Vegas (1978 TV series)
Vegas (stylized as Vega$) is an American private detective crime drama television series that aired on ABC from April 25, 1978, to June 3, 1981. Vega$ was produced by Aaron Spelling, and created by Michael Mann. The series (with the exception of special episodes filmed in Hawaii and San Francisco) was filmed in its entirety in Las Vegas, Nevada.
|Created by||Michael Mann|
|Theme music composer||Dominic Frontiere|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||69 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producers||Aaron Spelling|
Douglas S. Cramer
|Producer||E. Duke Vincent|
|Running time||55 minutes|
|Production company||Aaron Spelling Productions|
|Distributor||Metromedia Producers Corporation|
CBS Television Distribution
Sony Pictures Television (Charlie's Angels crossover episode)
|Original release||April 25, 1978 –|
June 3, 1981
The show stars Robert Urich as private detective Dan Tanna, who drives to his assignments around the streets of Las Vegas in a red 1957 Ford Thunderbird convertible. (This replaces a 1967 yellow Chevrolet Corvette used in the pilot episode, which ends up destroyed by fire.) Working for a wide variety of Las Vegas clients, the detective work included locating missing persons, helping solve crimes, solving casino scams, and making Las Vegas a safer place for residents and tourists alike.
Dan Tanna (Robert Urich) is a high-end Las Vegas private detective, whose many different clients include series regular Phillip 'Slick' Roth (Tony Curtis), the owner of several hotel casinos, including the Maxim Hotel Casino and the Desert Inn Hotel & Country Club in Las Vegas. Tanna is often called by private citizens to help investigate unsolved criminal cases, locate missing family or business associates, or working in rather absurd situations, such as the property case of a nun, played by Cassie Yates, who has a claim deed that says she owns the land on which the Desert Inn Hotel Casino stands. Tanna has the reputation of being a high-risk-crime problem-solver; thus, he will not accept bodyguard assignments or handle divorce cases. Given that many of his detective cases are dangerous, he carries a sidearm at all times.
Tanna lives on the Las Vegas Strip next to the Circus Circus Hotel/Casino, in the theatrical showroom props warehouse that is owned by the Desert Inn Hotel and Country Club. The large props warehouse where he lives has been partially converted into his living quarters. The unique garage design of Tanna's home allows him to park his red Ford Thunderbird convertible in his living room. He also uses gadgets considered high-tech for the late 1970s, such as a radio car phone, and an answering machine that physically picks his phone off the hook and into the microphone of a tape recorder.
Cast and charactersEdit
- Robert Urich as Dan Tanna
- Bart Braverman as Bobby 'Binzer' Borso
- Phyllis Davis as Beatrice Travis
- Greg Morris as Lt. David Nelson
- Naomi Stevens as Sgt. Bella Archer
- Tony Curtis as Phillip Roth
- Judy Landers as Angie Turner (Season 1 only)
- Will Sampson as Harlon Twoleaf (Season 1 and 2)
Dan Tanna (Robert Urich) is a tough, but also smart and sensitive Las Vegas private detective. He tries to be thorough with his work, carefully tracking down the pieces of evidence needed to solve a wide variety of cases. Various Vega$ episodes show, through flashback, Tanna's experience in the Vietnam War.
Beatrice Travis (Phyllis Davis), Tanna's Girl Friday, is a widowed single mother who moonlights as a Las Vegas showgirl. As she takes on more responsibilities as Tanna's assistant, her showgirl role diminishes. Though Bea and Tanna make a dashing couple, their relationship is platonic, except for occasional friendly kisses. Beatrice pushes Tanna to try and stay busy, often saying to him on the phone, "earn some money, honey", and they appeared to be close personal friends throughout Vega$ episodes.
Phillip (Slick) Roth (Tony Curtis) is Tanna's primary client. Roth is a self-made millionaire who owns and manages both the Desert Inn and the Maxim Hotel casinos. Though he is sarcastic and hard-bitten, Roth sincerely likes Tanna, and often expresses how much he treasures Tanna's loyalty, and feels he has a father-son relationship with him. Slick Roth made appearances throughout the three-year run of Vega$. Roth relied on Tanna to help him in a wide variety of cases involving his businesses. Though Roth is a wealthy man, he remembers the stressful and tough times before he was wealthy, and he often exhibits a earthy and self-deprecating sense of humor in his dealings with Dan Tanna, casino guests, showgirls, and the employees on his hotel staff.
Lt. David (called George in the pilot) Nelson (Greg Morris) is with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and while he is a no-nonsense officer, he often backs up Tanna in criminal case investigations, and vice versa. While Lt. Nelson is never one to breach police protocol, he sometimes secretly assists Tanna in criminal cases on which his police force is prohibited from officially working. In the first season of Vega$, Nelson had a more adversarial relationship with Tanna, but their working friendship grows over the next two seasons.
