I like vintage late 50s/early 60s TV shows like ‘Route 66’ (mentioned in an earlier MyStar piece) because they give me a better sense of the cars and culture from a different era.
I picked ‘Mr. Lucky’ because I never saw it on its first run. There were many good reasons pre-school me couldn’t see this show because of things like the time slot and Mr. Lucky’s 50s style adult plots. You could put ‘Mr. Lucky’ on the Disney Channel in 2024, but 65 years ago this show was radioactive because it didn’t fit normal 50s moral codes.
Mr. Lucky (played by John Vivyan) was a career gambler and he hung out with shady ‘syndicate’ (their word–not mine) guys–Lucky wasn’t exactly Ozzie Nelson—or even Al Bundy.
Lucky’s business partner was called Andamo (played by Ross Martin) and they ran a gambling boat on the ocean just outside the jurisdiction of the local police. These guys had more brawls in one half-hour show than Jim Rockford had in two seasons of hour-long shows because they were constantly dealing with lowlifes.
‘Mr. Lucky’ was sponsored by Chrysler. That was clear in the first episode when Lucky and Andamo flee an unnamed South American country run by an incompetent dictator. They do this exit in a 1959 Plymouth and get chased by a non-Mopar (at the time) Jeep.
More Jeeps jump into the chase. Lucky careens around a few unnamed South American country roads–but he does escape the bad guys.
Lucky and Andamo set up the gambling boat near an unnamed—but clearly West Coast city. Lucky rolls in a ‘59 Imperial convertible and the police still drive ’59 Plymouths, so if you believe the storyline– Chrysler had its fingers in a lot of countries.
For the record, the taxis are all Plymouths—some are 1958 Plymouths, but most are ’59 models. This is where fiction is closer to truth because Plymouths were definitely a prime choice for cab drivers in 1959.
The ’59 Plymouth four-door sedan was also the choice of the broken-nose bad guys in Mr. Lucky.
I guess the thugs knew value and reliability was something they needed. The higher-end bad guys all drove Imperial limos because they clearly didn’t care about sticker shock.
Lucky loves the open-air experience of a ’59 Imperial convertible. This was an odd decision given how many syndicate guys wanted to fill him with lead, but a ’59 Imperial convertible had all the style and flair a hip professional gambler needed in the late 50s.
The Imperial convertible was dumped and replaced with a 1960 Chrysler New Yorker convertible. Lucky must have wanted a smaller version of a large Mopar convertible—he picked a beauty.
I’ve seen a few ’60 Chrysler 300F convertibles at shows but I’ve never seen a ’60 New Yorker convertible. In my opinion they’re just as cool—just not as fast.
‘Mr. Lucky’ only ran for one season because it was the victim of time slot fit and advertisers who weren’t crazy about sponsoring a TV show with a chronic gambler for a lead character.
By: Jerry Sutherland
Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post, Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.
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