Maxwell Smart is one of the top agents of Control,
a secret spy agency with a direct hotline to LBJ in the White House. Perhaps this had something to do with Johnson only serving one
Presidential term. But we digress. Bumbling Max might be, but it shouldn't be ignored that he does eventually get the job done.
Whether it's in a gun fight or a tumbling, fist fight, Max usually prevails. Compare this with the number of times those top UNCLE agents,
Napoleon and Ilya, end up in the hands of the bad guys, and Max's score doesn't look all that bad.
A small bantum rooster, Max bobs back up from his dunks into disaster with his confidence intact. Failures get filed into their
proper perspective. After all, he is the chief field agent for Control and has saved the world innumerable times. What balances
out Max's nickle-pinching cheapness is the generosity of his affection and loyalty. Sure, he might momentarily wonder if the Chief has
volunteered for anything recently when the bad guys are wondering who to shoot first, but he is quickly brought back to perspective and
his courage certainly matches that of many of our favorite spy guys.
Though there is a good amount of physical comedy, at which Max is a master, much of the comedy is verbal, the show owing a large
debt to a great set of writers. Gathering clips for music videos for this show
needs to be done with the sound off, since it's impossible to turn off one of their wonderful jokes in the middle, even when the action
needed for a music video clip is long over and done.
Don Adams (1923-2005) won three Emmys (1967-9) for his role as Maxwell Smart, and they
were well deserved. The actor submerged into the character, and we believed in Max just as much as he did in himself.
While the series was a success with audiences and critics, the movies didn't do well at all.
It wasn't that the audience had given up on Maxwell Smart, it was more that Don Adams had.
Part of Max's appeal was that he never saw himself as the bumbler the audience saw. He could fall flat on his face and still come back
knowing that he was as good as he thought he was.
By the time Don Adams played Max in the movies, he'd become a spectator of the
famous character, and that innocent belief Max had in himself was just gone. Instead of seeing Max, we saw Don Adams playing a bumbling
spy that Adams let you know, unconsciously, wasn't him at all.
And all the repeats of those beloved, familiar jokes just couldn't rise past that loss of the character's innocence.
After the success of Get Smart, Adams appeared in series such as Love Boat, Fantasy Island and the Fall Guy, and
was also the voice of Inspector Gadget. Don Adams joined the Marines early in World War II.
Agent 99 appears in the first black and white episode as a chauffeur, and from the moment
she takes off her cap and reveals herself to be a woman, it's clear that there's a chemistry between 99 and Max. But she seems to be
divided between the two worlds of the 60's - the woman who steps back and lets the man lead, and the woman who is very, very good at the
career she's chosen for herself. Half of her might be good at the spy game, but the other half of her is willing to give the credit for
her ideas to the male of her choice - Max. They're partners, even though Max always wants to protect her. But 99 fights for the right
to do her job in the dangerous world in which they operate, and Max will back down and let her be that full partner.
If there's a comparison that can be made for 99, it might be to Sidney Bristol in Alias. Like Sidney, 99 marries
her spy partner and has children while still on the job. In both shows, their organizations come though with babysitting
services. Not bad company benefits.
extensive roles include appearing in Flipper, Man from Uncle, McMillan & Wife and Cheers.
In 2003, she won the TV Land Award for the "Hippest Fashion Plate - Female".
The woman is a wonder. After graduating from Carnegie-Mellon, Barbara Feldon went on to win the $64,000 question with questions on
Shakespeare, showing that the actress had the same nerves of steel displayed by the character she
played. Brilliant, beautiful and talented. What an absolute joy and pleasure she's been for us.
Chief of Control
It's the Chief of Control's job to put his agents into danger, and that the Chief does, guilt not withstanding.
But as a former agent himself, the Chief isn't so rigid in his lines of authority that he won't go out to save Max himself.
In one of the most wonderful episodes, Max wanders the room picking up objects that remind him of Agent Fang, the dog
Max loyally defends against Fang's own bumbling efforts. Against orders, Max goes in to save Fang. When Max is captured,
the bad guys believe that they now have the bait to catch the Chief. And, sure enough, Thaddeus wanders his office where everything
reminds him of Max, including Max's rubber duck gun, which then goes off, reminding the Chief how often he reminded Max not to
leave his duck loaded. And off goes the Chief, too, to save his friend.
And when events turn the organization upside down, the military background of the principles make it not surprising that
a demotion doesn't mean the Chief storming out but, rather, acting as Max's subordinate and putting his heart into the job.
