When it came to 1960’s spies, James Bond may have ruled the big screen, but on television The Man From U.N.C.L.E. won hands down.
The best part was every week starting in 1964 we got to see good versus evil play out from the comfort of our own living rooms.
Sure every girl had a crush on his Russian sidekick Illya Kuriakin, the “cute one,” but I much preferred the dashing Napoleon Solo, played by Robert Vaughn.
They were the good guys agents of U.N.C.L.E. and each week they battled the bad guys –agents of THRUSH a shady criminal organization bent on world domination.
If it seemed a little like James Bond well it could be because the shows creator was Ian Fleming the man responsible for James Bond.
He and U.N.C.L.E.’s producer Sam Rolfe, got together to do a tongue in cheek version of the spy thriller. Fleming wanted to call it “Solo” after a character in one of his James Bond books, Goldfinger. But when Fleming had to withdraw from the project because of a heart attack, the owners of the Bond films told Rolfe they owned the name. The show was changed to U.N.C.L.E. and the main character became Napoleon Solo.
In the cold war spy vs spy world of the 1960’s, suburbia was filled with untold small fry wanna-be spies and manufacturers were more than happy to lend a hand offering up all sorts of Man From U.N.C.L.E. merchandise to help out the kiddies in their undercover adventures.