Dick Powell was known as a song and dance man until his rebirth as a movie tough guy in Murder My Sweet, where he played Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe. He then appeared in a string of crime and detective flicks, and eventually parlayed it into a successful radio show. Powell played RICHARD DIAMOND, “radio’s singing gumshoe”, an ex-OSS man turned New York City private detective who was tough when he needed to be, but tried to have a little fun while on the job. He often closed the show with a song to his uptown girlfriend, Helen. The show was a hit, the first of many for writer/director Blake Edwards, who went on to create Peter Gunn and the Pink Panther movies.
And when that upstart new medium television beckoned, deciding at this point he was too busy (or a bit long in the tooth) to star, Powell became a producer, formed Four Star Productions, and unleashed Richard Diamond, Private Detective on the world, with newcomer David Meyer (who changed his name to Janssen, at Powell’s suggestion) as Diamond (pictured). He remained in New York, but the former OSS operative became the former cop. He remained in New York for two seasons, but the third season began with Diamond moving to Los Angles where he gets a girlfriend, Karen (Barbara Bain), a spiffy car with a phone in it, and an answering service, run by Sam (played by Mary Tyler Moore’s legs). And what LA gumshoe needs is an eccentric fading movie star as a client. In this case, former film queen Laura Renault (Hillary Brooke) filled the bill.
The gimmick of viewers never seeing Sam’s face is what the show is chiefly remembered for these days. In fact, when Moore revealed her role as Sam, and posed in TV Guide modelling hoisery, she was replaced by Roxane Brooks.
Both Moore and Janssen went on to considerable success in television. Moore in sitcoms such as The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Janssen in Roy Huggin’s The Fugitive and as a private eye once more in Harry O..