The Case of the Dangerous Robin :
First Use of Karate on TV
I was offered a series at Ziv, an insurance investigator who worked big
cases for ten per cent of the value of whatever he recovered. I said I would do the show
if I could use Karate, not carry a gun. "The man," I proposed, "will be his
own moving weapon."
They asked me to explain what Karate was, so I demonstrated a few
My sempei (teacher) Ed Parker in makeup, stunt-doubling for an actor in The Case of
the Dangerous Robin.
You see, early in 1956, a fellow named Ed Parker had come to the health
club where I worked out. Hed recently moved stateside from Hawaii and opened a
studio in Pasadena. He was trying to get students for private lessons at our club for a
new kind of self-defense called Karate. I talked with him about it and signed up. He gave
lessons on a large mat in the handball court. Ed taught Karate based on the Chinese school
of Kenpo. Nobody had ever heard of it. He told me that when hed first moved to
Pasadena he went to the police station to register his hands as lethal weapons, as was
required in Hawaii, where martial arts were more understood. The police didnt know
what to make of him.
Parker was a tough task master. Ill never forget my first lesson
with him. He pushed me against a wall of the handball court, dug his forefinger in my
stomach and said, "Okay, Im a holdup man and this is a .45 in your belly. I
say, Give me the money! What do you do?"
I said, "I dont know. What?"
"You give him the money."
At the end of three arduous years of work with him, I was awarded
a brown belt. I learned to break boards with the edge of my hand and when I learned how,
he had me stop breaking them said it would only lead to arthritis. Ed could break
eight concrete blocks in one blow with his knuckles.
Thanks to my training with Ed, the executives at Ziv were impressed
with my Karate and with the idea of martial arts on the show.
I signed on as Robin
Scott in the series The Case of the Dangerous Robin. We decided that wed get
a stunt man to do the long shots. Id come in for the close-ups, thus saving me some
time and a lot of energy. Just one problem: not one professional stuntman at the time knew
Karate. There wereno more than six martial arts teachers in all the forty-eight mainland
The upshot was, I had to do all my own Karate fights. I got Ed into the
Screen Actors Guild. Each Wednesday we would shoot the fights for both shows of that week;
hed come to the studio and wed choreograph the action.
Ed went on to teach Karate to Elvis Presley, who turned out to be excellent at it, and
Blake Edwards, director of the Pink Panther movies. Ed appeared in several pictures for
Edwards doing Karate stunts. About five years ago, Ed was getting off a plane in Hawaii,
and as he walked along the tarmac, he suffered a heart attack. He died on the spot
59 years old.