For this week’s “Things That Bring Back Memories” post, I am going to pick something in the topic of “TELEVISION” and go with “Emergency!“. For those of you, who are either too young, or don’t remember, here’s a snippet of one of the “Emergency!” shows:
Emergency! is a show that can still brings back memories to me! It’s even one that means so much, I have the ringtone on my phone, crazy huh? Who remembers this sound?:
I really loved this show, because it was just about normal people and the amazing job that they do. Back in the day, firefighters and policemen were cherished, and held at high esteem. Nowadays, this is kind of getting turned around. In today’s world, it’s the people who start the fires and commit the crime that people support. Our world is so backwards!! 😥
I used to watch this show all of the time, and just loved seeing the adventures that they would go on, and how the rescue workers dealt with the people at the hospital, etc. There were always great stories, and an ending that made you smile. I can still see them running for the truck when the alarm went off, working together on so many “jobs” and just being great people.
Now, when I got older and saw the once good guy “Roy DeSoto” became the bad Dad on LOST, I was horrified!! ha/ha j/k, it was just so weird to see him as someone else – even though he was just an actor in Emergency! – but you know how it is? Sometimes, it seems like they are real people, who actually do what they are acting about.
More Info on the Show:
Emergency! is an American television series that combines the medical drama and action-adventure genres. It was produced by Mark VII Limited and distributed by Universal Studios. It debuted as a mid-season replacement on January 15, 1972, on NBC, replacing the two short-lived series The Partners and The Good Life, and ran until May 28, 1977, with six additional two-hour television films during the following two years.
Emergency! was created and produced by Jack Webb and Robert A. Cinader, both of whom were also responsible for the police dramas Adam-12 and Dragnet. Harold Jack Bloom is also credited as a creator; Webb does not receive screen credit as a creator in the show’s original TV-movie pilot, being only credited as its director.
The series starred Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe as two specially-trained firefighters who formed Squad 51, part of a then-innovative field known as paramedics who were authorized to provide initial emergency medical care to victims of accidents, fire and other incidents in the field. (The plot of the initial pilot film described the passing of state legislation, By Governor Ronald Reagan and was called the The Wedsworth-Townsend Act. It allowed the creation of paramedic units. Squad 51 worked in concert with the (fictional) Rampart General Hospital medical staff (portrayed by Robert Fuller, Julie London, and Bobby Troup), who took over each patient’s case from the paramedics who worked in the field.
Nearly 30 years after Emergency! debuted, the Smithsonian Institution accepted Emergency! memorabilia into its National History Museum, public-service section, including their helmets, turnouts, bio-phone, and defibrillator.
The show had a relatively ensemble cast. The series follows the early years of the paramedic program in the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) with the focus on the personnel of Fire Station 51 A Shift, in particular of young firemen/paramedics John Gage (Randolph Mantooth) and Roy DeSoto (Kevin Tighe). The paramedics coordinate with the Emergency Room (ER) staff of Rampart General Hospital: head physician Dr. Kelly Brackett (Robert Fuller), head nurse Dixie McCall (Julie London), neurosurgeon Dr. Joe Early (played by Julie’s real-life husband Bobby Troup), and young intern Dr. Mike Morton (Ron Pinkard).
To train for their parts, the actors, Mantooth and Tighe, “…sat in on paramedic classes” (although they never took any written exams) “and rode out on extensive ride-a-longs with LACoFD”. In an interview with Tom Blixa of WTVN, Mantooth said that the producer wanted them to train so that they would at least know the fundamentals and look like they knew what they were doing on camera. Mantooth mentioned that unless you take the written course you are not a paramedic and that “if anyone has a heart attack, I’ll call 911 with the best of them”.
Randolph Mantooth (Firefighter/paramedic John Gage) became an advocate for firefighters and paramedics after the filming of Emergency! stopped. He gives speeches and makes appearances all over the country at special events.
An unusual aspect of the casting of the hospital staff was that Julie London and Bobby Troup were better known for their work as musicians (Troup wrote the jazz standard “Route 66”). London was producer Jack Webb’s ex-wife.
The crew of Engine 51 was Chester “Chet” Kelly (Tim Donnelly), Marco Lopez (Marco Lopez, an actor using his real name), Mike Stoker (LACoFD firefighter Mike Stoker as himself), Captain Dick Hammer (LACoFD Captain Richard Hammer as himself; later, John Smith, first season), Captain Henry “Hank” Stanley (Michael Norell, during the remaining seasons. 51’s “C” shift Captain Gene “Captain Hook” Hookrader also led A shift in couple of later episodes). LACoFD Dispatcher Sam Lanier portrayed himself in an unaccredited voice role (over the radio) throughout the series, and he is also occasionally shown in a brief clip at the dispatch office just before a dispatch is heard in later seasons. Lanier was an actual LACoFD Dispatcher and retired from the department shortly after Emergency! finished.
