In 1966, upstart producer, Gavin Hurrell, at
the height of his career, initiated development of a radical new television
program, HONEY VICARRO. The ABC show was plagued from the outset by production problems, culminating in the
death of its sex-vixen lead, Kim Carlyle, from a prescription drug overdose.
Hurrell pitched HONEY VICARRO as a standard action series (albeit one featuring a female protagonist). Riding
on the wild success of NAKED CITY and SECRET AGENT, Hurrell received a deal-point unprecedented in the
industry: the right to shoot twenty-six episodes without network oversight. The only requirement ABC stipulated
was that the series "comply with standards and practices."
Under the cloak of this arrangement, Hurrell began
shooting episodes whose themes pushed well outside the envelope--from Honey's brazen bisexuality to her sensual
relationship with her African-American chauffer, Chad (Cliff di Marco).
Even her wardrobe--skin-tight leather
body-suits, leopard-skin matinee jackets, Ray-Ban Cats, spike-heeled boots--oozed an in-your-face sexuality
informed by a less-than-subtle B&D sensibility (virtually every episode, for instance, featured a scene in
which Honey was bound and gagged--often wearing nothing but panties and brassiere).
Likewise, the stories were
cutting edge, focusing on drug abuse, homosexuality, incest, police corruption, interracial sex, pornography
and other issues rarely addressed in films of the day, much less prime-time television.
Only one of its
original twenty-six episodes would ever be aired (the relatively tame "Love Me, Don't," guest-starring Sal Mineo). Due to public outrage, anger among affiliates (particularly in the South) and the condemnation of the
Roman Catholic Church as well as virtually every other organized religious group, the show was abruptly
cancelled and replaced with reruns of THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER.
His career in ruins, Hurrell subsequently retired,
rarely setting foot outside his Benedict Canyon estate until his death.
Meanwhile, fueled by stories related
by the few executives, cast and crew who had been involved in its production, HONEY VICARRO evolved from its
status as a brief footnote in television history into the cult-legend it is today. Over the ensuing decades,
the show's reputation grew, largely due to the internet gossip-mill.
The mysterious disappearance of the
negatives from the network vaults only intensified the mystique of the series. Today, only a few surviving
partial scripts, the opening theme, a handful of production stills and a few pieces of archival footage
provided an ample blank screen upon which fans of the show could project their own speculations and theories
regarding its nature.
Nevertheless, what was actually shot on Stage 7 of the Desilu studios was only a dim
memory in the minds of the show's surviving cast, crew and guest-stars. The only person who actually knew every
detail of its production--its embittered creator, Hurrell--refused to discuss it on or off the record until his
death in 1992.