Boomer TV Trivia: The Streets of San Francisco

Q1. Two actors that guest-starred frequently on The Streets of San Francisco would end up starring as police officer partners in their own television series (1975-1979). What was the series they would star in, and who were the actors?

Q2. When Michael Douglas, who played Assistant Inspector Steve Keller left The Streets of San Francisco after the first episode of the final season, who was the new actor that was brought on to play the character of Inspector Dan Robbins?

Baby boomers and seniors will remember watching veteran actor Karl Malden play Lieutenant Michael Stone from 1972-1977 on The Streets of San Francisco. For most of that time his co-star was Michael Douglas, playing a young inexperienced plainclothes detective, Steve Keller. Michael Douglas’ acting and producing career was on the rise while the series was on the air, and he left the show after One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which he had produced, won the Academy Aware for Best Film (1975). Douglas’ character Steve Keller left the show to teach at college, while Douglas went on to produce and star in many more movies including winning another Academy Award, this time as Best Actor, for 1987’s Wall Street.

Karl Malden was 60 years old when The Streets of San Francisco started in 1972, with 45 movies already under his belt – including 1951’s A Streetcar Named Desire, for which he won an Academy Award as Best Support Actor. 

karl malden 1952, american actor, 1950s movies, ruby gentry (Karl Malden 1952 Ruby Gentry Trailer)

When The Streets of San Francisco ended, Karl Malden was a senior citizen. As a senior actor, he went on to star in 2 television mini-series and 15 more movies, ending with his last film in 2003 when he was 90 years old – Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There.  

Years later, 92-year-old senior citizen Karl Malden accepted an Award from the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in 2004, from former co-star Michael Douglas and actor Kirk Douglas (Michael’s father and Karl’s friend). That same year, Karl Malden and his wife Mona were present at a tribute to his former Streets of San Francisco co-star Michael Douglas (below). In his acceptance speech, Douglas praised Malden’s example and thanked him for his mentorship.

Michael Douglas and Karl Malden apparently developed a personal and professional relationship that mirrored their partner’s relationship on the show, with veteran Malden regarding Douglas as a son and Douglas referring to Malden as his mentor. The third star of the show was the city of San Francisco, as the series was filmed entirely on location there. In 1992 a TV reunion movie Back to the Streets of San Francisco was aired; although Karl Malden played his original character Mike Stone in the movie, Michael Douglas did not appear.

Semi-regulars on the series over the years included Reuben Collins as Inspector Bill Tanner and Darleen Carr as Jeannie Stone.

Among the many actors and actresses that guest-starred more than once on The Streets of San Francisco during it’s run: Hari Rhodes, Barry Sullivan, Tim O’Connor, Dick Van Patten, Anthony Geary, Marion Ross, Leslie Nielsen, Bernie Kopell, A. Martinez, Dean Stockwell, Peter Strauss, Pat Conway, Tom Bosley, Jerry Douglas, William Windom, Mark Miller, and many others.

A1. Both David Soul and Paul-Michael Glaser made several appearances on The Streets of San Francisco before starring in Starsky and Hutch as police officers.

A2. Richard Hatch had appeared on Broadway in the 60’s and in the early 70’s starred on the daytime soap All My Children as Philip Brent, before landing the role of Inspector Dan Robbins on The Streets of San Francisco in 1976.

*Images are public domain or Creative Commons licensed & sourced via Wikimedia Commons, Vimeo, or Flickr, unless otherwise noted*

Anita Hamilton

50+ World editor & baby boomer writer Anita Hamilton has always been interested in the "real people" stories behind the characters that create and inhabit the world of music, books, movies, television shows, current events, history, etc. A lifelong love of research (ok, nosiness) and writing, combined with a loving and supportive family complete with 3 mini-dachshund minions, keeps her busy.

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