Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, August 10, 2020


 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):

  1.  The Man from U.N.C.LE. (aka The Thousand Coffins Affair) by Michael Avallone
  2.  The Doomsday Affair by Harry Whittington
  3.  The Copenhagen Affair by John Oram
  4.  The Dagger Affair by David McDaniel (this is one to give the Thrush acronym)
  5.  The Mad Scientist Affair by John T. Phillifent
  6.  The Vampire Affair by David McDaniel (SF fan and publisher Forrest J. Ackerman is "Tuckerized" in this one)
  7.  The Radioactive Camel Affair by Peter Leslie
  8.  The Monster Wheel Affair by David McDaniel
  9.  The Diving Dames Affair by Peter Leslie
  10.  The Assassination Affair by J. Hunter Holly
  11.  The Invisibility Affair by "Thomas Stratton" (Buck Coulson and Gene DeWeese)
  12.  The Mind Twisters Affair by "Thomas Stratton" (Coulson and DeWeese again)
  13.  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)
  14.  The Cross of Gold Affair by "Fredric Davies" (Ron Ellick and Fredric Langley)
  15.  The Utopia Affair by David McDaniel
  16.  The Splintered Sunglasses Affair by Peter Leslie
  17.  The Hollow Crown Affair by David McDaniel
  18.  The Unfair Fare Affair by Peter Leslie
  19.  The Power Cube Affair  by John T. Phillifent
  20.  The Corfu Affair by John T. Phillifent
  21.  The Thinking Machine Affair by Joel Bernard
  22.  The Stone Cold Dead in the Market Affair by John Oram
  23.  The Finger in the Sky Affair by Peter Leslie
  24.  The Final Affair by David McDaniel (sadly unpublished, but the manuscript has been circulated by fans; a pdf can be found here:
(It should be noted that three science fiction novels later published appear to be rewrites of orphaned U.N.C.L.E. outlines or manuscripts:  Genius Unlimited by "John Rackham" (McDaniel), The Arsenal Out of Time by McDaniel. and Agent of T.E.R.R.A. #1:  The Flying Saucer Gambit by "Larry Maddock" (Jack Jardine).  

Whitman Books published three U.N.C.L.E. juvenile hardcovers:
  1.  The Affair of the Gunrunner's Gold by Brandon Keith
  2.  The Affair of the Gentle Saboteur by Brandon Keith
  3.  The Calcutta Affair by George S. Elrick
Walter B. Gibson (creator of The Shadow) penned one juvenile, The Coin of El Diablo Affair.

Magazine publisher Leo Margulies put out twenty-four issues of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine, each featuring an U.N.C.L.E. novella by "Robert Hart Davis," a house name these various writers:  Richard Curtis (one story), I. G. Edmonds (one story), John Jakes (seven stories), Frank Belknap Long (one story), Dennis Lynds (seven stories), Talmadge Powell (one story), Bill Pronzini (one story), and Harry Whittington (four stories).  A twenty-fifth story had been announced but the magazine ceased publication before it could appear; it is not known whether the tale actually existed..

In the UK there were four U.N.C.L.E. television annuals published containing written stories and at least one Gold Key story.  Some text stories also appeared in the UK TV Tornado.

Television spin-off The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (29 episodes, September 16, 1966 - April 11, 1967) spawned five paperbacks, although only the first two were printed in the US:
  1.  The Birds of a Feather Affair by Michael Avallone
  2.  The Blazing Affair by Michael Avallone
  3.  The Golden Globules Affair by Simon Latter
  4.  The Golden Boats of Taradata Affair by Simon Latter
  5.  The Cornish Pixie Affair by Peter Leslie
Leo Margulies also published seven issues of The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine, each with a novella by our old friend "Robert Hart Davis," who time around was Richard Deming (three stories), I. G. Edmonds (three stories), and Charles Ventura (one story).

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. has become firmly embedded in our cultural landscape, often referenced or parodied.  It's popularity spawned a gazillion books, comics, and shows featuring intialled organizations -- T.H.U.N.D.E.R., S.H.I.E.L.D., O.R.G.Y, S.T.U.D, L.U.S.T.,  T.O.M.C.A.T., S.I.S., S.A.D.I.S.T.O., P.A.N.S.Y, and H.A.R.D.  Yeah, the last eight mentioned here were softcore sex novels, but, man, did they sell!)

