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‘Hill Street Blues’ Cast: Catch Up With The Stars Since They Hung up Their Badges

Find out which star turned down the role in ‘Charlie’s Angels’! 


In the realm of television history, certain shows stand out as iconic milestones that have left an indelible mark on the medium. Hill Street Blues is one such landmark, a groundbreaking police procedural drama with a stand-out cast that revolutionized television storytelling. Running for seven seasons from 1981 to 1987, the show was nominated for 98 Emmy Awards and won 26 of them.

The portrayal of day-to-day police work drew critical acclaim and a devoted fan base for its gritty realism, complex characters, and innovative narrative structure. At the heart of its success was an exceptional ensemble cast, each member contributing to the show’s undeniable magic.

Here, a look back at the Hill Street Blues cast.

Daniel J. Travanti as Captain Frank Furillo

Daniel J. Travanti as Captain Frank Furillo (Hill Street Blues Cast )
1981/2002; Denise Truscello / Contributor/Getty

Daniel J. Travanti portrayed Captain Frank Furillo, the moral compass of the fictional Hill Street Precinct. A dedicated and pragmatic leader, Furillo faced the challenges of maintaining order in a crime-ridden urban environment while grappling with personal and professional conflicts. Travanti’s performance earned him critical acclaim and two Emmy awards and a Golden Globe.

Born Danielo Giovanni Travanty in 1940 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Travanti had several television parts before joining the Hill Street Blues cast. He appeared in General Hospital, Barnaby Jones and Perry Mason. It was his role as Furillo that catapulted Travanti to new heights.

After the series, he played the role of John Walsh, the father who turned activist after his child was murdered, in Adam (1983) and its sequel, Adam: His Song Continues (1986), and the title role of broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow in Murrow (1986).

He also had roles in TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Chicago Med. Most recently, he appeared in NCIS: Los Angeles.

Veronica Hamel as Joyce Davenport

Veronica Hamel as Joyce Davenport (Hill Street Blues Cast )
1981/;Walter McBride / Contributor/Getty

Veronica Hamel, born in 1943, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, portrayed the intelligent and tenacious public defender Joyce Davenport. As Davenport, Hamel brought sophistication and a strong sense of justice to the show. Her character’s romantic involvement with Captain Furillo added a compelling layer to the series, exploring the challenges of maintaining a personal life in the demanding world of law enforcement.

Before joining the cast of Hill Street Blues Hamel appeared in several shows including Kojak, The Bob Newhart Show, Cannonball and Starsky and Hutch. She was offered the role of an original Angel in the TV series Charlie’s Angels (1976). She declined and Jaclyn Smith was cast instead.

After Hill Street Blues, she appeared in several shows including Third Watch, Lost and Touched by an Angel.

Michael Conrad as Sgt. Phil Esterhaus

Michael Conrad as Sgt. Phil Esterhaus (Hill Street Blues Cast )
1981/;Bettmann / Contributor/Getty

Michael Conrad, born in 1925, in New York City, played the role of Sergeant Phil Esterhaus, the affable and wise supervisor at the Hill Street Precinct. He won two Emmy Awards for his role.

Before the show, he appeared in TV shows like Delvecchio and The Edge of Night. He also appeared in movies such as The Longest Yard, Castle Keep, and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

Tragically, Michael Conrad passed away of cancer in 1983 during the third season of Hill Street Blues. He was only 58. His departure from the show was marked by a touching tribute, with the famous line “Let’s be careful out there” becoming synonymous with his character’s legacy.

Bruce Weitz as Detective Mick Belker

Bruce Weitz as Detective Mick Belker (Hill Street Blues Cast )
1981/1986; Diana Walker / Contributor/Getty

Bruce Weitz, born on in 1943, in Norwalk, Connecticut, portrayed the eccentric and street-smart Detective Mick Belker. Belker’s unconventional methods and his habit of biting perpetrators during arrests made him a memorable character on the show. Weitz’s portrayal earned him critical acclaim, and he won an Emmy Award for his role.

Before joining the cast, Conrad appeared in a variety of shows including Columbo, Kojak, and Happy Days.

After Hill Street Blues, Weitz continued to work in television, with guest appearances in popular shows like The Young and the Restless, General Hospital, CSI and Grey’s Anatomy.

Betty Thomas as Officer Lucille Bates

Betty Thomas as Officer Lucille Bates (Hill Street Blues Cast )
1981/; Alberto E. Rodriguez / Staff/Getty

Betty Thomas born in 1948, in St. Louis, Missouri, played Officer Lucille Bates, a dedicated and strong-willed member of the Hill Street Precinct. Bates added a dynamic and empowering female presence to the ensemble cast. Her character dealt with the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated profession, paving the way for more nuanced representations of gender dynamics on television. Thomas was nominated for six Emmy awards for her role.

Ironically, prior to her role in the drama Hill Street Blues, Thomas was known for her comedies. She was a part of the Second City Improv group in Chicago and had roles in comedic films like Tunnel Vision (1976) Used Cars (1980), and Coming Attractions (1978).

