Hong Kong (1960-61)
Rod Taylor played Glenn Evans, a "two-fisted American correspondent"
based in Hong Kong and assigned to cover the Orient.
Evans was equally adept at crime-solving, fisticuffs and romance. The
suave newspaperman thwarted blackmailers, smugglers, kidnappers and murderers.
But he also managed to spend plenty of time in a white dinner jacket, entertaining
lovely ladies at the Golden Dragon nightclub.
In fact, if you listen to Taylor himself, "The most wonderful thing
about making the 'Hong Kong' series," he said in a 1961 interview,
"was that they used a different leading lady every week."
The show created a strong sense of place and adventure as Evans zipped
about in his white convertible, with Hong Kong as a backdrop. Also helping
set the mood was the show's extraordinary musical
score, by Lionel Newman.
The rest of the supporting cast included Lloyd Bochner as the very proper
Chief Inspector Neil Campbell and Jack Kruschen as Tully, the owner of Tully's
Reports say that Taylor turned down more than a dozen series before signing
the deal for "Hong Kong," which made him the most highly paid
actor in an hour-long series: $3,750 per episode, plus a 15 percent ownership
stake. The concept and the character intrigued him, as he told an interviewer
while working on the show:
I felt the character of Glenn Evans could very well be
Rod Taylor. I'm not creating a separate screen personality for this. If
I got up there on the screen and "pretended" for 39 weeks, somebody
would see through it or else get awfully sick of it. Either the public
buys me, or we're out of luck.
Now, don't confuse "screen personality" with
"character." This character of Glenn Evans, for instance, the
roving American correspondent, is a guy who can be charming in a Cary Grant
situation and be just as suave -- then take off his coat and slug it out,
as Cary Grant wouldn't. He can be a gentleman and still be tough.
-- TV Radio Mirror, January 1961
ABC and 20th-Century Fox TV thought "Hong Kong" might be a
blockbuster, but it couldn't compete against "Wagon Train" on
NBC. Also, the sophisticated, adult adventure show had an inappropriate
time slot -- starting at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays -- and was a bit strong
for the kiddies. It pulled in Nielsen ratings of 10.6 to 12.7 ("which
means," Taylor noted sarcastically, "that only 13,500,000 are
watching us"), while "Wagon Train" racked up ratings of about
34.5 each week. After its cancellation, Rod told an interviewer:
We tried NOT to make this just another "Hawaiian
Eye," but to really do a job with a bit of character and reality to
it. And what happens? The bleeding rating services say nobody watches us.
Nobody?! What about the thousands and thousands of letters that pour in
here because we're going off the air. [After cancellation, the studio counted
10,000 letters of protest.]
-- TV Channels, July 23, 1961
Nevertheless, it was a growing experience for the young lead actor. In
addition to getting his name and face more well known, Taylor said, "I
learned so much professionally. Learned to work in different areas, to relax
where I'd been tense. And I learned to put more of myself in the part, to
channel more of Rod Taylor and less of Glenn Evans into the show."
The studio did try to start "Hong Kong" up again under a new title. During
February 1962, Rod shot the pilot film for "Dateline: San Francisco," relocating
Glenn Evans to the city by the bay. However, in a 1965 fan newsletter, Rod
reported that the pilot was finished too late to get a good network time, so it
was shelved by the studio.
"Dateline: San Francisco" >>
HONG KONG EPISODE GUIDE
Here's a episode guide for the 26, black-and-white, one-hour episodes,
plus the pilot: (JS = summary by John Sonnenthal; DT = summary by Diane Tomasik)
0.1 -- Unaired 30-minute pilot -- "Blind Justice"
The 30-minute unaired pilot is the short version of the
"Blind Bargain" episode. Instead of Lloyd Bochner as Inspector
Neil Campbell, Alex Davion played Inspector Geoffrey Scott.
1.1 -- Sept. 28, 1960 -- "Clear for Action"
The first episode, of course, sets the scene and introduces
the regulars. Rod Taylor gets to be debonair and daring. This one also
features a corny plot device featuring a naive Navy man, a runaway pig
and a lovely lady named Happy (France Nuyen).
Directed by Ida Lupino. -- DT
Taylor experienced some real-life drama when trying to
shoot a scene at the border between Hong Kong and communist China: "We
set up the camera as if we were going to shoot the Hong Kong side,"
he told a magazine in 1961. "And then I walked across a little narrow
railroad bridge, gave a signal behind my back, and the camera swung around
to shoot the border. ... When I walked up to the border, this [Red China
police] guy has his machine gun trained on me."
1.2 -- Oct. 5, 1960 -- "Murder Royal"
Glenn gets involved in a plot to assassinate the visiting king of an Asian country. In the end they kill the king but get his son to safety.
