The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
|The Man from U.N.C.L.E.|
|Created by||Sam Rolfe
|Developed by||Sam Rolfe|
Leo G. Carroll
|Theme music composer||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||105 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Norman Felton|
|Running time||50 min.|
|Production company(s)||Arena Productions
|Distributor||MGM Television (1964–1986)
Turner Program Services (1986–1996)
Telepictures Distribution (1996–2003)
Warner Bros. Television Distribution (2003–present)
|Picture format||Black-and-white (1964–1965)
|Original release||September 22, 1964– January 15, 1968|
|Related shows||The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.|
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is an American television series that was broadcast on NBC. It followed secret agents, played by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, who worked for a secret international counter espionage and law enforcement agency called U.N.C.L.E. Originally, co-creator Sam Rolfe wanted to leave the meaning of U.N.C.L.E. ambiguous so it could refer to either "Uncle Sam" or the United Nations. Concerns by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer legal department about using "U.N." for commercial purposes resulted in the producers' clarification that U.N.C.L.E. was an acronym for the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. Each episode had an "acknowledgement" to the U.N.C.L.E. in the end titles.
The series premiered on September 22, 1964 and discontinued its run on January 15, 1968.
- 1 Background
- 2 Premise
- 3 Solo-the pilot
- 4 Season 1
- 5 Seasons 2–4
- 6 Episodes
- 7 Theme music
- 8 Soundtrack albums
- 9 Guest stars and other actors
- 10 Props
- 11 Awards and nominations
- 12 Spin-offs
- 13 Comic books
- 14 Novels
- 15 TV Annuals
- 16 Reunion TV movie
- 17 Film adaptation
- 18 DVD releases
- 19 U.N.C.L.E. in popular culture
- 20 See also
- 21 References
- 22 External links
The series consisted of 105 episodes originally screened between 1964 and 1968. It was produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Arena productions. The first season was broadcast in black-and-white.
Ian Fleming contributed to the concepts after being approached by the show's co-creator, Norman Felton. The book The James Bond Films says Fleming proposed two characters, Napoleon Solo and April Dancer (The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.). The original name was Ian Fleming's Solo. Robert Towne, Sherman Yellen, and Harlan Ellison wrote scripts for the series. Author Michael Avallone, who wrote the first original novelisation based upon the series (see below), is sometimes incorrectly cited as the show's creator.
The series centered on a two-man troubleshooting team working for U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement): American Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn), and Soviet Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum). Leo G. Carroll played Alexander Waverly, the British head of the organization (Number One of Section One). Barbara Moore joined the cast as Lisa Rogers in the fourth season.
The series, though fictional, achieved such cultural prominence that props, costumes and documents, and a video clip are in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library's exhibit on spies and counterspies. Similar U.N.C.L.E. exhibits are in the museums of the Central Intelligence Agency and other US agencies and organizations gathering intelligence.
U.N.C.L.E.'s adversary was Thrush (Wasp in the pilot movie). The original series never divulged who or what Thrush represented nor was it ever used as an acronym but in the U.N.C.L.E. novels that were written by David McDaniel, it is the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity, described as founded by Col. Sebastian Moran after the death of Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls in the Sherlock Holmes story, "The Final Problem".
Thrush's aim was to conquer the world. Napoleon Solo said, in "The Green Opal Affair", "Thrush believes in the two-party system — the masters and the slaves," and in the pilot episode ("The Vulcan Affair"), Thrush "kills people the way people kill flies — a reflex action — a flick of the wrist." Thrush was considered so dangerous an organization that even governments who were ideologically opposed to each other — such as the United States and the Soviet Union — had cooperated in forming and operating the U.N.C.L.E. organization. Similarly, when Solo and Kuryakin held opposing political views, the friction between them in the story was held to a minimum.
Though executive producer Norman Felton and Ian Fleming conceived Napoleon Solo, it was producer Sam Rolfe who created the U.N.C.L.E. hierarchy. Unlike national organizations like the CIA and James Bond's MI6, U.N.C.L.E. was a global organization of agents from many countries and cultures. Illya Kuryakin was created by Rolfe as just such an agent, from the Soviet Union.
The creators decided an innocent character would be featured in each episode, giving the audience someone with whom to identify. Despite many changes over four seasons, "innocents" remained a constant — from a suburban housewife in the pilot, "The Vulcan Affair" (film version: To Trap a Spy) to those kidnapped in the final episode, "The Seven Wonders of the World Affair".
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Filmed in color from late November to early December 1963 with locations at a Lever Brothers soap factory in California, the television pilot made as a 70 minute film was originally titled Ian Fleming's Solo and later just Solo. However, in February 1964 a law firm representing James Bond movie producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli demanded an end to the use of Fleming’s name in connection with the series and an end to use of the name and character "Solo", "Napoleon Solo" and "Mr. Solo". At that time filming was under way for the Bond movie Goldfinger, in which Martin Benson was playing a supporting character named "Mr. Solo". The claim was the name "Solo" had been sold to them by Fleming, and Fleming could not again use it. Within five days Fleming had signed an affidavit that nothing in the Solo pilot infringed any of his Bond characters, but the threat of legal action resulted in a settlement in which the name Napoleon Solo could be kept but the title of the show had to change.
The role of the head of U.N.C.L.E. in the pilot was Mr. Allison, played by Will Kuluva, rather than Mr. Waverly played by Leo G. Carroll, and David McCallum's Illya Kuryakin only had a brief role. Revisions to some scenes were shot for television, including those needed to feature Leo G. Carroll. The pilot episode was re-edited to 50 minutes to fit an hour time slot, converted to black and white, and shown on television as "The Vulcan Affair".
NBC in New York was not happy with the pilot. An executive wanted to drop someone but could not remember his name, saying "K...K..." and Felton replied "Kuluva?" and the executive replied "'That's it.'" Felton did not argue as he wanted to replace Kuluva anyway. Felton later told the executives he wanted to replace Kuluva with Leo G. Carroll the executive asked who was the actor replaced by Leo G. Carroll? Felton responded "Will Kuluva" and the executive said he meant David McCallum — Kuryakin. He wanted to get rid of the Russian and thought Carroll too old to be Solo's sidekick. Felton said the contracts had been signed.
