The Adventures of Hiram Holliday

Hiram Holliday

Joel Smith

Harrison Prescott

Hiram's Umbrella

Monsieur Cerveaux


Traveling Man
Ricky Nelson, 20 MB, MP4 Format

Hiram Holliday
Hiram Holliday is in the mold of a comic book hero. He has many of the characteristics of a superhero locked into the small and dainty body of a bookish nerd. That setup balances him nicely with the huge and awkward Joel, his faithful companion. Hiram prevented a potentially expensive lawsuit for his employer who, impressed with Hiram (as all are who meet him), decides that there's a profit to be made for the paper by just putting Hiram in environments where adventures are sure to happen, and stories with them. Hiram is happy to be able to follow his interests and joyfully tracks down a toad in Gibralter, and a sea cucumber in Hong Kong. Hiram isn't an absent minded professor. He's as aware of his surroundings and the dangers as would be a current day spy, but he's willing to walk into dangerous circumstances because of his confidence in his ability to get himself, and his friend, out of whatever calamity occurs. Hiram's character translates well into today's values. He's accepting of differences and finds joy in diversity. In fact, Hiram finds joy in everything.

Hiram Holliday was played by Wally Cox (1924-1973), who was previously known for his character of Mr. Peepers. Cox was also the voice of Underdog.

Joel Smith
Joel Smith has been assigned by their boss, Harrison Prescott, to accompany Hiram Holiday on a newspaper sponsored trip around the world, convinced that where Hiram goes, so go headline stories. Joel has no intellectual background and is often confounded by Hiram's interests, but he has a deep belief in Hiram's abilities, and firm faith in their relationship. Where Hiram is always wide-eyed with wonder at all the world offers, Joel is focused on their next meal. Many episodes are placed in restaurants and, even when they're in their hotel room, there's usually food, too. Even while Joel stands in the arabian courtyard watching Hiram turn the wild white stallion into a pussycat, there's always a nearby snack hung on a convenient tree. While Joel never really understands the subtleties that Hiram understands, Joel compensates with simple faith and determination to be there for Hiram.

Joel Smith (1921-1958) was played by Ainslie Pryor, who died the year after the show ended.

Harrison Prescott
Harrison Prescott is a newspaper publisher who believes he's found a treasure trove of future stories in an unlikely source - a proofreader for his company. While he sponsors Joel to accompany Hiram on adventures around the world, he never believes the stories Joel sends him, as they seem too preposterous to be true. Showing up in the occasional episode, Prescott seems torn between embarrassment and pride in Hiram's strange adventures.

Thurston Hall (1882-1958), the actor playing Prescott, played another boss as Mr. Schuyler, in Topper.

Hiram's Umbrella
Hiram's umbrella deserves recognition as a character in the show. It's always with him; handy to use to trip up a bad guy, deflect a sword or an axe, stick into the barrel of a gun, or even keep off the rain.

Monsieur Cerveaux
Sebastian Cabot (1918-1977) played the villain in "Dancing Mouse", "Hawaiian Hamzah", and "Sea Cucumber". He went on to play Giles French in Family Affair. Part of the subplot of "Sea Cucumber" is Cerveaux constantly blaming his own mistakes on his subordinates.

Tor Johnson, the circus strongman, was played by Thor Johnson. The villains were always over the top and funnier than scary. The bad guy hiding behind the curtain in Hong Kong waiting to pop Hiram through the curtain rolls his eyes in a way that encourages the audience to laugh with him.

He's shy and unassuming, but that doesn't mean he can't take care of himself, and anyone else who needs his help, too. When his friend Joel is kidnapped, Hiram swims out to the ship with a load of magnetic mines, saves Joel and the spy for whom they were mistaken, getting them both back to shore. Then small and delicate Hiram carries his much bigger friend out of the water, across the sand and doesn't even seem to be breathing hard. Needing to get somewhere fast, Hiram takes off in an airplane and almost lands it on the carrier. Well, they never said he was perfect. Just pretty darn close.

Whether it's running on the tops of trains, hitching a ride on the back of a car, or turning a dangerous stallion into a pussycat, Hiram knows what to do and when to do it. He'll take on the bad guys armed only with his umbrella, and leave them in the dirt. Need him to jump off a tower into a circus pool? No problem. Have a cobra you need calmed. Trust Hiram to know the way to hypnotize it back into its basket. And just ignore the bad guys in the corner swaying along with the snake.

