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The Untouchables

 

The Untouchables

The Untouchables is an American crime drama that ran from 1959 to 1963 on ABC. Based on the memoir of the same name by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley, it fictionalized the experiences of Eliot Ness, a real-life Prohibition agent, as he fought crime in Chicago during the 1930s with the help of a special team of agents handpicked for their courage and incorruptibility, nicknamed the Untouchables. It was remade into a 1987 film by Brian De Palma also called The Untouchables.

The series aired on Thursdays during its first three seasons and was switched to Tuesday evenings for its final season. It aired at 9:30 Eastern each season except for the third season, when it was placed at the 10 p.m. slot after the failed sitcom Margie, starring Cynthia Pepper.

The stories often revolved around Ness' enmity with the criminal empire of Chicago mob boss Al Capone, and many focused on crimes related to Prohibition. The show stars Robert Stack as Eliot Ness and was narrated by Walter Winchell. Neville Brand played Al Capone in The Desilu Playhouse episodes, and in a few episodes of the regular series. The show drew harsh criticism from some Italian-Americans including Frank Sinatra, who felt it promoted negative stereotypes of them as mobsters and gangsters. The Capone family sued the show for $1,000,000 for its unauthorized use of Al Capone's likeness for a profit.

The series had 118 episodes which ran 50 minutes each. Though the book it was based on chronicled the experiences of Ness and his cohorts over a span of time ranging from 1929 to 1935, the overwhelming majority of episodes were set in the early 1930s (for example, one episode, "You Can't Play This Number", begins with Winchell's words, "October 1932 ... the depths of the Depression"). A few episodes were set primarily in a locale other than Chicago (such as the one dealing with the shootout involving Ma Barker and her gang). The theme music was by Nelson Riddle.

Quinn Martin produced the show's first season, which contained elements that could be found in future TV series produced by Martin.

 

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