May 23, 2013

R.I.P. Steve Forrest

Steve Forrest, the two-fisted, square-jawed star of ITC's The Baron, has passed away. He was 87. Forrest was one of the American actors imported to star on Sixties adventure shows for Lew Grade's UK production company ITC in order to make the series more appealing to the U.S. market. (To some degree, that worked; The Baron aired on ABC in the United States.) While he never seemed completely comfortable in the role of urbane antiques dealer-cum-sometime secret agent John Mannering, Forrest (who was the brother of film noir and Eurospy star Dana Andrews) used his American-ness to full advantage to stand out in the crowded ITC stable that included suave stars like Roger Moore, Patrick McGoohan and Peter Wyngarde. As the Baron, he also got to drive one of the cooler cars on an ITC series, a snazzy Jensen CV8 MkII. Forrest had the distinction of being one of the few TV spy stars to cross over between the UK's televised espionage factory ITC and the American spy shows of the era when he guest starred on a memorable sixth season episode of Mission: Impossible and on the episode of Burke's Law that introduced Honey West, America's answer to Cathy Gale. In most circles, he was probably more famous for his non-spy roles, including appearances in The Longest Day (with Sean Connery), The Manions of America (with Pierce Brosnan), Dallas and, most notably, as the star of the 1975-76 ABC cop show S.W.A.T. (His final screen appearance was a cameo in the 2003 movie version of that series, starring Samuel L. Jackson.) But he returned to the spy genre in the Eighties as General Sline in the Chevy Chase send-up Spies Like Us. The Baron also spawned a movie in certain territories, The Man in the Looking Glass, but it was simply a two-parter from the TV show spliced together for theatrical release, a common ITC practice. For spy fans, however, Steve Forrest will always be remembered as a genuine ITC hero--The Baron. He will be missed.

Read my review of The Baron here.

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