I’m not old enough to remember “Route 66,” even from reruns, but even so, I am aware of the effect it had on American entertainment. The 1960-64 TV series told the story of Tod Stiles and Buz Murdock making their way across America’s mother road, behind the wheel of an iconic first-gen Corvette. The show, starring George Maharis as Buz and a young Martin Milner as Tod in the first three seasons captured the restlessness of American youth, post WWII and Korea, but before the cynicism and rebellion of Vietnam and Watergate.
While a lot of famous names made their way through the series, including well-established stars like Buster Keaton and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., it also helped launch the careers of guests like Robert Redford, William Shatner, and “2011” star Keir Dullea. The Los Angeles Times has a fascinating interview with Maharis, in which he talks about the production of the series, which was closer to reality than the filmed-in-Toronto-posing-as-Chicago television of today. “We were doing seven days a week, 16-, 17-hour days,” said Maharis. “In the beginning they said it would be five days a week, but that didn’t happen. We started backing up. They made 32 shows a year in those days. We were like a wagon train.”
For those looking to relive the Route 66 experience, or see it for the first time, the complete 116 episode series is available from ShoutFactory.com for just shy of $100 plus shipping, on a 24-DVD set.