Additional color sequences with Luciana Paluzzi were shot in April 1964 and added to the pilot for MGM to release it outside the United States as a second feature titled To Trap a Spy. It premiered in Hong Kong in November 1964. The extra scenes were reedited to tone down sexuality and used in the regular series in the episode "The Four-Steps Affair".
Beyond extra scenes for the feature film, and revised scenes shot and edits made for the television episode, there are other differences among the three versions of the story. Before the show went into full production there was concern from MGM that the name of T.H.R.U.S.H. for the pilot's international criminal organization sounded too much like SMERSH, the international spy- killing organization in Fleming's Bond series. The studio suggested Raven, Shark, Squid, Vulture, Tarantula, Snipe, Sphinx, Dooom [sic], and Maggot (the last used in early scripts). Although no legal action took place, the name was dubbed as "WASP" in the feature version To Trap a Spy. The original pilot kept T.H.R.U.S.H. (presumably as it was not intended to be released to the public in that version). Felton and Rolfe pushed for the reinstatement of T.H.R.U.S.H. It turned out that WASP could not be used as Gerry Anderson's British television series Stingray was based on an organization called W.A.S.P. — the World Aquanaut Security Patrol. By May 1964, T.H.R.U.S.H. was retained for the television episode edit of the pilot. Despite this, W.A.S.P. was used in the feature film in Japan in late 1964 and left in the U.S. release in 1966. Another change among the three versions of the pilot story was the cover name for the character of Elaine May Donaldson. In the original pilot it was Elaine Van Nessen; in the television version as well as the feature version it was Elaine Van Every. Illya Kuryakin's badge number is 17 in the pilot rather than 2 during the series. And Solo's hair, after new footage was added, changed back and forth from a slicked back style to the less severe style he wore throughout the series.
The show's first season was in black and white. Rolfe created a kind of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland world, where mundane everyday life would intermittently intersect with the looking-glass fantasy of international espionage which lay just beyond. The U.N.C.L.E. universe was one where the weekly "innocent" would get caught up in a series of fantastic adventures, in a battle of good and evil. Rolfe also blended deadly suspense with a light touch, reminiscent of Hitchcock. In fact, U.N.C.L.E. owes just as much to Alfred Hitchcock as it does to Ian Fleming, the touchstones being Notorious (1946) where an innocent is recruited by a professional spy organization and North by Northwest (1959), where an innocent man is mistaken for an agent of a top-secret organization, one of whose top members is played by Leo G. Carroll. This role led directly to Carroll being cast as Mr. Waverly in the show.
U.N.C.L.E. headquarters in New York City was most frequently entered by a secret entrance in Del Floria's Tailor Shop. Another entrance was through The Masque Club. Mr. Waverly had his own secret entrance. Unlike the other TV series I Spy (Also on NBC) however, the shows were overwhelmingly shot on the MGM back lot. The same building with an imposing exterior staircase was used for episodes set throughout the Mediterranean area and Latin America, and the same dirt road lined with eucalyptus trees on the back lot in Culver City stood in for virtually every continent of the globe. The episodes followed a naming convention where each title was in the form of "The ***** Affair", such as "The Vulcan Affair", "The Mad, Mad, Tea Party Affair", and "The Waverly Ring Affair", etc. The only exception was "Alexander the Greater Affair," parts 1 & 2. The first season episode "The Green Opal Affair" establishes that U.N.C.L.E. itself uses the term "Affair" to refer to its different missions.
Rolfe endeavored to make the implausible elements in the series seem not only feasible but entertaining. In the series, frogmen emerge from wells in Iowa, shootouts occur between U.N.C.L.E. and Thrush agents in a crowded Manhattan movie theater, and top-secret organizations are hidden behind innocuous brownstone facades.
The series also began to dabble in science fictional plots, beginning with "The Double Affair" in which a Thrush agent, made to look like Solo through plastic surgery, infiltrates a secret U.N.C.L.E. facility where an immensely powerful weapon called "Project Earthsave" is stored; according to the dialogue, the weapon was developed to protect against a potential alien threat to Earth. The Spy with My Face was the theatrical film version of this episode.
In its first season The Man from U.N.C.L.E. competed against The Red Skelton Show on CBS and Walter Brennan's short-lived The Tycoon on ABC. During this time producer Norman Felton told Alan Caillou and several of the series writers to make the show more tongue in cheek.
Switching to color, U.N.C.L.E. continued to enjoy huge popularity. Succeeding Rolfe, who left the show at the conclusion of the first season, new showrunner David Victor read articles that called the show a spoof, and consequently that is what it became. Over the next three seasons, five different show runners would supervise the U.N.C.L.E. franchise, and each one took the show in a direction that differed considerably from that of the first season. Furthermore, U.N.C.L.E. had spawned a swarm of imitators. In 1964, it was the only American spy show on U.S. TV; by 1966, there were nearly a dozen. In an attempt to emulate the success of ABC's mid-season hit Batman, which had proven hugely popular with its debut in early 1966, U.N.C.L.E. moved swiftly towards self-parody and slapstick.
This campiness was most evident during the third season, when the producers made a conscious decision to increase the level of humor, though season two had moved in this direction in episodes such as "The Yukon Affair" and "The Indian Affairs Affair." With episodes like "The My Friend the Gorilla Affair" (which featured a scene in which Solo is shown dancing with a gorilla), the show tested the loyalties of its fans. This new direction resulted in a severe ratings drop, and nearly resulted in the show's cancellation. It was renewed for a fourth season and an attempt was made to go back to serious storytelling, but the ratings never recovered and U.N.C.L.E. was cancelled midway through the season.