1.3 -- Oct. 12, 1960 -- "Pearl Flower"
Glenn helps an American visitor (guest star Inger
Stevens) locate a little girl she's been sending care packages to. But
the charity turns out to be a front for a spy operation. -- DT
1.4 -- Oct . 19, 1960 -- "Freebooter"
Glenn helps a buddy and his wife (Beverly Garland)
out of a tough spot. The old buddy is a former Air Force pilot and now
a mercenary helping rebel forces in a nearby nation. The government, of
course, doesn't like it. Glenn uses his wits and muscle to rescue the couple
from the villains' ship. -- DT
1.5 -- Oct. 26, 1960 -- "The Jade Empress"
In a Maltese Falcon-esque storyline, Glenn winds up with
a valuable jade figurine following the murder of a Canadian colleague in
whose care the treasure had been placed. Glenn must win the trust of the
figurine's lovely owner (Patricia Crowley) and outwit an array of bad guys.
1.6 -- Nov. 2, 1960 -- "The Jumping Dragon"
This is a dark episode filled with murder,
smuggling, and people being thrown out of airplanes. Glenn woos a Swedish
stewardess, but danger gets in the way. -- DT
1.7 -- Nov. 9, 1960 -- "Blind Bargain"
Joanna Moore guest stars as an American correspondent,
Carol Pryor, with whom Glenn has had a prior relationship. He discovers
she's paying the Chinese to cross the border to look for a story. Glenn
and Carol are taken hostage, but Glenn fights off their kidnappers and
they slip off the boat as the police ride to the rescue. -- JS
1.8 -- Nov. 16, 1960 -- "Colonel Cat"
A hated Japanese commander, known as Colonel Cat, escapes
imprisonment and returns to Hong Kong to retrieve a hidden fortune. Blackmail,
karate and murder ensue. Glenn steps in to solve the case, using the help
of friend and bar owner Tully, who knows all the criminal types around
town. Glenn ultimately fights and kills the colonel, saves Tully from danger
and returns the fortune to its rightful owner. -- JS
1.9 -- Nov. 23, 1960 -- "The Turncoat"
A man (Christopher Dark) left behind as a prisoner at
the end of the Korean War is taken to Red China where he becomes a "turncoat,"
supposedly working for the communists. As he escapes from Red China, a Chinese
reporter -- a woman (Lisa Lu - photo)
who used to be the man's secretary, interpreter and lover -- tries to reach
Glenn to get exile for both of them. She winds up kidnapped by smugglers,
and Glenn steps in to save her. The turncoat gets his exile, but the girl
stays behind with Glenn. Directed by Ida Lupino. -- JS
1.10 -- Nov. 30, 1960 -- "To Catch a Star"
A flight carrying a movie crew overcomes a perilous landing,
but Glenn is skeptical that it wasn't a publicity stunt. He
charms his way into a date with the leading lady (Luciana Paluzzi, who would also be Rod's co-star
in "Chuka" and "Powderkeg.")
Then she's kidnapped. Glenn suspects another publicity stunt. It starts
out that way, but turns serious -- and deadly. A swarm of shoe-shine boys
help Glenn save the day. Also guest-stars Edward Andrews. -- DT
1.11 -- Dec. 7, 1960 -- "Nine Lives"
This top-notch episode exudes atmosphere, starting with
Glenn's shipboard encounter with a slick gambler and his "niece"
(Patricia Barry) as well as a survivor of a prison camp who's out to expose
a traitor in Hong Kong. The traitor has established himself as a respectable
publisher, and is a friend of Glenn's, setting up tests of loyalty and
character for both men. Directed by Ida Lupino. -- DT
1.12 -- Dec. 14, 1960 -- "The Dragon Cup"
Glenn rekindles a love affair with an American reporter,
Kate Martin (Bethel Leslie), who gets in trouble while in Hong Kong on
assignment. Turns out a man in one of the photos she took was a judge who
fled the U.S. with thousands of dollars from a corruption scheme. But he
changed his life and was using the money to help refugees. Kate makes the
story front-page news, causing trouble for all. -- JS
1.13 -- Dec. 21, 1960 -- "When Strangers Meet"
diplomat, Andrew Manton (Kenneth MacKenna), arrives in Hong Kong where he
meets a private detective. Manton's son was killed in an accident and Evans
believes that he's having the incident investigated. In addition to pursuing
the story, Glenn also flirts persistently with Manton's secretary, Peggy
Jackson (Pippa Scott). -- DT
1.14 -- Jan. 4, 1961 -- "Suitable for Framing"
Glenn is courting a lovely singer (guest star Julie London),
but romance is interrupted as he gets framed for murder in retaliation
for a damaging article about a smuggling scheme. After being slipped a
mickey, Glenn wakes up to find a dead man in his apartment. He goes into
hiding, and with the help of the lovely singer, sets out to clear himself.
