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.

What would a reboot of The FBI be like?

fbishowlogo

While doing work on THE FBI EPISODE GUIDE, we got to thinking what a reboot of the 1965-74 television series might be like.

Background: The show was an idealized version of the real life U.S. agency. In fact, the bureau had script approval and veto power over guest stars of the series produced by Quinn Martin and Warner Bros. The real-life FBI exercised that power on occasions, including vetoing Bette Davis as a guest star in the second season.

Anyway, a few thoughts:

DOING A REBOOT AS A PERIOD PIECE: The general public knows a lot more about J. Edgar Hoover, the bureau director for 48 years, than it did when the television debuted. It’s not a very pretty picture, including wire taps on Martin Luther King Jr.

If a reboot of The FBI were done as a 1960s period piece, we’d likely see Inspector Lewis Erskine (Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in the original show) as a conflicted figure, aware of things the bureau shouldn’t be doing. He’d be portrayed as someone loyal to the bureau but aware of its failings.

DOING A REBOOT TIMESHIFTED TO THE 21ST CENTURY: Erskine’s assignments would be much different than the original series.

Instead of dealing with bank robbers, the mob and those behind major crimes, Erskine likely would be dealing with terrorists. In the show, we’re told Erskine’s wife was killed in an ambush meant for the FBI man. With a reboot, we might see the doomed Mrs. Erskine killed during the Sept. 11, 2011 attacks, explaining why he’s such a driven figure.

At this point, such thoughts are only speculation. The FBI TV series was something of its time and nobody has shown any interest in reviving it.

 

1980: Jack Anderson digs up FBI memos about Goldfinger

Scene from Goldfinger

Filming during Goldfinger

Thirty-four years ago, syndicated newspaper columnist Jack Anderson obtained some FBI memos that showed how, in 1964, the bureau was concerned about how it might be portrayed in Goldfinger.

Here’s an excerpt from a column published in June 1980 in various newspapers. This excerpt is based on how it appeared in The Galveston (Texas) Daily News on June 24, 1980, via NEWSPAPERS.COM.

WASHINGTON — The FBI’s deep concern with the true-blue Americanism of such celebrities as Helen Keller and Humphrey Bogart has been chronicled in past columns.

Now I’ve obtained internal documents that reveal that the late J. Edgar Hoover was also worried about a fictional celebrity — Ian Fleming’s super-British Agent 007, James Bond.

Communist subversion may have been threatening the Republic in the 1960s — as Hoover assured Congress it was every year at budget time — but the FBI could still find time and agents to check into the possible effects of a James Bond movie on the agency’s pristine image.

Anderson quoted one FBI memo as saying, “The type of book written by Fleming is certainly not the type where we would want any mention of the FBI or portrayal of FBI agents, no matter how favorable they might look in the movie.”

Another memo recommended that “in the event the Bureau is contacted for permission to portray an FBI agent in the movie, it should be flatly declined.”

About half of the column was devoted to the FBI memos concerning Bond and Goldfinger. The rest of the column was devoted to several other topics. Anderson retired in 2004 and died in 2005.

The FBI season 7: end of an era

Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

The seventh season of The FBI is now available from Warner Archive arm of Warner Bros. It would be the last season produced while J. Edgar Hoover, the long-time FBI director, was still alive.

Hoover never appeared on camera per se, but he still had a presence in the series. It might be in the form of an anxious secretary holding a telephone (“It’s MISTER HOOVER!”). It might be in the form of a cocky chess champion who has been persuaded to help out the bureau after emerging from what’s supposed to be Hoover’s office (“That quite a man in there.”). It might be in the form of the seeming omnipresent Hoover portraits in FBI offices or photographs on the desks of FBI agents.

Hoover had been instrumental in the series coming together, seeing it as a chance to promote the bureau’s image. He had an annual meeting with series star Efrem Zimbalist Jr. The bureau reportedly had veto power over casting of guest stars. Hoover was also thanked, by name, in the end titles.

