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Vega$, Created By Michael Mann, Premiered 43 Years Ago Today

  • On April 25, 1978, ABC premiered this pilot movie for their new series Vega$, a crime drama written by future Academy Award-contender Michael Mann (Heat, Public Enemies, Ali, Collateral, The Insider), produced by Aaron Spelling, and starring Robert Urich (S.W.A.T., Spenser: For Hire, Love Boat: The Next Wave) as private detective Dan Tanna, Will Sampson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) as his friend and muscle Harlon Twoleaf, and screen legend Tony Curtis (Some Like It Hot) as his occasional client, casino owner "Slick" Roth. 

    The pilot episode "High Roller" sees Tanna hired by a Midwest couple trying to find their runaway daughter, eventually putting him on the hook to solve her murder. Roth also asks him to help with busting a hustler (Red Buttons) who's been somehow striking it rich at his slot machines. Tanna's home is in a casino's theatrical warehouse, and he drives his fancy cars, including his trademark red 1957 Ford Thunderbird, right into his living room/garage. He employs a pair of flirty assistants in Beatrice (Phyllis Harris) and Angie (Judy Landers), and also sports high tech gadgetry of the era, including a reel-to-reel version of an answering machine and a telephone right in his car. The show didn't hesitate to get its hunky lead character shirtless, and this first episode even features an attempt to kill him via health club massage, which leads to Tanna trying to chase the thug down wearing nothing but a towel.

    Vega$ ran for three seasons from 1978 until 1981.

    Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.

    TOPICS: ABC, Vega$, Michael Mann, Robert Urich, Tony Curtis, Will Sampson