R.I.P. John Ericson, costar of Ann Francis on Honey West
The actor played Sam Bolt on the hip Sixties detective show. He was 93.
The 1960s were the golden age of spies and P.I.s on television. Cool, dapper detectives like Peter Gunn, Steve McGarrett, Paul Drake and Mannix worked cases from their enviable cars. Amongst that crowd, Honey West stood out. Anne Francis starred as the title characters, one of the first female detectives on TV. She sported around in a white convertible Shelby Cobra and used gadgets that would make James Bond jealous.
Honey West had a sidekick, Sam Bolt, played by MGM film star John Ericson. Bolt would communicate with West via a radio in her lipstick case. The characters were first introduced in a backdoor pilot on Burke's Law, "Who Killed the Jackpot?" Honey West premiered in the fall of 1965, and captured the same mod spirit as The Avengers. In fact, that British import led to the demise of Honey West. As Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. continually beat Honey West in the ratings, ABC figured it would be cheaper and easier to just air The Avengers instead of producing Honey West on their own dime. Sadly, Honey West lasted just one season.
Born Joachim Alexander Ottokar Meibes in Germany, Ericson and his family fled the Nazi regime to come to America. After studying acting in New York and honing his skills on Broadway, the actor became a contract player with MGM. For the studio, Ericson appeared alongside MeTV stars such as Barbara Stanwyck (1957's Forty Guns) and Fred MacMurray (1958's Day of the Badman).
Before his spotlight role on Honey West, Ericson could be seen in several hit Westerns of the era. He played a lead character alongside Clint Eastwood in the Rawhide tale "Incident Near Gloomy River" and appeared as the title character in the Wagon Train episode "The Dick Richardson Story." Other Westerns on his resume included The Virginian, Gunsmoke, Death Valley Days, The Restless Gun, and Zane Grey Theater.
Elsewhere, Ericson found guest-starring roles on Bonanza, The Invaders, The Fugitive, Police Story, Police Woman, S.W.A.T., Vega$, CHiPs, Fantasy Island and more.
Ericson passed away on May 3 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 93.