Wally Cox was once in a commercial that was never aired because he pulled open his shirt a bit and showed some of his undershirt. That was in the very conservative 50's. Yet you'll see a lot more of Hiram Holliday than an undershirt. If he's not in a swim suit, he's in a sarong. And if he's not running around half dressed, he's running around in a dress. Well, a harem outfit to be more accurate.

This was a male bonding show before the phrase became popular. Look for Hiram and you'll find Joel. And even though its his job to write up Hiram's adventures, sort of like a paid Dr. Watson, you know that he's happy to do what he can for his friend, and that it's really more than a job. Joel's faith in Hiram is absolute. When the spy for whom they're mistaken gives up hope, Joel never does. Against all reason and arguments Joel knows with unquestioning faith that Hiram will find a way to save him. And Hiram will. There's nothing of the naive waif about Hiram. He perfectly well recognizes the falsity of the story told by the woman, but he's willing to go with her because she was the last one to see Joel. Hiram doesn't walk in ignorance, but in faith and purpose. He will find his friend and he will save him. It's all very simple because Hiram's faith is that simple and that true.

Like Star Trek and Man From Uncle, and a hundred other shows, Hiram's adventures usually had a bimbo of the week. But where Kirk and Napoleon took advantage of every female opportunity, Hiram is the consummate gentleman with no intention of getting involved. He's a romantic hero who loves sharing Shelley's poetry by carrier pidgeon, or taking a lady onto the dance floor. But when the dance is over, Hiram is more than happy to leave the women behind and go on with the important things of life - his monogram on pidgeons or his photography of a rare mouse. Women are set decorations, but not playthings.

The Adventures of Hiram Holliday were on the US airwaves from October, 1956 to February, 1957 with 26 episodes, 3 of which were never aired. It was rerun in 1959 on WPIX, the New York channel known for showing Star Trek for so many years. The show found an afterlife by being serialized in Germany and in England as the first sitcom stripped 5 days a week on British TV. Though virtually unknown in the US, the show was identified by Anthony Stewart Head (Giles in Buffy) as one of his four favorite TV shows. Perhaps with the advent of DVDs, Hiram Holliday may be someday resurrected. Let's hope so.