After being in the Hill Street Blues cast, Thomas had roles in several films including The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), Private Parts (1997), Can’t Hardly Wait (1998) and Surviving Christmas (2004).

James B. Sikking as Lt. Howard Hunter in the Hill Street Blues cast

James B. Sikking as Lt. Howard Hunter (Hill Street Blues Cast )
1981/; Tommaso Boddi / Contributor/Getty

James B. Sikking was born in 1934, in Los Angeles, California. He portrayed the strict and militaristic Lieutenant Howard Hunter. The character of Hunter provided a unique contrast to the more laid-back personalities within the precinct.         

Before joining the cast of Hill Street Blues, Sikking had a prolific career in television, with appearances in shows like The Twilight Zone and a reoccurring role in General Hospital. He also appeared in several movies including Ordinary People (1980).

After Hill Street Blues, Sikking had steady work on television most notably playing Dr. David Howser, Neil Patrick Harris’ father on Doogie Howser, M.D. (1989). He also appeared in several movies including The Pelican Brief (1993), Fever Pitch (2005); Made of Honor (2008) and Just an American (2012).

Taurean Blacque as Detective Neal Washington

Taurean Blacque as Detective Neal Washington (Hill Street Blues Cast )

Taurean Blacque, born Herbert Middleton Jr. in 1940, in Newark, New Jersey, portrayed Detective Neal Washington, a seasoned and level-headed member of the Hill Street Precinct. Blacque’s portrayal of Detective Washington added depth to the show, exploring themes of racial tension and the challenges faced by African American police officers. His character’s resilience in the face of adversity resonated with viewers.

Before joining the Hill Street Blues cast, Blacque had guest roles on several popular television shows including: Sanford and Son, Taxi, Charlie’s Angels and The Bob Newhart Show. He appeared in a lot, especially when considering that he didn’t start acting until he was 30.

After Hill Street Blues, Blacque starred with Vivica A. Fox on soap opera Generations.

Blacque died in 2022 at the age of 82.

Michael Warren as Bobby Hill in the Hill Street Blues cast

Michael Warren as Bobby Hill
1981/; Barry King / Contributor/Getty

Michael Warren was nominated for several Emmy awards for his role as Bobby Hill.

Born Lloyd Michael Warren in South Bend, Indiana in 1946, Warren was an All-American basketball star at UCLA. His teammates included such greats as Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Warren served as a basketball technical consultant in the Jack Nicholson’s film Drive, He Said (1971) which led to an on-camera role in the movie. He also had a supporting role in the basketball-themed comedy Fast Break (1979), before hitting it big with Hill Street Blues.

After the series, he appeared in several films including A Passion to Kill (1994), The Hunted (1995), Trippin’ (1999), Mother and Child (2009) and American Skin (2019).

Joe Spano as Henry Goldblume in the Hill Street Blues cast

Joe Spano as Henry Goldblume
1981/; David Livingston / Contributor/Getty

Born Joseph Peter Spano in 1946, in San Francisco, Spano was a fan favorite on the Hill Street Blues cast.

Prior to joining the show, he had bit roles in Lou Grant, Trapper John and American Graffiti.

After Hill Street Blues, Spano played a cop in the series Amazing Grace (1995), a detective in Murder One (1995), and as a doctor in Mercy Point (1998). More recently, Spano had the frequent role of FBI Special Agent Tobias Fornell in NCIS (2003). He also appeared in feature films such as Fracture (2007) and Frost/Nixon (2008).

Kiel Martin as Detective J.D. LaRue in the Hill Street Blues cast

Kiel Martin as Detective J.D. LaRue

Kiel Martin was born in 1944 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Similar to his character J.D. LaRue, Martin was a recovering alcoholic.

Before Hill Street Blues, Martin had bit parts in several shows including Dragnet and the movie The Panic in Needle Park.

After Hill Street Blues, Martin appeared in If the Shoe Fits (1990) and Perry Mason: The Case of the Poisoned Pen (1990).

He died December 28, 1990 from lung cancer. He was 46.

Charles Haid as Andrew Renko in the Hill Street Blues cast

Charles Haid as Andrew Renko
1981/; Tommaso Boddi / Contributor/Getty

Charles Haid was born in 1943 in San Francisco, California. He played the hot-under-the-collar cop, Officer Andy Renko, on the Hill Street Blues cast.

After the series, he turned to directing and producing and directed episodes of cop shows, including NYPD Blue and Third Watch. He was also won directing awards for his work on ER.

Other directing credits include episodes of Nip/Tuck, Breaking Bad, and Criminal Minds.

For more 80’s TV and movies click through the links below!

‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ Cast: See the Stars From the 1987 Teen Romance Then and Now

The ‘Matlock Cast’: Surprising Facts about Andy Griffith and Crew Beyond the Courtroom

‘Highway to Heaven’: Surprising Facts About the Show’s Beloved Actors

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