Tuning In To The Untouchables: An Interview

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NPR station WBOI covers The Untouchables Retrospective in its interview with historian Kelly Lynch:

Fort Wayne filmmaker Kelly Lynch is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the television crime drama, The Untouchables, with an online retrospective.

Lynch got hooked on this groundbreaking show thanks to his father, Dan, a nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist whose career included work for the Kansas City Times and the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

Earlier this month, WBOI’s Julia Meek sat down with Lynch to discuss the passion he inherited from this dad, their combined efforts in this project and where the journey continues to take him.

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The Artichoke King

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THE ARTICHOKE KING

Airdate: December 3, 1959, June 2nd 1960
Teleplay by Harry Essex
Directed by Roger Kay
Produced by Sidney Marshall 
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Featuring Jack Weston, Al Ruscio and Robert Elingston

“6AM Tuesday, April 19th, 1931. The place, the Washington Produce Market in New York City. You’re asleep most likely, grabbing that extra 40 winks before the alarm gets you up, but things have been moving along here in the market set up to feed the city with the largest appetite in the world. Every 48-hours, more than 25 million pounds of fruit and vegetables stream into the city during the night. A multi-million dollar business, a prime target, for the viscous racketters of the era. There were also decent citizens like the Cestaris: Angelo, his wife Sophia, and his son Atony. They worked hard, enjoyed the fruits of their labors, tried to be good citizens.”
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“Mexican Stake-Out”

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“MEXICAN STAKE-OUT”

Airdates: Nov. 26, 1959, Aug. 11, 1960
Teleplay by Robert C. Dennis and Alvin Sapinsley
Story by Alvin Sapinsley
Directed by Tay Garnett
Produced by Charles Russell
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Co-starring Martin Landau, Vince Edwards
Featuring Barbara Luna, Ken Lynch, Byron Foulger, David Renard, Joseph Ruskin, Frank Wilcox, Alex Montoya, Richard Norris, Roy Engle, Rudolfo Hoyos

“Chicago, Illinois, October 1st, 1932. In thirty two hours in closed session, Judge McGinnis would consider evidence against a racketeer named Theodore Newberry, the owner of gambling parlors, speakeasies and houses of prostitution. Justice was finally able to catch up with this man. The key witness in the case against Newberry was an obscure clerk at city hall named Julius Imbry. To protect this witness, police guarded his home twenty-four hours a day.”
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Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll

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VINCENT ‘MAD DOG’ COLL

Airdate Nov. 19, 1959
Teleplay by Palmer Thompson
Story by Charles Marion
Directed by Andrew McCollough
Produced by Paul Harrison
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Co-starring Clu Gulager, Lawrence Dobkin
Featuring Suzanne Storrs, Richard Carlyle, Dick Miller, Ronni Anton, Richard Carlin

“In the month of February in the early thirties, three widely separate events occurred. At Churchill Downs, the entries for the Kentucky Derby were closed. In Tijuana, Mexico, a gambling syndicate accepted a huge bet in the winter book on one of those entries. The bet came from New York City, from a phone in a building on the west side of Manhattan. It was placed for a sallow-faced, tight-fisted man named Arthur Flegenheimer, Jr., better known as ‘The Dutchman.’ Dutch Schultz, beer baron of New York who, with his body guard Benny Bristow and his chief lieutenant Lefty Gallagher, sat in his office figuring the take from his criminal empire, Mile outside three men waited: Fats Finney, Needles Bledsoe and their leader, a man who had a vindictive hatred for Dutch Schultz! A man who was one of the most fantastic gangsters of that era: Vincent Mad Dog’ Coll.” Read More

“Ain’t We Got Fun”

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“AIN’T WE GOT FUN”

Airdate: November 12th, 1959
Teleplay by Abram S. Ginnes and Robert C. Dennis
Story by Abram S. Ginnes
Directed by Roger Kay 
Produced by Sidney Marshall 
Director of Photography Charles Straumer 
Special Guest Star Cameron Mitchell
Featuring Joseph Buloff, Renee Sullivan, Ted de Corsia and Timothy Carey

