A look at some Ed Asner non-Lou Grant roles

Edward Asner’s title card for The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. episode The Double-O-Nothing Affair

Actor Edward Asner has died at age 91. He, understandably, is receiving acclaim for a long career including playing Lou Grant on two series (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a comedy, and Lou Grant, a drama).

What follows are some of his acting credits of interest to the blog:

The Double-O-Nothing Affair, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.: Asner played a Thrush chieftain whose headquarters is based at a used-car dealership. It’s an outlandish concept, but Dean Hargrove’s script makes it work. The story also makes April Dancer (Stefanie Powers) and Mark Slate (Noel Harrison) look like smart, competent agents. That wasn’t always the case with The Man From U.N.C.L.E. spinoff. Asner, as usual, makes a great villain.

The Night of the Amnesiac, The Wild Wild West: Secret Service agent James West (Robert Conrad) loses his memory just as Asner’s villain gets his way out of prison. The villain’s gang has been taken over by his brother. The brothers hate each other but Asner’s character gets the advantage. Asner complains how killing family members makes him depressed.

Hawaii Five-O/Five-0 (original and reboot): Asner played villain August March in both versions of the series. He was a highlight in both.

The FBI: Asner played a kidnapper in two episodes. In The Tormentors (season one), Asner is more stable of the kidnappers who have seized a young man (Kurt Russell) who is the son of an aging rich man (Lew Ayres). Asner’s character is done in by his sickly and disturbed partner (Wayne Rogers). In The Dynasty (third season), Asner and his nephew (Martin Sheen) have kidnapped a man who runs a family business. Asner’s character is nasty and not well educated. His idea of reading is looking at Superboy comic books. In The Attorney (fourth season), Asner plays a sympathetic character, a working-class stiff whose daughter (Dawn Wells) is involved with a Cosa Nostra crime boss.

House on Greenapple Road: This TV movie was made by Quinn Martin, the producer of The FBI. Asner was part of a stellar cast (Janet Leigh, Christopher George Peter Mark Richman, Lynda Day George, Keenan Wynn, Walter Pidgeon, Joanne Linville and others) about a murder investigation with many twists. Asner plays a county sheriff, hungry for publicity and an overall louse. The TV movie was made in 1968 but not shown until 1970. It led to QM’s Dan August series.

Richard Donner dies at 91

Richard Donner, left, making a cameo in The Giuoco Piano Affair episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Richard Donner, a director who made audiences believe a man could fly with 1978’s Superman, has died, Variety reported. He was 91.

Donner became an A-list movie director as a result. He directed four installments of the Lethal Weapon film series as well as The Goonies, and Conspiracy Theory.

Among the stepping stones to achieving that status was helming episodes of 1960s spy TV shows. He directed four episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., three episodes of The Wild Wild West, and two episodes of Get Smart.

Donner’s U.N.C.L.E. work was all within the show’s first half-season. Two of his episodes, The Quadripartite Affair and The Giuoco Piano Affair, helped establish the character of Illya Kuryakin played by David McCallum.

The Quadripartite Affair was the third episode broadcast and the first with a significant amount of air time for the Kuryakin character. That and The Giuoco Piano Affair were filmed back-to-back. But the latter episode aired four weeks later, presented as a sequel.

Donner, along with other members of the production team, had cameos in a party scene. The director’s character was listed as “Inebriate” in the end titles and was used as comedy relief.

One of Donner’s episodes for The Wild Wild West, The Night of the Murderous Spring, was one of the best episodes involving Dr. Loveless (Michael Dunn) as the arch-foe of U.S. Secret Service agents James West and Artemus Gordon (Robert Conrad and Ross Martin).

Also among Donner’s credits was a 1966 episode of The FBI with an espionage theme titled The Spy Master.

Donner also directed a rare episode of The Twilight Zone, The Jeopardy Room, which had no fantasy or science fiction elements. It was a spy story, essentially a match of wits between two men (Martin Landau and John Van Dreelen).

