Car 54, Where Are You?
Also known as Car 54
Genre Sitcom
Created by Nat Hiken
Directed by Al De Caprio Nat HikenStanley Prager
Starring Joe E. RossFred Gwynne
Theme music composer Nat HikenJohn Strauss
Opening theme "Car 54, Where Are You?"
Composer(s) John Strauss
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 60
Producer(s) Nat Hiken Billy Friedberg
Cinematography J. Burgi Contner George Stoetzel
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) Eupolis Productions
Distributor NBC Films (1963–1972)National Telefilm Associates (1973–1984)Republic Pictures (1984)Worldvision Enterprises (1997–1999)Paramount Domestic Television (1999-2006)CBS Paramount Domestic Television (2006-2007)
Original channel NBC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original run September 17, 1961 (1961-09-17) – September 8, 1963 (1963-09-08)
Status Ended


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Car 54, Where Are You?

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Opening title sequence

Car 54, Where Are You? is an American sitcom that ran on NBC from 1961 to 1963. Episodes had various directors, the most recognized being Al De Caprio. Stanley Prager and Nat Hiken also directed several episodes. Most of its filming was on location in the The Bronx, and at Biograph Studios.


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The series follows the adventures of NYPD officers Gunther Toody (Joe E. Ross) and Francis Muldoon (Fred Gwynne) in the fictional 53rd precinct in the Bronx, assigned to Patrol Car 54. Toody was short, stocky, nosy, not very bright, and lived with his loud, domineering wife Lucille. Muldoon, an Irish American, was very tall, quiet, and more intelligent. He was a shy bachelor who lived with his mother and two younger sisters.

Other cast members included Beatrice Pons, Al Lewis, Charlotte Rae, Nipsey Russell, Ossie Davis, Paul Reed, Larry Storch, and Hank Garrett. Mel Stewart, probably best known as Henry Jefferson in All in the Family, appeared as an uncredited dispatcher beginning in the fall of 1962. He appeared in more than one episode, and also appears in a cast photo.

Car 54 was one of the first sitcoms that regularly featured characters from multiple ethnicities.[citation needed]


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  • Joe E. Ross as Officer Gunther Toody
  • Fred Gwynne as Officer Francis Muldoon
  • Hank Garrett as Officer Ed Nicholson
  • Jim Gormley as Officer Nelson
  • Albert Henderson as Officer Dennis O'Hara
  • Bruce Kirby as Officer Kissel
  • Al Lewis as Officer Leo Schnauser (1961–1963)
  • Beatrice Pons as Lucille Toody
  • Charlotte Rae as Sylvia Schnauser
  • Paul Reed as Capt. Martin Block
  • Joe Warren as Officer Steinmetz
  • Nipsey Russell as Officer Anderson
  • Ossie Davis as Officer Omar Anderson
  • Frederick O'Neal as Officer Wallace
  • Patricia Bright as Mrs. Claire Block

Production notes

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Many of the scripts were written by Nat Hiken. In 1962, Hiken won an Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Emmy Award for his work on the series.

The series was originally sponsored by Procter & Gamble.

The TV show's police cars on location shots were actually bright red and white, but appeared as the proper shade of gray for an NYPD car on black-and-white film. NYPD cars of that era were black and green with a white roof and trunk. Thus, the filmmakers achieved a realistic appearance without alarming or confusing bystanders during production.

Theme song
The theme song's lyrics were written by series creator, writer, and director Nat Hiken, with music by John Strauss.

The lyric "Khrushchev's due at Idlewild" referred to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev arriving in September 1960 at New York International Airport, nicknamed Idlewild, to attend the United Nations General Assembly (in 1963, after the end of this show's production and after the assassination of President Kennedy, the airport was renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport). Mondegreens of this lyric are "Crew Shift's due, and I've gone wild!" and "Khrushchev's nude and I go wild."


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Car 54, Where Are You? began airing on the cable channel Nick at Nite in 1987, and ran on the network until 1990. Car 54, Where Are You? also aired on another Viacom-owned cable channel, Comedy Central, in the early 1990s.

1994 film

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Car 54, Where Are You? was made into a 1994 film, filmed mainly in Toronto, starring John C. McGinley as Muldoon, David Johansen as Toody, and Rosie O'Donnell. The film was made in 1990 but not released until 1994 due to the bankruptcy of Orion Pictures. It was a box office bomb when it was first released and was panned by critics.

Original cast members Lewis and Russell appeared in the film.

DVD release

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On April 12, 2011, Shanachie Entertainment released the Complete First Season on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time. The 4-disc set features all 30 episodes from the first season newly remastered as well as bonus content.

See also

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  • List of television shows filmed in New York City

Further reading

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  • Car 54, Where Are You?, by Martin Grams, Jr. Albany, 2009. BearManor Media. ISBN #1-59393-340-1.

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