Lopez spoke Spanish, and occasionally translated for the crew when a victim or onlooker spoke Spanish but no English. Lopez had done this occasionally on Dragnet as well.
Other recurring characters included Battalion Chiefs Conrad (Art Balinger), Sorensen (Art Gilmore), Miller, and McConnike (William Boyett), Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Vince (Vince Howard), and recurring ambulance attendants Albert “Al” (Angelo DeMeo) and his assistant, George (George Orrison). Boyett was also a regular on Adam-12, playing Sergeant MacDonald.
Squad 51 before restoration, picture taken at Pomona Raceway in the 1970’s. The vehicle which represented Squad 51 was constructed by Universal crews and was an accurate replica of the units built in-house on stock truck chassis by LACoFD at the time. The LACoFD shops were unable to fulfill a request from Universal to build a unit for the show within the short deadline the studio asked, but did provide the blueprints to Universal crews so the studio could build its own unit on a 1972 Dodge D300 “dualie” (two rear tires on each side, on one axle) chassis. (This conversion was subsequently completed on a 1973 and 1974 Dodge D300 chassis as well.) The replica’s accuracy is evident that the white light atop the “Twinsonic” lightbar was part of the blueprint, but never installed by LAcoFD on its departmental units. This light was supposed to differentiate paramedic units from regular rescue units. After the filming of the show, the studio donated the unit to LACoFD in 1978, which pressed it into occasional service as a reserve unit before it was eventually retired from service. In 1999, LACoFD donated the Universal-built squad to the Los Angeles County Fire Museum, which restored it and put it on display.
Station 51 was represented by LACoFD Fire Station 127, located at 2049 East 223rd Street (between Wilmington and Alameda Streets, with the 405 freeway visible in the background in wide shots) in Carson, California (33°49′28″N 118°14′18″W – Maps Street View), and it is still in use today. Universal was permitted to use the station number of “51” for the program because at that time there was no existing Station 51 since the closing of LACoFD Station 51, which had been located near the intersection of Arlington and Atlantic Avenues, and closed in the late 1960s due to the area being annexed by the city of Lynwood.
Station 127 was chosen for its natural lighting by series co-creator Robert A. Cinader, and the station was eventually named in his honor. A plaque honoring Robert A. Cinader is now mounted on the station next to the office front door. At the time of filming Station 127 housed Engine 127 and Truck 127, but it has never actually fielded its own paramedic unit.
For filming on location, Truck 127 was moved off-site and replaced with Universal’s Squad 51, while Engine 127 was disguised as Engine 51. After Universal obtained the 1972 Ward LaFrance for Engine 51, both of Station 127’s companies would be replaced by Universal’s Engine 51 and Squad 51 for filming on location. While some filming of scenes set at Station 51 were done on sets at the studio, these sets accurately recreated the interior of Station 127.
Despite being “kicked out” of their own station for filming, Truck 127 still appeared in numerous episodes under its own callsign. The Carson location of Station 127 was directly referenced in one episode where a phone call was traced to a house “in Carson” that Engine 51 and Squad 51 eventually responded to.
“KMG365”, which is said by the crewmember acknowledging a call for a unit at Station 51, is a real FCC call sign used by LACoFD assigned to Fire Station 98 in Bellflower, and it appears on the Station Patch for Station 127, which today still houses Engine 127 and Truck 127 (now known as Light Force 127).
In a nod to the show, LACoFD officially changed the designation of the fire station on the grounds of Universal Studios from Station 60 to Station 51 in 1994, more than 20 years after the debut of Emergency! The companies at Station 60 were also changed so that this station is now indeed the home of Engine 51 and Squad 51 as well as Patrol 51.