1.15 -- Jan. 11, 1961 -- "Lesson in Fear"
Guests stars included David Hedison and Suzanne Pleshette.
Evans goes on holiday to Honolulu. Of course it's not a real holiday -- he's after a story concerning jewel smugglers. But he gets more than he hoped for when a sailor turns up. He romances a femme
fatale again in this one.
1.16 -- Jan. 18, 1961 -- "The Survivor"
Glenn survives a helicopter crash, but the couple he
is traveling with perish. Glenn is the godfather of their young son, and
he must vie with the child's grandfather in Red China. The grandfather
hatches a kidnapping plot involving a fake American aunt. The first fake
aunt almost involves Glenn in a romantic dinner, but she ends up being
unmasked and runs away. A second fake Aunt comes closer to succeeding,
but Glenn and Chief Campbell figure it out in time to rescue the boy.
Guest star is Coleen Gray. --
1.17 -- Jan. 25, 1961 -- "Night Cry"
Where's Rod? The story line involves a bad cop who kills
a guy and frames an old friend of the police chief. Meanwhile, Glenn is
off in Tokyo, appearing briefly at the beginning and end of the show. --
1.18 -- Feb. 1, 1961 -- "Double Jeopardy"
The show opens with a beautiful woman (guest star Felicia
Farr) poisoning her partner in crime. After stashing away a large sum of
money, she shows up at Glenn's door and invites herself in for the night.
Glenn, of course, is accommodating. While he's working the next day, she
is killed in his apartment. Soon afterward, Glenn encounters the woman's
twin sister (also Felicia Farr). A romance begins, and Glenn solves the
mystery behind the murders. Or does he? The money is still missing -- and
which twin really committed the crime? -- DT
1.19 -- Feb. 8, 1961 -- "Lady Godiva"
Guest stars Dina Merrill. Lady Godiva is the nickname for the wife of a dead magazine magnate; Evans occasionally writes pieces for the
mag. She visits Hong
Kong to investigate the disappearance of one of her journalists. Of course she and Evans had a thing Way Back When. Someone takes pot shots at her
-- or are they after Evans?
1.20 -- Feb. 15, 1961 -- "The Hunted"
A U.S. doctor is accused of assassinating a foreign minister in an unspecified (presumably communist) country. Evans gets involved trying to prove his innocence.
1.21 -- Feb. 22, 1961 -- "With Deadly Sorrow"
Chief Campbell gets the girl (guest star Anne Francis)
and the focus of the mystery. Glenn makes brief appearances at the beginning,
middle and end -- when he gets a girl of his own, a Swedish starlet. --
1.22 -- March 1, 1961 -- "Murder by Proxy"
Glenn is almost killed by a cab right after leaving the
Golden Dragon, where he had met a variety of friends and foes, including
an old (now-married) girlfriend (Nancy Gates). When the woman's husband
is shot and killed while talking to Glenn, everyone assumes Glenn was the
real target. But his detective work reveals otherwise -- and why. --
1.23 -- March 8, 1961 -- "The Woman in Gray"
A Japanese woman, wrongly imprisoned for killing her
husband, sees a picture in the newspaper of a woman in gray who had been
at the murder scene. Glenn goes after the story and the woman in gray (Rhonda
Fleming). Romance begins, but it turns out that the woman's alibi was false.
Glenn uncovers a smuggling and blackmailing scheme, the woman in gray ultimately
confesses, and the imprisoned widow is set free. -- JS
1.24 -- March 15, 1961 -- "Love, Honor and Perish"
A friend of Glenn Evans' (Joan Caulfield) arrives from
San Francisco to meet her husband, who fled to the Orient four years previously
to seek his fortune. But it turns out that the husband has another identity
and is living in Macau, smuggling gold to Red China. Glenn and the girl
set out on the perilous task of tracking him down. -- JS
1.25 -- March 22, 1961 -- "The Innocent Exile"
Glenn stages a few coincidences to meet a beautiful woman
(Susan Kohner), who turns out to be the step-daughter of the overthrown
dictator of a republic called Costa Verde. Political intrigue and kidnapping
interrupt a couple of times, but romance prevails. -- JS
1.26 -- March 29, 1961 -- "The Runaway"
The series climaxes with an episode full of romance,
espionage and Cold War-era deception. A lovely fugitive (Gia Scala) asks
Glenn to dance, then disappears. Then reappears. Her name, her story keeps
changing. Is she a victim or a murderer? -- DT
Click for Gallery
TV Guide article
Rod and Julie London
Item about this episode
Rod with France Nuyen
Rod with Ida Lupino
Rod with Luciana Paluzzi
Rod with Rhonda Fleming
Rod with Coleen Gray