Mel Brooks and Buck Henry were asked by film producer Daniel Melnick to create a show that was a combination of James Bond and The Pink Panther. The end result was the sitcom Get Smart, which made stars out of Don Adams, Barbara Feldon, and Edward Platt. The sitcom lasted 138 episodes and earned seven Emmys, including two for Outstanding Comedy Series. The show has spawned a handful of film adaptations, including the popular 2008 remake starring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway. Let’s take a look back at the stars from the hit show and dig up some fun trivia from the hit TV series!
The Smartest Man Alive
Don Adams’ portrayal of Maxwell Smart earned him three consecutive Emmy Awards in the category of Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series. Smart was Agent 86; 86 is bartender slang for cutting off a drunk patron. Adams played the character of Smart with a panache that only he could pull off. Barabara Feldon told Today Show in 2002, “WHen you got in a scene with Don, it was like stepping onto a surfboard, and you just flew over those waves… And it was exhilarating.”
The actor is also known for lending the voice of Inspector Gadget until 1999. On September 25, 2005, Adams passed away at the age of 82 from lymphoma and a lung infection.
This Femme Fatale Saved Them All
Barbara Feldon is best known as Agent 99 on the series, and she was nominated for two Emmy Awards in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Despite being known as the svelte bombshell partner to Agent 86, she surprisingly never wore high heels on the show. Feldon told Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “I am so much taller than him. He was so surprised the first day. He never met me before they did the pilot and they cast me. So when I walked in on the first day and I was taller than Don, it wasn’t good news. I can barely watch the first year [of the show] because I’m slouching so much.”
After an appearance in the 2006 film The Last Request, she retired from acting full time, but she’ll make an occasional appearance in off-Broadway plays.
We Know You Wondered This…
For two people who worked so closely together for such a long time, you would wonder if there was any steam between them when the cameras weren’t rolling. Indeed, Barbara Feldon was the younger, sexy female counterpart to Don Adams’s character. Their platonic partnership soon turns into a budding romance that leads to marriage and children throughout the duration of the show.
But was it like that in real life? Actually, no. Feldon told Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the two were actually just great friends: “Don was very nice, but we had no relationship. But Agent 99 and Max had a relationship. So the minute we were in character, there was this absolutely no-holds-barred communication between us. Later on [after the show ended its run], Don and I became really, really sweet friends.”
Sorry About That, Chief
Edward Platt, who served in the United States Army during World War II, played the head of spy agency CONTROL. After the show ended, the Staten Island native had a recurring role on the CBS sitcom The Governor & J.J. On March 19, 1974, Platt committed suicide after a lengthy battle with depression.
The Emotional Robot
Dick Gautier portrayed the role of Hymie the Robot on the series. The Los Angeles native is also known for providing the voices of Rodimus Prime in the Transformers cartoon, Serpentor in the G.I. Joe cartoon and 1987 film, and Spike in the Tom & Jerry Kids Show cartoon. His last performance was in a 2010 episode of Nip/Tuck.
Wrong Place At The Right Time
Dave Ketchum played the role of Agent 13, who was always stationed in some very odd places. The Illinois native made appearances on a plethora of shows, including Happy Days, Love, American Style, and Camp Runamuck. His last performance was in the 1999 film The Other Sister, which starred Juliette Lewis.
He Still Believe Hoover Was President
William Schallert, who is best known for portraying Martin Lane on The Patty Duke Show, played former CONTROL chief Admiral Harold Harmon Hargrade on the show. After the conclusion of Get Smart, the Los Angeles native became president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1979 to 1981. On May 8, 2016, Schallert died at the age of 93.
Dr. Steel Danced Burlesque On The Side
Ellen Weston played the role of CONTROL scientist Dr. Steele. After leaving the show, the New York City native landed on the shows S.W.A.T., Cannon, and The Young and the Restless. In 2003, she was hired as a writer for the soap opera Guiding Light. That stint lasted five episodes.
They Looked Like They Were Related
Robert Karvelas, who was the cousin of Get Smart star Don Adams, played the role of the Chief’s slow-witted assistant Agent Larabee. After the show ended, the New York City native reprised the role of Larabee in the films The Nude Bomb and Get Smart, Again! On December 5, 1991, Karvelas died at the age of 70.
