If you recognize this phrase from the popular sixties television show, it means that you are a bonafide “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” fan! This might also mean that you would be impressed to learn that I was one of a hundred attendees celebrating The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s fiftieth anniversary “The Golden Anniversary Affair” (The Golden Anniversary Affair/FACEBOOK) held at the Doubletree Hotel in Culver City CA on Sept 26-27 2014.
If you are wondering what attending a Man from U.N.C.L.E.’s fiftieth celebration has to do with thrift shopping, wonder no more! I must now confess that my thrift-shopping persona is merely my undercover guise as a secret agent in my ongoing battle against the evils of THRUSH. (THRUSH-the nemesis of the righteous United Network Command for Law Enforcement international organization- is the dark evil group that seeks to overthrow the world. Hence THRUSH’s name- as all you agents know- is Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity).
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. show ran on NBC from 1964 to 1968. It was part of a popular 60’s genre of spy shows- ranging from serious to campy (Mission Impossible, Get Smart, Wild Wild West, I Spy, The Avengers, The Saint, Danger Man/The Prisoner are some examples). The Man From U.N.C.L.E show amassed a huge following during its run (and the faithful fans have kept the series alive at gatherings such as SpyCon or on sites such as Open Channel D since). There was a spinoff TV show (The Girl from U.N.C.L.E), multiple movies (The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E), comic strips, board games, and genuine “spy gear” such as the cigarette cases and pen communicators used on the show (incredibly apparently appreciated and imitated by the KGB it was learned later). Cars and weaponry used on the show influenced imitative designs in both those arenas, There was a popular series of much grittier novels written by various authors, using the main characters of American agent Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn), Russian agent Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum), and their British boss Alexander Waverly (Leo G. Carroll). The program itself showcased a host of well-known actors throughout its years- William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Culp, Jill Ireland, Ricardo Montalban, Joan Crawford, Janet Leigh, Kurt Russel, Leslie Nielsen, Vincent Price, and Sonny and Cher to name just a few.
This Golden Anniversary U.N.C.L.E. weekend consisted of much observation of past U.N.C.L.E operations, study that is necessary in preparing an agent such as myself when called to Y3K7 (hazardous duty). There was an informative Sony Studio tour, to such locales as Stage 10 where the U.N.C.L.E. headquarters set was located (now the set for Jeopardy) and other spots where backdrops were used, such as the water tower that doubled as the sleep gas tower from the “Deadly Toys Affair.” The one-of-a-kind gull winged U.N.C.L.E car was on-hand, along with its creator, car customizer Gene Winfield (also known for his design of the Galileo Shuttlecraft used on Star Trek).
Lisa Lazarus, author John Heitland, and special effects designer Robert Short were the forces behind the Golden Anniversary festivities. The group of speakers they assembled at the conference was a stellar group indeed offering many interesting insights into their crafts used for the series. All of their names are easily recognizable from the credits of a huge host of TV shows and movies over the years, not just the U.N.C.L.E shows. Oscar winner creature effects designer Robert Short emceed often and arranged speakers, the Sony Studio tour, the U.N.C.L.E museum items and their sleek spy car. A highlight was the jazz concert by the “Summit Six Sextet” that showcased some original music scores from the series (with several composers of those scores in attendance, such as Gerald Fried and Lalo Schifrin). Academy award winner director of photography Fred Koenekamp and indispensible “assistant to the producer” George Lehr shared many tales of the MGM studio world and inner workings of the show. Several acting regulars, Sharon Farrell, plus Randall Kirby (on the later Girl from U.N.C.L.E shows) offered their viewpoints as actors in that creative environment as well.
So on your next visit to New York, duck into Del Floria’s Cleaners, making sure you are not being tailed of course, and pick up your assignment in your fight against evil at U.N.C.L.E. headquarters. Then afterwards in order to maintain your undercover persona as a thrift’n-ista- proceed immediately to The Clearing House nearby on the Avenue of the Americas. I do hear that there are some great thrift bargains to be had there.
Channel D out.