01 Attache Case Oct 03, 1956 A mild-mannered proofreader for a city newspaper finds a misplaced comma and saves the paper from a lawsuit. The grateful publisher, seeing the potential for his paper in the form of future stories, rewards Hiram with a round-the-world trip, accompanied by reporter Joel Smith.
02 Lapidary Wheel Oct 10, 1956 On his way to Scotland from London, Hiram shares his compartment with a turbaned man whose part in their conversation is inhibited by the knife in his back. But every attempt to explain the problem to the constable on board is thwarted as the man disappears. Then the man's cobra disappears. What's behind all this is the large diamond the man was returning to India, guarded by his cobra. When the thieves decide that Hiram is a thief who got there first, the woman in the group decides that being on Hiram's side would be smart. The bad guys have guns but Hiram has a secret weapon. He has the cobra. Where's Joel? He's in the dining room trying to finish dinner while Hiram goes back and forth with the constable.
03 False Monarch Oct 17, 1956 Because of his striking resemblance to a visiting king, Hiram agrees to impersonate the king while they're in Scotland. When someone tries to kill Hiram, he becomes suspicious of the real king's motives for the exchange.
04 Hollow Umbrella Oct 24, 1956 A strange message that Hiram finds in the hollow handle of an umbrella in Paris leads him to a Paris nightclub, where he gets to show off his moves as an Apache dancer, before posing as a circus trapeze artist.
05 Sea Cucumber Oct 31, 1956 Hiram is looking for an unusual sea plant, but a band of international spies suspects him of other aims.
06 Gibralter Toad Nov 07, 1956 On the island of Gibraltar looking for a rare species of toad, Hiram becomes involved with a group of gypsies and ends up being accused by the British army of conspiring to blow up the place.
07 Monaco Hermit Crab Nov 14, 1956 Hiram tries out his roulette system at Monte Carlo and becomes the owner of a yacht, while attempting to foil a plot to flood the US with counterfeit money.
08 Hawaiian Hamzah Nov 21, 1956 Joel isn't quite sure what a "hamzah" is, even after Hiram tries to explain that it's a no longer used Hawaiian consonant. But that's okay with Joel. The food is good and there's a hula dancer. But dinner is interrupted by a blackout and, when the lights come back on, the dead body on the floor. Hiram discovers a large pen that is meant to be used in a military ceremony in Pearl Harbor, and it's a while before he discovers that the pen is really a secret weapon that will, when dipped in the water, freeze the entire harbor into solid ice.
09 Swiss Titmouse Nov 28, 1956 Hiram's quest to record the mating call of the Swiss Titmouse is interrupted by his need to save the life of a boy king.
10 Wrong Rembrandt Dec 05, 1956 On the Paris train ferry, Hiram's paintings, copies of famous originals, are confused with the stolen originals.
11 Dancing Mouse Dec 12, 1956 Hiram tries out his handmade camera on a Japanese dancing mouse he's followed under a tent at the Genoa fairground. Unfortunately, in the background are two plotters who would prefer not to be on camera. They want Hiram's camera and Hiram has no intention of giving it to them. While Joel tries to persuade the local constabulary of Hiram's danger, Hiram emerges from the tunnel of love with the female henchwoman covering him with lipstick kisses. Some danger thinks the locals.
12 Christmas in Vienna Dec 19, 1956 It seems everywhere he goes, Hiram finds royalty. In Vienna for Christmas, Hiram discovers that a young boy King is being held captive.
13 Romantic Pigeon Dec 26, 1956 Instead of being able to work on his research into homing pidgeons, Joel and Hiram are sent off by their newspaper employer to get an interview with a famous Dutch scientist who has invented a formula for atomic power. Hiram insists on bringing along his pidgeon which has been playing cupid by bringing poetry back and forth between Hiram and some unknown woman. The woman quickly becomes known, but her description of her romantic hero isn't Hiram. It isn't until she sees Hiram in action with his umbrella saving her father, the very scientist he and Joel were looking for, that the girl realizes who the real romantic hero is.
14 Sturmzig Cunieform Jan 02, 1957 Hiram and Joel arrive in Sturmzig just as they're about to choose their new king. Unfortunately for Hiram, that turns out to be him. And even though he's won a throne and a queen, Hiram is perfectly happy to abdicate when he finds what he really wants - an antique tablet incised with cunieform writing.
15 Moroccan Hawk Moth Jan 09, 1957 Hiram is searching for a rare moth but discovers, instead, a plot by an evil sheik to assassinate four world leaders. While foiling the plot, Hiram dresses in a harem costume. The dancer in this episode is Maureen Hingert, Miss Ceylon 1956.
16 Unkissed Bride Jan 16, 1957 On their way back to the US, Hiram is tricked into smuggling stolen gems and entering into a false marriage to Madeline, played by Jacqueline Beer, Miss France 1956 and the secretary on 77 Sunset Strip.
17 Shipwrecked Ancestor Jan 30, 1957 Exploring the genealogy of an ancestor, Hiram is shipwrecked off Africa. In this episode, Hiram also plays the part of at least 5 other characters.
18 Ersatz Joel Feb 13, 1957 An international spy ring decides that the way to enroll Hiram into their group is through his friend Joel, so one of the spies undergoes plastic surgery to pose as Joel.
19 Hiram's Holiday Feb 20, 1957 Trying to save England's economy from being wrecked by the theft of the engraving plate for the British pound, Hiram is mistaken by Scotland Yard for one of the counterfeiters.
20 Misguided Missile Feb 27, 1957 The space race was on in 1957, and the hot topic appeared on the show as Hiram switches identities with a French scientist as he tries to protect the secrets of the first Earth satellite. Since Sputnik went up in October of 1957, we're forced to assume that Hiram was ultimately unsuccessful.
21 Pasto Duro?? Oct 23, 1959 .
22 The Adventure of the Vanishing House Oct 30, 1959 Hiram foils the attempted robbery of the Bank of France by criminals tunneling from a nearby house. This plot has many similarities with the Sherlock Holmes story, The Red-headed League.
23 The Adventure of the Surplus General Dec 11, 1959 Hiram saves the imprisoned King of Borokavia.
24 The Adventure of the Diamond Eater Dec 18, 1959 Hiram foils a plot by an imposter pretending to be a Hindu potentate, who claims he is owed tribute of his weight in diamonds.
25 Amontillado Unaired .
26 The Adventure of the Invisible Man Unaired .

Episode Guide
Episode List
Vol 1 DVD - Sea Cucumber, Hawaiian Hamza,
Dancing Mouse, Wrong Rembrandt
Vol 2 DVD - Lapidary Wheel, Romantic Pigeon,
Gibralter Toad, Moroccan Hawk Moth
German Episode Guide
Wally Cox as voice of Underdog
Wally Cox as friend of Marlon Brando
Wally Squares
Wally Cox's ashes spread


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