Burr-Ironside

Ironside

Ironside was a TV series that ran from September of 1967, to January of 1975 and starred Raymond Burr as a paraplegic Chief of Detectives, Robert T. Ironside. The show earned Burr six Emmy and two Golden Globe nominations.

The story revolved around former San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) Chief of Detectives Robert T. Ironside, a veteran of more than 20 years of police service who was forced to retire after a sniper's bullet paralyzed him from the waist down, forcing him to use a wheelchair. In the pilot episode, Ironside showed his strength of character and got himself appointed a “special department consultant” by his good friend, (and Police Commissioner) Dennis Randall.

Ironside used a fourth floor room for living and office space in the Old San Francisco Hall of Justice building at 750 Kearny Street, between Washington and Merchant Streets, and made use first of a customized 1940 1 1/2 ton Ford police paddy wagon van, and later a 1969 1 ton Ford Econoline.

In the pilot episode he requested that Ed Brown (Don Galloway) and Eve Whitfield (Barbara Anderson) be assigned to him. Later he would recruit ex-con Don Mitchell (Mark Sanger) to be his personal assistant after Mitchell is brought in as a suspect who wants to kill Ironside. Though good-hearted and honest, Ironside had a gruff, sarcastic persona — in stark contrast to the courtliness of Perry Mason.

By the start of the show's fourth season, Anderson had left over a contract dispute, to be replaced by Fran Belding (Elizabeth Baur). The series ran for eight years and earned respectable, if not always high ratings. It was filmed in a variety of San Francisco locations, supplemented by a large number sound stages.

One of the longer-running police dramas of the day, Ironside featured appearances by a number of then current television actors and past and future movie stars, among them being Ricardo Montalbán, Gerald S. O'Loughlin, Carl Betz, Khigh Dhiegh, Robert Alda, David Opatoshu, Laraine Day, Dana Elcar, Paul Winfield, Edward Asner, Burgess Meredith, Paul Fix, Forrest Tucker, Fritz Weaver, Vito Scotti, DeForest Kelley, John Rubinstein, Bill Bixby, Eve McVeagh, Darwin Joston, David Cassidy, Harrison Ford, Robert Reed, Leo G. Carroll, James Farentino, Richard Basehart, Val Avery, Bruce Lee, George Takei, Anne Baxter, Alan Hewitt, Jodie Foster, Norman Fell, Pernell Roberts, Jackie Cooper, James Drury, Eddie Garrett, Alan Napier, Mort Sahl, E. G. Marshall, Rod Serling, Jack Kelly, John Saxon, Harold Gould, Michael Bell, William Shatner, Scott Marlowe, Ellen Corby, Jack Lord, Gavin MacLeod, James Gregory, David Carradine, Susan Saint James, Martin Sheen, and Dana Wynter.

Ironside's opening theme music was written by Quincy Jones. It was the first synthesizer-based television theme song. Many people only know it from Kill Bill Volume 1.

Theme From Ironside
by Quincy Jones

Burr and his supporting cast reunited for a made-for-TV movie in 1993, The Return of Ironside, which aired not long before Burr's death. It was set in Denver, Colorado. Galloway, Mitchell, Anderson and Baur revisited their old roles.

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