Napoleon Solo’s blood type and continuity

Fugitive Nazi scientist Prof. Amadeus about to drain Napoleon Solo of his blood in The Deadly Games Affair.

Fugitive Nazi scientist Volp about to drain Solo of his blood in The Deadly Games Affair.

In the 1960s, continuity wasn’t a high priority for the makers of television series. It turns out The Man From U.N.C.L.E. had a remarkable piece of continuity — intended or not.

In the first season, in The Deadly Games Affair, Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin (Robert Vaughn and David McCallum) are on the trail of a fugitive Nazi scentist, Wolfgang Volp (Alexander Scourby). It turns out Volp, who now calls himself Professor Amadeus and teaches in a New York City-area college, is selling off rare stamps.

Volp/Amadeus isn’t working on any ordinary project. It turns out he has Adolf Hitler in suspended animation. But the scientist needs “fresh, whole blood” to reanimate his former boss. He’s selling off his rare stamps to buy enough blood for the task. Solo falls into Volp’s hands. This turns out to be the answer to Volp’s “last, desperate prayers” because Solo has the same blood type as Hitler.

Needless to say, things don’t go the way Volp wants. Solo wheels Hitler into a fire. Volp, who can’t stand it anymore, throws himself into the flames as well.

To be sure, the name “Hitler” isn’t actually uttered. But in the context of the episode (particularly Solo’s look of horror when he finds Hitler in suspended animation) it can’t be anybody else.

Flash forward to the show’s final season. In The Thrush Roulette Affair, around the 38:00 mark, the viewer gets a look at a Thrush dossier of Solo. We’re told he’s 6-foot tall (taller than actor Robert Vaughn) and weights 175 pounds. It also says Solo’s blood type is A.

Well, according to the website WHAT’S MY BLOOD TYPE, the two episodes are actually consistent. Solo had type A. Hitler had type A. (So did Alan Alda, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon.)

Was this actually planned? Doubtful. The Deadly Games Affair was written by Dick Nelson, who penned three first-season episodes and never worked on the show again. The Thrush Roulette Affair was written by Arthur Weingarten, who never worked on the series before its final season. Also, there’s no guarantee that Weingarten supplied the Solo dossier materials.

Anyway, given how continuity was normally an afterthought in 1960s shows, it’s remarkable the two references actually match up.

UPDATE (March 20): In case you’re wondering how common Type A is, the answer is at LIVESCIENCE.COM.

In the U.S.,34 percent of the population has A-positive and 7 percent has A-negative. The most common type is O-positive at 38 percent. The rarest is AB-negative at 1 percent.

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