The Untouchables was a crime drama series that aired from 1959 to 1963 on ABC. The series was based on a memoir of the same title that was written by Oscar Fraley and Eliot Ness. The story fictionalized Eliot Ness’ experience as a prohibition agent while fighting crim in Chicago during the 1930s. It starred Robert Stack, Nicholas Georgiade, Abel Fernandez, PIaul Picerni, and Bruce Gordon. The series proved to be a major hit, it was even made into a film in 1987. That’s why in this article, we are going to dive into The Untouchables case file and find out some amazing facts about this legendary TV crime drama series.
- Robert Stack was not the producer’s first choice to play Eliot Ness – The Untouchables was produced by Desilu Productions and its celebrity studio boss, Desi Arnaz was really eyeing Van Johnson to play the role. But Johnson was a former A-list movie star during the ‘40s and he wanted twice the salary that he was offered. That’s why Desilu Productions was forced to look for other actors such as Jack Lord and Fred MacMurray. Eventually, they settled with Robert Stack after some hesitation.
- Italian-Americans were not impressed by the series, especially Frank Sinatra – Not everyone was pleased with the show’s pilot episode because it belittled Italian-Americans and it featured a cast of actors that uses thick and stereotypical accents. In fact, a group of Italian-American congressmen, Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York, FCC head Newton Minowm and as well as singer Frank Sinatra criticized the TV series.
- J. Edgar Hoover wasn’t a fan of the show either – Hoover, being the head of the FBI, wasn’t a fan of The Untouchables. This is because he was upset of how Eliot Ness, who is an agent of the Department of Treasury, was depicted on the show as the one who cracked the cases that FBI worked with in real life. More specifically, the episode “Ma Barker and Her Boys” in which it showed Ness taking down Ma Barker but in real life, it was really the work of the FBI.
- The Untouchables began as an episode of “Desilu Playhouse” – The pilot episode of The Untouchables was aired as a two-part installment of Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse in 1959. The pilot episode’s story was mostly based on the memoir of the real life of T-man Eliot Ness and his mission to take down Al Capone.
- Ayn Rand wrote a piece to defend the show – As we mentioned earlier, the show was not warmly received my several people. That’s why objectivist Ayn Rand wrote an essay and stood up for the TV show she called it “The New Enemies of ‘The Untouchables.’ Rand cleverly cited the show’s constant moral purpose which happens too be her philosophy in a nutshell.
- Dozens of celebrities guested on the show – When it comes to having big-name guest stars, The Untouchables is unrivaled. Peter Falk, Robert Redford, and Leonary Nimoy were just some of the famous celebrities who showed up on the show. TV stars such as Barbara Stanwyck, Telly Savalas, Jack Klugman, Ed Asner, Elizabeth Montgomery, and Martin Landau was also seen as guest stars on The Untouchables.
- The Untouchables had a tie-in comic book which explained FBI recruitment – J. Edgar Hoover might have been very vocal about how he hates the show and how it didn’t give credits to the FBI. But he must admit that the comic book adaptation did a good job in promoting the FBI.
- Desi Arnaz went to school with Al Capone’s son – Albert “Sonny” Capone Jr. had personal ties with Desi Arnaz. He was one year younger than the Cuban. Sonny Capone and he both attended St. Patrick Catholic School in Miami Beach, Florida. Some biography says that the two were even friends when they were teenagers.
- A Mafia hit man said that the mob tried to kill Desi Arnaz because of the show – A confessed Mafia hit man turned informant named Aladdema Fratianno once testified that he and other gangsters gathered up at La Costa resort in California to talk about how to beat up Desi Arnaz. And this is all because the Mafia didn’t like The Untouchables. But it turns out that the other taped interview with Fratiano revealed that he had never been to La Costa and he cannot name its location.
- Bugs Bunny parodies of the show and called it “The Unmentionables” – The guys at Warner Bros. once produced a spoof that was entitled “The Unmentionables” as a part of the Merrie Melodies series during 1963. Bugs Bunny played the role of “Elegant Mess” who is a crime fighter taking down Rocky and Mugsy using a carrot.
These are the awesome and interesting facts about The Untouchables. Which one did you like the most?