7 October 1954
| 7.2/10 |
| ''Climax Mystery Theater''|
William H. Brown, Jr.
David Swift (director)
William Lundigan (1954–1956), Mary Costa (1956–1958)
Barry Nelson, William Lundigan, Mary Costa
Climax! (later known as Climax Mystery Theater) is an American television anthology series that aired on CBS from 1954 to 1958. The series was hosted by William Lundigan and later co-hosted by Mary Costa. It was one of the few CBS programs of that era to be broadcast in color (using the massive TK-40A color cameras pioneered and manufactured by RCA, and used primarily by CBS' arch-rival network, NBC). Many of the episodes were performed and broadcast live, and although the series was transmitted in color, only black-and-white kinescope copies of some episodes survive to the present day. The series finished at #22 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1955-1956 season and #26 for 1956-1957.
In 1954, an episode of Climax! featured Ian Fleming's secret agent James Bond in a television adaptation of Casino Royale. It starred Barry Nelson as American secret agent "Jimmy Bond" and Peter Lorre as the villain Le Chiffre. This was the first screen adaptation of a James Bond novel, made before Eon Productions acquired the Bond film rights. Eon would later obtain the rights to Casino Royale in the late 1990s. This adaptation is available on DVD as a bonus feature on the MGM DVD release of the 1967 film adaptation of the novel.
The Lou Gehrig Story was released on a DVD named Legends of Baseball, America's Pastime by PC Treasures, LLC. The disc also features The Jackie Robinson Story.
The only other episode of Climax! available on DVD is Gore Vidal's adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, retitled on Climax! as "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde". It stars Michael Rennie, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, and Lowell Gilmore; it is available in the DVD box set "Classic Sci-Fi TV - 150 Episodes" from Mill Creek Entertainment.
In an earlier episode of Climax!, an adaptation of Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye, actor Tristram Coffin, playing a dead body, arose in shot and walked off stage. The event was widely covered in the media of the day, later becoming an urban legend that was attributed to Peter Lorre and the previously mentioned adaptation of Casino Royale.
(in alphabetical order)