Real private eyes wished their lives were as exciting as Peter Gunn

"We get letters from private detectives all over the country," said Craig Stevens.

What's more important to you, excitement or authenticity? Sometimes in TV, one is sacrificed to heighten the other. We might have a show that is an exact, by-the-books replica of what it purports to be. On those shows, history is painstakingly recreated in to serve up the best facsimile of what the events were actually like. Other times though, the specifics are traded in for drama, because that's what people tune in for.

Sometimes, it's easier to get away with exaggerating details within the heightened reality of TV. If a show is set during the Middle Ages, the show's producers can rest assured that nobody from that era will write to them about inaccuracies. Things get a little trickier, though, when a show is set in the present and deals with real-life jobs that people actually have.

Craig Stevens played a private eye on Peter Gunn between 1958 and 1961. During those years, of course, there were real-life private eyes out in the field investigating real cases. Because the show was successful, a lot of these real detectives were aware of the show, as Stevens noted in a 1960 interview with the North American Newspaper Alliance. However, you might be surprised what these actual gumshoes thought of the liberties taken by the Peter Gunn writers. 

"We get letters from private detectives all over the country," said Stevens. "Not many of them are the 'who-do-you-think-you're-kidding' type. They recognize our necessity to use a lot of dramatic license and they tell us how dull a private detective's life really is and how they wish it could be as exciting as it is on television." 

Maybe it would've helped jazz things up if these private eyes could've hired a team of musicians to follow them around. That iconic Henry Mancini score made all the difference for Peter Gunn.

"When [producer Blake Edwards] told people what he wanted to do, they told him he was crazy. Live music, or at least originally scored music, on a half-hour show? The kind of camera work you expect in a major movie production? They laughed at him."

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33 Comments

JHP 3 months ago
Lola Albright ....YUMMO X 1000:)
GOOSEYGOOSE9 10 months ago
Please air cannon at 10 AM AFter Perry Mason.
Ajax 10 months ago
Would be nice if MeTV would finally change tv show times. Would love to watch shows on in the middle of the night. Same old same old, day after day, year after year.
GOOSEYGOOSE9 10 months ago
I like private detective shows better than those westerns
JHP GOOSEYGOOSE9 3 months ago
agreed I mean how many stagecoaches can be robbed?
GOOSEYGOOSE9 10 months ago
Perry mason 9 am
Cannon 10 am
Diagnosis murder 11 am
GOOSEYGOOSE9 10 months ago
I like comedies and romance as well as spy and private eye shows I do
GOOSEYGOOSE9 10 months ago
I’m a vocational trainee adventurer and a detective who goes after developmentally disabled bad guys
GOOSEYGOOSE9 10 months ago
Please air me tv
9:00 perry mason
10 am cannon
11 am diagnosis murder
GOOSEYGOOSE9 11 months ago
I’m a vocational trainee who doubles as a detective going after developmentally disabled bad guys I am then a cross between Peter Gunn and rain man
15inchBlackandWhite 11 months ago
I talked to a guy who had once been a private eye. He changed careers because the job was really awful. Mostly gathering evidence against cheating spouses. Lots of long, boring stakeouts. He was always on-call. "The subject was getting into his car at 10 PM and you had to follow him. He might be going down to the corner to buy a quart of milk. He might be going to Cleveland. Either way, you had to follow him."
JHP 15inchBlackandWhite 6 months ago
so he drank milk

was his name Barnaby?
BrittReid 11 months ago
That was a great show, with a terrific theme song.
JHP BrittReid 6 months ago
the whole show is a treat for me:)
GOOSEYGOOSE9 11 months ago
I like spy and private detective shows as well as comedies and romance i like private detective shows
GOOSEYGOOSE9 11 months ago
I’m a crime solving vocational trainee who doubles as a detective and adventurer going after developmentally disabled bad guys turned them to police and sheriff
GOOSEYGOOSE9 11 months ago
I like the rockford files and harry o
ncadams27 11 months ago
Unlike the lives of the real detectives on 77 Sunset Strip, Hawaiian Eye, and Surfside Six. I like Rockford Files, where his first line to every client is, “My rate is $200 per day plus expenses”. I wonder what Peter Gunn charged?
GOOSEYGOOSE9 11 months ago
Please air perry mason and cannon twice a day
Runeshaper 11 months ago
Peter G was AWESOME! Love that show! (-:
GOOSEYGOOSE9 11 months ago
Please bring back Sunday night noir on me tv
GOOSEYGOOSE9 11 months ago
Todays shows are nothing but junk I don’t like watching much junk they show today like reality shows
GOOSEYGOOSE9 11 months ago
I am private detective and adventurer
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