“Route 66” gets its kicks in Baltimore, Maryland

And Buz Murdock does geneology research at Pratt Library!

The Mud Nest
Route 66: Season 2, Episode 7
November 10, 1961


Maharis and Milner cruise through Mount Vernon Place

An encounter with a rural Maryland family bearing a striking resemblance to him leads Buz (George Maharis) to Baltimore where, with the help of a police detective, he searches for the woman who might be his mother.

Marty Milner and George Maharis get their kicks on "Route 66"

Marty Milner and George Maharis get their kicks on “Route 66”

By Tom Warner (Baltimore Or Less)

Yesterday, a patron stopped in the Sights & Sounds Department to admire the “sights and sounds” of the Enoch Pratt Central Library. Looking around, he commented, “Yep, the guys from Route 66 were in here, they were right over there.” Confused by his reference to a television show that aired some 50 plus years ago as if it was just yesterday, I responded with typical aplomb, “Huh???”

“You know that show that had the Adam-12 guy, Route 66?” he continued. “Oh, Marty Milner?” I replied. “Yeah, that’s him. And the other guy with the dark hair, Buz,” he added. “They were here, right in the library, because Buz was looking for his birth mother.” (Mental note: major props to Enoch Pratt’s geneological resources from Classic TV Land!)

Ah yes, that would be Tod Stiles and Buz Murdock, played by Marty Milner and George Maharis, respectively. From 1960-1964, these two young, restless road warriors traveled across America (though rarely on Route 66)  in their sporty Chevrolet Corvette on CBS’ popular Friday night drama series. One of the most appealing aspects of the show – besides its outstanding writing, groovy Nelson Riddle theme song, and a stellar cast of guest stars (many of whom – like William Shatner, Ed Asner, Julie Newmar, Lee Marvin, and future Adam-12 co-star Kent McCord – would go on to later fame and acclaim) –  was that it was filmed entirely on location, serving as a sort of dramatic travelogue throughout the U.S. at a time when the nation was much more provincial than today’s homogenized landscape with a Starbucks or Denny’s in every town.

Hess, MD served as the fictional town of Hester in "Route 66"

Hess, MD served as the fictional town of Hester in “Route 66”

Apparently, Me TV had recently aired “The Mud Nest” episode of Route 66, which opens in the fictional “nowhere bend in the road” hicktown “Hester” (based on the very real town of Hess, MD) and the nearby Sunnybrook Farms (where Milner and Maharis run out of gas a block south of the intersection of Jarretsville Pike and Merryman’s Mill Road) before heading to Charm City.


Lon Chaney, Jr. as Colby

While in the sticks, orphan Buz learns that he’s related to the Colby clan (with George Maharais’s real-life siblings – brothers Mark and Hank and sister Cleopatra – making cameo appearances), and meets a cantakerous relation, Grandpa Colby, who’s played by Lon Chaney, Jr. Colby gives Buz a picture of his alleged birth mother, Dorothea, whom Buz never knew.

In Baltimore, the boys drive past the Washington Monument, the Baltimore Sun building (featuring a scene with Evening Sun reporter Phil Evans), The Block (including the Circus Bar, where the boys take in a show and Buz gets some vital info from a bar floozie)…


The stage show at the Circus Bar on Baltimore’s Block


Buz helps a Circus Bar floozie pay the rent in exchange for geneological research

…up N. Charles Street (where Buz meets Lt. Tagelar, a Missing Persons detective played by Ed Asner, at the old Pine Street police station)…

A young Ed Asner played a Baltimore detective who tracks down missing persons

…and then on to the Enoch Pratt Central Library.


The Enoch Pratt Central Library, 400 Cathedral Street, Mount Vernon

Buz and Tod enter the Pratt Library's Main Hall

Buz and Tod enter the Pratt Library’s Main Hall

At the library, Tod and Buzz seek evidence that Buz’s mom existed by checking City Directories in the mezzanine of what is now the Sights & Sounds Department.


