Insurance investigation may not seem like a career that is likely to inspired interesting television. Then again, who thought that there would ever be enough TV viewers who find life as a pawn shop owner interesting enough to inspire a dozen shows on the subject airing in the same year? I still don’t believe it. You also might not believe that there were that many memorable insurance investigators in TV history to warrant a remembrance. But you would also be wrong.
Dick and the Duchess
This short-lived comedy show featured an insurance investigator named Dick Starrett who was an expatriate American who somehow found himself married up with a British duchess. Hence the title. The comedy of “Dick and the Duchess” was fortified by the fact that a British duchess involving herself in the insurance investigations conducted by her rough Yankee husband was not the best utilization of whatever talents it may take to be a duchess.
Must be something in the air when writers are coming up with a story about insurance investigators for TV show. This 1980s version of a show about insurance investigation also sent an American to England to conduct his business. Who knows, maybe there is just more insurance fraud going on across the pond. James Culver’s partner was Edward Wingate, a British aristocrat who called one of the many castles in England home.
“Longstreet” not only added to the history of insurance investigators on TV shows, but also the much shorter list of lead characters dealing with blindness. Michael Longstreet called New Orleans his home and managed to investigate cases of insurance crime not only without the benefit of sight, but also without the benefit of English aristocrats. Imagine that! Of course, it is worth noting that Longstreet conducted his insurance investigation with the benefit of an Asian martial arts master. Played by Bruce Lee, no less!
The Man from Blackhawk
As if a blind insurance investigators with a martial arts sidekick was not enough, imagine a western in which the hero was not a rancher, lawman or even saloon owner, but an insurance investigator. Even weirder is that Sam Logan, the man from the Blackhawk Insurance Company of Chicago arrived at his investigations carrying not a revolver, but a briefcase. Chicago was not the only city in which “The Man from Blackhawk” turned up to investigate insurance fraud. The dandy with briefcase and string tie managed to find insurance fraud all over the America west of the Mississippi.
Not technically an insurance investigator, but still close enough and memorable enough to warrant mention is Mike Nelson of “Sea Hunt.” Lloyd Bridges played Mike Nelson in this wildly popular show about hunts for underwater booty and evidence of criminal behavior. The first few seasons of “Sea Hunt” are ones that make it very difficult to say Mike Nelson was anything less than one of television’s most memorable insurance investigators.