Article from : "99 Get's Smart" Look, December 24, 1968
Agent 99 Gets Smart … Maxwell Smart, that is
Agent 99 Gets Smart … Maxwell Smart, that is
Fearless Max Smart (Don Adams), the gimlet-eyed secret agent of CONTROL, and his ever-faithful girl assistant, Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon), faced what looked like The End. Enemy agents from KAOS had them surrounded and were closing in. They were hopelessly trapped in a small soundproof booth.
As a last gallant gesture, Max said: “I want you to know, 99, that if there was a way out of this, I’d marry you.” And would you believe it? She thought of a way out almost instantly.
With that episode, NBC-TV dispatched its spy spoof, Get Smart, into a fourth season this fall, and with romance added, a new dimension. Now that Max and 99 are married, the problems ahead can only be imagined. Who puts out the garbage when married spies rush off to work, for instance, and who gets custody of the secrets in case of divorce? Happy husband that he is, Max has found a few little things to complain about. His mother-in-law, who has no head for figures, can’t remember his number, 86; and his fond wife calls him up on his shoe telephone just when he’s deep in a fun battle with KAOS. (“How many times do I have to tell you not to call me at the office, dear?”) Sorry about that, Max. Matrimony, however, is starry bliss for 99. Nameless before, she is now Mrs. Smart.
She won the role with inches to spare (vignette heading)
The spy comedy gets its laughs from the funny things Don Adams does. He is the star of the show. Barbara has the awesome task of being in almost every scene with almost nothing to do. She plays a one-dimensional character who, in less skillful hands, would be just decoration. Says Leonard Stern, in charge of the production for Talent Associates, Ltd.: “It’s a tribute to her personality that she makes herself felt. She is never just part of the wallpaper; she’s a great listener. She is also permissively sexy. Men can enjoy watching her. And their wives and girl friends don’t mind.” Barbara came within inches of not getting the role. Adams, looking for his Get Smart partner, saw film on her as a nutty detective in Mr. Broadway, the TV series. His first impression (wrong) was that she was taller than Craig Stevens, but he was so hooked by her voice and looks that he forgot about her height. A standout at 5’8½”, Barbara wears flats on the show to level with the cast.
A star problem: Should she or shouldn’t she buy South Africa gold? (vignette header)
On clear nights, from her balcony of her Hollywood hilltop apartment, Barbara Feldon can study planets and the craters of the moon through her 200-power, 6-inch refracting telescope. “It’s a jarring, thrilling, aesthetic experience, “ she reports. “The vastness of space -- millions of light years – affects the way I think about my life. It makes me feel very familial with other human beings. We are all here together, sharing just a little splinter of time.”
Astronomy alone can’t fill the space in her life. She hunts old Victorian houses with her camera, plays the guitar, sails, paints, studies voice, makes needlepoint chair covers, carries haiku poetry in her handbag, collects reference books with titles like Basic Psychiatry and The Valuation of Real Estate, and subscribes to three stock market services. (“Two of them say buy South African gold this week; the other says no.”)
She likes to tour art galleries with friends or dine at a Chinese restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard and afterward browse at the Pickwick Bookshop. She prefers to go unrecognized, and achieves anonymity by brushing back her dark-brown hair and putting in plain glasses. Without her bangs, she looks more like a friendly librarian than a sexy TV spy.
Barbara’s life took some unexpected turns after she left Pittsburgh her hometown, with a drama degree from Carnegie Tech. She demonstrated paper towels in a Brooklyn supermarket, danced in the Copa line and played small parts in assorted flops. In 1957, after a 90-day cram diet of Shakespeare, she took top prize on The $64,000 Question.
Deciding there was no profit in acting, she quit the theater and opened a “socially conscious” art gallery in New York City with her husband Lucien Feldon, whom she has since divorced. The gallery failed to go, but Barbara discovered a dazzling new career as a high-fashion model that led directly to her success purring commercials on TV.
Today, she views acting with calm detachment: “I’ve never cared about being a ‘star.’ Acting is fun and good business, but it has never been my consuming interest. Living is.”
A Tip O' the Hat to Talia Myres for transcribing and providing this piece! Thanks Talia! J