The director also helmed one of the most famous episodes of the show, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, where an aircraft passenger is the only person aboard who can see a gremlin on the wing of the plane.

After Superman, Donner’s services as a film director were in demand.

Donner was Sean Connery’s first choice to direct Never Say Never Again, the 1983 non-Eon Productions James Bond film. The director, however, had misgivings about the script, according to the book Some Kind of Hero. Irvin Kirschner ended up getting the job.

Robert Hogan, character actor, dies

Robert Hogan

Robert Hogan, a character actor whose career extended decades, has died at 87. While never a star, he kept busy as an actor.

Hogan was a friend of Albert S. Ruddy, a co-creator of Hogan’s Heroes (1965-71). The lead character of Col. Robert Hogan (Bob Crane) was named after Robert Hogan. The real-life Hogan appeared in an episode of Hogan’s Heroes.

Robert Hogan also was a member of the “QM Players” of actors frequently cast in shows produced by Quinn Martin. He appeared on such QM series as The FBI, Barnaby Jones, The Manhunter, Cannon and The Streets of San Francisco, 12 O’Clock High and The Fugitive.

The actor appeared in many shows beyond that. Hogan’s IMDB.COM ENTRY lists more than 150 acting credits.

In 2019’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Hogan got a shoutout of sorts. The movie included a sequence based on an episode of The FBI. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton is watching himself on The FBI (it was Burt Reynolds in the original). As Dalton watches, he comments, “That’s Bobby Hogan, a good guy.”

Jessica Walter, versatile actress, dies at 80

Jessica Walter in Counter-Stroke, a third-season episode of The FBI

Jessica Walter, a versatile actress whose career spanned decades, has died at 80, Deadline: Hollywood reported.

Early in her career, she was part of the “QM Players” actors who frequently appeared in television shows produced by Quinn Martin. That included six episodes of The FBI as well as installments of Cannon, The Streets of San Francisco and Barnaby Jones.

Her many other credits included the 1966 film Grand Prix and 1971’s Play Misty for Me as well as episodes of TV series such as It Takes a Thief, McCloud, Ironside, Mannix, Mission: Impossible and Wonder Woman. Her 21st century credits included doing voice work for the Archer cartoon series.

Walter’s IMDB.COM entry has 161 acting credits. She won an Emmy award for Amy Prentiss, a short-lived series that was spun off from Ironside.

Jack Turley, veteran TV writer, dies

A group of “test tube” killers in a fourth-season Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode written by Jack Turley

Jack Turley, an American TV writer who was active for three decades, died last month at the age of 93, according to the Writers Guild website.

Turley wrote in various genres including westerns, crime dramas, and soap operas. He found work in spy television shows of the 1960s, including The Man From U.N.C.L.E., I Spy, and Blue Light, the latter a short-lived World War II spy drama starring Robert Goulet.

Turley wrote three U.N.C.L.E. episodes. One of his best-remembered stories was The Test Tube Killer Affair in the show’s fourth season.

The villainous organization Thrush has raised young killers from childhood. One of them, Greg Martin (Christopher Jones) is the prize pupil of the bunch. As a demonstration project, Martin is on a mission to blow up a dam in Greece and destroy a nearby village.

Turley also was often employed by QM Productions. Among the series he wrote for were The Fugitive, 12 O’Clock High, The FBI, and Dan August.

The writer’s IMDB.COM ENTRY lists 54 credits.

Peter Mark Richman, who frequently played villains, dies

Peter Mark Richman in an episode of The FBI

Peter Mark Richman, a character actor who had a long career and often played villains, has died at 93, Variety reported.

He was often tapped by QM Productions for its various shows and was part of the “QM Players” of actors frequently employed by producer Quinn Martin.

Richman’s QM credits included The FBI (appearing as a guest star in eight of nine seasons), The Invaders, The Fugitive, Cannon, Barnaby Jones, and The Streets of San Francisco. The actor was part of a big cast for the QM TV movie House on Greenapple Road, which led to the Dan August series.

Richman also was called upon by casting directors for 1960s spy shows, including The Wild Wild West, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (the show’s two-part series finale), It Takes a Thief, and Mission: Impossible.

He also was the lead in Agent for H.A.R.M. (1966), which mixed spy fi with sci fi. The cast also included Aliza Gur, who earlier appeared in From Russia With Love as one of the two gypsy fighting women.

The production was poked fun at on Mystery Science 3000, where a host and two puppets (which were supposed to be robots) provided running commentary.

Richman’s IMDB.COM ENTRY lists more than 150 credits from 1953 to 2016.

UPDATE: The Silver Age Television account on Twitter embedded a clip where Richman appears. It’s pretty typical of the characters that Richman played.

The blog’s favorite character actors: Murray Hamilton

Murray Hamilton, left, with Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws.

Part of an occasional series.

Murray Hamilton, after a long career as a character actor, has been reduced to a meme in the 21st century.

In Jaws (1975), Hamilton played a mayor who didn’t care about the safety of the citizens of his town. The mayor just wanted to be sure everybody went to the beach despite a killer shark.

These days, various social media postings refer to the “mayor from Jaws.” This is amid a pandemic when a lot of politicians are talking about “opening” the economy without seeming to care that much about safety.

The thing is, Hamilton had a long career as an actor. He often played unsympathetic characters (such as the mayor in Jaws). But he sometimes played sympathetic characters such as James Stewart’s partner in 1959’s The FBI Story.

Hamilton was also among the members of the unofficial group of the QM Players,  who frequently appeared as guest stars on various series produced by Quinn Martin.

One of Hamilton’s best performances was in an episode of The Twilight Zone, One for the Angels. Hamilton plays the character of Death and portrays him as a bureaucrat. He has a quota to meet.

A canny street merchant (Ed Wynn) tricks Death. So Death instead movies to take the life of a young girl. The merchant distracts Death with the best sales pitch he’s ever made. Death misses the appointed time to take the girl’s life. So the merchant will be taken in place of the young girl.

Before they go, the merchant asks where they are going. Death reassures him they are going up, toward heaven.

Hamilton died in 1986 at the age of 63. Here’s a clip from one of his appearances on The FBI, the QM-produced series.

Anthony Spinner, writer-producer for QM, U.N.C.L.E., dies

Robert Vaughn, David McCallum and Carol Lynley in The Prince of Darkness Affair Part II, produced by Anthony Spinner

Robert Vaughn, David McCallum and Carol Lynley in The Prince of Darkness Affair Part II, produced by Anthony Spinner and written by Dean Hargrove

Anthony Spinner, a writer-producer who worked on a number of series for QM Productions as well as The Man From U.N.C.L.E., died in February at 89, according to the In Memoriam 2020 page of the Writer’s Guild West website.

Spinner’s work as a writer had a recurring theme of betrayal. A few examples:

–In The FBI episode The Tormentors, written by Spinner, kidnapper Logan Dupree (Wayne Rogers) brutally murders one of his confederates, John Brock (Edward Asner).

— In The Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode The Secret Sceptre Affair, written by Spinner, Napoleon Solo is manipulated and betrayed by his commanding officer from the Korean War.

— In The FBI episode The Assassin, plotted by Spinner, an international assassin (William Windom) sets up an idealistic traitor (Tom Skeritt) to be killed as part of an assassination plot aimed at a bishop (Dean Jagger).

–In The Name of the Game episode The Perfect Image, plotted by Spinner, Howard Publications executive assistant Peggy Maxwell (Susan Saint James) has been manipulated by an old friend as part of a plot to discredit a reform mayor of Chicago.

Anthony Spinner’s title card for Survival, the final episode of The FBI

After writing for a number of QM Productions shows, Spinner was associate producer for the first season of The Invaders. QM’s only science fiction show had a paranoid feel as David Vincent (Roy Thinnes) battled invaders from another world who took human form to take over Earth.