The theme music, written by Jerry Goldsmith, changed slightly each season. Goldsmith provided only three original scores and was succeeded by Morton Stevens, who composed four scores for the series. After Stevens, Walter Scharf did six scores, and Lalo Schifrin did two. Gerald Fried was composer from season two through the beginning of season four. The final composers were Robert Drasnin (who also scored episodes of Mission: Impossible, as did Schifrin, Scharf, and Fried), Nelson Riddle (whose score for the two-part episode "The Concrete Overcoat Affair" was so loathed by Norman Felton that he never hired the composer again, although the music did get tracked into other third-season episodes), and Richard Shores.
The music reflected the show's changing seasons. Goldsmith, Stevens, and Scharf composed dramatic scores in the first season using brass, unusual time signatures and martial rhythms. Gerald Fried and Robert Drasnin opted for a lighter approach in the second, employing harpsichords and bongos. By the third season, the music, like the show, had become more camp, exemplified by an R&B organ and saxophone version of the theme. The fourth season's attempt at seriousness was duly echoed by Richard Shores' somber scores.
Although album recordings of the series had been made by Hugo Montenegro (ironically, Montenegro never worked on the series itself but did score an episode of Mission: Impossible), and many orchestras did cover versions of the title theme, it wouldn't be until 2002 that the first of three double-disc albums of original music from the series would be released through Film Score Monthly.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
- First Season Main Title (:45) – Jerry Goldsmith
- The Vulcan Affair (14:01) – Jerry Goldsmith
- The Deadly Games Affair (11:48) – Jerry Goldsmith
- The Double Affair (6:51) – Morton Stevens
- The Project Strigas Affair (7:14) – Walter Scharf
- The King of Knaves Affair (12:22) – Jerry Goldsmith
- The Fiddlesticks Affair (6:30) – Lalo Schifrin
- Meet Mr. Solo (2:05) – Jerry Goldsmith
- First Season End Title (:49) – Jerry Goldsmith
- Second Season End Title (:49) – Jerry Goldsmith, arranged by Lalo Schifrin
- Alexander the Greater Affair (13:12) – Gerald Fried
- The Foxes and Hounds Affair (5:16) – Robert Drasnin
- The Discothèque Affair (8:49) – Gerald Fried
- The Re-Collectors Affair (6:29) – Robert Drasnin
- The Arabian Affair (5:29) – Gerald Fried
- The Tigers Are Coming Affair (4:20) – Robert Drasnin
- The Cherry Blossom Affair (5:12) – Gerald Fried
- The Dippy Blonde Affair (7:50) – Robert Drasnin
- Third Season End Title (:39) – Jerry Goldsmith, arr. Gerald Fried
- The Her Master's Voice Affair (4:50) – Gerald Fried
- The Monks of St. Thomas Affair (7:37) – Gerald Fried
- The Pop Art Affair (4:50) – Robert Drasnin
- Fourth Season Main Title (:32) – Jerry Goldsmith, arr. unknown
- The Summit-Five Affair (5:52) – Richard Shores
- The "J" for Judas Affair (8:03) – Richard Shores
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Volume 2
- First Season End Title (1:16) – Jerry Goldsmith
- The Vulcan Affair suite No.2 (9:59) – Jerry Goldsmith
- The Iowa Scuba Affair (6:54) – Morton Stevens
- The Shark Affair (7:55) – Walter Scharf
- The Deadly Games Affair suite No.2 (3:40) – Jerry Goldsmith
- Meet Mr. Solo (1:45) – Jerry Goldsmith
- The Giuoco Piano Affair (3:23) – Walter Scharf
- The King of Knaves Affair suite No.2 (3:40) – Jerry Goldsmith
- First Season Main Title (revised) (:56) – Jerry Goldsmith, arr. Morton Stevens
- The Deadly Decoy Affair (4:32) – Walter Scharf
- The Spy With My Face (5:12) – Morton Stevens
- Second Season Main Title (:37) – Jerry Goldsmith, arr. Lalo Schifrin
- Alexander the Greater Affair (1:25) – Gerald Fried
- The Ultimate Computer Affair (5:00) – Lalo Schifrin
- The Very Important Zombie Affair (4:10) – Gerald Fried
- The Dippy Blonde Affair (2:01) – Robert Drasnin
- The Deadly Goddess Affair (2:31) – Gerald Fried
- The Moonglow Affair (7:09) – Gerald Fried
- One of Our Spies is Missing (3:08) – Jerry Goldsmith, arr. Gerald Fried
- Third Season Main Title (:31) – Jerry Goldsmith, arr. Gerald Fried
- The Sort of Do-It-Yourself Dreadful Affair (6:39) – Gerald Fried
- The Galatea Affair (5:36) – Robert Drasnin
- The Pop Art Affair (4:34) – Robert Drasnin
- The Come With Me to the Casbah Affair (4:16) – Gerald Fried
- The Off-Broadway Affair (7:12) – Gerald Fried
- The Concrete Overcoat Affair (6:48) – Nelson Riddle
- The Napoleon's Tomb Affair (5:17) – Gerald Fried
- Fourth Season Main Title (alternate) (:37) – Jerry Goldsmith, arr. Gerald Fried
- Fourth Season End Title (:36) – Jerry Goldsmith, arr. Robert Armbruster?
- The Test Tube Killer Affair (7:05) – Gerald Fried
- The Prince of Darkness Affair (11:39) – Richard Shores
- The Seven Wonders of the World Affair (11:46) – Richard Shores
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Volume 3: Featuring The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.
