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Dante is an NBC adventure/drama television series starring Howard Duff as Willie Dante, a former gambler who operates Dante's Inferno, a San Francisco, California, nightclub. Alan Mowbray co-starred as Stewart Styles, the Maitre d'; Tom D'Andrea as Biff, the bartender and Dante's "man Friday", and Mort Mills as police Lieutenant Bob Malone.[1]

Howard Duff Dante 1961.jpg
Howard Duff and Barbara English in The Devil to Pay, 1961
Created byBlake Edwards
StarringHoward Duff
Alan Mowbray
Tom D'Andrea
Mort Mills
Composer(s)Leith Stevens
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes26
Running time25 minutes
Original networkNBC
Picture formatBlack and white (1960-1961)
Original releaseOctober 3, 1960 –
April 10, 1961

Dante claims to have put his past behind him but has retained old associates Stewart and Biff. While his club is legitimate, neither the police nor the mob believe that he is truly finished with the criminal underworld. Dante's old associates in crime keep appearing at the club in efforts to lure him back to the underworld.[2]

Dick Powell had previously played Dante in eight episodes of his Four Star Playhouse, initially written by Blake Edwards, who had previously created the radio drama Richard Diamond, Private Detective for Powell. There, Willie operates an illegal gambling operation in the back room of the "Inferno", which police soon shut down. The only regular from the Four Star Playhouse version to be cast in the series as well was Mowbray, who had first played a millionaire named Jackson who had gambled away his fortune and then worked as one of Dante's waiters. These episodes were subsequently rebroadcast under the collective title The Best in Mystery.[3]

The inspiration for the Dante character may have come from the 1942 film Casablanca and Humphrey Bogart's character of Rick Blaine. Dante has been compared to the 1959-1960 CBS adventure/drama series Mr. Lucky, starring John Vivyan, as the operator of a legitimate gambling ship, with Ross Martin as his screen associate, Andamo. Pippa Scott portrayed Lucky's girlfriend, Maggie Shank-Rutherford. Mr. Lucky, because of its Henry Mancini theme music, has been more remembered over the years than Dante.[3]

Duff's wife, Ida Lupino, one of Powell's partners in Four Star Television, along with David Niven and Charles Boyer, directed some of the episodes. Duff and Lupino had co-starred in the 1957-1958 CBS sitcom, Mr. Adams and Eve. Dante ran at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Monday nights from October 3, 1960, to April 10, 1961. The series proved unable to compete against CBS's The Andy Griffith Show and ABC's Adventures in Paradise, starring Gardner McKay.[1] Four Star President, David Charnay announced plans for a feature film revival in 1968 starring Howard Duff, but nothing came of it.

Episode list and guest starsEdit

  • "One for the Birds" (Joanna Barnes)
  • "Opening Night" (Robert F. Simon)
  • "The Feline Traveler"
  • "Dante's Dilemma"
  • "The Misfortune Cookie" (Mary Jane Croft)
  • "San Quentil Quill"
  • "The Unclean Green"
  • "The Bavarian Barbarians" (Olan Soule)
  • "My Pal, the Bullseye" (John Anderson)
  • "The Jolly Roger Cocktail" (William Schallert)
  • "A Punch from Judy" (Chris Alcaide)
  • "Don't Come On'a My House" (Stafford Repp)
  • "Wine, Women, and Willie" (Jacqueline Scott)
  • "Dial D for Dante"
  • "The Devil to Pay" (Dante investigates why an old boxer friend has fallen into failure.)
  • "Dante Rides Again" (Nita Talbot and Myron Healey)
  • "Dante's Fickle Fate" (Ruta Lee as Peggy Braddock; a man is told by a fortune teller that he will be killed by his wife's former boyfriend, Willie Dante.)
  • "Aces and Eights"
  • "Light Lady, Dark Room"
  • "Not as a Canary"
  • "Pick a Peck of Diamonds" (A young woman plans to marry an elderly gentleman to procure his jewelry, then divorce him, and wed her sweetheart.)
  • "Dante in the Dark" (A young man is murdered at Dante's club after he tells the host that he is planning to get married.)
  • "Hunter With a Badge"
  • "Friendly Assassin"
  • "Sesame Key" (Tyler McVey)
  • "Around a Dark Corner" (series finale with Paul Fix)[4]


  1. ^ a b Alex McNeil, Total Television, New York: Penguin Books, 1996, 4th ed., p. 197
  2. ^ "Ed Stephan, Plot summary for Dante (1960)". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved March 21, 2009.
  3. ^ a b "Title page, Dante (1960)". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
  4. ^ "Episode List of Dante (1961)". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved March 16, 2009.

External linksEdit