12 cool, hard facts about Remington Steele

Before he was Bond, Pierce Brosnan oozed cool on this '80s action show.

"Steele, Remington Steele." Pierce Brosnan's breakthough role in Hollywood was essentially a 94-episode audition for 007. The handsome British star was perfectly cast as the title character in Remington Steele.

The 1982–87 TV series centers around a female private eye named Laura Holt who runs the Remington Steele Detective Agency. There's one catch. Remington Steele does not exist — Holt invented a male boss to impress her sexist clients. Enter a charming thief and con man, played by Pierce Brosnan, who poses as the fictional Remington Steele. Over the course of the series, Holt and "Steele" team up and inevitably fall in love. 

With its blend of wit, action and romance, the tongue-in-cheek action drama proved to be quite influential on pop culture. For starters, its sexy male lead was essentially a mysterious criminal. 

Of course, Brosnan would eventually win the role of James Bond, though not as soon as intended. Let's investigate some fun facts about this Reagan-era classic.

1. The concept for the series dates back to 1969.


Robert Butler, the television director who had helmed the pilot episodes for Batman and Star Trek, had an idea for a show focusing on a female detective back in the late '60s. He pitched the concept to industry legend Grant Tinker, who loved the idea, but felt it was too ahead of its time. However, after Tinker's MTM Enterprises had produced a run of women-centered series like Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda in the 1970s, he returned to the idea. Ironically, the series about an ace female detective who must concoct a fantasy male boss ended up being best remembered as "that Pierce Brosnan show."

2. Mimsie, the MTM Enterprises cat, is dressed as Sherlock Holmes in the credits.


Tinker, of course, was the husband of Mary Tyler Moore. The duo's MTM Enterprises was behind Remington Steele, and the credits featured the production company's adorable logo. Even better — it was customized to show the meowing Mimsie with a deerstalker hat and pipe.

3. It was briefly canceled in 1986 — and then renewed.


After its fourth season, NBC axed Steele from its lineup. Brosnan was relieved. However, after a successful run of summer reruns, the network renewed the show as a limited-run mid-season replacement. The "fifth season" consisted of six episodes, comprising three movie-length plots.

4. The short fifth season kept the stars from some big movie roles.


After that brief series cancellation in 1986, both stars jumped into major movie roles. Brosnan was at last penciled in to replace Roger Moore as James Bond in The Living Daylights, while Stephanie Zimbalist nabbed a lead role as Lewis in RoboCop. However, after NBC's surprising renewal, both had to drop out of the hit films and return to the small screen. They were not thrilled.

5. Brosnan was married to a Bond girl at the time.


Though he was frustratingly delayed from assuming the role of 007, his wife appeared in Bond films. Brosnan was married to Cassandra "Cassie" Harris, who played Countess Lisl von Schlaf in For Your Eyes Only in 1981.

Image: United Artists

6. Brosnan was jealous of 'Moonlighting.'


Brosnan became vocally critical of his TV gig. He was particually peeved by Moonlighting, which had a rather strong resemblance to Remington — and with good reason. The Bruce Willis smash had been created by Glenn Gordon Caron, a former Remington writer. “Moonlighting [is] a direct steal which has just done it in a different, much fresher way,” Brosnan told People magazine in 1986. “At least they take risks.”

7. Every episode title has the word "Steele" in it.


These punny titles ranged from "Molten Steele" to "Corn Fed Steele." We chuckled at "Scene Steelers," "Santa Claus Is Coming to Steele" and "Steele Alive and Kicking."

8. Henry Mancini composed the theme song.


The brilliant musician behind "The Pink Panther Theme," "Moon River" and the theme to Peter Gunn wrote the romantic, brassy music for the show.

9. Doris Roberts earned an Emmy nomination for the show.


Roberts stepped in to the series in season two as Mildred Krebs, in a role that was originally conceived as a 35-year-old woman. The actress wowed the producers after nabbing an Emmy for a guest role on St. Elsewhere. Roberts would earn another Emmy nomination for Steele in 1985. She lost to Betty Thomas of Hill Street Blues.

10. The series costarred Stephanie Zimbalist's father, another famous MeTV face.


Stephanie Zimbalist is the daughter of Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., the former star of 77 Sunset Strip. Oddly, Efrem Zimbalist appeared often on Remington Steele as Daniel Chalmers — who is eventually revealed to be Steele's father.

11. Brosnan was not the first actor offered the lead role.


Refined British actor Anthony Andrews turned down the job. Andrews is best known as the star of literary adaptations like IvanhoeThe Scarlet Pimpernel and Brideshead Revisited.

12. Brosnan had a failed pilot with Jennifer Love Hewitt in 1992.


In Running Wilde, he played a reporter for Auto World magazine. Hewitt played his daughter. The series was not picked up, which was probably a relief in the long run, as Brosnan finally won the role of James Bond two years later. 



Learn about another 1980s series that paved the way for modern television. READ MORE

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Runeshaper 56 months ago
"Pierce Brosnan's breakthough role in Hollywood was essentially a 94-episode audition for 007"- this was a great view of Brosnan's role as Remington Steele. I am sure much of Steele's character transferred over to Bond. So, even though Brosnan might have been frustrated at some point playing Steele, it was almost as thought the Steele character provided training for Brosnan's future role, & being Bond is a total honor.

I never knew that Henry Mancini composed these 3 great theme songs. Very cool.

Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. was a great actor! It must have been excellent for a father & daughter to act together in this show.

Great article! Thanks for sharing :)
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