Edward Platt (1916-1974) attended Princeton and Julliard, becoming a band vocalist with
Paul Whiteman, and performing in "The Mikado" and "The Pirates of Penzance". He joined the army, during World War II, as a radio
operator. After the war ended, he went back into Broadway musical comedies and a variety of dramatic film roles.
He appeared in Gunsmoke, Dr. Hudson's Secret Journal, Have Gun Will Travel, Rawhide, Peter Gunn, and many others.
Platt's musical background is used in an episode where he returns to the field with the cover of a singing waiter.
Hymie is a state of the art robot created by Dr. Ratton, a rogue scientist. He's used to kidnap a professor that Max is assigned
to protect. Taking the place of a new agent Max doesn't know, Hymie builds a relationship with Max, and a drink that Max presses on
him creates some unknown effect on the robot's inner workings. When Hymie brings Max and 99 and Dr. Shotwire back, he's ordered to kill
Max, who forgives him in advance. The affection and respect that he gets from Max is in pointed contrast to his being called a
monster by his creator, and Hymie takes a mental leap forward by changing sides.
Max refers to Hymie as his best friend, and there's a real warmth between them. When Hymie is reprogrammed as an assassin and
attacks the Chief, Max is ordered to disassemble him, but Max is unable to destroy the robot and brings in the pieces of a washing machine
which he attempts to pass off as his disassembled friend.
The relationship between Max and Hymie is one of the high points of the
show though, unfortunately, Hymie only appears in 6 episodes.
Richard Gautier's filmography is extensive, appearing in Gidget, Bewitched,
Divorce American Style, Flying Nun, Love American Style, Mary Tyler Moore, Rockford Files, Kolchak, Marcus Welby, Wonder Woman,
Love Boat, Charley's Angels, and on and on.
Admiral Hargrade was the first Chief of Control, and is brought in by the president in times of extreme stress. While he, like the
current Chief, might have once been a very competent agent, he's clearly past his prime now, and too old for the job. But there's always
a way to make use of the man, even if only as a floor lamp when he falls asleep on his feet.
Hidden behind the white hair of Admiral Hargrade, William Schallert is well
known for his role of Nilz Baris, in Star Trek's "Trouble with Tribbles." He was also the father of Patty Duke for three years
in the Patty Duke Show, and has appeared in an incredible number of films and
TV episodes, beginning his career in 1947.
He appeared in, among other things, Space Patrol, Mr and Mrs North, the Gray Ghost, Zorro, Adventures of
Jim Bowie, Maverick, Peter Gunn, Philip Marlowe, Wagon Train, Seahunt, Bat Masterson, The Rifleman, Bonanza, Dobie Gillis, Lassie,
Have Gun Will Travel, The Mod Squad, Bewitched, Kung Fu, Lou Grant, Magnum PI, Scarecrow and Mrs King, Simon and Simon,
Deep Space Nine, and Lois and Clark. No wonder he was always falling asleep as the Admiral. His schedule would exhaust anyone!
Larabee is the secretary and driver for the Chief of Control. He's as literal in his own way as Hymie the robot, and so good-natured that
his inability to discern sarcasm will always be forgiven. Once the Chief's jaws unclench, that is. You have to wonder how anyone that
incompetent could keep his job. You'd almost think there's nepotism at play.
Robert Karvelas (1921-1991) was recruited for the role of Larabee by his cousin, Don Adams.
Following that role, he also appeared in Love American Style and Mary Tyler Moore.
Agent 44 and, later, Agent 13, provide one of the most consistent gags in the show - their ability to hide in the strangest places.
This is taking survelliance to its logical conclusion. Whether they're in a wall safe, a washing machine, an ice machine, a chimney or
a grandfather clock, they can always be counted on to overhear the villains' plans, and guide Max (eventually) in the right direction.
But first they expect Max to listen to their woes, and commiserate, which he does. After all, isn't life about friends helping friends?
David Ketchum appeared in the role of Murph in the Union 76 gas station commercials over
twenty years. But beyond that, he's been in an amazing number of TV episodes and films, including MASH, Wonder Woman, Love Boat,
MacGyver, Sledge Hammer, Munsters, Mod Squad, Odd Couple, Mork and Mindy, and Happy Days.
It's usually the members of his own team that have the most frustration with Max, and wonder if he's actually a secret double agent for KAOS,
he spreads so much confusion throughout Control. And none are more frustrated with Max than Carlson, the inventor of their technological
For some reason, Carlson never gets over challenging Max to discover the underlying cleverness in his devices, usually leading to their
complete destruction. Having spent incredible years and funds developing a spy fly, he challenges Max to find the device on the Chief's desk.