Spinner’s next job was producing the fourth (and final) season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Spinner, in effect, tried to bring the “QM Gravitas” to U.N.C.L.E. following that show’s very campy third season.

The fourth-season debut, The Summit-Five Affair, showed how Spinner was taking the show in a different direction. In the episode, written by Robert E. Thompson, Solo (Robert Vaughn) undergoes torture — by another U.N.C.L.E. operative (Lloyd Bochner), determined to show that Solo is a traitor.

Summit-Five also featured a major double-cross, something that would occur in other Spinner-produced U.N.C.L.E. episodes.

Not everyone involved appreciated the new direction. Veteran U.N.C.L.E. writer Dean Hargrove, in a 2007 interview for a DVD release, said Spinner came from “the Quinn Martin School of Melodrama.” He didn’t mean it as a compliment. In the interview, Hargrove described his disagreements with Spinner during production of the two-part story The Prince of Darkness Affair.

U.N.C.L.E. ran out of time and was canceled in mid-season. Spinner would return to QM Productions. His time there would have its ups and downs.

Anthony Spinner title card for an episode of Dan August

For example, Spinner produced the QM police drama Dan August (1970-71). Spinner pushed to have more topical scripts.

“Quinn said to me, ‘Are we doing propaganda here?,'” Spinner said in an interview with Jonathan Etter for the author’s Quinn Martin, Producer book. “I said, ‘Yeah, because I’m tired of diamond heists and kidnapped girls and all that stuff.'”

Regardless, boss Quinn Martin consistently utilized Spinner’s talents on multiple series.

Shelly Novack and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in a publicity still for The FBI's final season, produced by Anthony Spinner.

Shelly Novack and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in a publicity still for The FBI’s final season, produced by Anthony Spinner.

Spinner produced the final season of QM’s The FBI. Even before that show was canceled, Martin re-assigned Spinner to Cannon. Spinner finished work on The FBI on a Friday in 1974 and began work on Cannon the following Monday, according to the Quinn Martin, Producer book.

In 1975, Martin had Spinner producing two QM series simultaneously, Cannon and the short-lived Caribe. The latter was a cross between Hawaii Five-O (tropical climate) and U.N.C.L.E. (agency with multi-national jurisdiction).

Also, while working at QM, Spinner and his story editor, Stephen Kandel, rescued Cannon scripts during a large fire at the Samuel Goldwyn Studios, the home base for Cannon, according to the Etter book.

His credits also included being producer of The Return of the Saint in the late 1970s, with Ian Ogilvy as Simon Templar.

Spinner’s career extended into the 1990s with the TV movie The Lottery.

In 2009, Spinner sued ABC saying he actually created the television series Lost. Spinner in 1977 had written a pilot for the network titled Lost which he said contained ideas and concepts that ended up in the 2004-10 series. ABC won the case in court in 2011. a finding that was upheld on appeal in 2013.

Some 007-related U.S. TV episodes to watch

Luciana Paluzzi and Robert Vaughn in To Trap a Spy. A tamer version of the scene would be in The Four-Steps Affair.

In the 1960s and 1970s, there were a number of episodes of popular series that had major James Bond influences.

Over in the U.K., there were plenty including The Saint and The Persuaders! (both starring Roger Moore), The Avengers (Honor Blackman and, Diana Rigg playing the female leads in Bond films and Patrick Macnee eventually appearing in A View to a Kill), Danger Man (John Glen was an editor on the series) among others.

But there other examples in the U.S. as well. My collection of TV shows skews that way, so here are some examples. This isn’t a comprehensive list.

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

To Trap a Spy/The Four-Steps Affair (first season)

The pilot for The Man From U.N.C.L.E., titled The Vulcan Affair, was produced in late 1963. But the production team decided to add scenes so a movie could be released outside the U.S. if the pilot didn’t sell.

That movie version would be titled To Trap a Spy.