Buz and Tod ascend the Sights & Sounds Dept.’s mezzanine


Polk’s Baltimore City Directories


Buz and Tod flip through Baltimore City Directories


Buz finds Dorothea Colby of Ensor Street in the Baltimore City Directory

After concluding their library research, Buz and Tod head to the last known address of Buz’s alleged mother Dorothea Colby, a vacant lot on Ensor Street…


…then head over to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where Buz has an emotional encounter with nurse Dorothea Colby, who he believes may be his mother. Interestingly, Dorothea Colby is played by veteran actress Betty Field, whose most acclaimed film role was as Mae in Of Mice and Men (1939), where she played opposite none other than Grandpa Colby, Lon Chaney, Jr.!


The Mother and Child Reunion: George Maharis with Betty Field

For a guide to all the Baltimore pitstops in this episode, check out Doug Dawson’s excellent photos and commentary at www.ohio66.com, as well as Frederick N. Rasmussen’s “Heading back down Route 66Baltimore Sun article (June 3, 2012).

According to the Sun‘s Rasmussen, the following week’s episode, “A Bridge Across Five Days” (Season 2, Episode 8, November 17, 1961), finds the boys still in Baltimore, temporarily working as welders at the Bethlehem Steel Key Highway shipyard. The plot involves guest star Nina Foch playing the role of Lillian Aldrich, a former mental patient at Spring Grove State Hospital now working as a clerk at the shipyard. Lillian becomes friendly with the boys, but after an altercation with Buz sets her off, a hysterical Lillian moves into a boarding house for the mentally ill on Frederick Road and Paradise Avenue in Catonsville. The episode was directed by Richard Donner, who would go on to direct such Hollywood hits as Superman, The Goonies, and Lethal Weapon, not to mention the indie cult film Inside Moves (a personal fave), featuring a script by Barry Levinson.


Beth Steel welders Tod and Buz chat with new shipyard clerk Nina Foch

For a guide to all the locations in the “A Bridge Across Five Days” episode, once again check out Doug Dawson’s detailed post at www.ohio66.com.

You can watch the entire “Mud Nest” and “A Bridge Across Five Days” episodes (and all Route 66 episodes, for that matter) at hulu.com (which requires Flash Player or higher) and ovguide.com. They are also available on the Route 66: Season 2 DVD released by Shout! Factory in 2012.

Related Links:

Ohio66.com (“Route 66” filming locations web site)
Heading back down Route 66” (Baltimore Sun)
Me TV: “Route 66”
“Route 66” (Hulu.com)
“Route 66” (ovguide.com)

This entry was posted in "The Block", 1960s, Baltimore Films, Decades, Media, Mount Vernon, Neighborhoods, Nightlife, Roadside Attractions, Television, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “Route 66” gets its kicks in Baltimore, Maryland

  1. Ruth Hasseler says:

    Every time the subject of “Route 66”, the tv show, comes up, I think about how, one afternoon when I was in third grade and walking home from school (down Frederick Road) in Catonsville, there was a crowd gathered around what turned out to be a shoot for the show. My family didn’t watch it, but I did recognize Milner and Maharis from pictures I had seen. This would have been 1960-61, and I often thought I had imagined it. But I see that I was probably right…cool!

  2. Tom McKeever says:

    I purchased the entire DVD set of the series. I started to research the filming locations of every episode. The story that is told of each is just as interesting as the show itself.

  3. Randolph Banbury says:

    I viewed taping of Rt.66 in Catonsville, Md (60-61).Filming was on Frederick Rd at Maiden Choice La., at theTrolley turn around stop, just above my street, Briarwood Rd.Additional filming was done at a single standing home a couple blocks down Frederick Rd. Nina Fouch was the star at this location.

  4. Lawrence Fearon says:

    Fantastic ! I love this Route 66 connection with The Block!

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