‘Route 66' — The Complete Series
When that sweep of orchestral strings and jazzy piano line flowed from the TV speaker every Friday night on CBS it sounded like freedom on the open road, which of course made Nelson Riddle's theme perfect for setting the mood of “Route 66.”
Created by Academy Award-winning writer Stirling Silliphant and producer Herbert Leonard, the series, which ran from October 1960 to September '64, at first starred Martin Milner as Tod Stiles and George Maharis as Buz Murdock, a pair of adventurous young dudes who set out to explore America along the storied “Mother Road” — Route 66. Their ride: Tod's shiny new Corvette convertible, “America's sports car,” inherited from his once-wealthy father. Buz — a native of New York's Hell's Kitchen — and Tod had become friends despite their vastly different backgrounds, while working for Tod's father.
Each week, the duo stopped off in a different town or city long enough to work at various jobs for gas, grocery and rent money, at the same time becoming embroiled in the problems and conflicts of the people they would meet. The situations ranged from dramatic to romantic to comedic to dangerous, the latter being the case more often than not. The various individuals they encountered were played by a galaxy of current and future stars, including Rod Steiger, Lee Marvin, Joan Crawford, Cloris Leachman, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Walter Matthau, James Caan, Burt Reynolds, Suzanne Pleshette, Julie Newmar, Barbara Eden and Ron Howard, to name a few. Even horror veterans Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and Lon Chaney Jr. turned up in one of the sillier episodes.