Eleanor Parker, U.N.C.L.E.’s last villainess, dies

Eleanor Parker in the final episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  That's Leslie Nielsen in the background. She's not going to like what his character does moments later.

Eleanor Parker in the final episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. That’s Leslie Nielsen in the background. She’s not going to like what his character does moments later.

Eleanor Parker, who played the final villainess in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, has died at 91, according to AN ASSOCIATED PRESS OBITUARY ON THE MIAMI HERALD WEBSITE.

Parker played a wide variety of parts according to her HER ENTRY ON IMDB.COM. For spy fans, though, one significant role was filmed in 1967 and aired in January 1968. She was in the final two-part episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Seven Wonders of the World Affair. It was released outside the U.S. as a movie called How to Steal the World.

In that story, an U.N.C.L.E. official named Robert Kinsley (Barry Sullivan), decides to tip the fight between good and evil in favor of good via a “will docility gas” that will force the world’s population to be compliant. What Kingsley doesn’t know is that his wife (Parker) has been manipulating him in partnership with a Thrush operative named Webb (Peter Mark Richman).

Originally, the story, written by Norman Hudis, was intended as a one-hour episode. But, with NBC opting to cancel U.N.C.L.E. in the middle of its fourth season, executive producer Norman Felton had the script expanded to be a two-parter. It would be the eighth, and final, U.N.C.L.E. movie for international audiences.

Parker’s character meets her demise when Robert Kingsley, finally aware of his wife’s plans, orders a General accidently exposed to the docility gas (Leslie Nielsen) to kill her. Overall, the story’s quality varies greatly, in part because of the last-minute expansion. But it’s still a major part of U.N.C.L.E. lore.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movies available on DVD tomorrow

We overlooked this, but the eight movies re-edited from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. are available starting tomorrow, Aug. 23, from Warner Bros.

The movies were comprised of television episode footage plus additional scenes of sex and violence for the paying customer. The pilot episode was filmed in color, but broadcast in black-and-white. Extra scenes were shot to ensure enough running time as a film. A first-season epsiode, The Double Affair, was likewise shot in color to provide the basis of a movie, with extra footage. The series was popular enough that the first few films, primarily intended for the international market, were released in the U.S.

Then, the ever-thrifty Norman Felton, U.N.C.L.E.’s executive producer, took some of the extra footage from the first two films, had a script written to incorporate it with an entirely different story. The result was the 21st episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,The Four-Steps Affair. There was one problem. In some of the footage, Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) had his hair parted one way while having his hair parted the opposite way during the rest of the footage. So, there’s an insert shot of Solo combing his hair to change his part. Ain’t Hollywood great?

For the remaining films, Felton & Co. had two-part episodes produced for the series that could more easily be turned into films for the international market. For more information, including how to order, JUST CLICK HERE. There was a previous release by Warners of five of the eight movies outside the U.S.

Instead of relying on “Affair” for titles (as with episodes of the television series), the films relied on using “Spy” for six of the eight titles: To Trap a Spy, The Spy With My Face, One Spy Too Many, One of Our Spies Is Missing; The Spy In the Green Hat; The Karate Killers, The Helicopter Spies and How To Steal the World. All eight were shown in one day on TCM in late 2008. The Helicopter Spies is of note because it fixes a number of bad editing mistakes in the second part of the fourth-season story The Prince of Darkness Affair.

Here are a few of the trailers for the U.N.C.L.E. movies: