Twenty five years ago this week, NBC launched a show featuring a salt-and-pepper team of undercover cops who ran roughshod over the streets of America's most tropical city. Executive produced by Michael Mann, who at that time was best known for writing the first four episodes of Starsky and Hutch, the series would go on to glamorize crime and criminalize glamour in a way no other show ever had. It also made stars of a couple pastel-suited upstarts nobody had ever heard of before.
That show, of course, was Miami Vice. Don Johnson played Sonny Crockett, a wise-cracking, Ferrari-driving ladies' man who lived on a sail boat and kept a pet alligator. Philip Michael Thomas played Ricardo Tubbs, who believed himself also to be quite a hit with the ladies, but never quite cottoned to Crockett's alligator.
But in addition to a formidable slate of up-and-coming actors (Viggo Morgenson, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi et al), Miami Vice was also known to invite an array of guest stars that can only be considered kooky. So to celebrate a quarter century of new wave badness, Riptide looks back on 10 of the kookiest guest stars ever to run with Crockett and Tubbs. Let us know if we've left out anyone.
1. Gene Simmons played a drug dealer named Newton Blade in the episode titled "Prodigal Son," which opened season two. Also starring that week was song-and-dance man Peter Allen, Pam Grier (aka Coffey) and Charles S. Dutton (aka Rock), but it was the Kiss bassist who had everyone watching their tongues.
2. Power Station, of course, played themselves; unfortunately the new wave supergroup did so after Robert Palmer had been replaced by Michael Des Barres, who knew Don Johnson and hooked up the gig. From the YouTube clip, they're performing at Firehouse Four. But their version of T. Rex's "Bang a Gong" lacks inspiration. No wonder John Taylor and Andy Taylor fled back to Duran Duran.
4. Miles Davis played a pimp named Ivory Jones on the episode called "Junk Love." We're not sure how the recalcitrant jazz legend felt about the producers playing Wang Chung in the background while he was onscreen.
5. G. Gordon Liddy actually appeared twice on Vice, both times as the inexplicably named Mr. Real Estate aka Capt. William Maynard. Liddy's first appearance, in '85's "Back in the World," marked his acting debut. And Don Johnson must've dug it. Because he directed him to near perfection.
6. Iman also appeared twice on Vice, the first time opposite G. Gordon Liddy (see above); the second in '88's "Love at First Sight." By the time Iman returned, she'd been on the big screen in both Out of Africa and No Way Out and everyone thought she was destined for movie stardom. We don't think House Party 2 was what they had in mind.
7. Ted Nugent comes out in the beginning of the episode "Definitely Miami" and shoots down a drug dealer before the credits even role. Then he buries the guy (and his Porsche) beneath a ton of sand. All to the tune of Nugent's own "Angry Young Man."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
10. Lee Iaccoca went from running Chrysler to appearing uncredited in the episode called "Sons and Lovers." Maybe he saw some symmetry in the fact that this was season two's closer. Whatever it was, we're pretty sure he didn't make a career out of it.
Honorable Mentions: Lou Albano, Roberto Duran, Isaac Hayes, Frankie Valli, The Fat Boys, Eartha Kitt, Emo Phillips