Our favorite character actors: Ted Knight

Ted Knight as a Mafia hit man in a first-season episode of The FBI, “An Elephant Is Like a Rope.”

One in an occasional series.

Ted Knight (1923-1986) is best known as goofy anchorman Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show or the pompous judge in 1980’s Caddyshack. But he spent years as a character actor before either of his breakout roles.

Knight had small roles in The Twilight Zone, Psycho and Gunsmoke among many acting credits. He even played a criminal mastermind in The Night of the Kraken, an episode of The Wild Wild West airing during the 1968-69 season.

In one of his appearances on The FBI (The Executioners Part I), he played the head of a Cosa Nostra “gun drop” in New York City. He (unwisely) tries to shoot it out with Efrem Zimbalist Jr.’s Inspector Lewis Erskine.

Knight also played a part in a con job. Knight was a friend of Filmation co-founder Lou Scheimer. Filmation in 1965 was seeking the license from DC Comics to do Superman cartoons. But DC executives wanted to see a busy studio hard at work.

Scheimer arranged for artists from Hanna-Barbera to show up, pretending to be working on cartoons. Knight also was recruited, pretending to be a film editor.

The con worked and Filmation got the job. The New Adventures of Superman in the fall of 1966 on CBS. The show consisted of two Superman cartoons with a Superboy cartoon in-between. Knight was the narrator of the Superboy cartoon and did other voices.

Knight soon got work on other Filmation shows, including Fantastic Voyage, Journey to the Center of the Earth and Aquaman. In 1968, Filmation came out with a Batman cartoon where Knight was narrator and voiced most of the male villains.

Knight became a bigger name once The Mary Tyler Moore Show came along. It turned out that Ted Baxter was one of the hardest parts to cast. Allan Burns described what happened in an interview for the Archive of American Television around the 5:05 mark. From then on, things were never the same for Knight.

Noah Keen, character actor, dies at 98

Noah Keen, right, with James Gregory and Jack Lord in the pilot to Hawaii Five-O

Noah Keen, a veteran character actor whose career ran from the late 1950s into the 2000s, died last month at 98, according to a Los Angeles Times obituary.

Keen’s parts included a doctor who programs Steve McGarrett to impart false information under an unusual torture in the pilot to Hawaii Five-O. As a result, Chinese spy Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh) takes the false information with him back to his government.

When Keen’s character meets McGarrett (Jack Lord), he reads from a dossier that indicates the lawman, during his days in the military was “an organizational misfit,” received some presidential citations and “flies by the seat of his pants.”

His other TV series credits included Have Gun-Will Travel, The FBI, The Twilight Zone, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., The Invaders, It Takes a Thief and Mission: Impossible. The final credit listed in his IMDB.COM ENTRY was a 2006 episode of The Sopranos.

U.N.C.L.E. car to be part of ‘Dream Machines’ exhibit

Robert Vaughn with the U.N.C.L.E. car in a third-season episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The Piranha U.N.C.L.E. car will be part of an exhibit titled Hollywood Dream Machines at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

The car is owned by Robert Short, who has a variety of special and visual effects credits in film and television. He announced the news in a post on Facebook on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. – Inner Circle page. That’s a fan page where he’s the administrator.

The car with gull-wing doors was a prototype built by AMT Corp. in Phoenix, according to an online history of the vehicle. It debuted during the 1966-67 season on both The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.

By this time, the Aston Martin DB5 that appeared in Goldfinger had inspired other “spy cars.” The AMT Piranha was supposed to have various weapons and defensive systems, but few episodes really showed them off.

The Hollywood Dream Machines exhibit opens during the first weekend of May.

George M. Lehr, key U.N.C.L.E. lieutenant, dies

The shadow of George M. Lehr, who at the time had the title of assistant to the producer, as part of a main title sequence during the first season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

George M. Lehr, a key lieutenant in the production of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., has died, according to family members and fans of the show posting on social media. He was 87.

Lehr’s initial title on U.N.C.L.E. was assistant to producer. In the capacity, he was a jack of all trades.

