October’s other Ian Fleming 50th anniversary

Ian Fleming

This month has seen the 50th anniversary of Dr. No, the first screen adaptation of Ian Fleming’s spy hero, James Bond, as well as the world premier of Skyfall, the 23rd film in the Eon Production series.

Next week is the 50th anniversary of another milestone involving the author, but it’s not likely to get the same publicity.

Oct. 29 through Oct. 31 marks 50 years since Fleming met with television producer Norman Felton concerning a project that would emerge as The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series that ran on NBC from September 1964 to January 1968.

The two men met over three days in New York City about the project. Craig Henderson’s For Your Eyes Only Web site has a day-by-day account that you can read BY CLICKING HERE. In a 1997 interview, Felton (who passed away earlier this year at age 99) described how it was difficult to keep Fleming focused on the subject.

On the third, and final, day of meetings, Fleming produced some notes written on Western Union telegraph blanks. The one idea that Fleming has that would stick is naming the hero Napoleon Solo. Fleming would remain interested in the project until May 28, 1963, his 55th birthday and he’d finally sign away his rights on June 26, 1963.

The author was pressured by the producers of the Bond films, Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, to abandon a television show they viewed as an unwelcome competitor. In any event, Fleming’s U.N.C.L.E. involvement while brief, was eventful. He’d also end up supplying the name of April Dancer (which he intended as a Miss Moneypenny-type character), which would be used in the spinoff series, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.