The Streets of San Francisco

For the punk rock album, see The Streets of San Francisco (album). For streets in the city itself, see List of streets in San Francisco. For for the movie, see Streets of San Francisco (film).
The Streets of San Francisco
Genre Crime drama
Based on Poor, Poor Ophelia by Carolyn Weston
Developed by Edward Hume
Directed by William Hale
Starring Karl Malden as Det. Lt. Mike Stone, shield # 2248
Michael Douglas as Inspector Steve Keller (1972–76)
Richard Hatch as Inspector Dan Robbins (1976-77)
Theme music composer Patrick Williams (composer)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 121 (list of episodes)
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) QM Productions
Warner Bros. Television
Distributor Worldvision Enterprises (?-1999)
Paramount Domestic Television (1999-2006)
CBS Paramount Domestic Television (2006-07)
CBS Television Distribution (2007-present)
Original network ABC
Original release September 16, 1972 (1972-09-16) – June 9, 1977 (1977-06-09)

The Streets of San Francisco is a 1970s television crime drama filmed on location in San Francisco, California, and produced by Quinn Martin Productions, with the first season produced in association with Warner Bros. Television (QM produced the show on its own for the remainder of its run).

It starred Karl Malden and Michael Douglas as two detectives in San Francisco. The show ran for five seasons, between 1972 and 1977 on ABC, amassing a total of 119 60-minute episodes.[1]

The series started with a pilot movie of the same title (based on the detective novel Poor, Poor Ophelia by Carolyn Weston) a week before the series debuted. Edward Hume, who wrote the teleplay for the pilot, was credited as having developed the series based on characters in Weston's novel. The pilot featured guest stars Robert Wagner, Tom Bosley and Kim Darby. Douglas left the series at the start of its final season and was replaced by Richard Hatch.

The Series


Malden (right) as Mike Stone, with David Wayne as Wally Sensibaugh in "In the Midst of Strangers" (Season 1, Episode 8)

The Streets of San Francisco debuted on ABC on Saturday, September 16, 1972, at 9 p.m. Eastern, competing against two popular CBS sitcoms, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show. After Streets gained attention on Saturday nights during the first season, the show was moved to Thursday, where it stayed for the remainder of the run, beginning with the second season, competing against other successful 1970s crime dramas, in different timeslots.

By all accounts Malden and Douglas developed a strong professional and personal relationship from their time on the series. Twenty years after last working together on an episode they were both onstage at the 1996 People's Choice Awards. Malden referred to Douglas as "the son I never had" and mentioned that he had wanted producer Quinn Martin to cast Douglas on the series. Douglas responded to the compliment by calling Malden "my mentor," and both also expressed that they enjoyed working together on the show.


Douglas (left) as Steve Keller, with Janice Rule as Beverly Landau in "The First Day of Forever" (Season 1, Episode 2).

The show revolved around two police officers who investigated homicides in San Francisco. The center of the series was a veteran cop and widower, Lt Michael Stone, star # 2248, (played by Karl Malden), who had more than twenty years of police experience and was now assigned to the Homicide Detail of SFPD's Bureau of Inspectors (ex: Detective Division). He was partnered with a young, plainclothes detective and energetic partner, Assistant Inspector Steve Keller (played by Michael Douglas), a college graduate, aged twenty-eight, who had no experience in the police force. Stone would become a second father to Keller as he learned the rigors and procedures of detective work. Eventually, Keller was promoted to full inspector. As the series went on, Douglas became a star in his own right. Mike's daughter, Jeannie Stone (Darleen Carr), made occasional appearances.

After the second episode of the fifth and final season, Douglas left the show after successfully producing the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which won the Academy Award for Best Film for 1975.[1] He in turn would also establish a film career. His character's absence was explained by having him take a teaching position at a local college, while Lt. Stone was partnered with another detective, Insp. Dan Robbins (played by Richard Hatch), who had started his career on the ABC soap All My Children and would later go on to Battlestar Galactica. The change was not popular with audiences, and the show ended in 1977, due to low ratings. Also in 1977, writer James J. Sweeney won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his teleplay for the season four episode "Requiem for Murder".

Broadcast History

Sep 1972 – Jan 1973: Sat at 9:00–10:00 ET

Jan 1973 – Aug 1974: Thu at 10:00–11:00 ET

Sep 1974 – Sep 1976: Thu at 9:00–10:00 ET

Sep 1976 – Jun 1977: Thu at 10:00–11:00 ET[2]

When the show debuted, it was slotted as counter programming opposite CBS' popular Saturday night situation comedies. Starting in January, 1973, ABC shook up its lineup and shuffled a number of its programs around, and moved it to Thursday's night, where it remained for the rest of its run. In the United Kingdom, the series debuted on 19 November 1973.


