Photo above is courtesy of We Heart Vintage, a retro gem of solid distinction: The Mod Squad. Clarence Williams III, Michael Cole, and Peggy Lipton starred as “hipper than hip” 20-somethings with street cred – which allowed them to blend with underground society in Los Angeles.
Brainchild of producers Aaron Spelling and Danny Thomas, the screenplay for the series began with true stories collected from the real operations of a narcotics squad in the 1950s; but it took producers the better part of ten years to get the network on board. Once they did, the show was a hit – big enough to run for five years and over 120 episodes.
Little known fact: Harrison Ford played an unnamed cop in the 1968 pilot.
The show’s impact was far reaching and wide spread. Each actor – to this day – is known for their role. Styles were introduced and made popular merely by being part of the show. An obvious dichotomy – a younger generation being part of “The Fuzz” – tied two worlds together in an era when each were seen more as polar opposites. The storylines – hip and somewhat raw for the time – resonated with a youthful public.
And, I’ll admit, Peggy Lipton’s beauty resonated with a third-grade me.
As “Julie Barnes,” Peggy Lipton played a freestyled runaway from San Francisco. Born in 1946, Lipton had already been a successful model and actress by the time she was signed to The Mod Squad. In later life she also joined the cast of Twin Peaks, and also battled successfully against colon cancer. Lipton was married to Quincy Jones for many years.
Michael Cole’s role of “Pete Cochran” cast him as a guy kicked out of the house by his well-to-do parents, after getting in trouble with the law. He initially didn’t want the role, thinking he would be playing a snitch. He realized later that the character was more rounded. Cole began acting in 1961, and has continued in movies and TV since then.
Clearly the most iconic character of the show was Lincoln “Linc” Hayes – played by veteran stage actor Clarence Williams III. Linc was the street-wise kid from Watts, whose massive afro, groovy shirts, and smooth tongue made him a show favorite. The expression “Solid” is firmly associated with Linc and his inner-city style.
Williams became interested in theater while attending programs at the YMCA, and starting 1960 he had a long career on the stage before The Mod Squad – returning to theater once more after the series went off the air. He is still active in stage and screen to this day.
More about The Mod Squad – On Wikipedia