Las Vegas Metro police sergeant Bella Archer (Naomi Stevens) also assists both Dan Tanna and Lt. Dave Nelson in criminal case research. Bella did file work in the police department, and she was sarcastic, but also adept at giving Tanna inside criminal information whenever possible. Bella appeared only in the first season, 1978-1979.
Binzer (Bart Braverman), assists with Tanna's detective leg work and moonlights as a pool assistant at the Desert Inn. Early in the Vega$ series Binzer is a former petty thief, a man who has fled to Las Vegas to escape his former partners in crime back east. His criminal background is described in one episode, in which Binzer's real name is found to be Robert (Bobby) Borso. Always the protective detective, Dan Tanna invariably seems to take Binzer under his wing, and wisely uses Binzer's knowledge of the streets, and his connections to the Las Vegas street scene. Bart Braverman appeared in the pilot episode as an unnamed character (possibly a pimp or the henchman of one) that Tanna shakes down for information concerning the disappearance of a young woman. During the shakedown, Tanna, possibly out of surprise that he extracted the information rather easily, tells him he's 'not cut out for this kind of work'. It is never revealed if this was actually the foundation for the introduction of Binzer's character.
Angie (Judy Landers), is Dan Tanna's secondary office assistant; she is a part-time working showgirl. Unlike the savvy and clever Beatrice, Angie is sweet, but also a bit air-headed, and occasionally gets case work and names mixed up. Angie does not appear in Vega$ after the first season in 1978-1979, with Bea assuming virtually all office-related responsibilities.
Native American Harlon Twoleaf (Will Sampson) is Tanna's close friend who served with him in the Vietnam War, and occasionally assists Tanna in some of his cases. Twoleaf, who disappeared after the conclusion of the first season, owns a small working horse ranch, and he enjoys reminiscing with Tanna about their younger days. Twoleaf often is the 'muscle' during Tanna's shakedowns, but his imposing appearance is enough to scare suspects and informants into submission, with little violence actually taking place.
- R.G. Armstrong
- Hermione Baddeley
- Priscilla Barnes
- Kim Basinger
- Red Buttons
- Kim Cattrall
- Christopher George
- Lynda Goodfriend
- Lorne Greene
- Melanie Griffith
- Lisa Hartman
- Ruta Lee
- Robert Mandan
- Barbara McNair
- Maureen McCormick
- Heather Menzies
- Wayne Newton
- Leslie Nielsen
- Don Porter
- Robert Reed
- Kyle Richards
- Pernell Roberts
- Tanya Roberts
- Cesar Romero
- Isabel Sanford
- Dick Sargent
- Tori Spelling
- George Takei
- Joe E. Tata
- Vic Tayback
- Lauren Tewes
- Bobby Van
- Dawn Wells
- Jill Whelan
- Jason Wingreen
- Shelley Winters
Robert Reed and Maureen McCormick portrayed a father and daughter in a season 1 episode, "The Pageant". The duo previously starred together in The Brady Bunch (1969–74), in which Reed portrayed family patriarch Mike, and McCormick eldest daughter Marcia. In a later episode Reed would reappear a second time, in a unrelated role.
Robert Mandan and Robert Urich had worked together in the situation comedy Soap. Mandan played Chester Tate, Jessica Tate's husband and Urich as Jessica's lover, Peter the tennis pro, who was murdered by Chester Tate.
Heather Menzies was Robert Urich's real-life wife since 1975.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||22||September 20, 1978||May 9, 1979|
|2||23||September 19, 1979||May 7, 1980|
|3||23||November 5, 1980||June 3, 1981|
In the season 3 premiere of Charlie's Angels titled "Angels in Vegas", Robert Urich does a cameo as his Vega$ character Dan Tanna at the end of the episode. This episode aired the week before the Vega$ series premiere.
Vega$ began airing in off-network syndication shortly after its cancelation in the early 1980s. It was also one of the first shows to premiere on FX when that channel began in 1994; FX ceased airing episodes around 2000. As of July 2015, Vega$ was airing on the Decades network.
CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) has released all three seasons of Vega$ on DVD in a Region 1 box set on May 2, 2017. In Region 4, Madman Entertainment has released the first season on DVD in Australia.
|DVD name||Ep #||Release dates|
|Region 1||Region 4|
|The First Season, Volume 1||11||October 20, 2009||July 14, 2010|
|The First Season, Volume 2||12||February 9, 2010||September 27, 2010|
|The Second Season, Volume 1||11||December 7, 2010||TBA|
|The Second Season, Volume 2||12||March 29, 2011||TBA|
|The Third and Final Season, Volume 1||11||May 8, 2012||TBA|
|The Third and Final Season, Volume 2||12||August 14, 2012||TBA|