‘Hill Street Blues’: Joe Spano Hated 1 Major Part of Lieutenant Henry Goldblume’s Costume

Police procedural dramas are one of the most popular genres on television, and for good reason — procedural dramas feature action, nail-biting suspense, a healthy dose of romance, and fascinating character studies. While there are many police procedural dramas on television currently for fans to enjoy, many excellent ones have come and gone over the years. One such TV show is Hill Street Blues, a critically acclaimed series that was a hallmark of ’80s television. Hill Street Blues featured an ensemble cast of talented actors — including Joe Spano, who was a mainstay on the show throughout its entire run on television. 

Joe Spano as Sgt./Lt. Henry Goldblum holding a megaphone, squinting, wearing a jacket and bow tie
Joe Spano as Sgt./Lt. Henry Goldblum | NBC/Getty Images

When did ‘Hill Street Blues’ debut on television?

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Hill Street Blues premiered on television in 1981. A staple in NBC’s lineup, Hill Street Blues focused on the department and staff of a police station in a large, unnamed city. The show featured an element of realism that hadn’t been utilized on television before, with characters speaking in slang and using professional jargon to enhance the overall effect, helping to reinforce the idea that viewers were watching real-life police officers.

Hill Street Blues earned critical acclaim during its run on television, including a staggering 98 Emmy Award nominations during the series run and eight Emmy Awards won during the debut season alone. Critics and fans alike praised the show for its brilliant writing, character development, and the way that the series attempted to humanize the day-to-day exploits of law enforcement officers. Ultimately, Hill Street Blues ran until 1987, airing a total of 146 episodes. The show made stars out of several talented performers, including Joe Spano, a character actor who achieved television immortality with the role that he inhabited on Hill Street Blues

Who did Joe Spano play in ‘Hill Street Blues’?

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Joe Spano was born in 1947 and by the time he was in his twenties, he had established a career in entertainment. Spano’s first few roles were on the stage, in productions like Romeo and Juliet. Eventually, Spano transitioned to television roles, landing bit parts and small guest roles. Spano got his big break in 1981 when he was cast in Hill Street Blues as Henry Goldblume, an empathetic and compassionate junior officer. Viewers followed Goldblume’s journey from detective sergeant to lieutenant throughout the series run, and although Goldblume’s sense of compassion for crime victims sometimes came into conflict with his police officer duties, he was a beloved presence at the station.

What costume element did Joe Spano hate?

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Interestingly enough, although Joe Spano rose to fame for his work as Henry Goldblume, he actually auditioned for another role in Hill Street Blues. According to a report by Mental Floss, Spano originally auditioned for the part of Officer Andrew Renko. Speaking about it later, Spano admitted that “I was always disappointed that I didn’t end up playing Renko.” Spano also stated that he wasn’t a fan of Goldblume’s signature accessory — bow ties. “I fought it all the way. I thought it was a stereotypical thing to do. But it actually turned out to be right. You don’t play into the bow tie—you fight against it.”

Ultimately, Goldblume (and his bowties) became an integral part of Hill Street Blues, making television history and remaining popular with fans to this day. As for Hill Street Blues, it has influenced countless recent police procedural dramas.