Ford Thunderbird Movies—The Seventies
1970 - 1979
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(1970)—A large city hospital is the site for this potboiler revolving around the hospital's doctors, nurses, their respective spouses, their affairs, and medical trauma. One of the doctors drives a 1970 Thunderbird Landau, green metallic with dark green vinyl roof and dark green interior.
One of the wives has a 1970 Continental Mark III, stunning in silver metallic with black vinyl roof, dark red paint stripes and dark red leather interior. Dyan Cannon, Richard Crenna, Gene Hackman, and Carroll O'Connor star.
The Odd Couple
(1970-1975; TV Show)—ABC's television version of the hit movie starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, Tony Randall played the finicky Felix Unger and Jack Klugman was convincing as Oscar Madison. Both men were asked to remove themselves permanently from their place of residence. That request came from their wives. Can two men share an apartment without driving each other crazy? You'll have to watch the show to see. During the opening sequence, a metallic blue 1970 Thunderbird is sitting at a stop light as Jack Klugman emerges from a cab. Penny Marshall was a series regular. (You can see the Thunderbird at 0:55 in the opening sequence at right.)
The bad guys drive a 1971 Two Door Landau, Medium Ginger Metallic with Dark Brown Vinyl Roof and Brougham interior in Ginger cloth. The car is used to dump Bond out in the desert. Bond is transported to the desert in the luggage compartment. Good shots of the car at night with all of its lights on, and of a pristine luggage compartment.
Sean Connery returns as James Bond, 007 to battle Blofeld, who is plotting to destroy Washington, D.C. through the use of a powerful laser beam orbiting in space. Filmed in Las Vegas, Bond has to climb the side of the (now gone) Landmark Hotel, and a spectacular car chase up and down Fremont Street featuring a 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 was deftly executed by the director, Guy Hamilton. Watch for a light-colored 1961-1962 Ford Thunderbird Hardtop sitting in the parking lot they drive around in during this scene.
Scenes were filmed at the futuristic concrete and glass Elrod home in Palm Springs, California, which is supposed to be Willard Whyte's (played by the late Jimmy Dean) home on the outskirts of Las Vegas. Jill St. John, Charles Gray, and Bruce Cabot co-star.
(1972; TV Movie)—Darren McGavin and Sandy Dennis star in this one directed by Steven Speilberg.
The rural farmhouse they just bought has a demonic presence. Johnny Whitaker (Jody of Family Affair fame) falls prey, but is saved by the love of his Mother in the end.
Darren McGavin drives a 1971 Thunderbird Four Door Landau, Medium Green Metallic with a Dark Green Vinyl Roof and Dark Green Brougham Cloth interior. The Thunderbird is shown in the movie several times, including a scene filmed inside the car. The family drives off to safety in it at the end. (The Thunderbird first appears in the video at right at 8:06.)
At the beginning of the movie, a Tan 1971 Fordor Landau with a dark brown vinyl roof is shown in profile sitting in a parking lot. Based on a novel by Terence Lore Smith, with music by Henry Mancini. Warren Oates, Jill Clayburgh, Ned Beatty, Gregory Sierra, Michael Murphy, Austin Pendleton, John Hillerman, and Charles Cioffi appear. Directed by Bud Yorkin.
(1972-1978; TV Show)—Paramedics Gage (Randolph Mantooth) and DeSoto (Kevin Tighe) are promoted to Captain. They reminisce about their careers, and in one scene Dr. Kelly Brackett (Robert Fuller) drives a 1972 Thunderbird. You would expect a Doctor to drive a T-Bird now, wouldn't you?
Your Three Minutes Are Up
(1973; TV Movie)—Beau Bridges and Ron Leibman star. Adventures along the California coast for the guys, living on luck and credit. Before everything is repossessed, Leibman has a Medium Blue 1972 Thunderbird with Dark Blue Vinyl Roof.
The Rockford Files
(1974-1980; TV Show)—Jim Rockford "borrows" a Medium Green Metallic 1973 T-Bird in the third episode of the show's first season. With an original air date of September 27, 1974, the episode was titled The Countess and guest starred Susan Strasberg.
The Thunderbird has a White Odense Grain Vinyl Roof, a White interior, and looked to be nicely equipped. It gets driven hard, though. For a car its size, it seems pretty agile in the scenes it appeared in! The car featured the wide vinyl body side molding in White, and after market wire basket wheels. This episode is available on the Season One DVD. Many feel the first season is the best of the entire series. In general, this is an excellent series to spot vintage cars, as many scenes were filmed on location, in that great seventies California sunshine.
The New Perry Mason
(1973-1974; TV Show)—An ill-fated attempt to revive the original hit television show, this 1974 CBS season debut didn't even last for 15 episodes. Monte Markham portrayed Perry Mason, and Harry Guardino was Hamilton Burger. Even though the production team from the original series was used, the television audience just couldn't accept anyone other than Raymond Burr as Perry, and the show was cancelled. Ford supplied the automobiles for the show, and a 1974 Thunderbird in Green Starfire with white vinyl roof and interior was Perry's mode of transportation.
