Cult TV Essentials

Cult TV Essentials: The Red Hand Gang

The Red Hand Gang was an American live-action Saturday morning television series on NBC, first broadcast in 1977. The show featured five crime-solving pre-teens and their dog, who lived in the inner city. The group was so named because its members left red hand prints on fences to mark where they had been. It lasted for 12 episodes.

The gang was made up of…

  • Frankie played by Matthew Laborteaux later of Little House on the Prairie fame, was the gang’s leader.
  • Doc played by James Bond III (Spike Lee’s School Daze).red2
  • Joanne played by Jolie Newman, who went on to become a professional producer and who died on March 31st 2002 at the age of 36 years old.
  • Lil’ Bill played by Johnny Brogna (starred with Gregory Peck in MacArthur).
  • J.R. played by J.R. Miller
  • Their dog, Boomer, who would later have his own series, Here’s Boomer.

The first adventure is split across the first 5 episodes. A young boy called Johnny, played by Robert Ahlers, is kidnapped and held for ransom in an old house. The Red Hand Gang find out where the boy is being held by trailing one of the kidnappers, played by Maureen Arthur to their hideout. The gang set traps to scare the other kidnappers, played by Anthony Zerbe and James Hampton but the kidnappers move to another location with the gang in pursuit.

The second story is split across the next four episodes. The gang go to a hotel to meet their hero, a football player called O.K. Oakins, played by Van Williams, who is the special guest at a charity auction. The star attraction of the auction is a priceless jewel. Whilst at the hotel the gang stumble across a plot to steal the jewel by replacing O.K. Oakins with a lookalike and replacing the real gem with a fake. The two jewel thieves are played by Buck Kartalian and James Griffith.red3

The final story is set over the final three episodes. The gang visit an animal sanctuary with their friend Holly, who is deaf, played by Dawn Lyn. The animal sanctuary features a chimpanzee called Maxwell who can understand sign language. Unbeknownst to the gang, the chimpanzee is going to be used by two crooks to help them carry out a museum robbery. The two museum thieves are played by Tom Reese and Walter Burke.

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