The Honey West character was created by Gloria and Forrest E. “Skip” Fickling under the pseudonym “G.G. Fickling” in the late 1950s. West was one of the first female “private eyes” to ever appear on television.
Anne Francis first played West in an episode of Burke’s Law, which led to this series being commissioned as a spin-off. Created as an American answer to the popular Emma Peel and Cathy Gale characters in the British series The Avengers, Honey West was not a ratings success and was canceled after one season. Francis nonetheless received a Golden Globe Award for her performance.
Decades later, Francis reprised the role of Honey West (though her last name is changed to “Best”) in an episode of the 1994 revival of Burke’s Law.
In the series, West had a partner and man-Friday “Sam” (John Ericson), who usually stayed in the background or sat in their high-tech surveillance van talking to Honey via a radio hidden in her lipstick case. Her alluring feline qualites were reflected by her leopard spot and animal-print wardrobe and decor. She also kept an exotic pet ocelot. For sneaking around at night and engaging in energetic fight scenes, she wore a black fabric bodystocking reminiscent of Emma Peel’s leather jumpsuit. And, like Peel’s Lotus Elan sports car, Honey’s similar-looking AC Cobra convertible also emphasized her independence and vitality. The racy content of the novels was excised for television, but Anne Francis nevertheless brought a considerable amount of sultry sex appeal to the role. In addition, she often went on undercover missions that required a provocative or revealing outfit. She also used a number of James Bond-type gimmicks: an exploding compact, a garter-belt gas mask, and tear-gas earrings.
- Anne Francis as Honey West
- John Ericson as Sam Bolt
- Irene Hervey as Aunt Meg
- Bruce—her pet Ocelot
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