1974 Thunderbird Commercial
(1974; TV Ad)—It's hard to catch, but TV Land airs a commercial for the 1974 Thunderbird on its Retromercial segment. Complete with a female singer performing "Make a Little Thunder of Your Own," it features a beautifully equipped T-Bird sporting the new optional Simulated Wire Wheel Covers and Power Moonroof.
Normally we catch this commercial airing early in the morning (5:00 am CST).
Note: 1974 Thunderbird commercial appears in video at left.
The Morning After
(1974; TV Movie)—Dick Van Dyke starred in this ABC made for TV movie which originally aired on February 13, 1974. It's about an alcoholic man, and the toll his illness took on his family. In real life, unknown to many, Van Dyke was an alcoholic, and was trying to overcome his illness during the filming of this movie. As such, Van Dyke's portrayal of Charlie Lester in this movie was very realistic.
Van Dyke drove a blue metallic 1974 Thunderbird with dark blue vinyl roof and blue cloth interior in this movie. In one scene, the wife opens the passenger door to remove the keys from the ignition, in an attempt to prevent her intoxicated husband from driving the car. You can clearly hear the reminder buzzer for the key in the ignition. There are several good scenes that show the car, and the movie is one of the better seventies television dramas which deals with alcoholism, and the effects it has on people's lives.
Someone I Touched
(1975; TV Movie)—This made-for-TV movie featured Cloris Leachman, James Olson, Glynnis O'Connor, and Andrew Robinson. The story of a spouse who brought home something unexpected, that affects the lives of all it touches. A 1975 Thunderbird with Silver Luxury Group, complete with Silver Glass Moonroof appears.
(1971-1976; TV Show)—William Conrad played a private detective in this Quinn Martin production. Mr. Conrad was a large man, and required a large car. He normally chose a silver Continental Mark, with black vinyl roof and red leather interior. We have seen Mark IIIs and Mark IVs in this color scheme used on the show. Although the color may have been the same, the cars were updated each year to the new model.
Our viewers tell us that in the final season for this show, Frank Canon cruised around in a 1976 Thunderbird, complete with Lipstick Red Luxury Group and Power Moonroof! (We haven't been able to verify this, our experts only remember the Continentals, but we're checking on it. Stay tuned...)
(2000-2001; TV Show)—Tim Daly recreates the character of Richard Kimble, portrayed by David Janssen on the original television show of the same name in the sixties.
Movie and TV-Birds viewers spotted a triple white 1976 Thunderbird, with Power Sunroof on one of the episodes. During a chase scene, the car suddenly becomes a 1973 Thunderbird (we're not supposed to notice!) The chase scene ends abruptly when a kid darts out into the street in front of the Bird, which stops just in the nick of time but gets rear ended by a Bronco! Yet another case of a Thunderbird sacrificing its life to save a human!
After losing his job, Segal and wife Fonda end up paying the bills by committing armed robbery! First it was the telephone company, a liquor store, etc., but soon it is decided to go after Segal's former boss, played by McMahon, where the location of a corporate safe full of cash is known.
Segal's company car is a Cinnamon Starfire 1976 Thunderbird, but since Segal is fired in the first few minutes of the movie, the Thunderbird goes away along with the rest of his perks, making its appearance very brief.
The movie is very entertaining, and often overlooked by fans of Segal and Fonda. Check out the glittery seventies decor in the houses and buildings—it's great! (This movie was remade in 2005, starring Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni, but we still prefer the original. Despite the improbable story line, the original comes across as more believable to us.)
(1976-1981; TV Show)—Aaron Spelling's television show about three young ladies who were trained at the Los Angeles Police Academy to become Police Officers. They were all assigned boring jobs, and Charlie recruits them to work for him as private investigators.
We never see Charlie's face during the show, nor do the Angels. We do hear Charlie's voice, which was dubbed by John Forsythe. David Doyle portrays Bosley, the office manager who has seen Charlie, and assists the Angels in their duties. Bosley drives a base model 1977 Thunderbird in Dark Jade Metallic. Farrah Fawcett plays the athletic Jill Munroe in the first season, and is replaced by super model Cheryl Ladd (who plays Kris Munroe, Jill's sister) for the second season. Jaclyn Smith is the ultra-sophisticated Kelly Garrett, and Kate Jackson is the beauty with the brains as Sabrina Duncan.
In an episode from the first season, the Angels can be spotted driving a Bright Saddle Metallic 1977 Thunderbird, with Saddle Vinyl Roof and Saddle Decor Group Cloth interior. This car was nicer than Bosley's, with the Exterior Decor Group and styled road wheels. Charlie's Angels is one of the best places to spot late seventies FoMoCo products.
(1976-1981; TV Show)—Bosley updates his 1977 Thunderbird with a 1978 Town Landau for the 1977-78 season. Still in Dark Jade Metallic, this one appears to be more nicely equipped than the previous one. Guess the Angels were solving a lot of cases for The Townsend Agency, which made for good business.
(1984-1992; TV Show)—This popular television show featured a white 1979 Thunderbird during the opening sequence. The car is sitting at a dark intersection, with only its parking lights on.
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