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Man from U.N.C.L.E., The

Entry updated 13 November 2023. Tagged: Film, Publication, TV.

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1. US tv series (1964-1968). Arena Productions/MGM for NBC TV. Executive producer Norman Felton. Writers included Harlan Ellison, Howard Rodman, Sam Rolfe, Henry Slesar, David Victor. Directors included Don Medford, Boris Sagal, Joseph Sargent, Barry Shear. 105 50-minute episodes. First season black and white, subsequent three seasons colour.

This was one of Television's first reactions to the success of the James Bond films based on Ian Fleming's spy stories. Robert Vaughn starred as Napoleon Solo, a member of the international agency U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement). With the assistance of his Russian colleague Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum) he fought to prevent the sinister organization T.H.R.U.S.H. (Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity – an acronym chosen, it has been suggested, because of its assonance with "the Russians") from taking over the world. Most of the plots featured futuristic Technology or Weapons (vaporizers, etc.); the style was tongue-in-cheek. The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'s success led to the creation of a sister series, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., which began in 1966, starring Stefanie Powers; it lasted only one season of 29 episodes.

Eight feature films had theatrical release outside the USA. Each consisted of two episodes edited together, sometimes with added footage, to make 90-minute films: The Spy with My Face (1965), To Trap a Spy (1966), One of Our Spies Is Missing (1966), One Spy Too Many (1966), The Spy in the Green Hat (1966), The Helicopter Spies (1967), The Karate Killers (1967) and How to Steal the World (1968). A subsequent telemovie was Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1983).

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. series of novel Ties was complex, 23 titles appearing from Ace Books in the USA and 16 from Souvenir Press in the UK. Ten of the 23 Ace books were reprints from books originated by Souvenir, and six of the Souvenir books were reprints of books originated by Ace; in the case of #3 in the Ace sequence, the reprint confusingly appeared before its original. None of the books was based directly on the television scripts; all were original stories. As all the Souvenir editions appeared, either before or after their UK release, in Ace editions, we list only the Ace sequence: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #1: The Thousand Coffins Affair (1965) by Michael Avallone, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #2: The Doomsday Affair (1965) by Harry Whittington, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #3: The Copenhagen Affair (1965) by John Oram, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #4: The Dagger Affair (1966) by David McDaniel, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #5: The Mad Scientist Affair (1966) by John T Phillifent, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #6: The Vampire Affair (1966) by McDaniel, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #7: The Radioactive Camel Affair (1966) by Peter Leslie, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #8: The Monster Wheel Affair (1967) by McDaniel, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #9: The Diving Dames Affair (1967) by Leslie, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #10: The Assassination Affair (1967) by Joan Hunter Holly, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #11: The Invisibility Affair (1967) by Thomas Stratton (Robert Coulson and Gene DeWeese), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #12: The Mind Twisters Affair (1967) by Stratton, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #13: The Rainbow Affair (1967) by McDaniel, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #14: The Cross of Gold Affair (1968) by Fredric Davies (Ron Ellik and Steve Tolliver), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #15: The Utopia Affair (1968) by McDaniel, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #16: The Splintered Sunglasses Affair (1968) by Leslie, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #17: The Hollow Crown Affair (1969) by McDaniel, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #18: The Unfair Fare Affair (1968) by Leslie, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #19: The Power Cube Affair (1968) by Phillifent, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #20: The Corfu Affair (1967) by Phillifent, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #21: The Thinking Machine Affair (1967) by Joel Bernard, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #22: The Stone-Cold Dead in the Market Affair (1966) by Oram, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #23: The Finger in the Sky Affair (1966) by Leslie. McDaniel felt that A A Wyn, publisher at Ace, was not paying him enough; the initial letters of the chapters in The Monster Wheel Affair spell out AAWYNISATIGHTWAD. For the 1966-1968 magazine tie to the series, see 2 below.

Girl from U.N.C.L.E. spin-offs of a similar kind were The Birds of a Feather Affair (1966) by Michael Avallone; The Blazing Affair (1966) by Avallone; The Global Globules Affair (1967) by Simon Latter; The Golden Boats of Taradata Affair (1967) by Latter; The Cornish Pixie Affair (1967) by Peter Leslie. [JB/PN/DRL]

2. Digest-size Magazine. Publisher: Leo Margulies Corporation. Editor: uncredited, but see below. 24 monthly issues, February 1966 to January 1968.

A Tie magazine spun off from 1 above, this featured novella-length lead "novels" starring series heroes Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin, agents of U.N.C.L.E., battling their usual adversaries T.H.R.U.S.H. These tales were attributed to the House Name Robert Hart Davis which hid the identities of authors Denis Lynds, John Jakes, and Harry Whittington. As in the television series, regular use was made of sf themes such as Mad Scientists with various super-Weapons, Time Travel, and so on. Issues were rounded out with short stories, mostly dealing with more routine mystery/espionage subjects: contributors here included Frank Belknap Long and Bill Pronzini. The occasional feature "Department of Lost Stories" reprinted sf or Horror stories from Weird Tales, the rights to which Margulies then owned. These included "Pygmy Island" (August 1930 Weird Tales) by Edmond Hamilton and "Our Fair City" (January 1949 Weird Tales) by Robert A Heinlein.

All covers were black-and-white photos of actors Robert Vaughn and David McCallum. Editorship has been attributed to both Alden H Norton (1903-1987) and to Cylvia Kleinman (1909-1984); the latter seems more likely, as she was Margulies's wife and had edited most issues of Satellite Science Fiction for him in the 1950s. The lead stories have apparently not been reprinted in the USA. The magazine folded when the television series was cancelled in 1968. A sister publication was The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.. [GSt/DRL]

see also: Agent for H.A.R.M.


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