20 'Barney Miller' Little-Known Facts
Were you a big fan of "Barney Miller" in the 70s and 80s? Well, we have a few unexpected facts about this hit TV series that may be news to you! For eight seasons, this show brought us drama and comedy, and now its time to take a walk down memory lane. Let's unpack all of Barney's hidden secrets!
The Show's Details
This hit series chronicled the journey of the Captain of the NYPD 12th Precinct along with his team as they tackle various local troubles in and around their city. The series won multiple awards, such as a DGA Award and a Primetime Emmy Award for its creat storyline.
"We had the opportunity to work on each scene individually. We didn't stop when the words were right and the camera work was right. ... We stopped when we thought the scene was right and the relationships were right. ... it's still inherently funny in the relationships."
20. From Crook To Cop
Do you remember two of the main stars, Steve Landesberg And Ron Carey? Well, these actors both had to transform their acting history in order to perfect their detective roles. They had previously starred in the role of a felon and had to switch into the "good guy" gear pretty swiftly!
19. The Truth About The Coffee
Some fans may know that the show had one long-standing joke about Soo's ability to make coffee. He was rumored to make a terrible pot or cup! They lifted a cup of coffee for the character on his last day in the series world. The act of raising their glasses of coffee was special and unscripted!
18. The Original Title For The Show Is Not What You Expected
The original title for this beloved series was not meant to be "Barney Miller." Can you guess what it was set to be called once upon a time? "The Life And Times Of Captain Barney Miller." When the pilot flopped in 1974, they hit the refresh button and went with a shorter name (a name we know love!).
17. The Wife Swap You Might Have Missed
Barney Miller's wife underwent a radical change that most fans must have noticed! Abby Dalton was cast in the original show but was replaced in the new version of the series that was released after the pilot. Barney's new wife was portrayed by the lovely actress Barbara Barrie.
16. Many Characters Were Missing From The Credits
You probably recognize the names, Hal Linden And Max Gail. This is mainly because they were the only actors to be featured in the opening credits! Many actors who were regular cast members never gained a spot on the opening credits list, and this remained the case for the entire show!
15. Was The Laughter Real Or Not?
Fans often speculated that the series producers used a laughter backtrack to add some comedy to the show, but this was not always true. The show started in front of a studio audience where the filming was candid and garnered a gaggle of giggles every single episode.
The series did eventually move on to laughter tapes as well as applause tracks. This occurred toward the end of the show's run and may be linked to budget constraints or the ease that came without having to entertain a live audience. Some people believe this change led to the end of the series...
14. One Actor Played Many Roles
Have you heard of "recycling actors?" Well, Barney Miller is well known for this. A specific actor or actress was often asked to play a completely different character a few seasons or episodes later. They would take on a different role and not think twice about their former parts on the same show.
13. Why We Should Thank John Rich
John Rich is the man to thank if you are a fan of Barney Miller. He enjoyed the series and consequently spoke to the executives who had to decide about its fate on TV. The star's excellent work on "All In The Family" made producers trust his views, and the rest is Barney-Miller-history.
12. Los Angeles Or New York?
You may have been fooled into thinking this series was born and bred in New York City when in fact, it was not! The series played off in the storyland of New York, but in real life, the filming took place in Los Angeles. The City of Angels remained the home of the series from start to finish.
11. What Was Up With The Spit Sign?
Fans were often confused by the unusual sign near the holding cell. Throughout the series, a somewhat comedic sign was seen on the wall. It read "Please Do Not Spit On The Floor," and this was never mentioned in the storyline or the script so viewers will always be left wondering.
10. The TV Series Mirrored Real Life
Barney Miller can pride itself on its realistic depictions of cop life. They perfected some police procedurals in detail before police shows became popular. Real-life policemen have often been quoted saying the series was extremely close to their actual day to day time on the job. Well done!
9. The Curious Ron Carey Move
Ron Carey's signature trademark can never be forgotten. He had been trying to find one for himself from the very first episode and eventually settled on a swift movement every time he left the square room. He would grab the door with his left hand, rotate around and then close it behind him, an iconic moment every episode!
8. Why The Set Might Look Familiar
If you loved the set for the Barney Miller show, we have some good news you might not know... The famous fictional 12th Precinct that was seen on every episode for eight seasons was reused (with a few alterations) for the recent drama, Castle, which first aired in 2009.
7. Two Cast Members Are Connected
Nick Yemana and his character, Jack Soo, had some background before starting on the series. You might have heard a few references to the Flower Drum Song movie and Detective Yemena. This was done with intent to add insider humor as Jack Soo truly played a role in the film. It's all in these small details!
6. Improvision Was The Name Of The Game
While this show was entirely scripted, there were more than a few sweet moments of improvised magic (aren't those always the best?) In 1979, cast member Detective Nick Yemana aka Jack Soo sadly passed away in real life. They incorporated this into an episode that was not based on a script but on real emotion.
5. They Never Filmed Outside The Station
Have you ever noticed that the series rarely took place outside of the popular police precinct? In fact, only a handful of the episodes were filmed outside, namely "Ramon," "Graft," "The Stakeout," "Hair," "The Hero," "Grand Hotel," "Fish," "Wojo's Girl part 2," "Contempt parts 1 & 2," "Chinatown parts 1 & 2," and "Eviction part 2."
4. Why You Should Visit This Museum
The Smithsonian Television Museum might be the place for you to visit soon if you loved Barney Miller. Why? Well, the museum houses quite a few props from the series such as the chalkboard, the scarred cell door, some police badges, and of course, Jack Soo's coffee mug.
3. Which Cast Member Had To Wear A Wig
Maxwell Gail was cast on the show with a relatively full head of hair. However, as time progressed on the series, he started losing a lot of his locks. This was fixed by using a hairpiece to remain in character for his role as Det. Sgt. 3rd Grade Stanley Thaddeus "Wojo" Wojciehowicz.
2. The Truth About The Accents
Gregory Sierra, better known as the character Chano for the first two seasons of Barney Miller, was not trained to speak Spanish for the role, as you may assume. In fact, the actor who is of Puerto Rican descent can speak the language fluently and improvised the Spanish moments as they were not scripted.
1. The Movie That Never Came
Fans of this series may have been anxiously awaiting news about a possible movie version of the series. The popular show was busy working out the details of a feature film, and this news gained attention all over. Sadly there is a difference between planning on making a movie and actually going through with it.
The project never happened, and various viewers around the world were devastated. But fear not, with all of the interest in reboots and remakes, it's probably just a matter of time before we see Barney Miller on our screens again. We here at AmoMama will be sure to cover the story, if and when it breaks!
What a fantastic show Barney Miller was for its entire run. Not only did it have a hilariously impressive cast, but the storyline was on point. Which surprising fun fact did you not see coming? Leave us a comment, and be sure to click the share button and stay tuned to AmoMama for more great content!