MovieChat Forums > The New Mike Hammer Discussion > How many diff. actors Mike Hammers?

How many diff. actors Mike Hammers?

How many different actors have portrayed Mike Hammer? I know of Stacy Keach (twice actually), Armand Assante, Kevin Dobson, Darrin McGavin, and there was a movie made in the 50's--but I can't remember the actor's name. Who did I miss?


Hey Larry,

Your thread title caught my eye, and since I liked the Mike Hammer shows, I thought I would give the thread a look. After reading your post, do I ever feel like I missed the barn by about 12 yards. My idea of the Mike Hammer shows were 2 of them: the one from the 50s starring Darrin McGavin, and the Stacy Keach show from the 80s. I have no memory whatsoever of any shows starring Armand Assante and Kevin Dobson as Mike Hammer. I told you before, the whole world just goes right over my head.

I remember Assante from a number of shows I cannot specify, but I can clearly remember Dobson from Kojak, and I know I should remember Dobson from some other shows also.

I really liked McGavin's show back in the 50s, but I have seen about a dozen or so of them about a year ago, and while they brought back some fond memories, the shows did seem really dated to me today. I suspect if I would see Keach's Hammer now, it might play a good bit better than McGavin's. That does not mean I liked Keach better than McGavin; I simply think the passing of time was harder on the older version.

Another thing about Stacey Keach's show, it had the best theme song, "Harlem Nocturne." I love that wailing sax.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile


Hey David,

Here we go again. I have always really liked the Stacey Keach theme song for the same reason as you -- the wailing sax. Stacey Keach reprised the Hammer role in the late 90's for a season as a syndicated show. It was very much like the 80's version, except Stacey Keach was older and fatter in the 90's version.

Kevin Dobson played 'Hammer' in a made-for-TV movie that premiered shortly before the Keach series began in the 80's, and was fairly good as I remember it. The Assante version was a theatrical movie, and was quite wild and violent as I recall. The 'Hammer' movie made in 50's wasn't too good, and came out before the Darren McGavin series.

Darrin McGavin's series was a syndicated series, and while I liked it, it was simply a typical 50's crime fighting drama. Interestingly, Darrin McGavin again played a private eye in the 60's, on a series titled "The Outsider". It began as a made-for-TV movie (they were quite popular in those days), and the ratings were good enough to spawn a series. I remember watching the movie when it premiered in 1968, and I have recently watched it again, and it is very good. The series was mediocre however, and it was cancelled after only one season. (I have a recorded episode in which Rick Jason guest starred).


Here's the count:

I, THE JURY (1953 with Biff Elliot & Margaret Sheridan)

MIKE HAMMER (1954 UNSOLD TV pilot with Brian Keith)

KISS ME DEADLY (1955 with Ralph Meeker & Maxine Cooper)

MY GUN IS QUICK (1957 with Robert Bray & Pamela Duncan)

Mickey Spillane's MIKE HAMMER (1958 TV series with Darren McGavin)

THE GIRL HUNTERS (1963 with Mickey Spillane)

I, THE JURY (1982 with Armand Assante & Laurene Landon)

MARGIN FOR MURDER (1982 TV-movie with Kevin Dobson & Cindy Pickett)

MURDER ME, MURDER YOU (1983 TV-movie with Stacy Keach & Tanya Roberts)

MORE THAN MURDER (1984 TV-movie with Stacy Keach & Lindsay Bloom)

Mickey Spillane's MIKE HAMMER (1984 TV series with Stacy Keach & Lindsay Bloom)


THE NEW MIKE HAMMER (1986 TV series, ditto)

MURDER TAKES ALL (1989 TV-movie, ditto)

COME DIE WITH ME (1994 TV-movie with Rob Estes & Pamela Anderson)

MIKE HAMMER, PRIVATE EYE (1997 TV series with Stacy Keach & Shannon Whirry)

So, yes, MURDER ME, MURDER YOU was Stacy Keach's debut. As far as I know, the only actor to play "Mike Hammer" since Keach was Rob Estes, who had Pamela Anderson as his Velda. But that didn't go over too well, so about a year later, Keach came back for more new episodes made for syndication.


Hey Profh-1,

Thank you for the "count", you did a bit of research I see. It looks like I was aware of most of the later ones, but totally missed the Rob Estes movie. Once again, thanks for the shoutout.




The only 2 I've never seen are Brian Keith & Darren McGavin. Also, I was only able to see the first few episodes of the later Keach syndication series. The local cable channel kept screwing the schedule over so bad, it never seemed to be on at any regular time, and when it was, it was very late at night.

Trivia: McGavin as "Carl Kolchak" and Keach as "Mike Hammer" drove the SAME CAR-- a '64 Mustang.

I really wish the company who had the rights to those 3 books in the 50's had done all 3 films with Biff Elliot. He really was terrific. Talked like a Neanderthal, but totally incorruptible, and, he figured out a plot I found impossible to decipher. Also, his office was in the Brill Building ("DEMON WITH A GLASS HAND"), and his Velda was the girl from "THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD".

Ralph Meeker could have been great... but Robert Aldrich held the character and the material in UTTER CONTEMPT, and he & his script-writer set out to do a movie that would make Hammer look bad all over. I want a tough hero, not someone who's almost as sleazy as the bad guys. Robert Bray's film had almost no budget, but even he was a step up, morally, from the previous film.

What I can't understand is, considering how "dark" movies got in the 70's, with more and more sex and violence and moral ambiguity, WHY didn't anyone ever make a Mike Hammer movie in the 70's? it would have been a perfect fit!

I liked Armand Assante for what he was, but he waasn't "Mike Hammer". And his Velda, while pretty, wasn't tough enough. Kevin Dobson & Cindy Pickett were both HUGE improvements-- too bad THEY weren't in the remake of "I, THE JURY". As much as I got to love watching Stacy Keach, it'a a mystery to me why they didn't bring Kevin Dobson back. On the other hand, my FAVORITE Velda was Tanya Roberts. I wish she'd have come back for the series.

Estes & Anderson were interesting... but that film-- set in FLORIDA, with the main character becoming a P.I. living on a boat because he was inspired by the movie "TONY ROME"-- would have been better if they'd called it anything other than "Mike Hammer".

Finally-- as an aside-- check out "The Devil In The Dark" episode of STAR TREK. Biff Elliot is the first one to DIE in that!


Mike hammered a lot of different actors. He was SUPER gay.