Real people who existed in some fictional universes

Haphazard Stuff, who makes entertaining videos about James Bond and other entertainment subjects, came out with a video that caught my eye.

He discussed real people (Queen Elizabeth, Bob Hope, Anita Ekberg, among others) who have existed in our world as well as the fictional world of the cinematic James Bond.

That got me to thinking about real people who managed to co-exist in some of the blog’s other favorite fictional universes.

U.N.C.L.E. insignia from a second-season episode

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1964-68): This spy show had characters who were either based on, or parodies of, real-life people. But it takes a little looking to find real-life people.

The Cherry Blossom Affair, in the show’s second season, was set in Japan and it’s established that Japanese love baseball.

In Act IV, a Japanese official of Thrush is interrupted by an aide. Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) inquires whether something is wrong.

“It appears that Sandy Koufax has just pitched another no hitter!” the excited Thrush official says.

This, of course, would be Sandy Koufax, who pitched for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. This episode first aired Nov. 19, 1965. Koufax pitched his fourth, and final, no-hitter on Sept. 9, 1965, a perfect game (no base runners allowed).

Earlier in the episode, the story’s innocent Cricket Okasada (France Nuyen) is depicted as having a side job dubbing U.S. TV shows into Japanese. She’s shown working on an episode of Dr. Kildare.

Like U.N.C.L.E., it was produced by Norman Felton’s Arena Productions. This would suggest Dr. Kildare star Richard Chamberlain also co-exists in the fictional U.N.C.L.E. universe.

In The Thor Affair, a third-season entry, Solo and Illya Kuryakin enlist the assistance of a schoolteacher as the story’s “innocent.” In the episode’s final scene, the initials RFK and LBJ are seen on a chalkboard at the teacher’s school room.

Thus, it would seem Robert F. Kennedy (then a U.S. senator from New York) and then-President Lyndon B. Johnson also existed in this fictional universe. Robert Vaughn was a friend of RFK’s and supported his 1968 run for president.

The FBI logo from the main titles.

The FBI (1965-74):  J. Edgar Hoover, the long-time director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was instrumental in the series reaching TV screens. Hoover also was, sort of, a character on the show.

A number of episodes depicted FBI offices having photographs of Hoover.

Beyond that, the first-season episode The Defector Part I depicts Hoover as playing an off-screen role in the story.

The bureau is seeking the assistance of a cocky chess champion as part of an espionage case. The chess player comes out of Hoover’s office (we see the door with Hoover’s name and title). He acts similar to Moses having witnessed the burning bush and agrees to help out Inspector Lewis Erskine (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.).

In the second-season episode The Camel’s Nose, assistant director Arthur Ward tells a long-time friend about the story of the camel that first got his nose in the tent before eventually taking it over. “We almost lost the tent,” Ward says, referring to the bureau, but that Hoover got it back.

In real life, of course, Hoover’s record at the FBI was very controversial, including FBI wiretaps on civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. But the episode shows how Hoover was a presence on the show, even though he was never actually seen in person.

Hoover died in spring 1972, after production of the show’s seventh season. In the eighth season, the episode Edge of Desperation reflects the passing of the director.

Arthur Ward comes out of the Director’s office. The sign on the door now reads, “L. Patrick Gray, III, Acting Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Entrance.”

Hawaii Five-O logo in the main title

Hawaii Five-O (1968-80): Some first-season episodes mention “Chief Dan.” Usually the context is Five-O is “working with” Chief Dan.

This is an apparent reference to Chief Dan Liu, who headed the Honolulu Police Department from Oct. 1, 1948 to June 30, 1969. Liu  had a cameo in the 1952 John Wayne film Big Jim McClain.

Eddie Sherman, a Honolulu newspaper columnist, appeared in a number of episodes, including one (Rest in Peace, Somebody) as himself.

McGarrett (Jack Lord) calls up Sherman. “Eddie Sherman, what’s your problem?” the newsman answers. Sherman agrees not to print a story about a mysterious message the lawman has received in his office.

In another episode, A Matter of Mutual Concern, McGarrett apprehends one crime boss who has just killed another. Just before his arrest, the surviving crime boss complains how his car’s speedometer goes to 120 mph, but he could never get the car to go faster than 90.

“Tell Ralph Nader!” McGarrett says. Evidently, the famed consumer advocate (and future presidential candidate) also co-exists in the Five-O Universe.

One Response

  1. Great Post! I’m not nearly as knowledgeable as yourself about the real people connection, which is your point.

    But in MFU’s the “Jingle Bells Affair” there was a pretty strong allusion to Krushchev, right? Didn’t they also refer to the Macy’s Department Store by name?

    Also in the “Candidate’s Wife Affair” there was a visual of a political convention. Can we figure out in which year? While the setting of the episode was supposedly in San Francisco, wouldn’t that have made it the Dem Convention in Chicago?

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