- First Season Main Title (revised/extended) (1:00) – Jerry Goldsmith, arr. Morton Stevens
- Jerry Goldsmith Medley (2:57)
- The Quadripartite Affair (3:27) – Walter Scharf
- The Double Affair, suite no. 2 (6:20) – Morton Stevens
- Belly Laughs (2:21) – Jerry Goldsmith
- The Finny Foot Affair (4:51) – Morton Stevens
- The Fiddlesticks Affair, suite no. 2 (5:17) – Lalo Schifrin
- The Yellow Scarf Affair (3:35) – Morton Stevens
- Meet Mr. Solo (3:03) – Jerry Goldsmith
- The Spy with my Face (4:09) – Morton Stevens
- The Discothèque Affair, suite no. 2 (4:31) – Gerald Fried
- The Nowhere Affair (2:48) – Robert Drasnin
- U.N.C.L.E. A Go Go (3:05) – Gerald Fried
- The Bat Cave Affair (4:42) – Gerald Fried
- One of Our Spies is Missing (1:09) – Gerald Fried
- The Monks of St. Thomas Affair, suite no. 2 (3:46) – Gerald Fried
- The Spy in the Green Hat (3:19) – Jerry Goldsmith, arr. Gerald Fried and Robert Armbruster
- Gerald Fried Medley (7:21)
- The Karate Killers (1:51) – Gerald Fried
- Richard Shores Medley (6:37)
- The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. Main Title (:34) – Jerry Goldsmith, arr. Dave Grusin
- The Dog-gone Affair (5:28) – Dave Grusin
- The Prisoner of Zalamar Affair (6:32) – Richard Shores
- The Mother Muffin Affair (10:59) – Dave Grusin
- The Mata Hari Affair (7:44) – Dave Grusin
- The Montori Device Affair (5:31) – Richard Shores
- The Horns-of-the-Dilemma Affair (2:05) – Jack Marshall
- The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. End Title (:39) – Jerry Goldsmith, arr. Dave Grusin
- The Deadly Quest Affair: Teaser (3:57)
- The Deadly Quest Affair: Act I (7:48)
- The Deadly Quest Affair: Act II (9:07)
- The Deadly Quest Affair: Act III (7:24)
- The Deadly Quest Affair: Act IV (8:06)
Tracks 9–13 Jerry Goldsmith, ad. and arr. Robert Armbruster
FSM also released The Spy With My Face: Music From The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movies, a disc of music specifically written for the feature film versions culled from episodes of the series (One Of Our Spies Is Missing and The Karate Killers are particularly strongly represented, due to the original TV episodes – "The Bridge Of Lions Affair" and "The Five Daughters Affair" respectively – having been tracked with music written for other episodes).
To Trap A Spy (Jerry Goldsmith):
1. Main Title/Solo Strikes Again (Main Title) (1:19)
2. The Kiss Off/Main Title (Meet Mr. Solo/End Title) (1:54)
The Spy With My Face (Morton Stevens):
3. Main Title (4:09)
4. Phase Two/Sub Male/Bugged Bobo (3:09)
5. New Alps/Impostor's First Test/Cyanide Cigarette (2:52)
6. Incarcerated Swinging (5:01)
7. The Real McCoy/End Title (2:17)
One Spy Too Many (Gerald Fried):
8. Dog Fight on Wheels (Main Title) – Goldsmith, arr. Fried (2:56)
9. Briefcase/Follow That Spy (:55)
10. The Three Alexanders/The Great Design (2:45)
11. Farm/Skip Loader/Wrong Driver (2:28)
12. End Title – Goldsmith, arr. Schifrin (:31)
One Of Our Spies Is Missing (Gerald Fried):
13. Main Title – Goldsmith, arr. Fried (3:08)
14. Go-Go in Soho/Cat Jam (1:46)
15. Duel by Flashlight/Fat Vat/Bridge of Lions (3:36)
16. Love With the Proper Mannequin/Thrush Cycle (1:29)
17. Thrush Guards/The Sacrifice/Jordin's Demise (2:31)
18. Hot Tie (1:58)
19. End Title – Goldsmith, arr. Fried (:37)
The Spy In The Green Hat (Nelson Riddle):
20. Main Title – Goldsmith, arr. Fried/Robert Armbruster (2:09)
21. Sicilian Style/Sacre! (1:22)
22. Stilletto Tango/Wrong Uncle (1:52)
23. Von Kronen/Kit Kat Klub (1:29)
24. Mr. Impeccable/I Sure Do/Right! (1:38)
25. End Title – Goldsmith, arr. Fried/Armbruster (:32)
The Karate Killers (Gerald Fried):
26. Main Title – Goldsmith, arr. Fried/Search Party (2:46)
27. Coliseum a Go Go/Arrivederci/Drain Pipe (3:08)
28. Along the Seine/Anyone for Venice (2:45)
29. Snow Goons/Touchdown (02:30)
30. Sidewalks of Japan (1:40)
31. Karate & Stick Game (1:24)
32. Mod Wedding/End Cast (1:03)
The Helicopter Spies (Jerry Goldsmith, arr. Armbruster):
33. Main Title (2:01)
34. End Title (:25)
How To Steal The World (Richard Shores):
35. Crazy Airport (Main Title) (2:08)
36. Trouble in Hong Kong (End Title) (:37)
Guest stars and other actors
Apart from Solo, Kuryakin, and Waverly, very few characters appeared on the show with any regularity. As a result, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. featured a large number of high-profile guest performers during its three and a half year run.
William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy appeared together in a 1964 episode, "The Project Strigas Affair", a full two years before Star Trek aired for the first time. Shatner played a heroic civilian recruited for an U.N.C.L.E. mission, and Nimoy played a rival of the villain's henchman. The villain was portrayed by Werner Klemperer. James Doohan appeared in multiple episodes, each time as a different character.
Barbara Feldon played an U.N.C.L.E. translator eager for field work in "The Never-Never Affair," one year before becoming one of the stars of the very different spy series Get Smart. Robert Culp played the villain in 1964's "The Shark Affair." Leigh Chapman appeared in a recurring role as Napoleon Solo's secretary, Sarah, for several episodes in 1965.
