In loving memory of Steven Bochco we look at where all his Hill Street Blues stars are today
The show amassed huge success, both critically and commercially, and even garnered a reputation for NBC's 10pm slot – pioneering what is now called Thursday night's 'Must-See TV'.
While people were still getting acquainted with the police procedural genre, 1981's breakout series 'Hill Street Blues' came as a breath of fresh air; with its gritty depiction of reality and a combination of comedy and drama, hitherto unknown to the TV audience.
In the years to follow, the show amassed huge success, both critically and commercially, and even garnered a reputation for NBC's 10pm slot – pioneering what is now called Thursday night's 'Must-see TV'. And a major part of the credit for the show becoming an instant hit goes to creator Steven Bochco (also known for TV hits like NYPD Blue and L.A. Law) who died on Monday April 1.
It might have been more than 30 years since 'Hill Street Blues' went off the air, but the ensemble cast-boasting, 90-plus Emmy nomination-holding series still remains a classic. And with the recent passing of Bochco, we couldn't help but wonder where's the rest of 'Hill Street Blues' colorful cast.
Veronica Hamel as Joyce Davenport
Not for no reason was Hamel's portrayal of the fierce District Attorney Joyce Davenport considered iconic amidst the plethora of cop dramas. A successful and well-respected attorney on the professional front, in her personal life, however, Davenport was pursuing a romance with the recently-divorced detective, Frank Furillo. For the most part, the pair managed to keep their relationship under wraps, until they ultimately exchanged their vows at the end of season 3.
A series regular – from 1981 to 1987 – Hamel, before being cast in the iconic HSB role, was busy with her modeling assignments and was the last star to appear in the last-televised cigarette commercial in the U.S. After landing Davenport's role, however, the actress embraced her popularity, earning at least five Emmy nominations for the role.
Following the NBC show, Hamel has mostly stayed out of the limelight, making occasional appearances in the 1988 film 'A New Life', 2002's legal drama 'Philly', and most recently in the ABC series Lost.
Daniel J. Travanti as Captain Frank Furillo
Starring as Frank Furillo, Travanti's lead character was at the center of all the action in the cop drama. He began as a Lieutenant at the Hill Street Precinct and soon traced his way to a higher position. Throughout his journey as the man-in-charge, though, Furillo goes through a lot of phases and what is still remembered best is his banter with Daniels and his ex-wife Fay Furrilo. This is, of course, besides his secret romance and battles with alcoholism.
Born to Italian immigrant parents, Travanti's real-life issues (alcoholism) was frequently projected in his art. The multiple award-winning actor scored several critical roles after appearing in 'Hill Street Blues', including 1993's role in 'Missing Persons', a two-episode stint on 'Prison Break', Barry Patmore on 'Grey's Anatomy' and the recent 'NCIS: Los Angeles' part as Callen's father.
James B Sikking as Lt. Howard Hunter
Straight out of a war-torn Vietnam, Sikking's Howard Hunter landed as a Sergeant in the Hill Street station. Known for his staunch opinions on matters relating to race and ethnic topics, Hunter would earn quite a reputation amongst his colleagues. But that didn't stop him from expressing his thoughts or exerting his influence as the head of EAT (Emergency Action Team).
Sikking's time in showbiz began long before he stepped into the shoes of Lt. Howard, a role which has only added more feathers to his actor's cap. Since the NBC cop show, the 84-year-old American star has appeared in the TV movie, 'Doing Time on Maple Drive', and guest starred in shows like 'Bonanza', 'The Outer Limits', 'General Hospital' and more.
Betty Thomas as Lucille Bates
During the course of the show, Lucille "Lucy" Bates (played by veteran actress Thomas) and her partner Joe Coffey's unique love-hate relationship went on to become the talking point for fans. She was tough, perseverant, and extremely determined to prove her point, that is she is no less than any of the men in her precinct. It was this motivation that saw her climb the ranks towards the end.
Before taking on the gruff Sergeant's role, Thomas tried her luck with brief performances in 'Chesty Anderson, USN' and 'Used Cars'. With 'Hill Street Blues' catapulting the now-70-year-old actress into fame, Thomas went on to build a career as a director. She has directed many episodes of 'Hooperman' and hit HBO series 'Dream On'.
Having won an Emmy for Best Director, the actress also has multiple commercial hits to her name – 'The Brady Brunch Movie' and 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel'.
Bruce Weitz as Michael "Mick" Belker
His stature hardly affected his performance as a worthy undercover detective of the precinct. Even more iconic than his role were his insults – such as "dog breath" and "hair bag" which he generously used while addressing his enemies and even friends.
In the sixth season, Lt. Belker gets hitched to Robin Tataglia, and thus begins the next saga of his life.
Weitz too was among the HSB stars who won an Emmy in the Outstanding Supporting Actor category. Following his stint on the cop drama, the 74-year-old actor had a cameo in Bochco's subsequent show NYPD Blue. he has also guest starred as Bruno Mannheim on Superman: The Animated Series, The X-Files, and as Anthony Zacchara on General Hospital.
Michael Conrad as Lt. Philip Esterhaus
An officer widely regarded and respected in the station, Lt. Esterhaus – a character essayed by popular actor Conrad – was known for his daily roll call and his catchphrase: "Let's be careful out there". Unfortunately, in the fourth season, Conrad's immensely-popular character had to be put to rest due to a real-life crisis.
The actor, who has played many noteworthy roles both in films and on TV, passed away after his battle with urethral cancer in 1983 November. This meant an end of an era on HSB.
Michael Warren as Bobby Hill
In the show, Warren's character Officer Robert Eugene "Bobby" Hill, happened to be a trained boxer and was eventually paired with Renko. Although fiercely loyal to each other, Hill and his partner's eccentric work dynamics often served as interesting anecdotes for the fans.
The career-graph of the 72-year-old actor has been full of intrigue as he went from being a basketball champ to a showbiz star. With Hill Street Blues gaining popularity, though, Warren found himself appearing in other police procedurals as well.
He starred as the police officer, Willie Miller, in the CBS crime series Paris, and later played hustler-turned-entrepreneur Baron Marks in Showtime's Soul Food. However, his most recent stint was in a 2010 film, Anderson's Cross.