Viewers of the ’70s detectives shows were watching Columbo, Kojak, Barney Miller, McMillan and were soon tempted by a new series: Ellery Queen.
Ellery Queen was a fictional character from a series of mystery novels created by Frederic Dannay and Manfred Bennington Lee.
This was a pseudonym for its creators: cousins Daniel Nathan (Dannay) and Emanuel Lepofsky (Lee).
Nathan and Lepofsky created Ellery Queen when they submitted their short story to a contest sponsored by McClure’s Magazine.
Ellery Queen became the most popular character of the 1940s/1950s resulting in many spinoffs from the book series to radio, film and television.
In 1975, the made for television movie Ellery Queen debuted, also named Too Many Suspects, adapted from the mystery novel The Fourth Side of the Triangle, which with its favourable ratings led to a tv series.
Starring Jim Hutton and David Wayne, the series mirrored the books, with a young amateur detective/novelist Ellery Queen(Hutton) was attracted to solve mysteries with help from his gruff father, Inspector Richard Queen. (Wayne).
The duo also had assistance from the inspector’s staff Sgt. Velie and Detective Simon Brimmer, reporter Frank Flanagan, Queen’s secretary Grace and Flanagan’s secretary Maggie.
What made the series unique was having Hutton break the fourth wall by asking the audience directly if they knew answers or clues, as they explored mysteries in post WWII New York City, an element that came from the books, which had asked readers to try to figure out the clues.
The series debuted on NBC TV in September 1975, and featured many well known guest stars through its first season including Roddy McDowell, Betty White, Don Ameche, Joan Collins, Bert Parks, Eva Gabor and Vincent Price.
But after a year (and 22 episodes) was cancelled. The series sadly didn’t get the audience that had been its fans in the past, with a few critics finding the revelation of the mystery too old school.