The U.S. highway known as “America’s Main Street” became the title for a hit television series that debuted October 7,1960.
The hour-long drama, “Route 66,” featured Martin Milner as Tod Stiles and George Maharis as Buz Murdock.
Traveling from town to town in a white Corvette convertible, these two young gents had various encounters and adventures each week until the show completed its CBS network run May 20, 1964.
Created and produced by Herbert B. Leonard and Stirling Silliphant, only a few episodes were actually filmed along Route 66.
According to Silliphant, “it was a symbolic title, an expression of going somewhere…the best-known highway, cutting across America. It’s the backbone of America.”
The theme song for the show was composed by Nelson Riddle, a composer, bandleader, arranger, and orchestrator whose career spanned from the 1940s through the 1980s.
Simply titled “Route 66 Theme,” the orchestral tune featured jazzy piano riffs pulled from Bobby Troup’s 1946 hit “Get Your Kicks on Route 66.”
A single (45 rpm) and album (33 1/3 rpm) were released by Capitol Records in 1962 with the album including other great TV themes such as “The Alvin Show,” “The Andy Griffith Theme,” “My Three Sons,” and “The Untouchables.”
At the end of the 116 episodes, George Maharis left the show and a new fellow named Lincoln Case, played by Glenn Corbett, had taken his seat in the Corvette.
During the final episode scene, Tod’s new wife takes Lincoln’s place in the front seat as Lincoln walks away.
The series has run in syndication and is available on DVD.
Despite the fact that the TV series had debuted two years earlier, the theme album’s cover is simply a photo of the shield-shaped Route 66 sign.
The liner notes, written by Riddle himself, concludes that “the tunes assembled here offer a fine sampling of the exciting contemporary sound of TV.”
This long-playing album was available in both stereo and monophonic form.