Would you believe…Barbara Feldon discusses Get Smart?

Would you believe…Barbara Feldon turned down the role of 99 on Get Smart?

It’s not a punchline but the answer is yes. She didn’t want to move from New York and didn’t want to be tied down for five years. Other actresses were tested but producers went back to her, saying she’d only be committed to two years. And, of course, she ended up playing the role for all five seasons on the spy comedy.

That’s just part of what Feldon disclosed in a 2007 an Archive of American Television interview. She also discussed her role in a guest shot on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and how it was almost like preparing her for Get Smart. “You’re not asking me to repeat this silly script,” she says at one point about the U.N.C.L.E. episode, The Never-Never Affair, which is actually one of the best installments of that series.

“I’m sure Man From U.N.C.L.E. influenced Get Smart, she says. “I think Buck (Henry) once said it was just taking (it) a little further. There was the Bond series and there was Man From U.N.C.L.E. then you go all the way out.” Buck Henry collaborated with Mel Brooks on the pilot and would be story editor the show’s first two seasons.

All of the ’60s spy stuff starts shortly after the 18:00 mark of this video:

And it continues at the start of this segment: