One of the most important series of the early 80’s Hill Street Blues was full of stand out episodes but Grace Under Pressure was particularly poignant.
Henry Goldblume (Joe Spano) is wrapping up the morning turnout when Captain Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti) announces that Sgt. Phil Esterhaus has died of a heart attack at age 55. “This is going to be a difficult day,” he says. “I know the caution Phil would urge you: Be careful out there.”
It would be a terrible day for the grieving officers, especially Joe Coffey (Ed Marinaro), whose girlfriend (guest star Linda Hamilton) is raped. Esterhaus’s death was no ratings stunt — Michael Conrad, who played him, had died just two months before. But “Grace Under Pressure” gives Phil a droll exit: His last act was making love. It’s just the kind of offbeat and human touch that made Hill Street one of TV’s most inventive cop series.
“I remember Michael’s last day on the set,” says Charles Haid, who played Renko. “He was very weak; he worked for about a year with cancer. But we took an event that was sad and profound and got a laugh out of it. That’s the way life ought to be.”
Original Airdate: February 2, 1984