COMBAT!
 

Season 2

The Quiet before Second Season

Combat! was ABC's highest rated new show of the '62/'63 season. In addition to fan praise, the show garnered critical acclaim by receiving two Emmy nominations: Vic Morrow for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Series (Lead) and Robert Hauser for Outstanding Cinematography. Its sister show on ABC, “The Gallant Men,” was canceled in its first year.

ABC felt confident enough in Combat! to finally assign the stars permanent dressing rooms with complete furnishings. They promptly decorated their quarters at studio expense. Rick Jason had an MGM set designer plan his decor. Vic Morrow created his own — the kindest way any of the actors described it, was “garish.” The love nest was upholstered in red velvet. Lighting came from black velvet lamps crowned by shades that had heart-shaped cutouts (with a crystal hanging from each) and gold interiors.

Vic’s trailer (used on location shooting) had an open door policy, with drinks usually flowing freely after filming was finished. He stocked everyone’s favorite alcohol. Rick Jason’s rooms had a bar and beer tap for his visitors.

Tom Lowell had been working for Combat! on a show-to-show basis. Gene Levitt offered him a contract going into the second year, but at less than he was making as a freelance artist. At the time, he was making about $1,200 a week on his other project, but Combat! only offered him $750 per episode to be under long-term contract, the same that he was being paid for each individual show. He opted to continue on a show-by-show basis.

Jack Hogan was now signed to a five-year contract. “I was first hired to be a bad guy,” says Hogan. “We’d be in a script, pinned down by the Germans for ten pages, and they had to have somebody to argue with Vic to create a little conflict. After they decided they wanted me, I decided I better clean up that act if I was going to last five years. Then, from that point on, it sort of evolved into playing with Peabody. That was the fun part, while it was developing. After awhile though, toward the end, it got to be he was ‘good ol’ Kirby’ and you could always count on him. And they gave all the good lines to somebody else and all I would say was ‘What are you gonna to do now, Sarge?’

Dick Peabody had signed his five-year contract during Robert Altman’s reign. Now that Gene Levitt was the producer, Dick worried about being released from the show. Neither he nor Tom Lowell felt that Gene Levitt wanted them on the series. Before production ceased for the summer, Dick went to the main office and asked to borrow several thousands dollars to buy a car. He figured they would refuse to loan money to someone they were planning to fire. He got his loan, and had a worry-free hiatus.

 

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