Randolph “Randy” Mantooth (Johnny Gage) graduated from high school in Santa Barbara; while there, he had been bitten by the acting bug. After a year at Santa Barbara City College, he took off for New York City where he attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. After graduation, he was signed to a contract by Universal Studios and flew back to LA. Less than a year later he was starring as LA County Fire Fighter/Paramedic Johnny Gage on NBCs hit TV show EMERGENCY! Because of that show, Randy became one of those rare individuals who could move back and forth between two dramatically different worlds – one, a world of “make believe,” and the other a world as hard-core reality as it gets — and be as at home in one as the other. A working actor in television, documentaries, theater, and film for forty years, Randy is as well known – if not better known – to firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs the world over as the man who inspired, and continues to inspire, their careers. His role on EMERGENCY! not only changed the lives of countless young viewers, it changed the course of his life as well. Today, thirty years and many acting roles later, he’s still known as the most recognized firefighter in America. Randy is one of very few civilians who has earned the privilege of being embraced as “one of their own” by the brotherhood of fire fighters, from LA County to FDNY, and all points between. Randy is as close to an icon as anyone has ever become for our nation’s emergency responders. He is one of the most respected and sought-after speakers at fire and emergency medical services conferences in the country, making as many as twenty presentations a year, when his professional career permits. Randy has become a spokesperson for both the International Association of Firefighters [IAFF] and the International Association of Fire Chiefs [IAFC] for fire fighter health and safety. He has been honored over the years with numerous awards and recognitions. Randy has stood at Ground Zero at the invitation of FDNY, and has flown on rescue missions with the elite LA County Fire Hawk crews; he has gone places and seen things the average citizen hasn’t. He is as equally familiar to the small town fire department as he is to the US Fire Administrator for Homeland Security. There are few people who can do what Randy is able to do – be invited to go behind the scenes, beyond the yellow tape, and talk one-on-one with emergency responders and get to the heart of their story – because he is one of them. (1)
Kevin Tighe (Roy DeSoto) gained moderate TV stardom as paramedic Roy DeSoto and the series lasted a financially lucrative six years. Along with that came a spin-off animated series and some follow-up TV-movies. He returned to acting study in order to refresh his skills during the slow “post-Emergency” period and managed to work with such inspiring notables as Stella Adler. His perseverance paid off with a steady stream of gray-haired character roles starting in the 80s — predominantly in rugged fare. Although he made his Broadway debut with “Open Admissions” in 1984, the show folded after only a couple of weeks. On film, however, Kevin did quite well by appearing in some high-profile movies. On TV he has had a number of prime support rules over the years playing everything from Thomas Jefferson and William Randolph Hearst to the Kansas patriarch who was senselessly slaughtered along with his family by the “In Cold Blood” killers. Known for his serious-minded roles, Kevin has tackled a number of generals, attorneys, governors, doctors, coaches, even psychics during his long career. He won the Canadian “Genie” Award for his supporting role in A Man in Uniform (1993). His only child, Jennifer Tighe, is also an actress.
Robert Fuller (Dr. Kelly Brackett) (born July 29, 1933) is an American horse rancher and former television actor. In his five decades of television, he is best known for starring roles as Jess Harper and Cooper Smith on the popular 1960s western series, Laramie opposite John Smith and Wagon Train with John McIntire, and for his work in the lead role, Dr.Kelly Brackett, in the 1970s medical drama Emergency!, opposite Julie London and her husband, Bobby Troup.
Julie London (Dixie McCall): (born Gayle Peck; September 26, 1926 – October 18, 2000) was an American jazz and pop singer and actress. She was noted for her smoky, sensual voice and languid demeanor. She released 32 albums of pop and jazz standards during the 1950’s and 1960’s, with her signature song being the classic “Cry Me a River,” which she introduced in 1955. London’s 35-year acting career began in films in 1944 and included playing opposite Gary Cooper in Man of the West (1958) and Robert Mitchum in The Wonderful Country (1959). She achieved continuing success in the TV medical drama Emergency! (1972–1979), co-starring her real-life husband, Bobby Troup, and produced by her ex-husband, Jack Webb, in which London played the female lead role of nurse Dixie McCall.
Bobby Troup (Dr. Joe Early) was born on October 18, 1918 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA as Robert Wesley Troup Jr. He was an actor, known for Emergency! (1972), MASH (1970) and Knocked Up (2007). He was married to Julie London and Cynthia Hare. He died on February 7, 1999 in Sherman Oaks, CA.
Did You Know?
On several episodes, a Ford ambulance arrives at the scene, yet when it pulls up to Rampart, the ambulance is a Chevy. (no wonder I love Chevy’s!!)
John Gage was based on Battalion Chief Jim Page, who helped create the firefighter/paramedic program for LACoFD. Executive Producer Jack Webb wanted to name the character after Page, but he declined. Jim Page died on 4 September 2004 and Randolph Mantooth was one of the speakers at his memorial.
The Harbor UCLA Medical Center served as Rampart Emergency Hospital in the series. The hospital is located in Torrance, California. 1000 West Carson Street. This is appropriate, as this hospital (then known as Harbor General) served as the initial training facility for the Los Angeles County Paramedic Training Program.
The role of the dispatcher was “played” by real-life LACoFD dispatcher Sam Lanier who had over 18 years’ service to the department. He died on May 21, 1997.
When Dr. Brackett was operating on a man’s chest with an injury caused by a lawn mower, you can clearly see an “animal respirator” being used.
On CHiPs (1977), the fictitious Engine and Squad 51 respond to a motor vehicle accident, in the episode titled “MAIT Game”; moreover, it isn’t just two pieces of apparatus with the same number – it is the Ward-LaFrance Engine and Dodge Utility body, even shown pulling out of the 51 Stationhouse. However, the crew is not shown because “Emergency!” had already gone off the air.
(1) – found on http://www.route51.com/Randy_Mantooth/Then_and_Now.html. The remainder of information was taken from Wikipedia.
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