Lehr was, “for all intents and purposes, the third member of the (Norman) Felton-(Sam) Rolfe team,” Jon Heitland wrote in his 1987 book about U.N.C.L.E. “He undertook a myriad of duties on the show, including all postproduction work.”

That covers quite a bit of ground, from film editing to music scoring. That meant that Lehr touched a lot of bases with accomplished professionals.

U.N.C.L.E. was produced at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where John Dunning (1916-1991), who won an Oscar for Ben-Hur, was the supervising editor. Franklin Milton (1907-1985), another Ben-Hur Oscar winner, was the recording supervisor.

Lehr even appeared on-screen, in a fashion. Starting with the eighth episode, The Double Affair, the main titles began with the shadow of an attacker inside U.N.C.L.E. headquarters who fires a gun at Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn). This would last through the end of the first season. Lehr provided that shadow.

During the second half of the show’s second season, Lehr got a promotion to associate producer (which meant a bigger credit in the end titles), a recognition of his contributions. For the 1966-67 season, he held the same title at The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. (sharing it with Max Hodge).

After that series was canceled following its only season, he rejoined Man’s crew for its final campaign for the 1967-68 season, again with the title of associate producer. Lehr was around for the entire development of U.N.C.L.E.

“(H)e also helped to create the…”whip pan” by inserting blurred images between scenes,” Cynthia W. Walker wrote in Work/Text Investigating The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The “whip pan” was used as a transition and a key part of the show’s look.

George M. Lehr’s title card (shared with Irv Pearlberg) in a fourth-season episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Lehr’s silhouette from U.N.C.L.E.’s first season has surfaced on the cover of the Batman ’66 Meets The Man From U.N.C.L.E. mini-series published by DC Comics. The silhouette is altered slightly to make it appear that of an U.N.C.L.E. agent.

Post-U.N.C.L.E., Lehr worked on series includes Bracken’s World (a drama about a movie studio), Police Woman and Masquerade. The latter, created by Glen Larson, combined elements of U.N.C.L.E. and Mission: Impossible.

Lehr also attended The Golden Anniversary Affair, a 2014 fan gathering in Southern California to mark U.N.C.L.E.’s 50th anniversary.

On a more personal note, Lehr sent me this 2011 note via Facebook (it was a direct message). He had seen my website, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode guide.

“Reading your site, I now recall you as the individual who established one of the original internet sites. After all these years still amazed there are UNCLE fans out there almost as old as Norman (Felton) and I are. I would guess that’s probably because fans like you are still out there “beating the bushes”! And we are all grateful.”

UPDATE (March 17): An obituary listing for George Lehr is online. You can view it by CLICKING HERE.

U.N.C.L.E. script: Nazis and a femme fatale Part II

Solo is about to get the shock of his life when he realizes the identity of “the sleeper.”

Dick Nelson, in writing The Stamp Affair (renamed The Deadly Games Affair when broadcast) came up with a mix of a fugitive Nazi scientist, a femme fatale and (as we’ll soon see) a bit of science fiction.

This wouldn’t be The Man From U.N.C.L.E. without an “innocent,” an ordinary person who gets caught up in the adventure.

Nelson’s script supplies two: a college couple, Chuck Boskirk and Sue Brent (who would be renamed Terry Brent in the final version). They’re planning on getting married.

Chuck has been contacted by an anonymous person. It is Chuck who sold the rare stamp, acting as a middleman, in return for a percentage. For the couple it’s a chance to make extra money and get married sooner.

Chuck calls the auction house. The stamp fetched $6,500. Chuck arranges to come by later to pick up the proceeds.

We soon learn why Chuck was selected to perform this service. One of his instructors at the college is Professor Amadeus, who is none other than fugitive Nazi scientist Wolfgang Krug (Volp in the broadcast version).

Thrush Makes Its Move

At the auction house, U.N.C.L.E. agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin await. Chuck and Sue retrieve the money (all in cash, per the seller’s instructions). Before the agents make their move, a Thrush assault team disguised as security guards (the script calls them “Brinks” men) strikes.

A fight breaks out, some of the Thrush operatives are killed but the criminal organization still manages to kidnap Chuck.

