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Spenser on Screen

A series of novels with such a fascinating hero is bound to attract
the attention of Hollywood, and Spenser is no exception. Spenser first came to the small screen in the person of the late actor Robert Urich when the series Spenser: For Hire debuted on ABC. The first episode, a two-parter based on the novel Promised Land, aired on September 20, 1985. The series ran for three seasons, until May 1988. There were altogether sixty-six episodes of the show, followed by four television movies. The actor Avery Brooks made an indelible impression as Hawk, and there was even a brief attempt to spin the character off into his own series. A Man Called Hawk debuted on ABC on January 28, 1989, and ran for thirteen episodes, through May 1989, before being cancelled.

Spenser: For Hire featured some of the well-known recurring characters from the book. Barbara Block portrayed Susan Silverman in seasons one and three, Ron McLarty played Frank Belson, and veteran character actor Richard Jaeckel played Lt. Martin Quirk. In season two, Carolyn McCormick portrayed sexy Assistant DA Rita Fiore. Robert Urich played Spenser in four TV movies, all based on novels in the series: Ceremony (1993), Pale Kings and Princes (1994), The Judas Goat (1994), and A Savage Place (1995). In the subsequent three TV movies, Joe Mantegna played Spenser, with Marcia Gay Harden portraying Susan Silverman. Two different actors played Hawk, and the character did not appear in one of the movies. The three movies, all based on novels, were: Small Vices (1999), Thin Air (2000), and Walking Shadow (2001).

A TV movie based on Stone Cold, the fourth Jesse Stone novel, aired in February 2005. Tom Selleck played Jesse Stone. Robert B. Parker himself appeared in uncredited roles in two of the movies, Walking Shadow and Thin Air. In Small Vices he appeared as Ives.

For complete information on cast listings and other credits, those interested might consult the Internet Movie Database, a rich resource, at Information on the various episodes of the two TV series, Spenser: For Hire and A Man Called Hawk can be found on another terrific Internet source, at

Copyright © 2005 Dean James and Elizabeth Foxwell, authors of The Robert Parker Companion

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Robert B. Parker
Author of The Spenser Series, The Sunny Randall Series, and The Jesse Stone Series

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