Miami Vice ran on NBC from 1984-1989, and was one of the highest-rated television programs of the decade. The show’s plot followed two Miami police detectives working undercover, Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson, in this 1984 photo by Miami Herald photographer Donna Natale Planas) and Ricardo Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas), in their attempts to fight the city’s seedy underbelly. The original idea to set a police show in Miami belonged to Anthony Yerkovich. He saw Miami’s tropical, multicultural feel and the pervasive drug trade as a backdrop for a high-wattage police show. Many episodes were filmed in South Beach, which, at the time, was blighted by poverty and crime. The show’s rock-video glitz and glamour dispelled the image of Miami Beach as “God’s waiting room.” Miami Vice took the city’s Art Deco buildings, blue skies, pastels, population — and even crime — and made them something cool and chic. It catapulted Miami onto magazine covers and fashion show runways, into department stores and boutiques. The show’s economic impact was felt almost immediately, as film and photography shootings soared and South Florida became the darling of actors, models and photographers. Miami Vice’s legacy continues today. The show is credited with jumpstarting the preservation of South Beach’s Art Deco architecture, featured prominently in the series.
Want more Miami Vice? Take a look at our mini-documentary “The Vice Effect: How a hit TV show changed Miami”