When Max doesn't come up with the right answer, Carlson draws his attention to the fly, which Max instantly crushes with the already examined,
rolled newspaper. Sometimes it just doesn't pay to get up and go to work.
Stacy Keach Sr. (1914-2003) was the father of Stacy Keach Jr. and James Keach. James is
married to actress Jane Seymour. Stacy Sr.'s filmography is extensive, including The Lone Ranger, 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick,
Cheyenne, Dick Van Dyke, Wagon Train, Perry Mason, Bonanza, Kojak, Mannix, Barnaby Jones, Rockford Files, and Dr. Quinn.
Det. Harry Hoo
Honolulu Detective Harry Hoo, now working in San Francisco, is modeled perfectly on the very famous detective Charlie Chan. Like Chan,
Hoo wears white suits and is fond of spouting inscrutible oriental wisdom. Besides the obvious 'Who is Hoo' jokes on his name,
Hoo will interrupt Max with astute observations that take investigation into the realm of the theoretical, such as his conjectures about
the meaning of a shirt button that eventually turns out to be his own. Finding Hoo on a case is always a pleasure for Max.
Joey Forman (1929-1982) was another actor with an extensive acting history.
Among his many roles, Forman played in The Silent Service, Dragnet, Make Room for Daddy, Bewitched, McMillan & Wife, MASH, Ironside, Love American Style,
Three's Company, Starsky and Hutch, Quincy, and Nero Wolfe.
One of the most wonderful villains on TV, Siegfried is a spy of
Control's archenemy KAOS, an organization devoted to world domination.
In the 60's, World War II was still fresh in the mind of most viewers, so it wasn't unexpected to see Siegfried and his underling Shtarker
presented with thick German accents and a penchant for military uniforms.
Siegfried is as bumbling in his own way as Max is in his.
They meet on a park bench and divest themselves of weapons before they sit down to negotiate, the alternating array of hardware an early precurser of
Lethal Weapon's Martin Riggs dropping weapons with a fellow cop, though with a different purpose. Comparing weapons and company benefits
of the two organizations is one of the running gags in Get Smart.
Even though Siegfried is always trying to kill Max, they seem to have an amazingly good relationship, with Siegfried trying to
recruit Max into KAOS. And when Max and 99 are captured on the eve of their marriage, Max seems shocked that Siegfried doesn't intend
to come to the wedding. And this when Siegfried plans for the pair includes slicing and dicing them in the propeller of his old
German bi-wing plane, a Snoopy and the Red Baron throwback.
Bernie Kopell went on from Get Smart to become famous as Love Boat's Dr. Adam Bricker.
His extensive filmography included roles in The Jack Benny Show, McHale's Navy, Ben Casey, Flying Nun, Iron Side, Odd Couple,
Bewitched, Bob Newhart, Harry O, Kolchak, Mary Tyler Moore, Six Million Dollar Man, Charley's Angels, Hart to Hart, Fantasy Island,
Mike Hammer, Sledge Hammer, and Charmed.
Shtarker, or Starker, is Siegfried's sidekick, and the one
expected to do the manual labor, like rowing their escape dingy while Siegfried uses a megaphone to shout out the row rhythm. A
running joke between them is Shtarker's fondness for explaining something with funny noises while Siegfried, striving to maintain some
dignity for KAOS, reminds Shtarker that this is KAOS, and they don't make that noise in KAOS.
King Moody (1929-2001) appeared in TV shows such as Seahunt, Man from Uncle, Bonanza,
Mannix, Dragnet, Mission Impossible, Bob Newhart, McMillan & Wife, Starsky and Hutch, and Quantum Leap.
The Claw is a character created in the days before racial stereotyping became an insensitive no-no. He runs a chain of Chinese laundries that
a henchman believes to be the actual source of their funds, the spy business being only a front, and has a running joke with Max where he
pronounces his name as The Craw, a name which Max accepts at face value and repeats, to the unending frustration of his opponent. The torture
planned for Max turns out to be pressing his head in the clothes presser, and a parody of fencing with hot irons.
Leonard Strong (1908-1080) has a career that goes back to 1942, when he appeared in
"Little Tokyo". He was the interpreter in "The King and I", and the fortune teller in "Love is a Many Splendored Thing".
His TV acting included roles in Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock, 77 Sunset Strip, Peter Gunn, The Untouchables,
Man from Uncle, and Rawhide.