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Daktari (Swahili for "doctor") is an American family drama series that aired on CBS between 1966 and 1969. The series is an Ivan Tors Films Production in association with MGM Television starring Marshall Thompson as Dr. Marsh Tracy, a veterinarian at the fictional Wameru Study Centre for Animal Behaviour in East Africa.

Daktari Clarence Judy 1967.JPG
Clarence and Judy
Genre Children's drama
Created by Art Arthur
Ivan Tors
Written by William Clark
Meyer Dolinsky
Lawrence L. Goldman
Alf Harris
John Hogan
Jack Jacobs
Robert Lees
Robert Lewin
D.D. Oldland
S.S. Schweitzer
Stanley H. Silverman
Malvin Wald
Directed by Paul Landres
Andrew Marton
Otto Lang
Starring Marshall Thompson
Cheryl Miller
Hari Rhodes
Yale Summers
Hedley Mattingly
Theme music composer Shelly Manne
Henry Vars
Composer(s) Herbert Doerfel
Shelly Manne
Henry Vars
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 89 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Ivan Tors
Producer(s) Leonard B. Kaufman
Cinematography William A. Fraker
Fred Mandl
Paul Ivano
Richard Moore
Editor(s) George Hively
Running time 45–48 minutes
Production company(s) Ivan Tors Productions
MGM Television
Warner Bros. Television (current distribution)
Original network CBS
Picture format Metrocolor
Audio format Monaural
Original release January 11, 1966 (1966-01-11) – January 15, 1969 (1969-01-15)
Preceded by Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion



The show follows the work of Dr. Tracy, his daughter Paula (Cheryl Miller), and his staff, who frequently protect animals from poachers and local officials. Tracy's pets, a cross-eyed lion named Clarence and a chimpanzee named Judy, were also popular characters.

Daktari was based upon the 1965 film Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion, which also stars Thompson as Dr. Tracy and Miller as his daughter. The concept was developed by producer Ivan Tors, inspired by the work of Dr. Antonie Marinus Harthoorn and his wife Sue at their animal orphanage in Nairobi.[1] Dr. Harthoorn was a tireless campaigner for animal rights, and with his research team developed the capture gun,[2] used to sedate animals to capture them without injury.

On the series, Clarence did not do all his own stunts; he also had a stand-in. Leo, another Ralph Helfer-trained lion, doubled for Clarence whenever any trucks were involved, since Clarence spooked at the sight of these vehicles. Leo even had his own makeup artist who applied cosmetic scarring like Clarence's, so that he would resemble Clarence when photographed in closeups. This was referred to in an inside joke from the preview trailer for the movie Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion, that Leo (which also appeared in the MGM logo and had a gentle temperament very similar to Clarence's) was not related to Clarence.

Another less-friendly lion, also named Leo, doubled for Clarence in some scenes. He was used only for the snarling scenes and general scenes which did not involve proximity with humans. This Leo had come from a family in Utah. His ferocity was due largely to abuse he received from former owners, who beat him badly with a stick.

In the show's final season, child star Erin Moran joined the cast as Jenny Jones, a seven-year-old orphan who becomes part of the Tracy household.


Judy the Chimp also portrayed "Debbie the Bloop" on Lost in Space.

Notable guest stars over the years included Louis Gossett Jr., Sterling Holloway, Virginia Mayo, Chips Rafferty and Paul Winfield.

Bruno the Bear also appeared as a guest star before he became the main bear playing the title role in the later Ivan Tors series, Gentle Ben.


Broadcast history and Nielsen ratingsEdit

Season Time slot (ET) Rank Rating[3]
1965–66 Tuesday at 7:30 pm 14 23.9
1966–67 7 23.4 (Tied with Bewitched and The Beverly Hillbillies)
1967–68 Not in the Top 30
1968–69 Wednesday at 7:30 pm

Production notesEdit


According to the show's closing credits, it was "filmed in Africa and Africa, U.S.A.", a 600-acre (2.4 km2) wild-animal ranch created by animal trainers Ralph and Toni Helfer in Soledad Canyon 40 mi (64 km) north of Los Angeles.[4] Ralph Helfer was the animal coordinator of the show. Leonard B. Kaufman, the producer, wrote in liner notes for Shelly Manne's Daktari that he shot the series on location close to a ranch once owned by Antonio Pintos' father in Mozambique.[5] Indeed, the outdoor scenes involving the actors were shot in the Africa, U.S.A. compound in California, with footage of African landscape and animals in between to get the African look and feel. Some of the animals shown were, however, at odds with the location - a tiger (not native to Africa) is shown in the starting credit sequence, as well as an Indian elephant.

Other indoor and some outdoor scenes of the animal hospital were shot in Ivan Tors' studios in Florida.


The show had distinctive theme and incidental music, a fusion of jazz and African influences, conducted by American jazz drummer Shelly Manne. Manne released the associated record, Daktari: Shelly Manne Performs and Conducts His Original Music for the Hit TV Show, on the Atlantic label in 1967. On the album, Mike Wofford plays a tack piano to evoke an African sound, and Manne is joined by percussionists Emil Richards, Larry Bunker, Frank Carlson, and Victor Feldman. According to the record liner notes, Manne and fellow percussionists play ankle and wrist jingles, Thai mouth organs, angklungs, ocarinas, vibraphones, tympani, and different kinds of marimbas.


The series featured several Land Rover four-wheel-drive cars and also a Jeep Gladiator pickup truck with an iconic zebra-striped paint job. Corgi Toys produced a green and black zebra-striped toy version of a Land Rover, available in several different action sets.

DVD releasesEdit

Warner Bros. has released all four seasons on DVD in Region 1 via their Warner Archive Collection manufacture-on-demand series.[6][7][8][9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hart, Susanne (1969). Life with Daktari: Two Vets in East Africa. Atheneum. p. 35. 
  2. ^ Brown, Alexander Claude (1977). A History of Scientific Endeavour in South Africa. Royal Society of South Africa. p. 145. 
  3. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present (Ninth Edition). Ballantine Books. p. 1684. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4. 
  4. ^ "Vasquez Rocks". Bonanza: Scenery of the Ponderosa. Retrieved on July 15, 2013.
  5. ^ Leonard B. Kaufman, liner notes for Shelly Manne, "Daktari", Atlantic Records SD 8157
  6. ^ Lambert, David (November 15, 2011). "Daktari - 'The Complete 1st Season' is Now Available from the Warner Archive".
  7. ^ Lambert, David (March 12, 2013). "Daktari - Packaging Pics for 'The Complete 2nd Season' Shows It's 2 Half-Season Sets Bundled".
  8. ^ MOD Release for 'The Complete 3rd Season' is Now Available
  9. ^ The 4th and Final Season is Coming to DVD Very Soon

External linksEdit