Back at U.N.C.L.E. HQs, Sue is with Solo and Illya. Sue was brought through an alternate entrance (rather than through Del Floria’s), but it’s only described and not shown. Some reference sources refer this as the Mask Club entrance described in Sam Rolfe’s series proposal titled Ian Fleming’s Solo. But there’s no explicit mention of that in the script.

The scene also has Solo describe Thrush to Sue, in effect also reminding the audience about the villainous organization. Thrush was used less in the first season than it would be in subsequent seasons.

In any case, Solo says he has an idea where Chuck may be. In the next scene, Thrush operative Angelique, the story’s femme fatale, appears to rescue Chuck and kill one of the guards.

After Angelique speeds off in her Corvette (supplied by Chevrolet, sponsor for the first-half of the show’s first season), the guard “gets to his feet, unhurt, and brushes himself off.”

Cup of Coffee?

Angelique and Chuck arrive at Chuck’s home. She tells the college student that she’s with U.N.C.L.E. She offers to make him some coffee.

Solo, however, comes by. He’s brought a policeman with him, who arrests Angelique for immigration violations.

Solo fills Chuck in on the real situation and enlists his help. U.N.C.L.E. has been monitoring his telephone from its New York headquarters. Chuck has been getting calls at regular intervals.

Chuck is present at U.N.C.L.E. HQ for another one of the calls with the seller of the stamp and they set up a meeting. Chuck will wear a homing device so Solo can keep track of him.

The meeting goes bad, Professor Amadeus/Krug sets off a bomb and gets away. Sue is injured and is hospitalized. Once Chuck knows Sue is OK, Solo agrees to take Chuck back to the college so he can get Sue’s books.

Solo looks at him for a moment, feeling deeply sympathetic for the boy, who might very well feel resentment for what happened tonight. At this moment, Solo decides he likes Chuck very much. His voice and expression tell us so.

SOLO
It won’t be out of the way.

When Solo and Chuck arrive at the college, Angelique is prowling about. Solo decides to keep her busy while Chuck retrieves Sue’s books. Solo and Angelique engage in some banter for a bit.

Amadeus Runs For It

Unfortunately for Chuck, he encounters Professor Amadeus “who seems to be leaving the premises for good.”

Amadeus convinces Chuck to help load some of his papers to his pickup truck. The Nazi knocks out the student, leaving him in the rear of the truck. Amadeus/Krug drives off. But he’s unaware that Angelique is following him.

Amadeus arrives at his home but is intercepted by Angelique before he can get far. He forces her inside his garage. It turns out the garage is also the entrance to an underground laboratory.

The script has a bit from Angelique that didn’t make the final version where she describes how she made the connection between Krug and Amadeus.

ANGELIQUE
…and when we had young Mister Boskirk under sodium pentathol, we made him name all his acquaintances, you see. And, of course, Professor Amadeus was on the list. Now, earlier this evening, I had a few hours to think….and I recalled Doctor Wolfgang Krug had been named for one of my favorite classical composers…Wolfgang Mozart. I also remembered Mozart had an unusual middle name
(snip)

Angelique’s dialogue in the script goes on for a bit, but she put together that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart might to a clue to Wolfgang Krug.

Solo, meanwhile, is on the way. Chuck’s homing signal still works and he finds the home of Amadeus/Krug. He contacts Illya at headquarters. Solo will break into the house while Illya and back up agents are on the way.

Solo finds a way to the underground lab. While Amadeus and Angelique talk back and forth, the U.N.C.L.E. agent find himself in a room full of tanks that “are vaguely coffin-shaped, are covered with heavy glass, and some kind of liquid bubbles softly inside them.”

In the other room, Amadeus/Krug tells Angelique just how important he was in the Third Reich hierarchy. As he talks/brags, Solo checks out the first tank. Inside is “something shaped like a man.”

CLOSER – SOLO

As he squints down through the vapor and liquid at the face, and in B.G., hears Amadeus’ voice continuing, he begins to realize who it is he is looking at. We see his dawning recognition, incredulity and then horror as Amadeus’ voice rises to a climax:

AMADEUS’ VOICE (O.S. offscreen)
The world thinks he died when Berlin fell…but like Barbarossa in the legend, he only sleeps, waiting to rise up when the fatherland needs him. And I who perfected a process for suspended animation — I alone can wake him!

