Anne Francis, ‘Honey West’ star, dies at 80

Actress Anne Francis has died at age 80. Most obituaries, such as the one in the Los Angeles Times, begin with how she starred in Forbidden Planet. But for our audience, she’s likely to be remembered as the star of Honey West, a one-season show on ABC.

Here’s some details from the Times obit:

Based on the title character in G.G. Fickling’s series of Honey West paperback mysteries launched in 1957, Francis’ Honey West was introduced to TV viewers in an episode of “Burke’s Law” in the spring of 1965.
(snip)
In what Francis later described as “a tongue-in-cheek, female James Bond,” her karate-chopping private eye drove a custom-built Cobra convertible sports car and, when necessary, worked out of a specially equipped mobile surveillance van that masqueraded as a TV service vehicle.

Also in her long-career, she was also a memorable villain in two first-season episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (The Quadripartite Affair and The Giuoco Piano Affair) as a power-hungry woman with a rich lover (played by John Van Dreelan) financing her schemes. The two shows were written by Alan Caillou and directed by Richard Donner.

RIP, Ms. Francis. Here’s a look at the main titles of the Aaron Spelling-produced Honey West:

UPDATE: Here’s the opening of The Giuoco Piano Affair, with Anne Francis billed as the special guest star. It was the last episode of U.N.C.L.E. featuring a longer, “documentary” style main titles.

John Forsythe’s (and Hitchcock’s) foray into 1960s spy entertainment

John Forsythe passed away last week and, as his New York Times obituary notes, is best remembered for starring in Dynasty, the prime time soap opera as well as other television roles.

But he also made a foray — albeit a late one — into 1960s spy entertainment. And he made it with no less than Alfred Hitchcock in 1969’s Topaz.

We’ve noted before how Hitchcock’s North by Northwest provided the blueprint for James Bond movies and other ’60s spy entertainment. But while homages were paid to Hitch (From Russia With Love’s helicopter attack on Bond, for example), royalties weren’t. Hitchcock had finally gotten into the spy game with Torn Curtain but that Paul Newman-Julie Andrews film didn’t get the kind of praise of earlier Hitchcock efforts.

Try, try again. Hitchcock came back with Topaz, based on a best-selling novel by Leon Uris. It was set during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Forsythe played a U.S. agent and while he’s technically the last actor in the titles it’s done in such a way that you know he’s one of the major actors (“and starring JOHN FORSYTHE as “Michael Nordstrom”).

Topaz wasn’t a big success, either, according to IMDB.com. It’s worth checking out. Its cast includes You Only Live Twice’s Karin Dor, John Vernon, Roscoe Lee Browne and John Van Dreelan. Here’s the trailer:

And here’s the opening titles, with music by Maurice Jarre:

Finally, here’s Hitchcock’s cameo in the film:

UPDATE: Forsythe’s passing was the lead obituatary on ABC’s This Week program, not surprising given two of his most famous TV credits were on ABC. To see the segment, just CLICK HERE.