“Chicago, summer of 1933. In less than a year, the long unworkable era of Prohibition would come to an end. But the byproducts spawned by that era, the hoodlums, gangsters, the viscous members of syndicated crime were determined to live on. Many of them were already turning away from liquor to other lucrative fields of crime: the numbers racket, call girls, gambling, dope. But in Chicago, in that year 1933, one of the most successful of the gangsters had other ideas. He was already well on his way to accomplishing them. His name: Jim Harrington, better known to the mobs as Big Jim.”
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The George “Bugs” Morgan Story

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THE GEORGE “BUGS” MORAN STORY

Airdates: November 5th, 1959 and June 23rd, 1960.
Teleplay by David Karp
Directed by Joe Parker
Produced by Normal Retchin
Director of Photography Charles Straummer
Special Guest Star Lloyd Nolan
Co-starring Jack Warden. Featuring Harry Shannon, Fredd Wayne, Peter Baldwin, Robin Warga, Miriam Nelson, Kem Dibbs, Barbara Stuart, Bob Hastings.

“In the winter of 1932 in Chicago, Illinois, an unusual crime was committed. A crime which echoed down the years to the present day. The crime was kidnapping. The kidnapper was one of Chicago’s most vicious mobsters.”
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The Jake Lingle Killing

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THE JAKE LINGLE KILLING

Airdate: October 29th, 1959
Teleplay by Robert C. Dennis
Story by Saul Levitt
Directed by Joe Parker
Produced by Charles Russell
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Special Guest Star Jack Lord
Featuring Charles McGraw, Philip Pine, John Beradino, Herb Vigran, H. M. Wynant, Frank Wilcox.

“Geographically, Chicago always had its North and South side. In the early 1930s, these terms had a very special significance. They referred to the territories of rival gangs. The North Side was controlled by Barney Bertsche. Everything south of Madison Street belonged to the Viale Brothers, Augie and Vito. The line of demarcation was never clearly drawn and the territories overlapped and were often in dispute. The result: gang war.”
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Ma Barker and Her Boys

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MA BARKER AND HER BOYS

Airdate: October 22, 1959
Written by Jerome Ross
Directed by Joe Parker
Produced by Norman Retchin
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Special Guest Star Claire Trevor
Featuring Joe di Reda, Robert Ivers, Adam Williams, Peter Baldwin, Vaughn Taylor, Louise Fletcher

“One of the most astonishing episodes in the annals of American crime took place on January 16, 1935. It began at 7 a.m. on a warm, sunny Florida morning. In a combined operation, Eliot Ness and his agents joined with the state troopers and local police in a surprise visit near the town of Oklawaha, Florida. What followed made front-page headlines throughout the world.”
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The Empty Chair

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THE EMPTY CHAIR

Airdates:
Oct. 15, 1959, May 5, 1960
Teleplay by David Karp
Story by Ernest Kinoy
Directed by John Peyser
Produced by Charles Russell
Co-starring Barbara Nichols, Bruce Gordon
Special Guest Star Nehemiah Persoff
Featuring Peter Mamakos, Richard Benedict, Betty Garde, Wally Cassell, Herman Rudin, Frank Wilcox, Carl Milletaire

“Chicago, May 5th, 1932. After seven months of legal delays, Al Capone, the country’s most notorious product of the nation’s experiment with prohibition, was on his way to federal prison to serve eleven years for income tax evasion. On hand to watch the mobster leave, was Eliot Ness, chief of the unique federal squad known as The Untouchables, the special unit that had worked for eighteen months to bring Al Capone to justice. For these men, the end of the Capone career was just the beginning of another era of violence. The king of the hoodlums had left a vacant throne behind him. The next man to claim it would pay for the privilege in violence and bloodshed.” Read More

Introducing The Untouchables Retrospective

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On October 15th, 1959, ABC Television and Desilu Productions unveiled “a new kind of series” called The Untouchables and rocked American audiences out of their suburban living rooms and into Chicago’s Prohibition streets with the battle of Eliot Ness and his incorruptible agents against the criminal forces of Al Capone.

Join us on The Untouchables Retrospective us as we head to Desilu Studios to explore an overlooked chapter in film and television history and examine the cultural and artistic impact on what was the most violent, expensive and acclaimed television show of its time.

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