant everybody has a reason to kill her but nobody can afford to."

Lee Grant, Barbara Anderson

Officer Whitfield is embedded as a secretary at Francesca's office. Her sleuthing and intuition uncover a deeper connection between Fran and her business manager than previously thought. Eve is also privy to information that Fran has also moved up the date for a fishing trip to Mexico for her and Mitch. What can it all mean? Perhaps it will match up with information the Chief uncovered on Durant's background. The business manager is a demolitions expert.

Lee Grant

Fran and Vic have set a bomb aboard the boat that is intended to kill Mitch. The pair were behind all of the attempts on her life. Everyone was to believe the bomb was meant for Fran.

Unaware that Mitch was alerted, her co-conspirator Vic in custody and the bomb removed. Fran's genuine fear for the Chief's life led her to betray the byzantine plot. Two years ago she was involved in a non-lethal hit and run. Mitch was the passenger in the car and has been blackmailing her ever since. The marriage was only the first instalment she had to pay.

Raymond Burr, Don Galloway

The Chief instinctively takes the look on Ed's face to mean that his chilli needs more spice.

Don Galloway, Barbara Anderson, Don Mitchell, Raymond Burr

Episodes always end with a plot wrap-up, a quip, and a good time with our regular gang.

Lee Grant

Ironside was a top-rater for its entire 8 seasons. Audiences became attached to the special police consultant and his staff, the variety of interesting stories, and fascinating guest stars. Certainly, the bravura role of the duplicitous Francesca Kirby played to the attractiveness, strength, and abilities of the lovely Lee Grant.


  1. Hi Caftan Woman...indeed I remember enjoying the last couple of seasons of Ironside as a small child. But was confused as to why he could walk in black-and-white (Perry Mason) but wheelchair-bound in color...all in the same afternoon of reruns!

    I have never seen this wonderfu episode, however, and look forward to finally catching it. I love Farley Granger from Hitchcock's Rope, of course, and what a treat to see the young Quincy Jones--so all-around brilliant and talented. Of course, the super glamorous and always edgy Lee Grant looks as if she steals the show...can't wait.

    Thanks so much, Patricia, for participating in the rock!

    1. Thanks a lot, Chris. I'm so pleased the blogathon came along and gave me the opportunity to delve into this memory.

      TV reruns can sure mess with our minds! I recall seeing Raymond Burr on the Phil Donahue show waaaay baaack. A young boy in the audience asked me where he got all those old cars for his show (Perry Mason). Burr smiled and said "from the old car store".

  2. I agree with the previous commenter. Even in your screen images, Lee Grant looks like she's stealing the scenes! Plus, she has a fabulous wardrobe, as I expected.

    1. Lee Grant is so vibrant even the still camera can't hold her.

      A lot of the fun in the episode comes from the fashions. I feel like she is having a blast.

  3. Paddy Lee, another good write-up of one of my favorite TV shows of my youngsterhood. Raymond Burr was a TV legend. Nine years as PERRY MASON(1957-66) and eight years as IRONSIDE(1967-75). What was really good about these shows were the guest stars that would appear. Lee Grant in this episode and in the week before Jack Lord. Those were the days.

    1. Indeed. It didn't require a continuing storyline to keep you tuned in, as you didn't want to miss the next exciting plot and guest star.

  4. I've never seen Ironside, but always remember as a student someone being late for a lecture with the excuse that they were waiting to find out the killer in an episode. Now having read your post I can see why and I will definitely be delving into his imdb page to find this and other faves. Thanks for joining the blogathon and for introducing me to this show.

    1. That is the best excuse I ever heard! You have introduced me to some interesting shows and it is time I returned the favour. Thanks for hosting this terrific blogathon.

  5. I've always loved Ironside more than Perry Mason surely because Ironside was running when I was a wee shaver so there's the nostalgia aspect. My Dad was a devout fan so we watched it every week.

    I'm sure I saw this episode then but fortunately I've seen it more recently on either MeTV or Cozi and it was a terrific one. Lee was her usual intense resourceful self though some of her fashion choices and the things she wore in her hair scream "60's"

    Watching the series now it's easy to see why it remained popular for it's entire run. It had a solid concept and never felt the need to deviate from it or make it flashier. We got to know the cast over time, and they were a solid if not dazzling group, but it never became about them but always the cases.

    1. I've been a fan since childhood. I recall Cleveland Amory writing in TV Guide that even if every episode of Ironside wasn't the best episode of Ironside, we were happy to spend time with the Chief, Ed, Mark and Eve/Fran.

  6. "With the exception of Durant everybody has a reason to kill her but nobody can afford to."

    Well, that's a position we all aspire to. Unfortunately, I'm expendable and disliked. Ironside would never be able to figure who bumped me off.

    And great write up. I never got a chance to watch "Ironside" except in re-runs. I always felt sorry for Raymond Burr, having to act all the time sitting down. As for Lee Grant, she'll always be the Widow in the "Heat of the Night" to me.

    1. I'd push the Chief until the culprit was brought to justice, but only for the puzzle aspect since you are "expendable and disliked."

      My first association with Lee Grant is her battle of wits with Columbo. She always impresses me.

  7. Just love this review and I have gone straight to eBay and got myself some Ironside on DVD! I had no idea so many great co-stars appeared opposite Raymond Burr and I feel a "Dinner and An Episode of Ironside" coming on. I have quite a few of Raymond's fave recipes in my collection and I have it on good authority that he was an excellent cook! Thanks for this great review, Ironside here I come! Jenny from Silver Screen Suppers x

    1. Marvelous! I look forward to those recipes.

      When I'm in an Ironside mood (and it happens often), nothing else will do.

  8. I have never watched this show but from your article, I understand why it was so popular! Even I would have been excited about the guest stars. Their appearances and interesting stories are the perfect ingredients to a great production!



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