Solo’s face confirms what Amadeus is saying……he stares as though hypnotized into the face (BELOW FRAME) in the tank. And then, too late, he realizes that the vapor he has been inhaling — the fumes from the tank — are poisonous. He tries to stifle a coughing fit, but does not succeed. Choking, clutching his throat, he slumps to the floor, unconscious.

FADE OUT

To recap, Solo has had a long, hard day. The hunt for a fugitive Nazi scientist has led the intrepid agent to finding ADOLPH HITLER in “suspended animation,” as Krug/Amadeus calls it elsewhere in the script.

What else can go wrong?

Fugitive Nazi scientist Prof. Amadeus about to drain Napoleon Solo of his blood.

Solo: The Human Blood Bank

Well, it turns out Krug/Amadeus tried to revive the SS officer with his own blood, preserved for 20 years. But to make the scientist’s rejuvenation process work, fresh blood (and the same blood type of the individual) is needed.

As an aside, this idea wasn’t new, even in 1964. A 1963 Fantastic Four comic book featured a villain called the Hate Monger, who was revealed to be Hitler. An episode of The New Avengers in the 1970s had Hitler in suspended animation. So did a 1980s story line in the Dick Tracy comic strip.

Amadeus/Krug needs blood that matches the same blood. He intended to discreetly purchase blood from blood banks. Time has run out. However, Solo’s blood type matches that of the sleeper.

As things turn out, Solo’s blood type actually matches Hitler’s. although this wouldn’t be established until a fourth-season episode. In any case, Krug/Amadeus now plans to drain all of Solo’s blood to revive the “sleeper.”

To ensure his privacy, the Nazi scientist detonates another bomb, destroying his own home.

So, to recap, Solo is about to be drained of his own blood while Angelique and Chuck look on.

Luckily, Illya is on the scene. And he’ll help Solo get out of this mess.

Amadeus/Krug was a little too quick to activate that last bomb. The scientist’s underground laboratory is about to catch fire. Solo begins to get himself out of his fix. Illya finds his way to the underground lair and overcomes Angelique.

Solo uses the sudden change in fortune to put an end to the “sleeper,” which has managed to grab the agent while receiving rejuvenation fluid as part of the process.

CLOSE – SOLO AND SLEEPER

as Solo, face contorting in hate and revulsion, struggles to free himself from the thing’s inhuman grip. He finally rips free, and then in a reaction of pure animal hate, he gives the gurney [where the sleeper is lying on} a violent shove forward.

The gurney with the “sleeper” goes into flames. Amadeus “follows the ‘sleeper’ into the burning gasoline. There is one horrible cry, then silence.”

Illya tells Solo he better tend to the disturbance at the security entrance.

‘Better Attend To It’

After the long night, Chuck and Sue are at U.N.C.L.E. HQs. Solo tells them about the honeymoon they’ll receive for their cooperation. On top of that, U.N.C.L.E. has recovered Krug’s stamp collection and will give it to them.

Chuck and Sue, however, feel the latter gift isn’t correct. As a result, the stamp collection will be donated to the collection.

Just then, Illya arrives to inform Solo there’s a disturbance at the security entrance (Del Floria’s). “Better attend to it….before the place gets a bad name.”

Solo goes outside where Angelique awaits. After some banter, the sometime adversaries “drive off together.” One can only imagine the time Solo will have this coming evening.

NOT QUITE THE END

Like other early U.N.C.L.E. scripts, Dick Nelson’s The Stamp Affair had off-beat introductions where Solo broke the fourth wall. To read a summary of the one for this episode, CHECK OUT THIS NOVEMBER 2018 POST. It involves Solo at a coffin store.

The Nelson script also has a preview for the next episode where the fourth wall is smashed.

INT. COFFIN ROOM ROOM – MED. SHOT – NIGHT

The Girl is standing besides the coffin as Solo talks to The Camera.

