Return of the iconic U.N.C.L.E. turtleneck?

Photo of Armie Hammer and Guy Ritchie that appeared in the Daily Mail

Photo by of Armie Hammer and Guy Ritchie that appeared in the Daily Mail

The Daily Mail newspaper in the U.K. published a SEPT. 21 STORY about filming of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie that indicates Illya Kuryakin’s iconic turtleneck is making a return.

The story has a photo of actor Armie Hammer and director Guy Ritchie. Hammer, who has the Kuryakin role played by David McCallum in the 1964-68 original show, is wearing a cap, jacket and a turtleneck. Hammer has been seen with the cap in other published photos with Henry Cavill, who plays Napoleon Solo, who was played by Robert Vaughn in the original series. But many of those photos didn’t hae a clear view of Hammer’s face.

The turtleneck was part an iconic look for McCallum/Kuryakin. The actor didn’t even wear a turtleneck in that many episodes. He was more often seen in a simple black suit, white shirt and black tie.

David McCallum's main titles credit in the final season

David McCallum’s main titles credit in the final season

Nevertheless, many original fans still remember Kuryakin with the turtleneck. On page 40 of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. book by Jon Heitland, there’s a photo of McCallum (in suit and tie) in a parade accompanied by Boy Scout “bodyguards” wearing turtlenecks and carrying toy U.N.C.L.E. Special guns. In the show’s final season, the main titles were reshot to have McCallum in a turtleneck.

July 1963: U.N.C.L.E. presses on without Fleming

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'s logo from a second-season episode

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s logo from a 2nd-season episode

With Ian Fleming out of the picture, producer Norman Felton continued to press on with his TV spy project that would eventually become The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

NBC was still interested, but Felton would have to make a pilot episode. NBC had been willing for dispense with a pilot had it been able to promote the show as being created by the James Bond author.

Sam Rolfe, who had been working on the project since March, continued writing a detailed outline for the show. It had gone from a five-page memo in May to a 40-page presentation in early July, according to Craig Henderson’s U.N.C.L.E. TIMELINE.

Rolfe elaborated on the character of Napoleon Solo and devised new characters, including Mr. Allison, the U.N.C.L.E. chief, and a Russian agent, Illya Kuryakin. Author Jon Heitland, in his 1986 The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Book, wrote that Rolfe reworked ideas from a series he had proposed called The Dragons and St. George.

Felton hired Rolfe to write the script for the pilot in August and the first draft was submitted in mid-September, according to Henderson’s U.N.C.L.E. Timeline. A second draft would be completed in October and Don Medford, who had credits extending back to 1951, was hired to direct.

The question now was who Felton would cast to bring Napoleon Solo to life.