Article from: "Where Are They Now: Barbara Feldon" David Martindale Biography Magazine, January 2002.
Where Are They Now: Barbara Feldon
by David Martindale
|As Agent 99 on Get Smart, Feldon was the beautiful, levelheaded partner of inept spy Maxwell Smart|
Does she or doesn't she? In the case of Barbara Feldon, a.k.a. Agent 99 of Get Smart, the question applies to whether her character has a name. Some die-hard viewers insist she is Susan Hilton, because in one episode, while working undercover, she answered to that name. But Feldon begs to differ: "She does not--and never did--have a name."
Feldon, who played CONTROL's sexy spy for five seasons (1965-70), ought to know. "Buck Henry told me and he created the character. So [it's] out of the creator's mouth. I asked him, 'Why 99? Why not some other number?' He said he wanted to give her 'the highest number' but that 100 didn't sound like a girl's number. He said 99 sounded like a girl's number."
Don't try making sense out of that. After all, Get Smart, a spoof of '60s-era espionage flicks, was absolute nonsense. Don Adams starred as Maxwell Smart, Agent 86, an operative with limited intelligence. Feldon played Max's levelheaded partner.
To this day, 99 remains Feldon's signature role, even though she originally turned it down.
|Today she's a happily single New Yorker|
A New Yorker through and through, she had no desire to move to Hollywood, but eventually relented. She moved back in '77 and couldn't be happier.
"I have no desire to do another series or to be part of 'the business,'" she admits. When I was in Hollywood, I saw people pilling up power, position, money, but I didn't see that they were happy. So I do things that make me happy. I write, I study, I do voiceovers, I do poetry readings, I do a play occasionally. I enjoy living."
Feldon, now in her 60s, has been single and not in a relationship of any kind for more than 20 years. That's also by choice. In fact, she has written a book titled In Praise of Living Alone. "It's for anyone who has felt they have to apologize for being alone."
Note from the Webmaster: First of all, what "die-hard" viewer
would insist that 99's name was Susan Hilton? Secondly, Barbara Feldon's
book is not available as of this writing. According to Smartian Talia,
Simon and Schuster plan to publish the book under the title "Living Alone
-- and Loving It."