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Would You Believe? Remembering the Late ‘Get Smart’ Co-Creator Buck Henry’s TV Legacy

There’s no question that the world has lost an important comic voice with the passing — at age 89 — of Buck Henry, writer of films like Dustin Hoffman‘s The Graduate and Heaven Can Wait (which he co-directed with star Warren Beatty), both of which saw him Oscar-nominated. But for fans of Classic TV, it’s as the co-creator with Mel Brooks of the 1960s spy comedy Get Smart for which he will be most fondly remembered.

Get Smart, airing from 1965 to 1970, introduced much of the world to Don Adams as Maxwell Smart as Agent 86 and Barbara Feldon as Agent 99, both working for the secret government agency CONTROL and taking on the world-threatening KAOS. The show itself is a full-blown parody of the spymania boom created by the James Bond films throughout the 1960s, though what’s interesting is that a spoof usually comes at the end of a creative cycle, many of them signaling a last gasp of sorts from whatever subject is being parodied. Get Smart, on the other hand, came three years into the boom. When the show premiered in the fall of 1965, there had only been three 007 movies, with things really exploding at the end of that year with the release of the fourth, Thunderball.


Donna McChrohan Rosenthal, author of the non-fiction exploration of the show The Life and Times of Maxwell Smart, explains in an exclusive interview, “Get Smart ran [from] 1965 to 1970. Concurrently, you had The Man from U.N.C.L.E. from 1964 to 1968, I Spy from 1965 to 1968, and The Wild Wild West from 1965 to 1969, [the latter of] which was espionage and gadgets set in the Old West. Get Smart outlasted all three. Meanwhile, James Bond movies launched what I suppose you’d identify as the mania in 1962. It continued to 2002, from Sean Connery through Pierce Brosnan. Then it started up again with Daniel Craig. I wouldn’t call any of this a last gasp. Far from it. But let’s face it, times change. The world changes. The political climate changes. Eventually, people are ready for something new.”

And now you can see what was going on back in the day for yourselves as we present this look back at all things Get Smart. Just scroll down.

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