Who Played Hoo?
Joey Forman played the role of Hawaiian detective Harry Hoo on the show. The Philadelphia native is best known for his character The Mashuganishi Yogi, which was a parody of the famous guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. On December 9, 1982, the actor died from pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 53.
This Guy Brought The KAOS
Bernie Kopell’s first major role on TV was Siegfried on the hit show. After leaving the series, he landed the role of Dr. Adam Bricker on the hit ABC series The Love Boat. Recently, he’s been seen on Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything, Raising Hope, and Arrested Development. He also made a cameo in the 2008 film remake.
Shtarker… Nein! Zis is KAOS!
King Moody played chief henchman Shtarker on the series. In the 1970s and 1980s, the New York City native played the role of Ronald McDonald on McDonald’s commercials. On February 7, 2001, Moody died at the age of 71. His last appearance was in the 1992 movie The Nutt House.
Not The Craw, THE CRAW!
Leonard Strong played the role of The Claw, but some of his most memorable work came from horror shows. He played the title role of The Twilight Zone episode The Hitch-Hiker, which is considered one of the best episodes in the series. He was also featured in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode titled “The Cure.” On January 23, 1980, Strong passed away at the age of 71.
His Nice Face Made Him Likeable
Jack Gilford played the KAOS villain Simon the Likeable. After his stint on the show, he landed the role of Phil Greene in the 1973 film Save The Tiger, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He also played Bernie Lefkowitz in Cocoon and Cocoon: The Return. On June 4, 1990, Gilford died from stomach cancer at the age of 82.
Spying In Speen And Style
Maxwell Smart’s car of choice on the show is the red 1965 Sunbeam Tiger. After the show ended, Adams kept the car for 10 more years. Its whereabouts are currently unknown. The car, along with the Karmann Ghia and the Opel GT, made a special appearance in the 2008 remake film.
Guest Stars Galore
Get Smart had a long list of guest stars appeared in the series. Regis Philbin, Bob Hope, Steve Allen, and Milton Berle have all made appearances on the show. I Spy star Robert Culp had an uncredited cameo as a waiter on a 1968 episode titled “Die Spy,” which was a parody of the hit secret agent show.
Not Your Typical Jane Doe
Plenty of rumors have circulated that Agent 99 was originally known as Agent 69, but actress Barbara Feldon claimed that those rumors were completely false. In actuality, the show creators wanted to name her Agent 69, but the idea was too sexually suggestive. Co-creator Buck Henry stated that she was originally supposed to be called Agent 100, but he changed it to Agent 99 because it had a more feminine sound.
Feldon was once quoted as saying, “She was only a pretty number. They wanted to call her Agent 100, but 99 seemed like a girl’s number.” Agent 99’s real name was never revealed in the show. She was once referred to as Susan Hilton, but reveals later that it was only an alias.
Adams Had A Choice
Don Adams’ portrayal of Agent 86 is one of the most memorable in ’70s television. When he received the role, Adams was offered the chance to either have more money and no ownership in the show or have less money but part ownership of the show. Adams chose the latter option. He wanted to be an owner.
This Show Knew How To Network
In 1995, Fox decided to bring back a few cast members for their new Get Smart series. With this show, Get Smart became the first TV franchise to air new episodes on all four major networks. Unfortunately, the new edition of Get Smart got the boot after seven episodes. The series was released on DVD in 2008.
The Truth About The Acronyms
CONTROL and KAOS were the two opposing forces on the hit TV show, and both names, which were capitalized throughout the series, were originally supposed to be acronyms. Unfortunately, show creators Mel Brooks and Buck Henry never got around to determining what they were supposed to stand for in the show.
A Different Agent 86?
When the show was pitched to ABC, Tom Poston was chosen to play Agent 86. ABC rejected the show, which led to the producer pitching it to NBC. The network agreed to the show, but they wanted Don Adams, who was under their contract, to play the lead role. Poston would go on to star in the sitcom Newhart, which provided him with three Emmy nominations.
No one could play Agent 86 better than Don Adams, anyway!