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!