A couple of years ago, my husband got me for Christmas the complete season of Honey West
on DVD. It just shows you how well he knows me. Honey West
, for those who don't know, was the first "girl" detective series on TV. It wasn't a huge success, lasting one 1965-1966 on ABC. But for some kids of that time, especially girls, who had never seen a woman run her own business, use her head and even get into fights, it was a momumental series.
So the passing of actress Anne Francis last week at age 80 following a battle with cancer needs to be honored.
Francis was the "private eye-full" Honey West, complete with tear gas earrings, lipstick radio transmitters, a black garter tear gas mask (what every woman needs) and other cool gadgets that had, until then, been reserved just for boys like James Bond.
She got all the great toys and a pet ocelot named Bruce.
Oh, how I wanted an ocelot. (Although Bruce looked great on camera, apparently he was quite a wild little beast and not the charming pet he played.)
Honey also had to put up with a lot of sexism like that "private eye-full" comment. In running her late father's Los Angeles detective agency, she also had to work with the firm's former junior partner, Sam Bolt, played by John Ericson. While Sam was, admittedly, quite good looking and obviously in love with Honey, he also was dumber than a box of bricks. Not as dumb as Sheena's Bob (she was another childhood hero), but Sam would never be mistaken for a Ph.D. candidate. Sam also thought it his duty to try to boss Honey around. Silly man.
was created during the 1950s by Skip and Gloria Fickling for a pulp fiction series. But the TV version
was a bit tamer, more sophisticated and very glamourous. Who cared how thin the plots were as long as Francis got to change her clothes at least three times an episode?
So does this very dated TV series hold up? Yes, and no.
Francis is obviously having a lot of fun with the character and she is fun to watch. The scripts are so-so. The gadgets are cool, but not very sophisticated looking. It's more the idea of these items than what we actually would see in a Bond movie. And the martial arts that Honey West supposedly knows are quite awkward and phony. It wouldn't be until 1966 when America got a glimpse of a real kick-ass woman who made fight scenes seem real in the form of Diana Rigg's Emma Peel on The Avengers.
Flawed, of course. But I wouldn't part with my Honey West
Anne Francis, may you rest in peace.