3 Fun TV and Radio Dramas About Photographers

Photojournalist as conquering hero and Hollywood glamour photographer as sleazebag, TV and radio shows from the recent past portray cameramen as predictable-but-likable stereotypes. Thanks to YouTube and SiriusXM we can still enjoy the exploits of these 1950s photogs.From the cringeworthy libertine portrayed by Robert Cummings in Love that Bob to the rough-and-tumble daredevil brought to life by Charles Bronson in Man with a Camera, America has had an appetite for drama surrounding mysterious-but-talented photographers. Here are my favorite camera shows.

Photographer Bob at work. Sort of.

1. Love that Bob
Robert Cummings stars as a studio glamour photographer who specializes in trying to be alone with his sumptuous female models. His antagonist, played by Ann B. Davis, better known as housekeeper Alice in The Brady Bunch, always finds a way to wedge in between, and Bob is constantly blocked. Also look for Dwayne Hickman who plays Bob’s nephew and later starred in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.

Catch an episode here. They’re all formula stories with overly simple plots, but they deliver the canned laughter and happy outcomes that the optimistic world expected in the mid-50s.

2. Man with a Camera
None other than Charles Bronson of Death Wish fame stars in this TV series, which mercifully ended in early 1960. As Mike Kovac, Bronson romps his way through exciting plot twists and defeats hackneyed  adversaries to emerge as the hero with a Graflex.

How this lasted through nearly 30 episodes is anyone’s guess, but catching a couple of them on YouTube when there are no new cat videos to watch can be fun. Take a look at this show and see if you can identify the spy camera used in the opening scene. I have my guess. What’s yours?

3. Casey Crime Photographer
Although this ran as a television show in the content vacuum of the early 1950s, the Casey franchise also played out in other forms of mass media, including a radio version which ran for more than a decade. The formula is simple, and that’s part of its charm. Jack Casey and his platonic gal-pal newspaper reporter Ann Williams solve crimes and explore the human tragicomedy as they cover the news.Jack Casey, AKA Flashgun Casey, at work. Gotta dig the classic fedora and trench coat. 

Listen on SiriusXM (channel 148) or buy the material on spinning media from Amazon. Or you can download the 8-hour, 16-episode MP3 from the Radio Classics website.

Did we miss any? If you know of any other TV or radio programs themed around photography or photographers, please post.

—Jon Sienkiewicz

rmatason's picture

Looks like a MINOX camera in the opening scenes. Used to watch this show as a kid and it got me interested in photography. One episode had Mike use a portable darkroom (foot locker) in his car. Fun show. I've spent my life as a photographer, military and civilian. Bought a Crown Graphic with my paper route earnings in the early 60s. Used that camera for 25 years. Sure the show plots are corny now but they were exciting to a pre-teen back then.

Oh, another TV photographer... Felix Unger in the Odd Couple.