Woodrow Parfrey appeared five times as a guest performer, although he never received an opening-title credit. Usually cast as a scientist, he played the primary villain in only one episode, "The Cherry Blossom Affair." Another five-time guest star was Jill Ireland, who at the time was married to David McCallum. Ricardo Montalbán appeared in two episodes as the primary villain. "The Five Daughters Affair" featured a cameo appearance by Joan Crawford. Janet Leigh and Jack Palance appeared in "The Concrete Overcoat Affair" and Sonny and Cher made an appearance in the third season episode "The Hot Number Affair". Other notable guest stars included: Richard Anderson, Whitney Blake, Joan Blondell, Lloyd Bochner, Judy Carne, Roger C. Carmel, Joan Collins, Walter Coy, Elsa Lanchester; Yvonne Craig, Kim Darby, Albert Dekker, Ivan Dixon, Anne Francis, James Hong, Allen Jenkins, Richard Kiel, Angela Lansbury, Julie London, Leslie Nielsen, William Marshall, Eve McVeagh, Carroll O'Connor, David Opatoshu, Eleanor Parker, Slim Pickens, Vincent Price, Dorothy Provine, Cesar Romero, Charles Ruggles, Kurt Russell, Rip Torn, Guthrie Thomas, Nancy Sinatra, Terry-Thomas, Fritz Weaver, and Elen Willard (in her last acting appearance).
Solo and Kuryakin, trained in martial arts, also had a range of useful spy equipment, including handheld satellite communicators to keep in contact with U.N.C.L.E. headquarters. A catchphrase often heard was "Open Channel D" when agents used their pocket radios; these were originally disguised as cigarette packs, later as cigarette cases, and still later as fountain pens. One of the original pen communicators now resides in the museum of the Central Intelligence Agency. The museum is not accessible to the public. Replicas have been made over the years for other displays, and this is the second-most-identifiable prop from the series (closely following the U.N.C.L.E. Special pistol).
A few of the third-and fourth-season episodes featured an "U.N.C.L.E. car", which was a modified "Piranha Coupe", a plastic-bodied concept car based on the Chevrolet Corvair chassis, built in limited numbers by custom car designer Gene Winfield.
One prop, designed by toy designer Reuben Klamer often referred to as "The Gun", drew so much attention that it actually spurred considerable fan mail, and often so addressed. Internally designated the "U.N.C.L.E. Special", it was a modular semi-automatic weapon. The basic pistol could be converted into a longer-range carbine by attaching a long barrel, extendable shoulder stock, Bushnell telescopic sight, and extended magazine. In this "carbine mode", the pistol could fire on full automatic. This capability brought authorities to the set to investigate reports that the studio was manufacturing machine guns illegally. They threatened to confiscate the prop guns. It took a tour of the prop room to convince them that these were actually "dummy" pistols incapable of firing live ammunition. The actual pistol used as the prop was the Mauser Model 1934 Pocket Pistol, but it was unreliable, jammed constantly, and was dwarfed by the carbine accessories. It was soon replaced by the larger and more reliable Walther P38.
The long magazine was actually a standard magazine with a dummy extension on it, but it inspired several manufacturers to begin making long magazines for various pistols. While many of these continue to be available 40 years later, long magazines were not available for the P-38 for some years.[clarification needed]
The P38 fired the standard 9 mm bullet, although sometimes it was loaded with a special dart tipped with a fast-acting tranquilizer when it was preferable to have a live prisoner. The drug lasted, according to Solo, about two hours.
Thrush had a range of weaponry of their own, much of it only in the development stage before being destroyed by the heroes. A notable item was the infra-red sniperscope, enabling them to aim gunfire in total darkness. A major design defect of the sniperscope was that its image tube's power supply emitted a distinctive whining sound when operating, giving away the shooter's concealed position. It also required a heavy battery and cable arrangement to power the scope. The prop was built from a U.S. Army-surplus M1 carbine with a vertical foregrip and barrel compensator, and using real Army surplus infrared scopes. The infra-red special effect was achieved using a searchlight to illuminate the target. The fully equipped carbines were seen only once, in "The Iowa Scuba Affair". After that, a mock-up of the scope was used to make handling easier.
German small arms were well represented in the series. Not only were P38s frequently seen (both as the U.N.C.L.E. Special and in standard configuration), but also the Luger P-08 pistol. In the pilot episode "The Vulcan Affair", Illya Kuryakin is carrying a standard U.S. Army .45 pistol. The "Broomhandle" Mauser carbines and MP 40 machine pistols were favored by opponents, both Thrush and non-Thrush. U.N.C.L.E. also used the MP 40. Beginning in the third season, both U.N.C.L.E and Thrush used rifles which were either the Spanish CETME or the Heckler & Koch G3, which was based on the CETME.
There were also an assortment of other weapons, ranging from sniper and military rifles to pistols of various caliber, plus swords, knives, bludgeons, staffs, chains, and the like.
Awards and nominations
- 1965: Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment – Actors and Performers (Nominated) – David McCallum
- 1965: Outstanding Program Achievements in Entertainment (Nominated) – Sam Rolfe
- 1966: Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series (Nominated) – David McCallum
- 1966: Outstanding Dramatic Series (Nominated) – Norman Felton
- 1966: Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Drama (Nominated) – Leo G. Carroll
- 1966: Individual Achievements in Music – Composition (Nominated) – Jerry Goldsmith
- 1967: Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Drama (Nominated) – Leo G. Carroll
- 1965: Best TV Star – Male (Nominated) – Robert Vaughn
- 1966: Best TV Star – Male (Nominated) – Robert Vaughn
- 1966: Best TV Star – Male (Nominated) – David McCallum
- 1966: Best TV Show (Won)
- 1967: Best TV Show (Nominated)
- 1966: Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Show (Nominated)- Lalo Schifrin, Morton Stevens, Walter Scharf, Jerry Goldsmith
- 1966: Best Overseas Show (Won)
The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.
The series was popular enough to generate a spin-off series, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. The "girl" was first introduced during "The Moonglow Affair" (February 25, 1966) an episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and was then played by Mary Ann Mobley. The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. spin-off series ran for one season, starring Stefanie Powers as agent "April Dancer", a character name credited to Ian Fleming, and Noel Harrison as agent Mark Slate. There was some crossover between the two shows, and Leo G. Carroll played Mr. Waverly in both programs, becoming the second actor in American television to star as the same character in two separate series. (The first had been Frank Cady, who played general store owner Sam Drucker on Petticoat Junction and Green Acres.