SOLO
Now those are what I call real first class villains. I mean, they just don’t make them like that anymore…
(straight)
…at least let’s pray they don’t.
(lightens)
But now…for next week…
(indicates off stage.
FLASH PAN TO:
TRAILERS
A series of trailer scenes. Then:

BACK TO SCENE
Solo is signing the girl’s order book. He looks up Into Camera, smiles.

SOLO
With action like that coming up, I may have to ask for a raise.
(to girl)
Would you like..? cash…?check…? trading stamps…?

She reaches up, pulls his head down gently, and kisses him for a moment. As she releases he looks Into Camera:

SOLO (clears throat)
Well..! From each, according to his ability. to each, according to her needs.

He smiles, turns, picks up the coffin, and walks out with it under his arm (NOTE: or, if the coffin is too heavy, it is on a small dolly and he merely rolls it away with him). Girl turns, looks Into Camera and winks:

FREEZE FRAME
FADE OUT

THE END

We wish to thank the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement without whose assistance this blog post would not be possible.

U.N.C.L.E. script: Nazis and a femme fatale Part I

Thrush operative Angelique with her Corvette supplied by first-season sponsor Chevrolet.

The Stamp Affair would mark a foray by The Man From U.N.C.L.E. into science fiction, deal with a fugitive Nazi scientist and feature a femme fatale character, Angelique.

Before broadcast, as the fifth episode shown by NBC, it would be renamed The Deadly Games Affair. But the script by Dick Nelson would be close to the version seen by audiences.

However, the script (dated July 15, 1964, with some revised pages about a week later) does contain some interesting differences compared with the broadcast version.

Nelson’s script includes act titles. But some of his have a chess theme while the final act titles played off the Deadly Games title. Only one of Nelson’s act titles would be used.

NELSON’S ACT TITLES

Act I: Queen’s Gambit Accepted
Act II: The Three Cornered Game
Act III: A King in Perpetual Check
Act IV: White Plus Black Equals Red Death

BROADCAST ACT TITLES

Act I: The Games Begin
Act II: A Game Of Hare And Hounds
Act III: The Three-Cornered Game
IV: The Game Is Up

At the start of Act I, the stage directions introduce the reader to a “small, bald clean-shaven elderly man” driving a pickup truck out in the country . He backs up the vehicle and parks it off the road near a stream.

Interestingly, the part would be cast with character actor Alexander Scourby (1913-1985), who wasn’t bald and had a beard. (In 1965, the actor would be a last-minute hire as narrator for the television special The Incredible World of James Bond.)

“Despite the old clothing he has worn for this task, he seems notably out of place here,” according to the stage directions. “He looks a good bit like a college professor, which, among other things, he is.” Eventually, the stage directions say he is known as Professor Amadeus.

An Interruption
The mysterious figure “begins to half-drag, half-roll” a drum stored in the back of the truck. “It’s a struggle — the drum must outweigh him by several pounds.” However, a group of boys emerges, firing sling shots. The man gets back in the truck and goes off with the drum rolling of the tailgate.

The drum is at the edge of the stream. By this time the boys notice it and start shooting their slingshots.

ANGLE – ON THE BOYS
They stare in open-mouthed terror at what is happening to the drum.

BACK TO THE DRUM
Its lid is being is being battered loose from within. As we watch, the lid gives way and a ghastly figure spills out into the daylight. Its form is of a man — but a man in the process of decay. His skin the color of pewter — his hair is dead white. The thing is mouthing insane gibberish that sounds somehow Germanic but is no recognizable language. The thing takes a few faltering steps up the slope of the bank, eyes rolling blankly, then with a last shriek of rage, collapses and rolls back down upon the drum. A final tremor passes through it and then it is mercifully dead.

Dead, maybe. But not without a calling card of a sort. The corpse has an SS tatoo on one of its forearms.

This leads into a scene where the pages are dated July 21, 1964. Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) is telling Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) about the incident.

Normally, you’d expect Alexander Waverly, the Number One of Section One, to be delivering the briefing. However, actor Leo G. Carroll was already in his 70s when the series began. It’s possible this is a rewrite made because Carroll wasn’t available.

Regardless, the audience is provided background for the story. The dead man was with the SS but had disappeared before the end of World War II. He was assigned to work with scientist Wolfgang Krug, described by Illya as “a brilliant medical researcher. His field was blood chemistry.”

