Openers: Alexander Waverly was in a rare mood as he clutched an unlit pipe and eyed the two agents who had come in response to his summons. The Chief od Section One of U.N.C.L.E. usually looked like an untidy, rather severe professor about to pronounce some caustic judgment on some miserable student, but at this moment he twinkled. Solo frowned and felt uneasy in consequence.
"It's our business to know what's going on," Waverly began, "We must begin with the facts, no matter how fantastic they may seem. Don't be too quick to judge, therefor, as I introduce you to an eccentric genius, one Michael O'Rourke, who lives in a castle in Ireland and calls himself 'King' Mike. This face." He swiveled his chair to stare at the screen on the wall as a picture glowed there. The man in the picture was old, with a halo of white hair and a bristling white beard that came to a caprine point, but he had been caught in a sardonic smile, showing a lively eye.
-- John T. Phillifent, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #5: The Mad Scientist Affair (1966)
If you are of a certain age, you might remember The Man from U.NC.L.E. fondly...the cheesy plots, the ham-handed acting, the cheap production...No wonder it won a Golden Globe for Best Television Show in 1966!
Ah, those were the days! From September 22, 1964 to January 15, 1968, 105 episodes thrilled a wide fan base looking for entertaining escapism. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. paved the way for other popular high-camp shows such as Star Trek and Batman. Created by Norman Felton and Sam Rolfe, the show featured two agents from the titular initialed international spy organization -- the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, whose expansive and high-tech headquarters could be entered through a secret entrance in Del Floria's unprepossessing New York City tailor shop.
Famously, credit has been given to James Bond creator Ian Fleming for contributing to the show's origin. Actually, all Fleming did was to suggest two names for characters: Napoleon Solo and April Dancer. They went with Solo, saving Dancer for a spin-off series, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. The original proposed name for the series was Ian Fleming's Solo (the title was changed when movie the Bond producers decided the title infringed on the character of Mr. Solo in the film Goldfinger). Napoleon Solo, played by Robert Vaughan, was intended all along to be the show's hero, but David McCallum's character of Russian-born Illya Kuryakin quickly became so popular that he became a co-star.
U.N.C.L.E.'s enemy was Thrush -- a global cabal of criminals intent on taking over the world. The show never explained who or what Thrush was or if it was an acronym and, if so, what it stood for. David McDaniel, author of many of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. novels, took it upon itself to explain the Thrush stood for the "Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity," and that the criminal enterprise had been formed by one Colonel Sebastian Moran following the death of Professor Moriarty at the hands of you-know-who. None of this that was proposed by McDaniel should be considered canon.
One of the first rules of business is if you have a popular television show, merchandise the hell out of it. So we had The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. spin-off and eight theatrical films released from 1964 to 1968, all cobbled from the television episodes. A film update starring Arnie Hammer, Henry Cavill, and Hugh Grant was released in 2015. And there were the record albums of the show's music by various orchestras, although three double-disc albums of music from the original series were not released until much later. And there were the comic books: twenty-two issues from Gold Key Comics, eleven issues from Entertaining Publishing (updating the action to the 1980s), and a two-issue story from Millennium Publishing. And the comic strips (alas, all short-lived): the British strip Lady Penelope (another U.N.C.L.E. agent), and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E, as well as one featuring Napoleon Solo, title simply Solo. DC Comics got into the action with its Batman '66 Meets The Man from U.N.C.L.E. And naturally there were scads of toys action figures, model kits, toy guns, board games, lunch boxes, and the like.
Two dozen novels were published in paperback (mostly by Ace):
- The Man from U.N.C.LE. (aka The Thousand Coffins Affair) by Michael Avallone
- The Doomsday Affair by Harry Whittington
- The Copenhagen Affair by John Oram
- The Dagger Affair by David McDaniel (this is one to give the Thrush acronym)
- The Mad Scientist Affair by John T. Phillifent
- The Vampire Affair by David McDaniel (SF fan and publisher Forrest J. Ackerman is "Tuckerized" in this one)
- The Radioactive Camel Affair by Peter Leslie
- The Monster Wheel Affair by David McDaniel
- The Diving Dames Affair by Peter Leslie
- The Assassination Affair by J. Hunter Holly
- The Invisibility Affair by "Thomas Stratton" (Buck Coulson and Gene DeWeese)
- The Mind Twisters Affair by "Thomas Stratton" (Coulson and DeWeese again)
- The Rainbow Affair by David McDaniel (with guest appearances by The Saint, Jane Marple, John Steed and Emma Peel, Willie Gavin, Tommy Hambleton, Neddie Seagoon, Father Brown, a hundred-year-old Sherlock Holmes, and Fu Manchu)
- The Cross of Gold Affair by "Fredric Davies" (Ron Ellick and Fredric Langley)
- The Utopia Affair by David McDaniel
- The Splintered Sunglasses Affair by Peter Leslie
- The Hollow Crown Affair by David McDaniel
- The Unfair Fare Affair by Peter Leslie
- The Power Cube Affair by John T. Phillifent
- The Corfu Affair by John T. Phillifent
- The Thinking Machine Affair by Joel Bernard
- The Stone Cold Dead in the Market Affair by John Oram
- The Finger in the Sky Affair by Peter Leslie
- The Final Affair by David McDaniel (sadly unpublished, but the manuscript has been circulated by fans; a pdf can be found here: http://www.spywise.net/pdfs/TheFinalAffair.pdf)
- The Affair of the Gunrunner's Gold by Brandon Keith
- The Affair of the Gentle Saboteur by Brandon Keith
- The Calcutta Affair by George S. Elrick
- The Birds of a Feather Affair by Michael Avallone
- The Blazing Affair by Michael Avallone
- The Golden Globules Affair by Simon Latter
- The Golden Boats of Taradata Affair by Simon Latter
- The Cornish Pixie Affair by Peter Leslie
- Antique store owner gives student $3000 piano after he wows customers with "Don't Stop Believing" https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/antique-store-owner-gives-student-free-piano-after-covering-dont-stop-believin/
- New sturdy indicates infrared lasers can destroy harmful plaques in Alzheimer's brains https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/lasers-destroy-harmful-plaques-in-alzheimers-brains/
- When hunger intensifies in Pennsylvania, the Soup Brigade gores into action https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/when-hunger-intensifies-in-pennsylvania-the-soup-brigade-mobilizes/
- New Mexico girl wins $250,000 prize in teen science fair for inventing tool that could eliminatestarvation in Africa https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/regeneron-science-talent-search-2020winner/
- Old toy horse left in trash becomes a local celebrity https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/toy-horse-named-derek-trotter-is-passed-around-village
- Super Bowl-winning player opts out of NFL season to continue working on COVID19 front lines https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/chiefs-player-opts-out-of-nfl-season-to-fight-covid/
- Last but not least: Our lovely niece Julia has announced her engagement! Congrats to the happy couple!