Checkmate: 1960 Crime Preventers

by Guy Belleranti
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Crime and detective series have long been a popular staple on television. An interesting program in this genre was Checkmate.

Stories revolved around the investigations and activities of an upscale San Francisco Detective Agency named Checkmate, Inc. What made this agency different than others was the way it attacked crime. The agency's aim was helping those in danger by attempting to prevent crimes (i.e. to "checkmate" crimes) before they occurred.

Anthony George (Cam Allison on TV's The Untouchables) played Don Corey, chief of the agency. Corey's younger partner was Jed Sills, a recent college graduate criminologist. Sills was played by Doug McClure (who later played Trampas on The Virginian).

The two men enlisted the help of British criminologist, and one-time Oxford professor, Dr. Carl Hyatt. Hyatt was played by Sebastian Cabot (who later was Mr. Giles French on the television series Family Affair).

The series was created by Eric Ambler, the well-known crime and espionage author. Several of Ambler's more famous novels were made into movies including Journey Into Fear and A Coffin for Dimitrios.

Checkmate ran from 1960 to 1962 on CBS with 70 episodes being produced. The 60 minute long, black and white series was respected by many for its intelligent stories. It also featured jazzy theme music from John Williams, the same man who later composed music for such hit movies as Star Wars, ET, Jaws and more.

A long list of terrific actors and actresses guest starred on the series. Among them were such names as Walter Pidgeon, Mickey Rooney, Cyd Charisse, Charles Laughton, Martin Landau, Joseph Cotton, Anne Baxter, Claire Bloom, Dan Duryea, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Dean Stockwell, Inger Stevens and Jane Wyman.

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