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Burke's Law

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Title: Burke's Law  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 1963–64 United States network television schedule, Jerry Hopper, Felicia Farr, Nathan Jung, Jonathan Hole
Collection: 1960S American Television Series, 1963 American Television Series Debuts, 1966 American Television Series Endings, 1990S American Television Series, 1994 American Television Series Debuts, 1995 American Television Series Endings, American Broadcasting Company Network Shows, Black-and-White Television Programs, Cbs Network Shows, Fictional Portrayals of the Los Angeles Police Department, Television Series by 20Th Century Fox Television, Television Series by Four Star Television, Television Series Revived After Cancellation, Television Shows Set in Los Angeles, California
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Burke's Law

Burke's Law
Burke's Law 1963 series intro card
Also known as Amos Burke, Secret Agent
Genre Crime drama
Created by Frank D. Gilroy
Ivan Goff
Ernest Kinoy
Starring Gene Barry
Regis Toomey
Gary Conway
Eileen O'Neill
Theme music composer Herschel Burke Gilbert
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 81 (List of episodes)
Producer(s) Aaron Spelling
Running time 60 mins.
Production company(s) Four Star Television
Distributor 20th Television
Original channel ABC
Original run September 20, 1963 – January 12, 1966
Followed by Burke's Law (1994 series)
Related shows Honey West
Burke's Law
Peter and Amos Burke
Genre Crime drama
Composer(s) Christopher Klatman
Country of origin  United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 27 (List of episodes)
Producer(s) Joel J. Feigenbaum
  • M. Edward Salier
  • Bob Bring
Location(s) Pasadena, California
Cinematography David Plenn
Running time 60 min
Production company(s) Spelling Television
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
Original channel CBS
Original run January 7, 1994 (1994-01-07) – July 27, 1995 (1995-07-27)
Preceded by Burke's Law (1963 series)

Burke's Law is an American detective series that ran on ABC from 1963 to 1965 and was revived on CBS in the 1990s. The show starred Gene Barry as Amos Burke, millionaire captain of Los Angeles police homicide division, who was chauffeured around to solve crimes in his Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II. Though the original series was converted from a detective show to a spy drama in its third and final season, the revived series was again a cop show.


  • Premise 1
  • History 2
  • Episodes 3
  • Cast 4
  • Music 5
  • DVD releases 6
  • Revival 7
    • Episodes 7.1
  • External links 8


Barry with actress Marie Wilson in the episode "Who Killed Marty Kelso?".

There were stylistic similarities to Barry's previous series, Bat Masterson, in which he had played the debonair lawman of the old west. During the opening credits, as the title flashed onscreen, a woman's voice was heard seductively pronouncing the words "It's Burke's Law!" The title also reflected Burke's habit of dispensing wisdom to his underlings in a professorial manner, e.g.: "Never ask a question unless you already know the answer. Burke's Law."

The title of each episode started with the words "Who Killed...?" with the name or description of the victim (who inevitably died in the show's opening minutes) completing it. Five or six "special guest stars" would comprise the list of suspects.

In the original series, Burke was assisted by Detective Tim Tilson (Michael Fox) and lovely desk sergeant Gloria Ames (Eileen O'Neill). Tilson was a go-getting young man whose skill at finding clues and trace references didn't result in his solving the murders, being always outflanked by Burke's cool intuition, while Hart was a no-nonsense, seen-it-all veteran, perhaps a nod to Toomey's numerous roles as cops in feature films.

A guest appearance by Anne Francis as female detective Honey West led to a short-lived spin-off series.


The role of Amos Burke actually predated Barry's series, having been played by Dick Powell on the initial episode of The Dick Powell Show in September 1961. The first incarnation of the series was produced by Powell's company, Four Star Television. As in the later series, the episode features several well-known TV and movie stars in cameo appearances as suspects - one of whom is the murderer (in the original Dick Powell episode Ronald Reagan played one of the suspects).

In the final season of the original series (1965–1966), the show was given a complete overhaul and retitled Amos Burke, Secret Agent. Burke went to work for a secret government agency, but still drove around in his Rolls, which had been discreetly bulletproofed by the agency. The supporting cast of the earlier seasons was dropped. The change in format was a reaction to the wildly popular spy trend inspired by the James Bond films and the television success of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. (That year also saw the debut of I Spy, The Wild Wild West, and Get Smart.) The new show was not a success and only 17 episodes were broadcast instead of the 32 of the first two seasons.



The show's array of guest stars included: June Allyson, Don Ameche, Mary Astor, Frankie Avalon, Ed Begley, William Bendix, Joan Blondell, Ann Blyth, Hoagy Carmichael, Rory Calhoun, John Cassavetes, Dick Clark, Jeanne Crain, Broderick Crawford, Arlene Dahl, Sammy Davis, Jr., Linda Darnell, Laraine Day, Yvonne DeCarlo, William Demarest, Andy Devine, Diana Dors, Joanne Dru, Dan Duryea, Barbara Eden, Nanette Fabray, Felicia Farr, Rhonda Fleming, Nina Foch, Anne Francis, Annette Funicello, Eva Gabor, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Gloria Grahame, Jane Greer, Gypsy Rose Lee.

Phil Harris, June Havoc, Celeste Holm, Rodolfo Hoyos, Jr., Tab Hunter, Betty Hutton, Martha Hyer, Carolyn Jones, Buster Keaton, Eartha Kitt, Frankie Laine, Fernando Lamas, Dorothy Lamour, Elsa Lanchester, Tina Louise, Ida Lupino, Paul Lynde, Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Maxwell, Virginia Mayo, Burgess Meredith, Una Merkel, Dina Merrill, Vera Miles, Sal Mineo, Ricardo Montalban, Elizabeth Montgomery, Agnes Moorehead, Rita Moreno, Sheree North.

Janis Paige, Fess Parker, Suzy Parker, Bert Parks, Walter Pidgeon, Zasu Pitts, Juliet Prowse, Basil Rathbone, Edward Everett Horton, Aldo Ray, Martha Raye, Carl Reiner, Don Rickles, Ruth Roman, Cesar Romero, Mickey Rooney, Gena Rowlands, Janice Rule, Soupy Sales, Telly Savalas, William Shatner, Nancy Sinatra, Jan Sterling, Jill St. John, Gale Storm, Susan Strasberg, Gloria Swanson, Terry-Thomas, Mamie van Doren, James Whitmore, Michael Wilding, Chill Wills, Ed Wynn, Keenan Wynn.


The musical score for Burke's Law was largely the work of Herschel Burke Gilbert.

DVD releases

VCI Entertainment has released Season 1 of Burke's Law on DVD.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1, Volume 1 16 April 29, 2008
Season 1, Volume 2 16 November 18, 2008


In the revival of the show, which ran on CBS from 1994 to 1995 and was produced by Aaron Spelling's production company, the title again became Burke's Law and Burke was back at work as a police detective. In the second incarnation, Burke, now a deputy chief, was assisted by his son, Peter (Peter Barton).

The revival, even more than the original program, was regarded as being largely camp. In a nostalgic touch, many of the guest stars were Barry's peers in 1960s cop shows and Spy-fi programs, including Patrick Macnee (The Avengers), Peter Lupus (Mission: Impossible). Anne Francis appeared reprising the character Honey West (though she was called "Honey Best" for legal reasons).


External links

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