Did You See That Pilot With William Shatner And Steve McQueen?

To be fair, there is another legendary actor in this photo. To the right of Shatner is Ralph Bellamy.

To be fair, there is another legendary actor in this photo. To the right of Shatner is Ralph Bellamy.

The Defender was released on CBS’ Studio One TV series in 1957 and would go on to become the pilot for the popular 1961 TV series entitled The Defenders. In this 1957 TV movie you had some pretty major actors front and center on the small screen. You had the late great Ralph Bellamy (Rosemary’s Baby, Trading Places) as Walter Preston, William Shatner (Star Trek, Boston Legal) as Kenneth Preston, and Steve McQueen (The Great Escape, Bullitt) as Joseph Gordon, a young man that the Father and Son team must defend against charges of murder.

The Defenders TV show four years later would have E.G. Marshall (12 Angry Men, Creepshow) as Lawrence Preston, and Robert Reed (Mannix, The Brady Bunch) taking on the role of Kenneth Preston. Though I haven’t seen it for myself, apparently on episode 62 of Boston Legal entitled “Son of the Defender” uses clips from The Defender and mirrors the TV movie as well.

A huge thanks to Will McCrabb for his awesome Twitter pic that gave me the heads up on the pilot in the first place, as well as to Drepice1 for sharing the “pilot” on YouTube.

Part One


Editor at Retroist
Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.

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