An example of this, the Louis Marx "Target Gun Set", a dart gun shooting game released in the form of a quasi-playset, is built around the setting of U.N.C.L.E. headquarters in New York City. Art on the cardboard stand displays both the U.N.C.L.E. and Thrush logos, and a half-dozen soft plastic figures per "side" were provided, including Solo, Kuyrakin and Waverly. These were marked on the base with the character names and the MGM copyright statement "MGM MCMLXVI" (figures not based on specific characters sport only the Marx copyright and date). The game measures 57" long by 18" tall; the figures, at 6", represent one of the few attempts Marx made at supplementing its 6" figure line. The U.N.C.L.E. figures are cast in blue, but for a single (unnamed) figure in tan; Thrush agents are cast in gray. Marx was also responsible for an arcade game, licensed under The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. rated so highly in America and the UK that MGM and the producers decided to film extra footage (often more adult to evoke Bond films) for two of the first season episodes and release them to theaters after they had aired on TV. The episodes with the extra footage that made it to theaters were the original pilot, "The Vulcan Affair," retitled To Trap a Spy and also from the first season, "The Double Affair" retitled as The Spy with My Face. Both had added sex and violence, new sub-plots and guest stars not in the original TV episodes. They were released in early 1966 as an U.N.C.L.E. double-feature program first run in neighborhood theaters, bypassing the customary downtown movie palaces which were still thriving in the mid-1960s and where new movies usually played for weeks and even months before coming to outlying screens.
A selling point to seeing these films theatrically was that they were being shown in color, at a time when most people had only black and white TVs (and indeed the two first-season episodes that were expanded to feature length, while filmed in color, were only broadcast in black and white). The words IN COLOR featured prominently on the trailers, TV spots, and posters for the film releases. The episodes used to make U.N.C.L.E. films were not included in the packages of television episodes screened outside the United States.
Subsequent two-part episodes, beginning with the second season premiere, "Alexander The Greater Affair," retitled One Spy Too Many for its theatrical release, were developed into one complete feature film with only occasional extra sexy and violent footage added to them, sometimes as just inserts. In the case of One Spy Too Many, a subplot featuring Yvonne Craig as an U.N.C.L.E. operative carrying on a flirtatious relationship with Solo was also added to the film; Craig does not appear in the television episodes.
The later films were not released in America, only overseas, but the first few did well in American theaters and remain one of the rare examples of a television show released in paid theatrical engagements. With the exception of the two-part episode "The Five Daughters Affair," shown as part of Granada Plus's run of the series, the episodes which became movies have never aired on British television.
The films in the series:
- To Trap a Spy (1964)
- The Spy with My Face (1965)
- One Spy Too Many (1966)
- One of Our Spies Is Missing (1966)
- The Spy in the Green Hat (1966)
- The Karate Killers (1967)
- The Helicopter Spies (1968)
- How to Steal the World (1968)
Several comic books based on the series were published. In the US, there was a Gold Key Comics comic book series (one based on the show), which ran for twenty-two issues. Entertainment Publishing released an eleven issue series of one- and two-part stories from January 1987 to September 1988 that updated U.N.C.L.E. to the Eighties, while largely ignoring the reunion TV-movie. A two-part comics story, "The Birds of Prey Affair," was put out by Millennium Publications in 1993, which showcased the return of a smaller, much more streamlined version of Thrush, controlled by Dr. Egret, who had melded with the Ultimate Computer. The script was written by Mark Ellis and Terry Collins with artwork by Nick Choles, and transplanted the characters into the present day.
Two Man from U.N.C.L.E. strips were originated for the British market in the 1960s (some Gold Key material was also reprinted), the most notable for Lady Penelope comic, which launched in January 1966. This was replaced by a Girl from U.N.C.L.E. strip in January 1967. Man from U.N.C.L.E. also featured in the short-lived title Solo (published between February and September 1967) and some text stories appeared in TV Tornado.
Two dozen novels were based upon Man from U.N.C.L.E. and published between 1965 and 1968. Unhampered by television censors, the novels were generally grittier and more violent than the televised episodes. The series sold in the millions, and was the largest TV-novel tie-in franchise until surpassed by Dark Shadows and Star Trek.
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (a.k.a. The Thousand Coffins Affair) by Michael Avallone. When villages in Africa and Scotland are wiped out by a plague of madness, Solo and Kuryakin dig up a graveyard and a monster named Golgotha.
- The Doomsday Affair by Harry Whittington. The agents must find the mystery man "Tixe Ylno" before he triggers war between the USA and the USSR.
- The Copenhagen Affair by John Oram. "UFOs" are buzzing Europe, and the U.N.C.L.E. agents crisscross Denmark to find the factory before Thrush launches an armed fleet.
- The Dagger Affair by David McDaniel. DAGGER fanatics have an energy damper that can shut down electrical fields, atomic reactions, and human beings, and even T.H.R.U.S.H. is panicked. This novel is when McDaniel introduced the acronym T.H.R.U.S.H.
- The Mad Scientist Affair by John T. Phillifent. The agents stop biochemist "King Mike" from poisoning London, then discover his second plan is to contaminate the entire North Sea.
- The Vampire Affair by David McDaniel. Napoleon and Illya don’t believe in vampires and werewolves, but an U.N.C.L.E. agent has died, so they must investigate an ancient castle in Transylvanian Romania.
- The Radioactive Camel Affair by Peter Leslie. Solo joins a caravan and Kuryakin threads a war zone to reach a missile base deep in the Sudan hinterlands.
- The Monster Wheel Affair by David McDaniel. The agents canvass the globe and infiltrate a remote island to confirm an inexplicable space station belongs to - Egypt?
- The Diving Dames Affair by Peter Leslie. The deaths of two merry missionaries lead the agents to the plains of Brazil and a giant dam with no apparent purpose.
- The Assassination Affair by J. Hunter Holly. Surviving assassins' bullets and a "do-it-yourself murder room", the agents follow T.H.R.U.S.H. to desolated Michigan farms and a scheme to starve the world.
