Above is the title sequence from ‘Honey West’, a groud-breaking American crime drama that aired on ABC for only one season–September 17, 1965 to April 8, 1966. It was executive produced by Aaron Spelling and starred Anne Francis as TVs first female private detective. (Spelling’s first choice for the role was Honor Blackman who he’d likely just seen as Pussy Galore in ‘Goldfinger’ but apparently she turned it down). The series was created and written by Gwen Bagni and Paul Dubov, who later wrote the script for the acclaimed 1979 miniseries ‘Backstairs At The White House’. (Dubov also turns up occasionally as an actor in ‘I Love Lucy’ episodes). The series was also historic in that it marked the first time a woman played the lead character in a network TV series with her character’s name as the title. 

Honey drove a Jaguar convertible and was referred to as the “private eyeful.” She uses a number of Bond-like gimmicks: a high-tech surveillance van, an exploding compact, a garter-belt gas mask, and tear-gas earrings. West is a black-belt in judo, she carried a gun and was trained in martial arts. According to Wikipedia: “Honey’s alluring feline qualities were reflected in her animal-print wardrobe and apartment decor. For sneaking around at night and engaging in energetic fight scenes, she wears a black fabric bodystocking reminiscent of Emma Peel’s leather jumpsuit. Like Peel’s Lotus Elan sports car, Honey’s similar-looking AC Cobra convertible emphasized her independence and vitality…West often went on solo undercover missions that required a provocative or revealing outfit.”

Thirty episodes were produced before the series was cancelled. Why were ratings low for such a one-of-kind combo of sex and violence? Don’t the two usually go together quite successfully in popular culture? Perhaps seeing a woman calling the shots–Honey has a subordinate ‘man Friday’ played by John Erricson–was difficult for Americans of that era to accept. A subject for further research. All thirty episodes are available on DVD and quite a few are up on Youtube. There goes a couple of hours of my workday…


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