by Jim McAllister
"Watching the detectives, ‘Ooh, he’s so cute.’" That refrain was recorded by Elvis Costello in 1977 but covered much of the appeal of television detectives to female viewers through the years. Whether it was Edd "Kookie" Byrnes or Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. from "77 Sunset Strip" in the 1950's on through to Chris Noth of "Law and Order" in the 1990's and beyond, the ladies loved these guys for their good looks and heroic deeds. Men liked them also for being so tough, cool, and usually winning the best looking babe on the show. These programs were exciting and easy to understand thus propelling some of them to high ratings.
One of the earliest entries was "Man Against Crime"(1949-1956) starring perennial movie second lead Ralph Bellamy. This show carried over some of the traits of film noir from the movies since it originated in 1949. Bellamy played hard boiled P. I. Mike Barnett, a Dashiell Hammett type character, who usually spoke with his fists. It was a popular show that was a mainstay on CBS for many years.