The purpose of this website is to celebrate the series called Car 54 Where Are You? - to provide a definitive source of information about this Television comedy classic.
Car 54 Where Are You? was a US sitcom, created by the incomparable genius that was, Nat Hiken, which was first broadcast on NBC TV from 17th September 1961 to 8th September 1963. In total 60 rollicking laugh-out-loud shows were made.
Many critics and comics believe that this, hugely popular, show was and indeed still is one of the best comedy series ever to appear on television.
The show's creator, Nat Hiken, commented, "That reaction may have been the result of comments made by a few sensation-seeking television columnists........the same thing happened with Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show that was also conceived by Nat). The Army was behind the show from the start, and offered us cooperation. Then a New York columnist wrote, ARMY BIG BRASS UPSET BY BILKO. It wasn't true, We tried to trace the source but couldn't."
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Some of the cast of the 53rd Precinct
Standing, left to right: Captain Block (Paul Reed), Muldoon (Fred Gwynne), Schnauser (Al Lewis), Rodriguez (Jack Healy). Seated, left to right: Nicholson (Hank Garrett), Toody (Joe E. Ross), O'Hara (Al Henderson) and Julie (Mel Stewart)
The series followed the adventures of NYPD officers Gunther Toody (Joe E. Ross) and Francis Muldoon (Fred Gwynne) in the fictional 53rd precinct in the Bronx, These two intrepid officers were assigned to Patrol Car 54. Gunther was short, stocky, nosy, not very bright, and lived with his loud, domineering wife Lucille. Francis, an Irish American, was very tall, quiet, and more intelligent. He was a shy bachelor who lived with his mother and two younger sisters, Cathy and Peggy.
Episodes had various directors, the most recognized being Al De Caprio. Stanley Prager and Nat Hiken also directed several episodes. Most of its filming was on location in the The Bronx, and at Biograph Studios.
Nat Hiken won the 1962 Emmy award winner for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedyfor his sterling work onCar 54. That same year, the show was also nominated for Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Humor.....plus, Nat and his fellow scriptwriters, Tony Webster and Terry Ryan, received nominations for in the Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy category.
A police squad car in Nyack, New York, was stolen from its parking place in front of the police station. The townspeople and police immediately dubbed it - naturally - Car 54.
Nat researched Car 54by sitting around a New York precinct squad room for several weeks, listening to the banter and gossip among the men. Nat recalled, "I found a very warm, friendly atmosphere. They never once mentioned any 'grim, humourless' aspects of their jobs."
One of the few official blasts against Car 54 came in San Antonio, Texas where the Police Officers Association passed a resolution to the effect that the show "made them look stupid." According to Variety, the show-business weekly, a copy of the said resolution was sent to NBC President Robert E. Kintner, asking that the series be discontinued. But luckily the document was given short shrift.
Car 54 was filmed at a studio within the territory of New York's 48th Precinct. The captain of the 48th let it be known that his men found the show amusing and discussed it often in their squad room. He also said that the presence of rogue policemen in uniform (the cast of Car 54) on the streets of his precinct had created no confusion among the area's residents and his own men.
But, one morning a Bronx housewife came running down the street and in through the front door of the studio, screaming, "Help, police! My husband is beating me!" The show's crew quietened her down, then called legitimate police to rescue her from her torment.
Nat recalled, "Of course, that might have happened because we had a sign reading '53rd Precinct' outside the building.....we have since removed the sign."
The show never used real policemen, even in crowd scenes. In fact, the Car 54 that Toody and Muldoon drove was painted dark red and white to destroy any resemblance to a real New York police squad car!
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In Akron, Ohio, the two detectives who drove Cruiser number 54 petitioned their captain to please make the other patrolmen quit calling them "Toody" and "Muldoon" and to order the police radio dispatchers to stop thenceforh from calling out, "Car 54 Where Are You?" Over in Dayton, the department dropped the number 54 from their fleet. Across the Rockies, in Berkeley, California, a police bulletin was quoted as saying that a witness had described a man, who held up a supermarket, as being the double of "Officer Muldoon."
These incidents reflected the impact on America of TV's newest comedy hit, Car 54 Where Are You?and of its two bumbling heroes, Joe E. Ross (as Officer Gunther Toody) and Fred Gwynne (as his partner, Officer Francis Muldoon). On the show, they drove Car 54, which was attached to the mythical 53rd Precinct in the Bronx.
Not every police official liked the show, which depicted the zaniest bunch of policemen since the Keystone cops.......one high-ranking New York police official, who insisted on anonymity, said he would have liked to see the show cancelled as he believed it made all policemen look morons.
"Being a policeman is a grim and humourless business, not at all funny," he was quoted as saying.