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Johnny Staccato is an American private detective series which ran for twenty-seven episodes on NBC from September 10, 1959 through March 24, 1960.


Title character Johnny Staccato, played by John Cassavetes, is a jazz pianist/private detective. The setting for many episodes is a Greenwich Villagemarker jazz club belonging to his friend, Waldo, played by Eduardo Ciannelli. The show featured many musicians, such as Barney Kessel, Shelly Manne, Red Mitchell, Red Norvo, and Johnny Williams. Elmer Bernstein composed the main theme and Stanley Wilson was music supervisor. Cassavetes also directed some of the series episodes.

After its initial airing on NBC, ABC presented reruns of the series from March 27 to September 25, 1960.

Notable guest stars

Production notes

Johnny Staccato aired at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on Thursdays opposite ABC's sitcom, The Real McCoys, starring Walter Brennan and Richard Crenna, and CBS's western series, Johnny Ringo, starring Don Durant and Mark Goddard.


  1. The Naked Truth
  2. Murder for Credit
  3. The Parents
  4. The Shop of the Four Winds
  5. The Nature of the Night
  6. Viva Paco
  7. Evil
  8. Murder in Hi Fi
  9. Fly, Baby, Fly !
  10. Tempted
  11. The Poet's Touch
  12. The Unwise Men
  13. A Piece of Paradise
  14. The Return
  15. Collector's Item
  16. Man in the Pit
  17. The Only Witness
  18. Night of the Jeopardy
  19. Double Feature
  20. The List of Death
  21. Jessica Winthrop
  22. An Act of Terror
  23. An Angry Young Man
  24. The Mask of Jason
  25. A Nice Little Town
  26. Swinging Longhair
  27. The Wild Reed

In popular culture

  • The show was later parodied on SCTV as Vic Arpeggio (portrayed by Joe Flaherty), a saxophonist/private investigator whose cases were usually solved by accident. Arpeggio claimed to have been “framed” for drug possession, and that the detective gig was merely a sideline until he got his solo career back on track.

  • Thomas Pynchon references Johnny Staccato in his 2009 novel Inherent Vice, set in late 1960s Los Angeles. Pynchon's main character, private investigator Larry "Doc" Sportello, praises Staccato as "the shamus of shamuses," ranking him with past greats Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade.


  1. Alex McNeil, Total Television, New York: Penguin Books, 1997, p. 782
  2. Pynchon, Thomas. Inherent Vice. New York: Penguin, 2009, 97.

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