The extra scenes were filmed in early 1964. Luciana Paluzzi played a femme fatale named Angela. Her character would be extremely similar to the Fiona character she’d portray in Thunderball (1965).

In the spring of 1965, that extra footage was incorporated into a first-season episode titled The Four-Steps Affair. So there are two versions of Paluzzi’s Angela character.

What’s more, Richard Kiel plays a thug in both The Vulcan Affair and To Trap a Spy. He shows up as another thug in a first-season episode titled The Hong Kong Shilling Affair.

The Five Daughters Affair (third season)/The Karate Killers

Two actors who would later play Bond villains, Telly Savalas and Curt Jurgens are part of the proceedings. Neither plays a villain. Each character has a relationship with one of the five daughters of the two-part TV episode title.

HAWAII FIVE-O

This series, of course, starred Jack Lord, the first film Felix Leiter. But the series had other James Bond connections of note.

Soon-Tek Oh: The busy character actor (who played Lt. Hip in The Man With the Golden Gun) was in eight episodes of the 1968-80 series. He’s in the pilot as one of the scientists in the employ of arch-villain Wo Fat. He’d return, making his final appearance in the 12th season.

The 90-Second War (fourth season): Wo Fat shows up to frame Steve McGarrett. It’s part of a complicated plot to disable the ability of the U.S. to monitor a key Chinese missile test.

This was a two-part story. In Part II, Donald Pleasance plays a German missile scientist working for the U.S. who is being blackmailed by Wo Fat.

The Jinn Who Clears the Way (fifth season): This is one of Soon-Tek Oh’s appearances. He plays a “young Maoist” who is being manipulated by Wo Fat as part of his scheme. It appears Steve McGarrett finally captures Wo Fat. But the U.S. makes the lawman give up the arch-villain as part of a prisoner exchange.

I’m a Family Crook — Don’t Shoot! (fifth season) The highlight of this episode is a family of grifters headed by a character played by Andy Griffith. But Harold Sakata, Oddjob from Goldfinger, shows up as a thug. Believe it or not, he gets fewer lines here than he had in Goldfinger.

Deep Cover (10th season): Maud Adams plays the head of a spy ring that causes plenty of trouble for McGarrett.

My Friend, the Enemy (10th season): Luciana Paluzzi (in one of her final acting performances) plays an Italian journalist who makes life difficult for McGarrett.

The Year of the Horse (11th season): George Lazenby plays a secondary villain but gets “special guest star” billing in a two-hour episode filmed in Singapore.

THE FBI

Rope of Gold (second season): Louis Jourdan was a villain in three episodes of the 1965-74 series. But his first appearance here is his best.

Jourdan’s character is pressuring a business executive (Peter Graves) to supply information regarding the shipments of key components of interest to the Soviet bloc. Jourdan has a really good scene where he discusses how he came to lead the life he has chosen.

Also appearing in a small role is helicopter pilot James W. Gavin (listed in the cast as “Gavin James”). He was the pilot who had the presence of mind during filming of Diamonds Are Forever on the oil rig to get his cameras rolling when explosions were set off by mistake. Gavin, naturally, plays a pilot but gets a few lines.

The Executioners (second season): In this two-part story, Telly Savalas plays a high-ranking official of La Cosa Nostra who wants to get out but can’t. The two-part story was re-edited as a movie for international audiences.

The Target (sixth season): Karin Dor plays the daughter of the economics minister of a Communist nation who has defected. The daughter doesn’t even know her father has defected yet. Communist operatives intend to kidnap her to force her father to return.

Carol Lynley dies at 77

Carol Lynley (1942-2019)

Carol Lynley, an actress who was busy in movies and TV shows in the 1960s and ’70s, has died at 77, according to Variety.

In films, she appeared in Harlow, Bunny Lake Is Missing and The Poseidon Adventure.

Lynley also made the rounds on U.S. television shows, including The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Mannix, The FBI, It Takes a Thief and Hawaii Five-O.

Her IMDB.COM entry lists more than 100 acting credits from 1956 to 2006.