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 TV Character Bios

LONGSTREET, Mike
(Longstreet)
( 555-2368
835 Chartres Street
[near the corner of Dumaine Street]
New Orleans, LA

Mike is a criminal insurance investigator. He is tall, blond, widowed and blind. Mike works for the Great Pacific Casualty Company in New Orleans.

James Francisus as Mike Longstreet
 

Mike lost his sight in an explosion (a booby-trapped Champagne bottle) that was rigged by people who wanted him off a case. Besides his sight, Mike lost his lovely wife, Ingrid who was with him the night of the explosion (she opened the bottle). Despite the lose of his sight and his spouse, Mike found the courage to come back from his tragedy and track down those responsible.

Coping with his disability, Mike learned how to read Braille and with the aid of a high-tech cane equipped with electronic sensors, he could calculate distances and proximity of objects as he made his way about his living quarters. Mike also developed his other senses (touch, hearing, smell, taste) to make up for the lose of his eyesight and to help him become more aware of his surroundings.

Mike Longstreet with Pax, his guide Dog
Mike with Pax

For additional support, Mike partnered with Pax, a white German shepherd guide dog who not only provided companionship but also gave Mike the ability to interact easily with the environs of the city as they exited through the wrought iron courtyard gate of Longstreet's New Orleans home.

Also on hand to help were Nikki Bell, Mike's loyal assistant; Mrs. Kingston, Mike's housekeeper/cook; Dan Stockton, Mike's old mentor who shows up once in a while; and Duke Paige, a friend and business contact who worked with Mike on many cases.

Just as Mike was regaining his confidence, he suffered another setback when he was attacked by three thugs who were sent to rough him up so that he would stop investigating a dockside truck hijacking scam. Luckily, an Asian antique dealer named Li Tsung who was skilled in the marital arts happened upon the scene and saved the day. Mike hired Li Tsung to teach him self defense lessons, namely the art of Jeet Kune Do.

Bruce Lee and James Francisus in a scene from LONGSTREET
Li Tsung Teaches Longstreet Self Defense

When not being beaten up, drugged, kidnapped or suffering from amnesia Mike found the time to solve a variety of cases. They included an ex-con seeking justice from a false murder charge; the investigation behind the death of a jazz musician; a bomber bent on revenge who threatens to blow up a bridge; a visit to a prison to prove the death of a man was not suicide; tracking down a stolen Rembrandt painting; investigating thefts at an electronic parts manufacturing plant and a trucking company; sniffing out the criminals involved in an armor car robbery; tracking down oil rig dynamiters in the bayou, and hunting down the perpetrators behind a hospital fire, an elevator shaft murder and a bank robbery.

So, the next time you visit New Orleans and you see a blind man and his dog approaching...watch out, because it just might be Mike Longstreet. I'll warn you now. He's not harmless and he swings a mighty wicked cane! And you don't want to find out where Pax the dog might bite you.

TRIVIA NOTE:  The series is based on the twelve Duncan Maclain novels created by Baynard H. Kendrick beginning with "The Last Express" (1937) and ending with "Frankincense and Murder" (1961) A profile of the Maclain character reveals that Captain Duncan Maclain was blinded in the First World War. After the war, he opened a detective agency in New York City with the help of his partner Spud Savage; Spud's wife, Rena who worked as secretary; and two German shepherds named Driest and Schmuke.

The Maclain character also appeared in the MGM films Eyes in the Night (1942) and The Hidden Eye (1945) starring veteran screen actor Edward Arnold.

James Grover Franciscus (a.k.a. Mike Longstreet) was born in Clayton, Missouri on January 31, 1934. He got his start in the 1957 feature film Four Boys and a Gun as juvenile delinquent Johnny Doyle. Although "Jimmy" acted in a number of movies (for example, as US Astronaut Brent in the 1970 film Beneath the Planet of the Apes), James Franciscus is probably better known for his television roles as police Det. Jim Halloran on the police drama NAKED CITY (1958-59); as insurance investigator Russ Andrews on the detective drama THE INVESTIGATORS (1961); and schoolteacher John Novak on the education drama MR. NOVAK (1963-65). In the mid 1980s, Franciscus turned his attention from acting to producing and screenwriting. He died from emphysema in North Hollywood, California on July 8, 1991. He was 57.

Bruce Lee, who played the role of Li Tsung, appeared in only four LONGSTREET episodes: "The Way of the Intercepting Fist"; "Spell Legacy Like Death"; "Wednesday's Child"; and "I See, Said the Blind Man." Lee had previously co-starred in the crime drama THE GREEN HORNET/ABC/1966-67. He died in 1973 at the age of 33 but not before becoming a cult figure in such movies as Enter the Dragon (1973).

Tragically, some twenty years later Bruce Lee's son, Brandon Lee (himself an action film hero) died on the set of the movie The Crow (1993) when live ammo from a prop handgun discharged - killing him instantly.

In April of 1993 Brandon Lee was buried next to his father in Seattle, Washington. That same year the film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story debuted starring Jason Scott Lee in a convincing biographical drama about the life of Bruce Lee. Eerily, the storyline included a family curse wherein death stalked members of the Lee family.

The role of Pax the dog was played by three identical white German shepherds named Blanco, Snow and Blizzard. Blanco was the primary dog on the series. They used him for the quieter scenes and publicity photos. The other two dogs did the majority of the action shots, like running and jumping. Their trainer was Karl Lewis Miller.

In 1972, Pax the dog won The American Humane Association's "Picture Animal's Top Star of the Year" award (PATSY). The word "Pax" is Latin for "Peace."

The LONGSTREET series was lampooned in the TV satire "Longshot" in Mad Magazine issue #153 September 1972.


LONGSTREET/ABC/1971-72

James Franciscus as Mike Longstreet
Marlyn Mason as Nikki Bell
Peter Mark Richman as Duke Paige
Ann Doran as Mrs. Kingston
Judy Jones as Ingrid Longstreet
Blanco, Snow & Blizzard as Pax the Dog


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