Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Coronet Blue - The Mystery Revealed!

Coronet Blue was a radically new television show in 1967 about a man being chased by CIA types who are trying to kill him, then falls into the water, awakens with amnesia and can only remember the words "Coronet Blue".

The series only ran a few episodes and never answered the question about what "Coronet Blue" actually meant. Bugged me for over forty years now!!!

FINALLY - I found the following web page that discovered the meaning the creators intended for "Coronet Blue". Read on to learn the answer to the mystery.

But first, here's a You Tube clip from the title sequence that features the amazing song that has stuck in my head all these years, even though I was only 14 when it aired the one summer season.

Isn't that theme song great?  Here's a link to the Wikipedia listing for the show: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronet_Blue.

Notice the similarity of the theme song to that of "Secret Agent" which starred Patrick McGoohan.  At nearly the same time Coronet Blue was showing, programs like The Saint, Man From U.N.C.L.E., I Spy, and The Avengers were on the air, each cross polinating the others and all in response to the James Bond movies which has just taken the world by storm, which themselves were spawned by the reall life tales of spies in the Cold War era.  It even has a similar plot-line to "The Fugitive" - running away from people out to get you, a new town each week, seeking the answer to a mystery.


Here's the answer to the mystery of what "Coronet Blue" means, quoted from the web site http://wesclark.com/ubn/coronet_blue.html

[Begin quote from http://wesclark.com/ ]

The Mystery of "Coronet Blue" Revealed!


What's "Coronet Blue?"

Coronet Blue was a summer replacement TV show which aired on Mondays at 10 PM starting in late May, 1967. (Apparently it was actually filmed in 1965.) In it, Michael Alden, played by Frank Converse, is running from some men when he falls into the harbor. He climbs out remembering only that he was running and the phrase "coronet blue." As the show continues from week to week, Mike tries to piece together clues as to his identity as individuals he refers to as Greybeards seem to be intent on killing him.

The theme song, sung by Lenny Welch, was unforgettable. In fact, I can still hear it in my head today!

The IMDB site that gives more details about this production is here.

Also, comments about how well-regarded the show was by viewers who remember it are here on the "Jump the Shark" website.

The basic idea - a person who is in danger and has amnesia attempts to reconstruct his or her past - has been used in film noir before. ("Mulholland Drive" and "Fear in the Night" and "The Bourne Identity" come to mind. The idea was later used in the mid-Nineties TV show "Nowhere Man.")

I was only eleven when this noirish show aired, but I distinctly remember it - especially one scene in one episode. Apparently a girl had been assaulted in a car, and a police detective and Michael Alden are shown discussing clues. When the detective mentioned that a starchy, organic substance was found on the upholstery of the car, my mother quickly sent me out of the room. Being the typically curious eleven year old, I was wondering, What was THAT all about? Nowadays I wonder - did I actually remember this correctly? If so, this was a pretty bold detail in a mystery show aired in 1967!

The show was unexpectedly popular and had the makings of a hit, but CBS, feeling that the show was too intellectual for its audience, axed it and left the mysterious storyline unresolved. But ever since, viewers who remember the show have wondered about it.


The mystery is resolved in a passage about Coronet Blue from a biography of TV creator and writer Larry Cohen, "The Radical Allegories of an Independent Filmmaker."

"When the Brodkin Organization took over the series, they wanted to turn it into an anthology... so they played down the amnesia aspect until there was nothing about it at all in the show. It was just Frank Converse wandering from one story to the next with no connective format at all. Anyway, the show ended after seventeen weeks and nobody found out what 'coronet blue' meant. The actual secret is that Converse was not really an American at all. He was a Russian who had been trained to appear like an American and was sent to the U.S. as a spy. He belonged to a spy unit called 'Coronet Blue.' He decided to defect, so the Russians tried to kill him before he can give away the identities of the other Soviet agents. And nobody can really identify him because he doesn't exist as an American. Coronet Blue was actually an outgrowth of 'The Traitor' episode of The Defenders."

(Larry Cohen was the Coronet Blue series creator and wrote the episode titled "A Dozen Demons.")

The Defenders: THE TRAITOR

Aired 16 Feb 1963

Written by Larry Cohen

Directed by David Greene

Guest Stars:

Fritz Weaver (as Vincent Kayle)

Tim O'Connor (Peyton Place)

Tom Clancy

Representing accused traitor Vincent Kayle (Fritz Weaver), Preston must prepare a defense while struggling against his deep personal disgust for the man's actions.

Tony Williams, "Larry Cohen: The Radical Allegories of an Independent Filmmaker. " Jefferson, NC. McFarland, 1997.


The passage from the book is taken from a posting by George, which appeared on "the Blackboard" (a film noir Internet discussion board). I thought it was too good to let disappear on a message board!

[End Quote from http://wesclark.com/]

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