The Untouchables

From Academic Kids

The Untouchables is the name of a 1957 book by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley, and also of two television series and a motion picture that it inspired. They deal with the experiences of Eliot Ness, a United States Treasury agent, as he fought crime in Chicago in the 1930s with the help of a special team of agents handpicked for their incorruptibility, nicknamed the Untouchables. The stories often revolved around his enmity with reputed mob boss Al Capone, and many focused on crimes related to Prohibition.

The original television series aired from 1959 to 1963 on ABC, starred Robert Stack as Eliot Ness and Neville Brand as Al Capone, and was narrated by Walter Winchell. The show drew harsh criticism from some Italian-Americans, who felt it promoted negative stereotypes of them as mobsters and gangsters.

A movie based on the television series was released in 1987, directed by Brian de Palma and starring Kevin Costner as Eliot Ness, Sean Connery as Irish beat cop Jim Malone, and Robert de Niro as Al Capone. Sean Connery received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film.

A short-lived revival television series aired in 1993-94, starring Tom Amandes as Eliot Ness and William Forsythe as Al Capone.

Today in North America, an Untouchable is a slang noun for an incorruptible police officer.


The series had 118 episodes of 50 minutes. Though the book chronicled the experiences of Ness and his cohorts over a span of time ranging from 1929 to 1939, the overwhelming majority of episodes were set in the early 1930s (for example, one episode, You Can't Play This Number, begins with Winchell's words, "October 1932 ... the depths of the Depression"). A few episodes were set primarily in a locale other than Chicago (such as the one dealing with the shootout involving Ma Barker and her gang).

Other recurrent actors were Jerry Paris as Agent Martin Flaherty, Abel Fernandez as Ag. William Youngfellow, Nick Georgiade as Ag. Enrico Rossi, Anthony George as Ag. Cam Allison, Paul Picerni as Ag. Lee Hobson, Steve London as Ag. Rossman and Bruce Gordon as Frank Nitti.

Famous guest-stars in selected episodes:

Series created by Quinn Martin and produced by Quinn Martin, Jerry Thorpe, Leonard Freeman and Desilu.


The telephone number of Elliot Ness' office was STAte 1096, while Frank Nitti (who took over the Chicago mob after Capone went to federal prison for tax evasion) could be reached at WABash 1098 (in pre-World War II Chicago, phone numbers consisted of a name, the first three letters of which were actually dialled, along with the four numbers that followed). Most of the characters could be seen talking on candlestick-style telephones — an anachronism since during the time period in which virtually all of the episodes were set, the Model 202 telephone was in standard use.

The series is mentioned as a must-see show in the 1960 movie The Apartment.

es:Los intocables de Eliot Ness it:Gli Intoccabili ja:アンタッチャブル (映画)

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