Hugh O’Brian dies at 91

TV Guide cover with the stars of Search, Hugh O'Brian (lower right), Tony Franciosa, middle, and Doug McClure, top

TV Guide cover with the stars of Search, Hugh O’Brian (lower right), Tony Franciosa (middle), and Doug McClure (top).

Actor Hugh O’Brian died at age 91, according to an obituary posted by the Los Angeles Times.

O’Brian was best known for starring in The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, a 1955-61 television series. But he also made a try at a spy-related show, Search, which ran on NBC during the 1972-73 season.

Search concerned a private organization, the World Securities Corp. Its operatives were equipped with the (then) latest high-tech gear, including miniature cameras that enabled operations chief Cameron (Burgess Meredith) to stay in contact constantly.

O’Brian starred in the two-hour TV movie pilot, titled Probe, as Hugh Lockwood, the top agent for World Securities. It was written and produced by Leslie Stevens, who had also created The Outer Limits television series.

When the now-titled Search went to series, the format was changed so the show rotated O’Brian, Tony Franciosa and Doug McClure as World Securities operatives. Meredith, as the cranky Cameron, was the one constant.

The initial day-to-day producer was Robert H. Justman, who had been associate producer on the original Star Trek series. Anthony Spinner, producer of the fourth season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., was the story editor.

Justman departed before the end of the season and Spinner, who was a veteran at QM Productions, took command. Meanwhile the show’s roster of writers includes the likes of Norman Hudis, Irv Pearlberg and Richard Landau, who had all contributed to 1960s spy shows.

Search is available from Warner Archive. Here’s a preview clip of an episode featuring O’Brian.

Happy No. 97th birthday Norman Felton

Today, April 29, is the 97th birthday of Norman Felton, the executive producer of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Last year, we had a post that included links to a Felton interview on the origins of U.N.C.L.E. He worked, for a short while, with Ian Fleming, to bring U.N.C.L.E. to television before Fleming bolted from the project, not wanting to alienate James Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.

It’s also worth nothing how Mr. Felton has outlived so many of his U.N.C.L.E. contemporaries, including Sam Rolfe (developer and first-season producer, 1924-1993); Irv Pearberg (associate producer, late second season through conclusion of the series, 1925-2008); Alan Caillou (writer first and second seasons, 1914-2006); David Victor (producer and supervising producer, second and third seasons, 1910-1989); and Mort Abrhams (production executive, producer, second season, 1916-2009); and Jerry Goldsmith (composer, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Theme, 1929-2004).