Wednesday, May 30, 2012

15 Greatest TV Characters of the 1960s: Maxwell Smart

Name: Maxwell Smart, aka Agent 86

Portrayed by: Don Adams

TV series: Get Smart (1965-70)

Occupation: Secret agent for CONTROL.

Early Life: Born in Washington, DC, in 1930. Had a brother. Served in the Army during the Korean War. Failed the torture class three times in spy school, but still apparently graduated.

Family and Friends: He eventually married his partner, Agent 99; they had twins, whose names were never revealed. Max's boss is The Chief (first name Thaddeus), who became bald within a few weeks of Max becoming a CONTROL agent. Max's friends included fellow agent Larabee, Agent 13 (who hides in furniture, trash cans, mail boxes, etc.), Agent 44, and Hymie the robot.

Awards:  Won "Spy of the Year" in 1965 and 1966.Voted one of the "Ten Best Dressed Spies."

Nemesis: Siegfried, the Vice President of Public Relations and Terrorism for KAOS.

Useful Skills:  Karate expert; fluent in several languages.

Classic quotes:  "Missed it by that much!"  "Would you believe (fill in the blank)?"  "The old (fill in the blank) trick."  "And loving it!"

Classic episodes: "A Spy for a Spy" (first appearance of Siegfried); "The King Lives" (a Prisoner of Zenda spoof with Don Adams doing a great Ronald Colman impersonation); and "The Impossible Mission" (a spoof of Mission: Impossible...and Max proposes to 99).


  1. This file about Maxwell Smart is awesome! I love Get Smart and the show was some kind of introduction to classic entertainment to me. I just missed any mention of the silence cone.

  2. Excellent pick for the 15th great TV character from the 1960s! Agent 86 is an example of how almost anything possible that could go wrong does, yet everything works out well in the end. I especially loved the Prisoner of Zenda spoof because it truly showcased Don Adams's talent. Siegfried was the perfect foil for Smart. I can still hear my father laughing when our family would watch "Get Smart" together. Great post, Rick!

  3. An example of sustained silliness that actually worked. Maxwell Smart was the only person who didn't realize what a fool and klutz he was. But what a classic sitcom setup--one oddball character completely blind to his nature and a group of other straight characters who must tolerate his eccentricity without getting overwhelmed with frustration. What about his catch phrase "Sorry about that" that he uttered every time he goofed up. Wasn't he the one who originated this phrase, which has entered the realm of common usage today?

  4. Excellent choice! I adore Max. The whole show still works beautifully. Good comedy is always good comedy.

    Next to Sigfried my favourite CHAOS agent is Simon the Likeable. How brilliant is Simon the Likeable?