Both Malden and Douglas spent time with SFPD detectives in order to lend an air of authenticity to the show. SFPD Detectives took a liking to both Malden and Douglas, whom they characterized as "very fine fellows". Unlike subsequent generations of television production the show made an effort to insinuate itself as seamlessly as possible into the fabric of the city. The series was filmed entirely on location in San Francisco. A warehouse converted to an interior scenes sound stage was located at the dead end of Kearny Street below Telegraph Hill, across from 1855 Kearny Street currently adjoined to 150 Chestnut Street, where it still stands today. In the series, the Inspectors' unmarked Ford 4-door sedan would respond to an emergency after placing a single lamp revolving magnetic red light on the roof. This was contrary to authentic unmarked SFPD vehicles, which used a forward steady-burning red handheld spotlight (pursuant to California Vehicle Code section 25252) which hung by a hook to the top inside front windshield. The studio prop black and white marked SFPD radio cars were authentic-looking with one exception: in early episodes the studio cars had twin 2-lamp revolving roof-mounted red lights or 2 roof-mounted forward steady-burning red lights on opposite sides of the center 4-lamp revolving red light, while authentic marked SFPD black-and-white radio car roof-mounted emergency lights had one forward steady-burning red light and one rear-facing flashing amber light on opposite sides of the center 4-lamp revolving red light.


The series was sponsored by Ford Motor Company, and half of the vehicles shown were new Ford cars. In the early episodes, Keller and Stone drives a brown 1971 Ford Galaxie 4 door sedan and the entire SFPD cruiser fleet consists of Ford Galaxies.

Guest stars

Many actors guest-starred on the show; some were relatively unknown at the time and became successful stars in their own feature films or television series. Guest stars included: Dean Stockwell, Pernell Roberts, Edmond O'Brien, Ricky Nelson, Ron Glass, Susan Dey, Marion Ross, Van Williams, Paula Kelly, Don Johnson, Tom Selleck, Leslie Nielsen, James Woods, Nick Nolte, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Martin Sheen, Dabney Coleman, David Wayne, Vera Miles, Brenda Vaccaro, Desi Arnaz, Jr., Tony Young, Cal Bellini, Marshall Colt, Pat Conway, Patty Duke, Denver Pyle, Richard Egan, Richard Eastham, Rodolfo Hoyos, Jr., Vivi Janiss, Don Keefer, Wright King, Flip Mark, Nora Marlowe, John Ritter, Robert Wagner, Wayne Maunder, Dick Van Patten, Mark Hamill, Stefanie Powers, Tom Bosley, Larry Hagman, Tim O'Connor, Bill Bixby, John Davidson, Eve McVeagh, Norman Fell, Anthony Geary, Charles Aidman, Beverly Washburn, Michael Constantine, Len Birman, Paul Michael Glaser, David Soul, Luther Adler, Laurie Heineman, Larry Pennell and Meredith Baxter, among many others. Even Michael Douglas's own mother, Diana Douglas, guest-starred in a season two episode, "Chapel of the Damned". Character actor Robert F. Simon appeared eight times as Captain Rudy Olsen. Gary Vinson appeared toward the end of his career.



On January 27, 1992, a reunion TV movie, Back to the Streets of San Francisco, was aired. Douglas, by now a major Hollywood star, did not appear. However, Darleen Carr did return as Mike Stone's daughter Jeannie.

DVD releases

Region 1 / Region 4

CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) has released all five seasons The Streets of San Francisco on DVD in Region 1, and the first two seasons in Region 4. All seasons have been released in two volume sets. Season 4 was released in Region 1 on August 28, 2012,[3] followed by the final season 5 on October 30, 2012.[4]

DVD Name Ep # the Release dates
Region 1 Region 4
Season 1, Volume 1 16 April 10, 2007 October 1, 2009
Season 1, Volume 2 13 September 25, 2007 October 1, 2009
Season 2, Volume 1 11 July 1, 2008 October 1, 2009
Season 2, Volume 2 12 November 11, 2008 October 1, 2009
Season 3, Volume 1 11 July 3, 2012 N/A
Season 3, Volume 2 12 July 3, 2012 N/A
Season 4, Volume 1 11 August 28, 2012 N/A
Season 4, Volume 2 12 August 28, 2012 N/A
Season 5, Volume 1 12 October 30, 2012 N/A
Season 5, Volume 2 12 October 30, 2012 N/A

Region 2

Paramount Home Entertainment has released the first two seasons of Streets of San Francisco on DVD in the UK.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1 26 August 18, 2008[5]
Season 2 23 September 14, 2009[6]


  1. 1 2 Brebner, Anne; Morrison, John. "Aspect Ratio - March 2011". Blip TV. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
  2. Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (1979). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows : 1946 - Present (1. ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. p. 593. ISBN 0-345-25525-9.
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