The fascination with murder, mayhem and mystery is a neverending source for tv viewers. During this decade, a wealthy Texas oilman was just as easily a private investigator – and his name was Matt Houston.
Created by Aaron Spelling for ABC, Matt Houston was a Texan with unlimited time and funds spent on trying to figure out what mysteries need to be solved, especially in Los Angeles. Played by Texan Lee Horsely, Houston was a bit of a bull in a china shop, as he used his down-home smarts to solve the crime.
Aided by his personal assistant CJ, Houston was the epitome of cowboy from his boots to his moustache. He took charge and used his charm and unlimited budget to solve the murders – with little contact with the local police. Light on the evidence and details, Matt Houston was more about the story – the why and who then the how.
Horsely had a successful career working on musicals such as Oklahoma!, Damn Yankees and West Side Storey before coming to Hollywood. He was first cast in the early ’80s series Nero Wolfe as a police detective before landing Matt Houston. Like most Aaron Spelling dramas, the show had a tangents of sexuality and humour laced through the scripts, with Houston always in the right and in the know.
I occasionally watched the show – not really out of any loyalty, but mainly because it was on. I don’t remember much about the series, but years later my friend Chris nicknamed the show a poor man’s Magnum, since it seemed like a take-off on another popular detective series at the time on a rival network. She was a Magnum PI fan, but of course, she proabably watched Matt Houston too, just to compare the two.
Horsely occasionally makes appearances in television and movies, and has now become a novelist. But for a brief shining moment he was the star of his own series, kicking butt, Texas-style.