- The Invisibility Affair by Thomas Stratton (Buck Coulson and Gene DeWeese). The agents track an invisible dirigible to a submarine in Lake Michigan - and a plot to hijack an entire country.
- The Mind Twisters Affair by Thomas Stratton. People in a college town are unaccountably catatonic, euphoric, and raging. The agents must ferret out who and how before the "experiment" goes nationwide.
- The Rainbow Affair by David McDaniel. The agents consult every classic fictional spy and detective in England to find the world's best bank robber before T.H.R.U.S.H. can recruit - or kill - him.
- The Cross of Gold Affair by Fredric Davies (Ron Ellik and Fredric Langley). Clues hidden in crossword puzzles lead the agents, hippies, and frogmen to a Coney Island death-trap to stop the biggest heist in history.
- The Utopia Affair by David McDaniel. Solo must command U.N.C.L.E. North America while Waverly is on a forced six-week vacation, and an undercover Illya tries to protect Waverly from T.H.R.U.S.H. assassins.
- The Splintered Sunglasses Affair by Peter Leslie
- The Hollow Crown Affair by David McDaniel. In the last published David McDaniel's novel, T.H.R.U.S.H. Ward and Irene Baldwin from The Dagger Affair return in a battle against an U.N.C.L.E. lab chief who has defected to T.H.R.U.S.H.
- The Unfair Fare Affair by Peter Leslie
- The Power Cube Affair by John T. Phillifent
- The Corfu Affair by John T. Phillifent
- The Thinking Machine Affair by Joel Bernard
- The Stone Cold Dead in the Market Affair by John Oram
- The Finger in the Sky Affair by Peter Leslie
- The Final Affair by David McDaniel. Completed but never published, the manuscript is circulated by fans.
Volumes 10–15 and 17 of the series were only published in the United States.
The Rainbow Affair is notable for unnamed cameos by The Saint, Miss Marple, John Steed, Emma Peel, Willie Garvin, Tommy Hambledon, Neddie Seagoon, Father Brown, a retired Sherlock Holmes, and Dr. Fu Manchu.
Whitman Books published three hardcover novels aimed at young readers: The Affair of the Gunrunners' Gold and The Affair of the Gentle Saboteur by Brandon Keith, and The Calcutta Affair by George S. Elrick. The first two are notable for breaking the ".... Affair" naming convention used by the franchise on most other TV episodes and book releases.
A children's storybook was written by Walter B. Gibson entitled The Coin of El Diablo Affair.
The digest-sized Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine featured original novellas continuing the adventures of Solo and Kuryakin. Published under the house name "Robert Hart Davis," they were written by such authors as John Jakes, Dennis Lynds, and Bill Pronzini. 24 issues, which also offered original crime and spy fiction short stories and novelettes, and occasional reprints under the title "Department of Lost Stories," ran monthly from February 1966 till January 1968.
Three science-fiction novels appear to be rewrites of "orphaned" U.N.C.L.E novel outlines or manuscripts: Genius Unlimited by John Rackham (a pseudonym of Phillifent), The Arsenal Out of Time by McDaniel, and Agent Of T.E.R.R.A. #1: The Flying Saucer Gambit by Jack Jardine (writing as Larry Maddock).
There have been four TV Annuals published in UK between 1967-1970 by World Distributors which features written stories and reprint of a Gold Key story which were never published in the UK.
Reunion TV movie
A reunion telefilm, Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. subtitled The Fifteen Years Later Affair, was broadcast on CBS in America on April 5, 1983, with Vaughn and McCallum reprising their roles, and Patrick Macnee replacing Leo G. Carroll as the head of U.N.C.L.E. A framed picture of Carroll appeared on his desk. The movie included a tribute to Ian Fleming via a cameo appearance by an unidentified secret agent with the initials "J.B." The part was played by George Lazenby who was shown driving James Bond's trademark vehicle, an Aston Martin DB5. One character, identifying him, says that it is "just like On Her Majesty's Secret Service", which was Lazenby's only Bond film.
The movie, written by Michael Sloan and directed by Ray Austin, briefly filled in the missing years. T.H.R.U.S.H. has been put out of business, and the remaining leader was in prison. (His escape begins the story.) Illya, who quit U.N.C.L.E. after a mission went sour and an innocent woman was killed, now designs women's clothing at Vanya's in New York. Napoleon was pushed out of U.N.C.L.E., and now is employed selling computers. He still carries his U.N.C.L.E. pen radio for sentimental reasons and this is how the organization is able to contact him after so many years.
Solo and Kuryakin are recalled to recapture the escapee and defeat T.H.R.U.S.H. once and for all, but the movie misfired on a key point: instead of reuniting the agents on the mission and showcasing their witty interaction, the agents were separated and paired with younger agents. Like most similar reunion films, this production was considered a trial balloon for a possible new series which, unfortunately, never materialized.
Although some personnel from the original series were involved (like composer Gerald Fried and director of photography Fred Koenekamp), the movie was not produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer but by Michael Sloan Productions in association with Viacom Productions - Sloan, Vaughn, and McCallum are pictured in the Michael Sloan Productions logo at the end of the movie.
A film adaptation of the television series has been produced by Warner Bros. and Turner Entertainment. Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film stars Armie Hammer, Henry Cavill, and Hugh Grant as Kuryakin, Solo, and Waverly, respectively. Filming began in September 2013, and the movie was released on August 14, 2015. The film received generally positive to mixed reviews.
In November 2007, after coming to an agreement with Warner Home Video, Time-Life released a 41 DVD set (region 1) for direct order, with sales through stores scheduled for fall 2008. An earlier release by Anchor Bay, allegedly set for 2006, was apparently scuttled because of a dispute over the rights to the series with Warner Home Video.
On Oct. 21, 2008, the Time-Life set was released to retail outlets in Region 1 (North America) in a special all-seasons box set contained within a small briefcase. The complete-series set consists of 41 DVDs, including two discs of special features included exclusively with the box set. Included in the set was the Solo pilot episode, as well as one of the films, One Spy Too Many.
