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Daktari
Daktari Clarence Judy 1967.JPG
Clarence and Judy
Genre Children's drama
Adventure
Created by Art Arthur
Ivan Tors
Written by William Clark
Meyer Dolinsky
Lawrence L. Goldman
Alf Harris
John Hogan
Jack Jacobs
Robert Lees
Robert Lewin
D.D. Oldland
S.S. Schweitzer
Stanley H. Silverman
Malvin Wald
Directed by Paul Landres
Andrew Marton
Otto Lang
Starring Marshall Thompson
Cheryl Miller
Hari Rhodes
Yale Summers
Hedley Mattingly
Theme music composer Shelly Manne
Henry Vars
Composer(s) Herbert Doerfel
Shelly Manne
Henry Vars
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 89 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Ivan Tors
Producer(s) Leonard B. Kaufman
Cinematography William A. Fraker
Fred Mandl
Paul Ivano
Richard Moore
Editor(s) George Hively
Running time 45–48 minutes
Production company(s) Ivan Tors Productions
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Television
Distributor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Television
(1969-1970)
Warner Bros. Television
Release
Original network CBS
Picture format Metrocolor
Audio format Monaural
Original release January 11, 1966 (1966-01-11) – January 15, 1969 (1969-01-15)
Chronology
Preceded by Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion

Daktari (Swahili for "doctor") is an American family drama series that aired on CBS between 1966 and 1969. The series is an Ivan Tors Films Production in association with MGM Television starring Marshall Thompson as Dr. Marsh Tracy, a veterinarian at the fictional Wameru Study Center for Animal Behavior in East Africa.

Concept

The show follows the work of Dr. Tracy, his daughter Paula (Cheryl Miller), and his staff, who frequently protect animals from poachers and local officials. Tracy's pets, a cross-eyed lion named Clarence and a chimpanzee named Judy, were also popular characters.

Daktari was based upon the 1965 film Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion, which also stars Thompson as Dr. Tracy and Miller as his daughter. The concept was developed by producer Ivan Tors, inspired by the work of Dr. Antonie Marinus Harthoorn and his wife Sue at their animal orphanage in Nairobi. Dr. Harthoorn helped invent the capture gun, and was a tireless campaigner for animal rights. He was known as Daktari by the local Swahili people.

On the series, Clarence did not do all his own stunts; he had a stand-in. Leo (previously known as Zamba), another lion trained by Ralph Helfer, doubled for Clarence whenever any trucks were involved because Clarence was frightened by these vehicles. Leo had his own makeup artist apply cosmetic scarring like Clarence's so that he would resemble Clarence in closeups. An inside joke from the preview trailer for the movie Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion was that Leo the MGM logo was not related to Clarence (in addition to similar appearances, the lions had similar temperaments).

Another less friendly lion, also named Leo, doubled for Clarence in some scenes. He was used only for the snarling scenes and scenes not involving proximity with humans. His ferocity was genuine, the result of physical abuse by his previous owners.

In the show's final season, child star Erin Moran joined the cast as Jenny Jones, a seven-year-old orphan who becomes part of the Tracy household.

Cast

  • Marshall Thompson as Dr. Marsh Tracy
  • Cheryl Miller as Paula Tracy
  • Hedley Mattingly as District Officer Hedley
  • Hari Rhodes as Mike Makula
  • Yale Summers as Jack Dane (1966–1968)
  • Ross Hagen as Bart Jason (1968–1969)
  • Erin Moran as Jenny Jones (1968–1969)
  • Judy the Chimp as Judy

Judy the Chimp also portrayed "Debbie the Bloop" on Lost in Space.

Clarence the Lion died at the age of 7 on July 14, 1969, six months after Daktari was last telecast on CBS. When he was not being filmed, the lion was booked as an attraction at expositions and died in Peoria, Illinois, where he was scheduled to appear at the "Heart of Illinois Fair".

Notable guest stars over the years included Louis Gossett Jr., Sterling Holloway, Bruce Bennett, Virginia Mayo, Chips Rafferty and Paul Winfield.

Bruno the Bear also appeared as a guest star before he became the main bear playing the title role in the later Ivan Tors series, Gentle Ben.

Episodes

The series was broadcast in four seasons, the first in early 1966, and the last three each beginning in September of 1966, 1967, and 1968. List of Daktari episodes

Broadcast history and Nielsen ratings

The original broadcasts in the US were on CBS.

Season Time slot (ET) Rank Rating
1965–66 Tuesday at 7:30 pm 14 23.9
1966–67 7 23.4 (Tied with Bewitched and The Beverly Hillbillies)
1967–68 Not in the Top 30
1968–69 Wednesday at 7:30 pm

According to IMDB it was also broadcast on TV channels in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and (dubbed) in France.

Home media

Warner Bros. has released all four seasons on DVD in Region 1 via their Warner Archive Collection manufacture-on-demand series.

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