There was occasional tension between the bureau and executive producer Quinn Martin (you can CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from the book Quinn Martin, producer to read more). But overall, Hoover had little reason to be displeased.

The seventh season of The FBI ran from Sept. 12, 1971, through March 19, 1972. Less than two months later, Hoover died at the age of 77. The show would run another two years but it wouldn’t quite be the same.

After Hoover’s death, FBI activity such as domestic spying and amassing large files on politicians came to light. There have been periodic attempts to take his name off FBI headquarters in Washington, but they haven’t been successful.

As for as the seventh season, it would be the final one to have a two-part episode. It would include familiar faces from previous seasons as guest stars (Bradford Dillman, Steve Ihnat, Robert Drivas and Ralph Meeker) as well as actors who wouldn’t become famous until years later (Mark Hamill). It costs $49.95 and only ships in the U.S. For more information about ordering, CLICK HERE.

QM’s The FBI vs. J. Edgar’s FBI

One of the more talked about (if not financially successful) movies this fall was the Clint Eastwood-directed J. Edgar, a “biopic” about J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio), who was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 48 years until his death in 1972. We were particularly interested because we enjoy the Hoover-sanctioned 1965-74 television series produced by Quinn Martin.

The QM FBI is an idealized version of the real life agency, which by various reports spied on civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and performed other less-than-heroic acts. interestingly, producer Martin was initially hesitant to do a series based on the FBI because he and Hoover were different politically.

But the show, produced in association with Warner Bros. (which released Eastwood’s J. Edgar plus the heavily pro-Hoover movie The FBI Story in 1959) proceeded anyway. It would end up being Martin’s longest-running television series, running nine years. In real life, the FBI might be accused of going easy on the Mafia, at least prior to John F. Kennedy becoming president. But on QM’s The FBI, the bureau was vigilant against organized crime, even in episodes LIKE THIS ONE or LIKE THIS ONE, where the mob bosses had names like Mark Vincent or Arnold Toby and avoided the word “Mafia.” And, of course, the QM FBI never failed to catch spies working against U.S. interests.

However, if you catch certain episodes of QM’s FBI, the Hoover influence is unmistakeable. In many episodes, you can spot a photo of Hoover in an FBI office. In EPISODES LIKE THIS ONE, a character comes out of Hoover’s office (we never see the Director, of course) obviously moved to put their scruples aside to aid the cause of law and order. The real-life Hoover’s influence extended to having approval of the casting of Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Inspector Lewis Erskine, the lead character of the television series.

Enough of this heavy thinking. Here’s a complete second-season episode of The FBI, along with its original commercials (the Ford Motor Co. logo appears in the main titles). Towards the end, you’ll see a promo for the next episode, the first of a two-part episode called “The Executioners,” in which future James Bond villain Telly Savalas appears as, what else, an organized crime figure. That two-part episode would be released outside of the U.S. AS A MOVIE.

UPDATE: Oops moment in the epilogue. The suspect shoves a guy into the water. But agents Erskine and Rhodes (Stephen Brooks) are so intent on arresting the suspect (J.D. Cannon), they never check back on the innocent guy who got shoved into the water. What if he drowned?

UPDATE II: One connection between this episode of The FBI and Clint Eastwood. The assistant director of the television episode was Robert Daley, who’d serve as producer on a number of films for Eastwood’s Malpaso Productions, including being executive producer of Dirty Harry and producer of Magnum Force.

The FBI Vs. Spies — Inspector Erskine Vs. Gene Hackman

UPDATE II (February 2015): You can read more about this episode on the SEASON TWO PAGE of The FBI episode guide.

UPDATE (June 2013): The YouTube videos originally embedded were yanked by the Google-owned video service. The Gene Hackman episode is part of THIS BOX SET of The FBI. You can also CLICK HERE for IMDB.com’s entry about the episode.

You got to love YouTube. We’ve previously discussed how the TV series The FBI had numerous spy stories. Here’s one. The editing is a bit abrupt but it was written and produced by Charles Larson on behalf of executive producer Quinn Martin: