Monday, March 8, 2021

THE JOAN COLLINS BLOGATHON, Ellery Queen: The Adventure of Auld Lang Syne, 1975


Gill at RealWeegieMidgitReviews is hosting The Joan Collins Blogathon from March 8 - 10. Enjoy the tributes to the enduring star HERE plus BONUS articles.

Ellery Queen, the fictional detective/author created by Frederick Dannay and Manfred Lee in 1929 was developed as a television series in 1975 by Richard Levinson and William Link. They placed the birdlike bulldog from Headquarters, Inspector Richard Queen (David Wayne), and his writer son Ellery (Jim Hutton) in a 1940s milieu which made 22 episodes of perfect whodunit television. The series has grown in appreciation with audiences over the years, but NBC didn't realize what they had at the time.

Each episode featured an ensemble guest cast as suspects. Each guest star was given the opportunity to shine throughout the story. 


Ellery Queen: The Adventure of Auld Lang Syne

Season 1, Episode 1

First aired September 11, 1975

Directed by David Greene

Story and screenplay by Peter S. Fischer

Peggy Rea, Tom Reese, David Wayne

Inspector Queen is ushering in the New Year's Eve leading to 1947 at the Astor Hotel listening to Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians and valiantly suffering under the forced gaiety of Sgt. Velie (Tom Reese) and his wife (Peggy Rea).

Jim Hutton

Ellery and his date are expected but Ellery is remarkably absent-minded when he is working on a novel. 

Thayer David

THAYER DAVID as Marcus Halliday is hosting his own soiree at the Astor. Halliday has problems with every one of his guests and is determined to ruin them or cut them out of his will as the case may be. Before midnight Marcus Halliday will be murdered and be the cause of a big headache for Inspector Queen. There is a well-to-do and well-connected crowd at the Astor and they don't like being tied up in a murder investigation.

Our suspects/guest stars listed alphabetically are:

David Doyle, Farley Granger, Joan Collins

JOAN COLLINS as Lady Daisy Frawley. Lady Frawley is engaged to Halliday's son Lewis. She is, to quote Marcus Halliday "a divorced and shopworn social climber."

We will focus on the fun in Joan Collins's performance for this blogathon. The posh Lady Frawley is accused by Marcus Halliday of being a tramp from Soho Square; a golddigger who was never married to a Lord. Lady Frawley's outrage almost makes her accent slip a time or two. She loves Lewis for who he is, not for his money! Well, Lewis may believe that but no one else is falling for it.

Charles Robinson, Joan Collins, David Wayne

Lady Frawley is cowed by Inspector Queen's investigation but keeps her head. When the photographic proof is processed that seems to absolve both she and Lewis from the crime she really lords it over Inspector Queen in a most unladylike fashion.

It is a great deal of fun watching Joan Collins as Lady Frawley. Her energy and panache are a joyful thing. I hope she had as much fun working on this program back in 1975 as we have watching the performance.

David Doyle

DAVID DOYLE as Donald Becker. Halliday's newly acquired business partner is a scam artist.

Herb Edelman

HERB EDELMAN as a cabbie. He's not a suspect but is a welcome help to Ellery Queen.

Farley Granger

FARLEY GRANGER as Paul Quincy. Halliday's deceitful nephew is a petty, unimaginative thief.

Guy Lombardo

GUY LOMBARDO as Guy Lombardo, Canadian-born musician. For many years, it was not truly a New Year's Eve unless we heard Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians play Auld Lang Syne.

Karen Machon, Jim Hutton

KAREN MACHON as Kitty McBride. She is not a suspect either but she is one angry date who has been stood up by Ellery Queen. She gets over it.

Joan Collins, Charles Robinson

CHARLES ROBINSON as Lewis Halliday. Marcus considers him a lazy, grateful son. Lady Frawley considers him a handsome meal ticket.

Barbara Rush

BARBARA RUSH as Emma Zelman. Halliday's loyal secretary for 15 years is on his bad side since "deserting him" for romance.

Ray Walston

RAY WALSTON as Howard Pratt. Emma's boyfriend is described by Marcus as a middle-aged Casper Milquetoast. He hides a huge secret.

George Wyner

GEORGE WYNER as Joe Kemmelman is a confused undertaker who gets mixed up in a New Year's Eve murder.

While we are enjoying the plot and the performances in an Ellery Queen episode, time slips by, and before we know it there is Ellery asking us if we have solved the mystery.

Jim Hutton

"Are you with me? You may even be way ahead of me. Now, it's not that difficult to figure out why Halliday called Kemmelman, a man he never met, a man he never knew. Remember, he had to have known who stabbed him. The knife was wedged in that phone booth so he couldn't crawl out. He couldn't talk so why call the police, so he did the next best thing. Since he didn't have a pencil or a pen, he left us the only clue he could to the murderer's identity. Have got the same answer as I do?"



















37 comments:

  1. I’d heard the name “Ellery Queen” before, but for some reason I thought it was the name of a ship.

    Quite a cast for a premiere episode. Peter S. Fischer went on from this to co-create MURDER SHE WROTE. He must’ve liked the idea of a novelist as an amateur sleuth.

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    1. Peter S. Fischer has given me a lot of entertainment over the years. He writes a series of classic era Hollywood Mysteries with a P.I. called Joe Bernardi.

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  2. I love reading about this whodunnit, its quite a cast too.. will be looking out for this one thanks to your great review! Thanks for joining the blogathon

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    1. Thanks for hosting what is sure to be a very fun and interesting blogathon. It couldn't be otherwise with Joan Collins as our topic.

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  3. DAVID WAYNE, DAVID DOYLE, HERB EDELMAN, BARBARA RUSH and GEORGE WYNER all guest-starred on MURDER, SHE WROTE. Herb did several episodes and George was in one of my favorite eps-SNOW WHITE, BLOOD RED which also had EMMA SAMMS who played FALLON on DYNASTY. Fallon was the daughter of ALEXIS played by...JOAN COLLINS! P.S. I remembered the guest stars. I didn't look them up.

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    1. Such talented guest stars. It was fun to see non-glamorous Barbara Rush in Ellery Queen. Nice connection with Emma and Joan.

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  4. I looked up RAY WALSTON's credits to see if he had done an ep of M.S.W. and he was in THE WAY TO DUSTY DEATH with CORNEL WILDE, JOANNA BARNES and JOANNA PETTET. Sadly WILLIAM LINK(the co-creator of M.S.W.) died in Dec. 2020 at the age of 87. RICHARD LEVINSON and WILLIAM LINK also created COLUMBO. Let's hear it for COLUMBO and MURDER, SHE WROTE!!

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    1. Indeed. Both Columbo and Murder, She Wrote made for good company these last few months in particular.

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    2. Most of the series that Levinson and Link were associated with were pretty good, but ELLERY QUEEN was I think the best. I'd consider it to be even better than COLUMBO and I'm a huge COLUMBO fan.

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  5. Have not seen this one in years, amazing cast, especially Collins and the wonderful Ray Walston and Jim Hutton! Truly was the golden age of television....
    - Chris

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    1. We're lucky to have this in our memories and still to enjoy today.

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  6. As you know, I love this show and this episode has a marvelous cast. In addition to Joan, it’s grand fun to see one-time Nero Wolfe star Thayer David as the murder victim.

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    1. Thayer David always took command of every role and is perfect here.

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  7. Like GEORGE WYNER, DAVID WAYNE worked with an actress who played FALLON, the daughter of ALEXIS(JOAN COLLINS). David worked with PAMELA SUE MARTIN, the original Fallon. It was on an ep of NANCY DREW in 1977-Pamela Sue was the star of the show. I didn't see the episode but it was set on a cruise ship and David played...a mystery writer!

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    1. David Wayne as a mystery writer - what would Ellery say?

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  8. This is a great choice for the blogathon, with its '40s high society setting and great cast. I remember enjoying Ellery Queen and being disappointed when it was canceled. Somehow though, I had forgotten the bit where Ellery breaks the 4th wall and asks the audience if they've solved the mystery. Love all the screenshots!

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    1. Thanks. It was great fun revisiting and choosing screenshots for this blogathon. It is frustrating that the network didn't realize what a gem they had in Ellery Queen.

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  9. In 1975 THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG was tenth on the list of blockbuster movies. As you know DAVID WAYNE had a part in that movie. So did HARRY MORGAN. According to wiki Harry played INSPECTOR QUEEN in a TV-Movie with PETER LAWFORD in 1971. However, he was ELLERY's uncle, not his dad. I remember a couple of years age you mentioned the MURDER, SHE WROTE ep with HARRY MORGAN. P.S. FARLEY GRANGER also did a M.S.W. ep!

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    1. I don't know why the 1971 movie made Inspector Queen Ellery's uncle unless it had something to do with their contrasting accents.

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  10. I meant a couple of years ago. Have you seen very many actors play ELLERY QUEEN? JIM HUTTON was a good and very likable actor. He had a quality in his comedic movies that makes me think of DEAN JONES.

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    1. I have seen Ralph Bellamy and William Gargan play Ellery Queen, both with Charley Grapewin (The Wizard of Oz) as Inspector Queen. I haven't seen any of the other movies. Hugh Marlowe layed Ellery on radio and an early TV show featured Lee Bowman - which was alluded to in one of the 1975 program's episodes.

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  11. I'm aware of the Ellery Queen TV show but have never seen an episode. It sounds like something I would like. BTW, Timothy Hutton looks so much like his dad!

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    1. On his show Leverage, Timothy Hutton dressed as "Ellery Queen as played by Jim Hutton for a costume party.

      Ellery Queen is a delightful program. I bought the DVD set a few years ago because I remembered it so fondly from the original run. I believe it is available on Amazon Prime or some streaming service.

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  12. TIMOTHY HUTTON played ARCHIE GOODWIN on the 2001-2002 series NERO WOLFE. It aired on A&E and ran for two seasons(20 episodes). It starred MAURY CHAYKIN. I didn't watch the show but I saw some previews. Timothy directed 7 episodes.

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    1. Filmed in Canada with a great repertory cast of players, plus great production values A Nero Wolfe Mystery was a great program. I can't believe it was 20 years ago!

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  13. I always thought this show might have had a longer run had it been on PBS. It seemed a bit to "smart" for network TV at the time.

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    1. Indeed. I believe that after Columbo, NBC had faith in Levinson and Link but not enough faith in their audience.

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  14. JIMMY BAIO is 59 today! I remember him from his MATLOCK episode which is from the first season(1986-87). It was titled THE RAT PACK and the main guest stars were TIMOTHY BUSFIELD, GREG EVIGAN and DESI ARNAZ, JR. You may recall Jimmy from SOAP(as BILLY TATE). Jimmy and SCOTT BAIO are cousins. According to imdb Jimmy's first credit is the pilot ep/TV movie of...ELLERY QUEEN! (He played a graffiti artist.)

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    1. I'll have rewatch the pilot. Jimmy more than held his own with the adults in the cast of SOAP.

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  15. I looked up the show SOAP on wiki and found out that GEORGE WYNER was on it as a doctor! He did three eps as a hypnotist. I saw George on two short-lived series. One was KAZ where he played the D.A. It starred RON LEIBMAN. The other was NERO WOLFE! It starred WILLIAM CONRAD and LEE HORSLEY played ARCHIE GOODWIN. George played a freelance detective. I know Lee from MATT HOUSTON and PARADISE(which was later titled GUNS OF PARADISE). George did some early eps of Matt Houston but I didn't see any of them. P.S. Lee Horsley was one of the most attractive men on TV-and a good actor. BUDDY EBSEN was on MATT HOUSTON the final season as UNCLE ROY-a retired detective who helps his nephew Matt. I've mentioned before that I am a big fan of Buddy's.

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    1. I enjoyed the William Conrad/Lee Horsley Nero Wolfe program. George Wyner played Saul Panzer. I also enjoyed Lee Horsley in a short-lived series called Bodies of Evidence. It was, to my mind, an excellent cop show but it didn't get the ratings.

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  16. I vaguely remember "Ellery Queen" being on in the '70s and am surprised our family didn't watch it, as my Mom was a big mystery and Hutton fan. This looks very well-done and will check it out. As for Joan Collins, I much preferred her later, when she played her persona for humor. It's great to see her in period wardrobe. Cheers, Rick

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    1. Ellery Queen from 1975 is a double edged sword. It will not disappoint, but it will leave you wishing for more.

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  17. JOAN COLLINS and DAVID WAYNE were both on BATMAN as guest villains. My favorite guest villain is JULIE NEWMAR as CATWOMAN.

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    1. Each of the actresses who played Catwoman brought something unique to the role. Julie brought a vulnerability that made her outstanding.

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  18. I don't think I can ever watch Thayer David without thinking of "Count Saknussemm"! Ellery Queen was such a great show and this was a very memorable episode. Link and Levinson once said that they thought the mysteries they wrote for the series were just a little too hard for their television audience to solve and attributed the success of Murder She Wrote to the simpler mysteries. Perhaps, but I liked Queen regardless of whether I could solve the mystery or not! It should have ran for another season.

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    1. Whether I solve the mystery or not doesn't impact whether I enjoy/watch a program either. It is the writing and the atmosphere created that draws me to a series.

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