In Region 2, Warner Bros. released the complete series set on DVD in the UK They also released a separate movie collection on September 8, 2003. The DVD contains five of the eight movies, missing the following: To Trap a Spy (1964), The Spy in the Green Hat (1966) and One of Our Spies is Missing (1966).
U.N.C.L.E. in popular culture
References to the show in popular culture began during its original broadcast when it was parodied in an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, fittingly titled "The Man from My Uncle". References in other television shows have continued over the years, including a 2010 episode of Mad Men, "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword". It has also been referenced in other television shows including Get Smart, Angry Beavers, and Laugh-In. An episode of Tom & Jerry from the Chuck Jones era entitled "The Mouse from H.U.N.G.E.R." paid homage to the show, with Jerry as a secret agent tasked with the mission of retrieving a sizeable stash of cheese from the villainous Tom Thrush (portrayed by Tom).
The Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. was a Man From U.N.C.L.E. parody in 1960s Archie Comics. The comic portrayed Archie and the gang as a group of high-tech spies, as part of world-defence organization P.O.P. (an acronym for Protect our Planet). Their chief enemy was a counter-group known as C.R.U.S.H. (a spoof on T.H.R.U.S.H., but whose acronym was never explained). Although Reggie, Veronica and Moose were initially cast as C.R.U.S.H. agents, they later became members of P.O.P. All the characters also had undefined acronyms for names (A.R.C.H.I.E., B.E.T.T.Y., etc.).
The TV show My Favorite Martian (1963–1966) also used CRUSH as the name of the evil spy organization, spoofing T.H.R.U.S.H. in two episodes. In the season two episode "006 3/4" Tim finds a distress note from Agent 006 of Top Secret, who is being tracked by CRUSH. Top Secret asks Tim to assist Agent 004, to save 006. In the season three episode "Butterball" Uncle Martin must rescue Tim who is kidnapped by Butterball.
In a 1966 episode of the sitcom Please Don't Eat the Daisies titled "Say UNCLE", the young twins are fans of The Man From U.N.C.L.E, and become convinced that their father Jim is a secret agent. In one scene, they watch Jim emerge from a tailor shop similar to Del Florio's. Another man entering the shop asks Jim for a match, and Jim gives him his matchbook. The boys are astonished, because the other man is David McCallum, identified in the ending credits as Illya Kuryakin; they believe their father has just passed a secret message to the "real-life" Illya Kuryakin. The scene ends with the U.N.C.L.E scene transition: the action freezes and goes out of focus.
It was also referenced in Glad commercials in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which starred the "Man from GLAD", a trench coat wearing agent who flew around in his combination boat/helicopter demonstrating Glad products to suburban housewives and saving the day.
Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee stated in the introduction notes of Son of Origins of Marvel Comics that the Marvel Universe spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. was inspired by the Man From U.N.C.L.E. television program.
Musical examples include Elvis Costello's 1980 album Get Happy!!, and an Argentinian Funk duo who took the name Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas honoring the fictitious spy. Alma Cogan paid a similar tribute to the Russian agent in her single "Love Ya Illya," released in 1966 under the pseudonym "Angela and the Fans". In the 1980s, Cleaners From Venus penned "Ilya Kuryakin Looked at Me"; the song was later covered by The Jennifers. The English 2 Tone band The Specials made an instrumental song called "Napoleon Solo". It was also the name of a Danish 2 Tone band. Space–surf band Man or Astro-man? covered the theme song for their 1994 EP Astro Launch. The British trip-hop group U.N.K.L.E. derive their name from the show.
In a late, 1986 episode of The A-Team, Robert Vaughn - who had been added to the show's cast as mysterious retired agent Hunt Stockwell for the show's final season, as part of a revamp effort to revive flagging ratings - was reunited with guest star David McCallum, in an episode entitled "The 'Say U.N.C.L.E.' Affair". This story paid homage to The Man from U.N.C.L.E., complete with "chapter titles", the word "affair" in the title, the phrase "Open Channel D", similar scene transitions, and much mention of Vaughn and McCallum's respective characters having once worked closely together as agents. However in this story, McCallum's agent had gone bad, selling out to the enemy and now capturing Vaughn to try to find out the whereabouts of a Soviet jet fighter.
In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–1999), the Promenade directory lists "Del Floria's Tailor Shop" as a location.
Since 2003 McCallum has starred in the CBS television series NCIS as Dr Donald "Ducky" Mallard, the Medical Examiner and one of the key characters. During the episode "The Meat Puzzle" (Season 2, Episode 13 ), as an inside joke, NCIS agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs is asked, "What did Ducky look like when he was younger?" Gibbs responds, "Illya Kuryakin". The photo supposedly of a younger Ducky is actually a promotional photo from McCallum's Man from U.N.C.L.E. days.
The protagonist in the video games The Operative: No One Lives Forever (2000) and No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way (2002) works for an organization known as U.N.I.T.Y. The villains in both games work for an organization known as H.A.R.M.
On the fifth episode of the fourth season of Mad Men (2010), "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword", as Sally Draper is watching an episode of the show at a sleepover, she is caught by her friend's mother absent-mindedly masturbating while staring at the television.
Ben Elton: The Man from Auntie was a British television comedy series written and performed by Ben Elton. The title of the series was a play on words of the American spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and "Auntie", an informal name for the BBC.
A scene from Man From UNCLE is shown in the HBO movie, Temple Grandin (2010 film), the biographical movie of a high functioning autistic woman who overcomes many of her symptoms to become a PhD in Animal Sciences and in an early scene on the film she repeats a line from it ("Would you like me to open that gate?").
- Heitland, Jon The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Book: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of a Television Classic St. Martin's Press, 1987 p.14
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- p.52 Alan Caillou Interview with Tom Weaver Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Flashbacks: Conversations with 24 Actors, Writers, Producers and Directors from the Golden Age McFarland, 2004
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