Sunday, January 31, 2010

This Week's Poll: Who Are Your Favorite Secret Agents on TV from the 1960s?

After this past week's Dr. No discussion, I thought it'd be fun to focus the weekly poll on secret agents that appeared in television series. The richest era for TV spies was the 1960s when Bond's popularity exploded and the U.S. & the Soviet Union were embroiled in the Cold War. It was surprisingly difficult to narrow the voting field down to a manageable size. Part of the problem is that some TV shows featured protagonists who did as much detective work as actual espionage. In many cases, I had to make a judgment The Avengers made the list and The Champions and The Saint didn't. I'm ready to take the heat for omitting No. 6 from The Prisoner. That said, any fan of that classic series knows it's about far more than spying. Without further ado, here are your candidates:

John Drake (Patrick McGoohan) from Secret Agent (aka Danger Man) - Cynical, cool under pressure, and resourceful, Drake was the prototypical British spy in the 1960s. He rarely used a gun, preferring to live by his wits instead. Surprisingly athletic...he pole vaults over a high obstacle in one episode.

Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum) from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. - An early example of glasnost, Solo and Kuryakin were a secret agent odd couple: Solo was laid-back, smooth, and had a roving eye for the ladies; Kuryakin was more intense and intellectual (he played chess!). He also got more fan mail from female viewers (well, David McCallum did).

Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) and Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) from Get Smart - Would you believe that Smart was the top agent for CONTROL, an international counter-espionage agency trying to avert KAOS? Smart typically got the job done--often with more than a little help from the reliable, intelligent Agent 99. Of course, Smart could also completely botch a mission, as when he was supposed a guard a scientist who is assassinated as Smart stands beside him talking on the phone!

James West (Robert Conrad) and Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin) from The Wild Wild West - Proving that secret agents could thrive in the Western genre, James T. West battled villains such as the nefarious Dr. Loveless when he wasn't romancing his female co-stars. His partner Artemus was a master of disguises, which turned out to be an essential skill.

John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) from The Avengers - Steed was the unflappable English gentleman who typically appeared in bowler and cane. Mrs. Peel was his brainy, athletic partner who sported jump suits and dispatched villains with her martial arts prowess.

David March from Blue Light - For a single season, Robert Goulet starred as an American traitor working for the Nazis during World War II.  But wait...he's really an American spy! It was based on the William Holden film The Counterfeit Traitor. "Blue Light" was March's code name.

Kelly Robinson (Robert Culp) and Alexander Scott (Bill Cosby) from I Spy - Robinson is an international tennis player and Scott is his trainer--but really that's just a cover for their undercover work as spies. Still, you gotta think these two are the best athletes of the secret agents in this group.

Those are your candidates! Please cast your vote in the green sidebar. (Note: If you were one of the two people who voted prior to 9:00 pm CST on Sunday, please vote again!)


  1. Rick, What no Kelly or Scotty? What's Up With That. So you leave me to have to go with Secert Agent Man, John Drake

  2. Rick my comment was before your wise addition of Kelly & Scott . Thank you and Never Mind. LOL.

  3. Rick, I voted for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. One of my favorite TV shows.

  4. Dawn, I also really liked The Man from U.N.C.L.E. when I was young. The neighborhood children and I used to play our own version of it: The Kid from U.N.C.L.E. On The Wild Wild West I liked Artemus Gordon more than James West. For me, it is between Secret Agent and The Avengers. And I will need to give this more consideration before I vote. Great poll idea, Rick!

  5. I remember a very different BLUE LIGHT (and poorer sequel, GREEN LIGHT).