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Vega$ was a detective drama that aired on ABC between 1978 and 1981. It was produced by Aaron Spelling. The series was filmed in its entirety in Las Vegas, Nevada (with the exception of special episodes in Hawaii & San Francisco). The show starred Robert Urich as detective Dan Tanna, who drove around the streets of Las Vegas in a red 1957 Ford Thunderbird solving crimes and making Las Vegas a better place for residents and tourists alike.

Dan Tanna was a detective that was available for private hire. One of his chief clients was Phil Roth (Tony Curtis) who was the owner of the Desert Inn Hotel/Casino/Country Club in Las Vegas. Tanna was always called in, when something was awry at the hotel. Many times this involved the criminal element, although he was sometimes brought in to investigate the absurd. One example included a nun who claimed to own the land on which the Desert Inn stood, when she was bequeathed an old deed from a prospector who passed away. (To further complicate matters, she initially wanted to turn the hotel into a convent)

Tanna lived on the Las Vegas Strip next to Circus Circus Hotel/Casino, in a warehouse owned by the Desert Inn, in which he converted into his living place. Tanna's pad (long before the popularity of loftspace) had the unique ability for him to be able to park his T-bird in his living room. Tanna also used gadgets that were very high-tech for the time (but are pretty common place today) such as a car-phone and an answering machine (that physically picked the phone up off the hook and the receiver spoke directly into the microphone of a tape recorder).

Tanna's choice of weapon was a .357 magnum that he didn't like to use, but would if the situation deemed necessary. Most often Tanna would use more non-lethal means, such as his fists.

Tanna often did battle with many of the various criminal element that would threaten the desert oasis. Some villains he faced included a psychopath who thought he was Wayne Newton (and subsequently Newton was impersonating him), as well as a mafia boss named Martin Gleaver (Tom Simcox) who blackmailed a magic sisters act with photographs of "all the sick/weird things they used to do" referring to when they used to host risque Hollywood parties.

The Cast of the TV show Vega$. (from left to right) Tony Curtis as Phillip Roth, Judy Landers as Angie, Phyllis Davis as Beatrice, Robert Urich as Dan Tanna

Tanna was a veteran of the Vietnam conflict. This was illustrated through flashbacks in various episodes. It is curious however that during these flashbacks, he was participating in ground combat. In a later episode, where he gets mixed-in with a case involving a defector from the Soviet Union, he shows up to Nellis Air Force Base, in his old United States Air Force uniform. (The Air Force was rarely, if ever, involved in direct ground combat during Vietnam) He is also referred to as "Captain Tanna" indicating that he was an officer. He served with his best friends Harlon Twoleaf (Will Sampson), the chief of a local Native American tribe, and Mitch Costegian (Chick Venerra), a Vegas lounge singer. Both Twoleaf and Costegian would occasionaly join Tanna in investigating various mysteries.

Tanna of course would not be effective without a good supporting cast. Phyllis Davis played Beatrice, his assistant who is a single mom and a former showgirl. There is evidence that she was married before, but her husband had passed away. Although she and Tanna made a dashing couple, their relationship seemed to be purely platonic. Greg Morris played Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Lt. David Nelson. Nelson was a no-nonsense cop that often had Tanna's back (and he, his). While Nelson was never one to breach protocol, he often secretly assisted Tanna in cases the police couldn't officially touch. Bart Braverman played Binzer, who did Dan Tanna's leg work and usually provided comic relief. In the beginning of the series, Binzer was a petty thief. Tanna seemed to have taken him under his wing and used his knowledge and connections of the street. Audrey Landers played Dan Tanna's other assistant, Angie, who was also a showgirl, but unlike the savvy Beatrice, was usually an airhead and would get things screwed up. She appeared only during the first season.

The series featured numerous performances & cameos by notable guest stars including, Dean Martin, Kim Basinger, Melanie Griffith, Kim Cattrall, Abe Vigoda, Morey Amsterdam, Shelley Fabares, Shelly Berman, Alex Trebek, Sid Caesar, Slim Pickens, Isabel Sanford, Maureen McCormick, Cesar Romero, Doc Severinsen, Mamie Van Doren, Muhammad Ali, Robert Loggia, Leslie Nielsen, Lola Falana, Minnesota Fats, Eve Arden, Barbi Benton, Lisa Hartman, Shelley Winters, Wayne Newton, Captain & Tennille, Wolfman Jack, Tanya Roberts, Lorne Greene, Erin Gray, Gary Lockwood, June Lockhart, & Dick Butkus.


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Check out our Vega$ forum! Do you have a favorite episode of the show? What do you remember about the series? Do you have any questions about it or its stars? Now you can post comments and questions directly to our TV forums! Click here to see what other Vega$ viewers have said or to post your own comments about the show!

Your Memories Shared!

My two favorite episodes were Serve Volley and Kill. and The French Twist. Both of these episodes had a guest star named Randolph Mantooth. He was so good in both of these very different roles.


Note: This is just a random sample of the Vega$ messages in our TV forums! Click here to see what others have said or to post your own comments!



Aired: September 20, 1978 - September 16, 1981

Cast: Robert Urich, Phyllis Davis, Tony Curtis

Network: ABC

Genre: Detective Drama

Theme song

Image courtesy of ABC

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

With the exception of the Wikipedia article above, everything else is...

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