Okay, them.  Back to The Mad Scientist Affair, referenced at the top of this post:

Solo and Kuryakin go after "King Mike," an Irish scientist and beer manufacturer.  King Mike has two beautiful nieces -- one good, one not so much -- to assist him.  He has devised two chemical formulas for fermentation that have very undesired effects.  The first gives a person unlimited confidence, to the point that anyone imbibing the ferment will do the most fool-hardy (and often deadly) things.  The second disastrous effect is much worse:  a small amount of this ferment can gelatinize sea water -- a large amount of sea water.  (Think English Channel-North Sea-Coast of France-and beyond large!)  Among other perils, U.N.C.L.E. must storm an Irish fortress, waylay delivery trucks carrying the bad stuff, chase a cabin cruiser across the Irish Sea, stop three canisters of the very bad stuff from exploding, and romance the bad guy's nieces.  It's all a bit more exciting than it sounds.

Anniversary?:  Today is supposedly the 199th anniversary of Missouri being admitted to as the 24th state.  I don't believe it.  Show me.

You Had One Job:  It is also the 392nd anniversary of the sinking of the Swedish warship Vasa.  Construction on the ship began in 1626 and it was launched in 1627.  It had its maiden voyage on August 10, 1628...and sank twenty minutes later.  Built under the orders of King Gustavus Augustus, she was one of the heaviest armed vessels in the world, including a number of bronze cannons.  The Vasa was an ornate ship ship symbolizing the King's ambitions for himself and for Sweden.  She was also top heavy and dangerously unstable.  Thus, on her maiden voyage, encountering "a wind stronger than a breeze," she overturned and sank.  Vainglory had made the ship a mere display piece which should have been kept on a shelf and admired, rather than put to practical use.  Is there a lesson there for us?

Little Lulu:  Little Lulu was created in 1935 when editors at The Saturday Evening Post wanted a panel comic strip to replace Carl Anderson's Henry, which had been picked up for syndication.  It fell to Marjorie Henderson Buell (who signed her work as "Marge") to create the resourceful and popular character.  Lulu's trademark cockscrew curls were like those that Marge had as a little girl.  As with Henry, Little Lulu did not speak, at least not at first.  She made her debut in the February 23, 1935 issue of SEP and appeared every week until December 30, 1944.   Lulu then became a regular comic strip and until 1969.  She appeared in comics books for 268 issues from various publishers from 1948 to 1984.  Most of the writing and artwork on the comic books were by John Stanley, who took over from Marge in 1947.  

Twenty-six Little Lulu animated cartoons were released from 1943 through 1948, with Cecil H. Roy voicing the character.  Lulu later appeared in other cartons, advertisements, and an HBO series.

Here's one of the cartoons from 1946, "Bargain Counter Attack":

Bad Birds:  Emu siblings Kevin and Carol have been banned for bad behavior from the Yaraka Hotel in Queensland, Australia.  The pair have learned to climb stairs and snatched toast and French fries from patrons at the hotel's pub; one even went behind the bar.   Having no other option left, the hotel has banned the pair.  They even put up a sign, hoping the birds can read.

Only in Florida:  Here's another YouTube compilation while I am giving Florida Man a much deserved rest:

Good News:

Something to Remember:  "What is there more unruly than the sea, with its winds, its tornadoes, and its tempests?   And yet in what department of her works has Nature been more seconded by the ingenuity of man than in this, by his invention of sails and of oars?"  -- Pliny the Elder

Today's Poem (With a Nod to Julia):

(The Meaning of Love)

To love is to share life together,
to build special plans just for two,
to work side by side
and then smile with pride
as one by one, dreams all come true.

-- Krina Shah


  1. Wow! What a terrific post! I was a big fan of THE MAN FROM UNCLE when I was a kid. The some for THE GIRL FROM UNCLE. I had several of THE MAN FROM UNCLE paperbacks, but not the complete set. That's for all the tidbits about the series that I didn't know!

  2. THE GIRL magazine had no images of Stephanie Powers nor her co-star to work with, so the imagery on the covers were somewhat blind guesses as to what she would look like...