CHiPS (NBC 1977-1983, Larry Wilcox, Erik Estrada)


CHiPS, an acronym for California Highway Patrol, was the motorcycle equivalent to a previous episodic police series, Adam 12. Jon Baker and “Ponch” Poncherello were two state motorcycle patrolmen, both young bachelors, whose adventures helping citizens, fighting crime and leading active social lives were all woven into the series.

The two men worked as a team, and spent most of their working time around the vast Los Angeles freeway system. Each episode was a composite of four or five separate incidents, both on the job and off, with violence down-played in favor of human interest and the humorous elements of their work. Jon was rather straight and serious, while “Ponch” was the romantic free spirit, whose happy-go-lucky attitude did not always sit well with their superior, Sgt. Getraer. Added in 1978, were Harlan, a police mechanic who worked on their “choppers,” and Sindy, a female “Chippie” who worked out of a patrol car. She was replaced the following fall by another female “Chippie,” Bonnie Clark.

Former Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner appeared as Officer Steve McLeish in several episodes in the fall of 1981 as a temporary replacement for Erik Estrada, who was embroiled in a salary dispute with CHiPS producers. When Estrada returned, Jenner left the show.

The fall of 1982 brought a number of cast changes. Larry Wilcox, who had had a stormy relationship with Erik Estrada for several years, quit the series. Ponch got a new partner, Bobby Nelson, and Nelson’s kid brother Bruce (played by professional motorcycle racer, Bruce Penhall) joined the force as a trainee. The new resident “Chippie” was Kathy Linahan.


production details
USA / NBC – MGM – Rosner TV / 138×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 15 September 1977 – 17 July 1983

Creator: Rick Rosner / Executive Producer: Cy Cermak / Producer: Rick Rosner, Ric Rondell

LARRY WILCOX as Officer Jon Baker
ERIK ESTRADA as Off Frank ‘Ponch’ Poncherello
ROBERT PINE as Sgt Joe Getraer
BRIANNE LEARY as Officer Sindy Cahill (1978-1979)
BRODIE GREER as Officer Baricza (1977-1982)
LOU WAGNER as Harlan Arliss (1978-1983)
LEW SAUNDERS as Officer Gene Fritz (1977-1981)
RANDI OAKES as Officer Bonnie Clark (1979-1982)
TOM REILLY as Officer Bobby ‘Hot Dog’ Nelson (1982-1983)
MICHAEL DORN as Officer Jebediah Turner (1980-1982)
BRUCE JENNER as Officer Steve McLeish (1981)
PAUL LINKE as Officer Arthur “Grossie” Grossman
CLARENCE GILYARD JR as Officer Webster (1982-1983)
BRUCE PENHALL as Cadet Bruce Nelson (1982-1983)
TINA GAYLE as Officer Kathy Linahan (1982-1983)

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