In the 1980s, a tv series created a crime-fighting duo that started as fiction became reality in Remington Steele.
Created by Michael Gleason and Robert Butler, the MTM/20th Century Fox series was based on character Laura Holt, played by Stephanie Zimbalist, who created private detective Remington Steele.
But there was no Remington Steele and Laura would be the one everyone would work with, proving that a woman could get the job done, even though everyone believed a man was in charge.
Enter Remington Steele himself, played by Pierce Brosnan, who becomes the character, helps Laura solve the crimes while working with Mildred (Doris Roberts) the secretary and annoying Laura’s co-hort Murphy (Michael Read), both who know Steele is a fraud.
Zimbalist initially turned down the role while Brosnan was denied the role but producers soon convinced the network they were the best choices for the series.
The twist of crime fighting private detectives and romantic comedy proved gold for viewers who loved the twist on the typical crime drama.
Debuting in October 1982 on NBC TV, the series was the launching pad for Brosnan’s acting career, as a suave, smart chameleon who channels his elegant Brit persona into an alluring character for clients.
Getting steady ratings for four seasons, the series was cancelled by NBC because it didn’t have room in its schedule – fans immediately complained, sending endless letters. Four months later, the show was reinstated and went on for another and final season.
Ironically, film producer Cubby Broccoli offered Brosnan to become the next James Bond in The Living Daylights, but then withdrew when Brosnan had to return to TV and gave the role to Timothy Dalton.
Although the series was focused on the couple, many which said influenced the creation of Moonlighting by Glenn Gordon Caron (who was a writer on Remington Steele), many critics said the delicate balance of smarts and detective work shown by Zimbalist’s character showed the skill of a woman to get the job done – even if she wanted to perhaps have a romance with her fictional creation.