In the mid and late 1960’s , secret agents saved the world, preserved democracy, neutralized super-villains, employed hi-tech gadgets, made passionate love , drank, smoked, traveled the globe and did it all in 58 minutes, without wrinkling their bespoke clothing. It was really no secret, because they did it all in living color on network television.
Blame Bond, James Bond for igniting the public fascination with the risk, romance and rewards of the “double O” lifestyle. TV could take the hint.
Bond author, Sir Ian Flemming, was engaged to create the lead character, Napoleon Solo, for NBC-TV’s, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with Robert Vaughn.
For the first time in television history, producer Sheldon Leonard took viewers on location around the globe in each episode of NBC-TV’s I SPY, starring Bill Cosby and Robert Culp.
In Great Britain, Sir Lew Grade exported his ITV series, Danger Man, with Patrick McGoohan, to CBS-TV. Simply changing the title of the show to SECRET AGENT, so that it matched the driving theme song performed by American rock star Johnny Rivers, helped make it a hit on two continents.
Spies were now on the case and on the network schedules.
Private eyes were consigned to afternoon syndication on the hometown UHF stations, while suave, secret agents were achieving their primacy in prime time.
ABC-TV’S It Takes A Thief, produced by Universal Television and debuting in 1968, was the apotheosis of cool.
It starred matinee idol Robert Wagner in his first television series. He played cat burglar-turned-U.S.intelligence agent Alexander Mundy. Sophisticated and worldly, Mundy abhorred violence,was a practing womanizer, viewed himslf as a professional thief, and was a master of disguise.
He was a reluctant hero who always rose to the challenge, even if he tried to work the system to his advantage along the way.
The series has a sexist quality that is a pretty clear reflection of some prevailing social attitudes in 1960's America.That said, Munday's character was often challenged by smart and authoritiative women when trying to save the day.
Here is a rare promo for the series and the opening credits for season three, which are an intricate throwback to a time when the opening sequence for a television series made a powerful statement about the show that followed. Jazz great Dave Grusin wrote the score. Enjoy!!!!!