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Friday, August 14, 2015

Catching up with Robert Vaughn, the original man from U.N.C.L.E

If you’re under the age of 50, it’s possible you aren’t even aware that Guy Ritchie’s new Cold War spy thriller The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is another Hollywood reboot. Henry Cavill plays Napoleon Solo, a Mad Men-era secret agent who becomes reluctant partners with Armie Hammer’s Soviet superspy after a rogue organization threatens the world with a live nuke.

But Robert Vaughn was the original Napoleon Solo, an American 007 in the age of Kennedy. For four seasons beginning in 1964, he teamed with David McCallum’s Ilya Kuryakin and helped the secret United Network Command for Law and Enforcement organization thwart evildoers named with Bond-like acronymns like T.H.R.U.S.H. Riding the wave of Bond mania, the show became an instant hit for NBC before flaming out nearly as quickly, but it left a mark on the culture — and certainly on Vaughn’s career. Now 82, Vaughn had been nominated for an Oscar in The Young Philadelphians and appeared in The Magnificent Seven, but playing Solo made him a household name. He would go on to a steady career, with popular highlights that included reuniting with hisMagnificent Seven costar Steve McQueen in Bullitt and playing the villainous corporate titan in Superman III.

If you think the new U.N.C.L.E. gives off the vibe of a more playful Bond film — one of the Roger Moore’s installments, perhaps — well, you’re right. And Vaughn, who recently appeared in an episode ofLaw & Order: Special Victims Unit, explains that the original show was conceived in much the same way, with Ian Fleming’s blessing. Fifty years later, the proud grandfather is still plenty pleased with his days as an international man of mystery...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I recently saw him in a British series, Hustle, where he played a conman, and the mentor to a team of con artists. Very entertaining.