Notes in the script indicate that Wolfgang Krug’s name was to be changed to Max Volp. However, the final version would split the difference and refer to his real name as Wolfgang Volp.

In any case, Krug (as he’s called in this script) was also a noted collector of rare stamps. One of his collection appears to be available at an auction in Manhattan.

Angelique’s Entrance
The agents show up separately. At a reception area there’s a reception table “where ILLYA KURYAKIN, in caterer’s white uniform, is dispensing punch, etc. He looks a bit sour.”

As an aside, that stage direction is written as though this was the first time Illya appears in the episode. But we’ve already seen him in the previous scene. That’s one reason why I suspect the previous scene was revised.

In any case, Illya is in a bad humor. “It is ANGELIQUE, looking ravishing.” Angelique is an operative for Thrush, the villainous organization of the series. Clearly that group is also interested in Krug.

Solo reacts with a slow smile. He’s beginning to like this assignment. At his shoulder, Illya looks more sour still.

SOLO
Angelique! Well!
(sees Illya’s look, loses smile)

ILLYA
Sometime you must tell me what’s like….romancing a woman who would kill you without a qualm, if Thrush ordered it. And knowing Thrush, that order might be given already.

SOLO
It adds spice, Illya
(about to start away)
And — I flatter myself that she might have a few qualms….just the slightest, fleeting regret.

He gives Illya a parting wink, and heads for Angelique.

As the two meet, Angelique “is all warmth and effervescence…she goes close against him, offering her cheek for a lover’s greeting kiss. Solo bestows it.”

With that established, Solo and Angelique flirt and decide to avoid getting into a bidding war for the stamp, lest they scare off Krug.

As in the final version, the opposing operatives decide to decide who buys the stamp with a coin flip. Angelique attempts to use a double-headed coin but Solo isn’t fooled. The U.N.C.L.E. agent wins “by default.”

Afterward, Solo and Angelique pay an after-hours visit to a stamp expert while Illya waits nearby. The expert verifies the stamp is genuine. He says he saw the stamp as a boy. But it was one of a pair. It also lacks the identifying mark of Krug, which is presumably on the other stamp. Thus, it’s a dead end.

Slay It With Flowers
As she gets ready to depart, Angelique takes a flower from her purse and pins it to Solo’s lapel. Angelique then leaves, making “a Loretta Young exit.” Solo is pleased with himself. As Illya enters, he’s more wary. With good reason.

INSERT – ROSE AND SPIDER

The flower, as a spider emerges and starts up Solo’s lapel.

This actually sounds more suspenseful than the final version, where the spider wasn’t terribly convincing and wasn’t moving up the lapel.

Nevertheless, in the script as in the final version, “Illya slaps the spider to the floor and steps on it. The expert is alarmed and puzzled. Solo loses his smile.”

“A poisonous spider,” Illya says in the script. “One of Angelique’s relatives, perhaps?”

TO BE CONTINUED

Joseph Sirola, character actor and voice over artist, dies

Joseph Sirola as U.S. spymaster Jonathan Kaye is about to spring a surprise on Steve McGarrett and let Wo Fat go in The Jinn Who Clears the Way,

Joseph Sirola, a character blessed with a voice that attracted much voice over work, has died at 89, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Sirola “died of complications from respiratory failure Sunday at a rehabilitation hospital in New York City,” according to the entertainment news website and trade publication.

The actor played villains in second-, third- and fourth-season episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. He also portrayed U.S. spymaster Jonathan Kaye in five episodes of the original Hawaii Five-O series.

In his final appearance as Kaye, in The Jinn Who Clears the Way, his character springs a major surprise on Jack Lord’s Steve McGarrett. The Big Kahuna has captured arch villain Wo Fat. But Kaye makes the lawman let the villain go because there’s to be a prisoner exchange between the U.S. and China.

Sirola was known the “King of the Voice-Overs,” THR said, citing a 1970 Wall Street Journal about his frequent work on commercials., Sirola also won a Tony in 2014 for producing the musical , THR said.

Here’s the end of The Jinn Who Clears the Way: