Silk Stalkings

Silk Stalkings
Genre Crime drama
Created by Stephen J. Cannell
Starring Rob Estes (1991–95)
Mitzi Kapture (1991–95)
William Anton (1991–96)
Charlie Brill (1993–99)
Tyler Layton (1996)
Nick Kokotakis (1996)
Chris Potter (1996–99)
Janet Gunn (1996–99)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 176 (list of episodes)
Running time 48 minutes
Production company(s) Stu Segall Productions
Stephen J. Cannell Productions Inc. (1991–1995)
Cannell Entertainment (1995–1999)
New World Entertainment (1995–1997)
Columbia Pictures Television (1995–1997)
20th Century Fox Television (1997–1999)
Original network CBS (seasons 1–2)
USA Network (seasons 3–8)
Original release November 7, 1991 – April 18, 1999

Silk Stalkings is a crime drama television series that premiered on CBS on November 7, 1991, as part of the network's late-night Crimetime After Primetime programming package. Broadcast for two seasons until CBS ended the Crimetime experiment in June 1993, the remaining six seasons ran exclusively on USA Network until the series finale in April 1999. The show was creator Stephen J. Cannell's longest running series. Its title is a wordplay on silk stockings.

The series portrays the daily lives of two detectives who solve sexual-based crimes of passion ("silk stalkings") among the ultra-rich of Palm Beach, Florida. Most episodes were shot in San Diego, California, while others were filmed in Scottsdale, Arizona.


Chris and Rita

From 199195, the lead characters were played by Rob Estes and Mitzi Kapture, as detectives Christopher Lorenzo and Rita Lee Lance, respectively. Early in the series, Ben Vereen played Rita's boss Captain Hutchinson ("Hutch"). Vereen was compelled to retire from the show during the second season due to an off-screen accident, but he returned for a few guest appearances. His successor was Lt. Hudson, played by Robert Gossett, who stayed on until the third season. Chris and Rita's new boss, who would stay with the show for its duration, was Charlie Brill as Captain Harry Lipschitz. Brill would go on to appear in the most episodes of any actor, 129, ahead of Kapture's 101 and Estes' 100. He was promoted to the opening credits starting with season six.

Brill's real-life wife Mitzi McCall played Lipschitz's free-spirited wife Frannie on the series, and the two provided some occasional comic relief amid the dramatic tension of the storylines. They also appeared in the second season playing completely different characters. Working prominently with Lorenzo and Lance was assistant district attorney George Donovan (William Anton). Various recurring characters came and went, notably Dennis Paladino as mob boss Donnie "Dogs" DiBarto (DiBelco in his first appearance); John Byner as Cotton Dunn, a cunning but likable con artist; Scott Atkins as Officer Perry, a rookie cop; Kim Morgan Greene as Melissa Cassidy, a late night radio talk show host, sex therapist, and old flame of Chris's; Danny Gans as Roger, a coroner who frequently (and unsuccessfully) tried to get Rita to go out with him; Marie Marshall as Solange, a local photographer with a faux French accent who crossed paths with Chris and Rita in the second season; and Lucy Lin, who played forensic expert Dr. Noriko Weinstein. Actress Freda Foh Shen took over Lin's role in later episodes. In the first season, it was shown that Rita suffered from occasionally intense headaches, which were caused by a blood bubble in her brain. Rita opted not to have surgery to fix this because it was deemed too high-risk. However, as the series went on, this condition was gradually phased out of the plot and was never mentioned again.

Estes and Kapture were equal co-stars. The opening credits would alternate, one week showing Estes first and then Kapture, the following week showing Kapture first and then Estes. The opening montage of quick cuts were "teasers" that suggested the sexy and violent subject matter of the show, but were not taken from any of the show's actual episodes. According to Stephen Cannell, in a DVD extra, they were developed initially as a promo, filmed and assembled by Ralph Hemecker in a single day of filming, and featuring a leggy blonde actress/model whom Cannell said was named Avalon Jones. In the first two episodes of the series, Kapture was shown first, and then Estes; they alternated after that, except for Kapture's final episode, in which she (and not Estes) appeared in the opening montage, followed by the two new co-stars.

Two off-screen events in the summer of 1995 were pivotal to the show and were worked into the storyline. Both actors were ready to leave the series, Estes to pursue other acting opportunities and Kapture to take time off for her first child.

Estes had first flirted with departure at the end of the third season (spring of 1994). The season ended in a cliffhanger episode, "Dark Heart", with Chris being shot by an obsessed woman, played by Crystal Chappell. Chris was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance as the closing credits rolled. After negotiations, Estes decided to renew his contract, and the fourth season (fall 1994) began with Chris' recovery from his near-fatal wounds in a two-part episode, "Natural Selection", that was later released on VHS as a two-hour film.

In the fifth season (fall 1995), Chris and Rita's mutual attraction finally moved from friendship to love in a two-part episode in November, called "Partners". Nick Kokotakis, as detective Michael Price, was introduced during that episode. Rita, who was promoted to Lieutenant, was soon confirmed to be pregnant (as was Kapture in real life), and Chris and Rita were married in an early December episode titled "Till Death Do Us Part". The next week's episode, "The Last Kiss Goodnight", ended with Chris being shot and killed in the line of duty.

Kapture appeared in one more episode, "Dead Asleep". This episode's credits featured Kapture, but not Estes, (for the only time in the series) as well as Kokotakis and Tyler Layton, who was introduced in the previous episode as Chris' new partner, detective Holly Rawlins. Most of the episode, which began with Rita, Harry and Frannie Lipschitz, Price, Rawlins and Donovan at Chris' burial, was spent focusing on Michael and Holly's first case. At the end of the show, the grief-stricken Rita spends one final scene talking to Chris at his gravesite, says goodbye to Lipschitz, and leaves the force for parts unknown.

Tom and Cassy

With Estes and Kapture gone from the show, Kokotakis and Layton took over the lead roles. Fans of the show did not embrace the new characters, and they were replaced after that half-season by Chris Potter and Janet Gunn. Gunn, who starred in the Primetime after Crimetime series Dark Justice as Kelly Cochrane in 1992 and '93, previously played a secretary arrested for murder in season 3.

Unlike the transition that was played out between Chris and Rita and Michael and Holly, no on-screen explanation was given for Michael and Holly's departure, and fans of the series sometimes refer to them as the "lost cast".[1] ADA George Donovan was also written out of the series at the end of season five, leaving Harry and Frannie Lipschitz as the lone holdovers from the Lance and Lorenzo episodes.

The detectives moved into an upgraded precinct in season seven.

The romantic chemistry between Potter and Gunn's characters, Tom Ryan and Cassandra St. John respectively (who, according to the story line, had been married to and divorced from one another before their arrival on the series), revived interest in the show and it rebounded in the ratings. After three additional seasons, USA canceled the series in 1999. The final episode of the final season, in spring 1999, placing Tom's career and relationship with Cassy on the rocks, was a cliffhanger with no resolution.


DVD releases

Anchor Bay Entertainment released the first five seasons of Silk Stalkings on DVD in Region 1 between 2004 and 2006. As of 2010, these releases have been discontinued and are out of print.

On October 14, 2009, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment had acquired the rights to several Stephen J. Cannell series including Silk Stalkings.[2] Season 1 was re-released on DVD on March 9, 2010.[3]

On October 22, 2013, Mill Creek Entertainment released seasons 6, 7 and 8 together in one collection entitled: Silk Stalkings - Seasons 6, 7 and 8: The Ryan and St. John Cases.[4]


All eight seasons are available on the video streaming website Hulu.


  1. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 1071. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
  2. Mill Creek Gets DVD Rights to 14 More Classic Stephen J. Cannell TV Programs! Archived February 14, 2011, at WebCite
  3. Silk Stalkings DVD news: Early Box Art for Silk Stalkings - Season 1 | Archived February 14, 2011, at WebCite
  4. Lambert, David (14 August 2013). "Silk Stalkings - Package Art Arrives for 'Seasons 6, 7 and 8: The Ryan and St. John Cases'". Retrieved 2014-09-02.
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