In 1977, Thayer David and Tom Mason starred in the made-for-TV movie based on The Doorbell Rang, intended as the pilot episode for a television series. Very soon after the pilot was completed (see information below regarding the pilot) Thayer David died (July, 17, 1978). The show was first telecast on late night TV in December. In addition to Mr. David's untimely death hampering the telecast of the show, the plot of The Doorbell Rang was a controversial treatment of the FBI.

Cast with Rebecca Stout Bradbury

The photo (click to see an enlargement) is of the series' cast with Rebecca Stout (daughter of Rex & Pola).  The series with William Conrad and Lee Horsley was eventually made rather quickly. The 14 episodes of the series ran from January through August, 1981 as a mid-season replacement.

The series was poorly received by many fans of the books due to its lack of adherence to the book's plots (even in those instances when the episode name corresponded to a book title) and Mr. Conrad's lack of similarity to Mr. Wolfe in appearance and personality.

The pilot is considered a good adaptation of the book's plot and characters. The pilot with Thayer David plus the episdoes with William Conrad are now available from Amazon on DVD:

might as well be deadEPISODES (sequentially):

  1. The Golden Spiders
  2. Death on the Doorstep
  3. Before I Die
  4. Wolfe at the Door
  5. Might As Well Be Dead
  6. To Catch a Dead Man
  7. In the Best of Families
  8. Murder by the Book
  9. What Happened to April?
  10. Gambit
  11. Death and the Dolls
  12. The Murder in Question
  13. Blue Ribbon Hostage
  14. Sweet Revenge

Lee Horsely and William ConradTV SERIES CAST:

  • William Conrad — Nero Wolfe
  • Robert Coote — Theodore Horstmann
  • Lee Horsley — Archie Goodwin
  • Allan Miller — Inspector Cramer
  • George Voskovec — Fritz Brenner
  • George Wyner — Saul Panzer

Thayer David with TheodorePILOT
The Doorbell Rang (Thayer David) 1977 (aired 1979)

Nero Wolfe Movie (Pilot) Cast:

  • Nero Wolfe Pilot Opening shotThayer David — Nero Wolfe
  • Tom Mason — Archie Goodwin
  • Brooke Adams — Sarah Dacos
  • Biff McGuire — Inspector Cramer
  • John Randolph — Lon Cohen
  • Anne Baxter — Mrs. Rachael Bruner
  • David Hurst — Fritz Benner
  • John O'Leary — Theodore Horstmann
  • Lewis Charles — Saul Panzer
  • Frank Campanella — Fred Durkin