The Smartian Controversies

Welcome to what is known as the Twilight Zone of this site. The following are resolved and unresolved issues involving minor trivial details of Get Smart. The controversies that are unresolved are branded with a *  -Remember kids, this is a "fun page" so don't take it all too seriously.

Controversy One: We call her Ninety-nine

Does 99 have a name? Does this question even need to be asked? The answer to both questions is a resounding NO! Agent 99 went through several cover names, but her real name was never revealed. One of her cover names, Susan Hilton, has brought a strong stench of controversy, confusion and error to numerous uninformed publications on Get Smart.

In the episode 99 Loses Control, 99 reveals to Max that she is going to be married to casino kingpin Victor Royal. Max discovers that not only is 99's fiancé a Kaos hood, but 99's name is also Susan Hilton. By the end of the episode, however, 99 reveals that Susan Hilton was only a cover name.

When asked, creator Buck Henry (who originally wanted 99 to be 69) and Barbara Feldon denied that 99 ever had a name. Buck Henry claims that he "fought a battle with someone somewhere to keep her nameless. . . And no Susan Hilton was definitely never her name" (McCrohan 68). Barbara Feldon's views on the subject are similar. She states that "Once they said her name was Susan Hilton, but that was a cover name. They never said her name. So 99 never had a name" (Green 42). Even if 99 ever did have a name somewhere it was a well kept secret. After all, 99 has publicly denied that her name is not Ernestine and Admiral Harold Harmon Hargrade took the great liberty to snore at the exact moment when the minister announced her name during her wedding. With security precautions of that caliber, it is certain the true identity of one Agent 99 for Control will not be revealed anytime soon.

For those out there that still wish to debate this, avid GS Fan Frankie has pointed out to me that in Rebecca of Funny Folk Farm, one of the characters asks Max, "Why do you call her Ninety-nine?" Max responds, "I don't know her name." Folks, if 99 hasn't told her darling Max what her name is, then I guess she just doesn't have one!

Just for fun, here's a list of other names that 99 assumed but was not baptized as: Melissa Westbrook, Mrs. Stanley Maxwell, Miss Evans, Mrs. Livingston, Greta Braun, Conchata. Miss Primrose, Legs, Connie Barker, Bonnie Vain, Rosita Delgado, Miss Norris, Helen Blake, and Ninna

Controversy Two: What do you mean it's not the Code of Silence?

Actually, this question is so insignificant that it's only being included in the controversies to irritate the few people that read this stuff. 

The not-so-silent Cone of Silence (C.O.S.) was Control's method of keeping discussions of the clandestine nature under cover. 

Unfortunately the Cone was about as useful as Control's top agent. Most of the time Max and the Chief wound up in a shouting match under the contraption and had to force it back up into its stationary position above the Chief's desk.

 The name "Cone of Silence" has been confused for a 1985 Chuck Norris action flick with a similar title: The Code of Silence.

 One question does come to mind through all this confusion: If the Cone of Silence had a code, what would it be? Talk softly and carry a big stick?

Controversy Three: *What did your daddy do in the war? 
Before he became a full-fledged, card carrying, spy, Max had a stint in the military. According to the Little Black Book, Max was an army corporal in Korea along side his sergeant buddy Sid Krimm. The exact date Max served in Korea has been up for debate however. In the Jan. 27 and Feb. 3, 1968 episodes of Get Smart, Max alludes to the fact that ten years earlier he and Sid were in Korea. The two also make a references to Pusan Killers (some sort of a drink Sid concocts). Pusan, a pivotal city at the tip of South Korea, would put them in the right location for the war, but the timing is out of kilter. One, the Korean war lasted from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953. Secondly, Max and Sid were supposed to have been in the Army 10 years prior to 1968. The math in this little equation is off by five years. Were Max and Sid attempting a backhanded method of lying about their age -or is this a product of a conspiracy theory? Were Max and Sid left in Korea on a post-war military intelligence mission -or were they a product of North Korea's brainwashing and refused to go home immediately after the war?
Controversy Four: How did you spell that?

Is it Siegfried or Seigfried?  Starker or Shtarker?  Larabee or Larrabee?  Who or Hoo?  The final answer is ALL of the above. The closing credits, according to the Life and Times of Maxwell Smart, actually spelled the names of the aforementioned characters differently from episode to episode. Apparently the writers were neither concerned with spelling consistency or the correct German spelling of Siegfried and Shtarker. Starker's moniker could have come from the German adjective stark meaning "strong" or as The Get Smart Handbook suggests, Shtarker is Yiddish for a tough guy. Siegfried (in this spelling) was a character of several Norse legends (in those the character was actually called Sigurd) which Richard Wagner emulated in operas like Siegfried and Die Götterdämmerung-those infamous operas that feature the lady wearing the Viking costume.

To add to confusion (or trivia hopefully) over the namesake of Kaos's Siegfried, the favorite of the Kaos baddies was given an interchangeable first name. Siegfried claims in one episode that his first name is Ludwig while in other episodes he is referred to as Conrad (or is that Konrad?). At any rate, no mater the spelling, Siegfried is Seigfried, Starker is Shtarker, and Larabee is Larrabee even though the inconsistencies appear to be Kaos -er chaos.

Update 5-31-02:  I've been informed by Chief Carl, after a chat he had with Herr Siegfried, that "Siegfried" is spelled S-i-e-g-f-r-i-e-d.  Remember that for next year's spelling bee!

Controversy Five: Only in literature can brown eyes be made blue

Geepers Creepers, what color are Mr. Adams' peepers? 

This seemingly simple question has been brought up due to the Get Smart literary endeavors and personal debates between avid Get Smart watchers (just ask the Friday night chatters) 

During the series, Adams at one point was described as having beady eyes (Don't Look Back). In the paperback William Johnston series of Get Smart books, Maxwell Smart is given two "very blue eyes." Also, the close up shot of Adams as he watches a tarantula climb his arm in To Sire With Love features two very shocked but semi-clouded eyes. 

This opens the door to question what exactly is Mr. Adams' eye color? Blue, green, or just plain rainbow-riffic? The precise answer to this peeper-oriented trivia is that Don Adams possesses two wonderful dark brown eyes that are the same eye shade of that of the author of this little ditty.


Controversy Six: The voice of espionage and why it doesn't sound like that

Did Don Adams really talk like.... that

Only as far as Byron Glick, Maxwell Smart, and Inspector Gadget were concerned.

 Adams' notorious nasal squeak was originally part of his stand-up years where he would impersonate numerous movie stars. His William Powell (at left with Myrna Loy) impersonation, in which he used the clipped and sharp intonations later used for the voice of Max, was so well received that he built entire acts around it. The "Voice", which Adams later came to hate, was entirely a put-on. 

How does Don Adams talk?**  Aside from very clearly, the later years of Get Smart where he drifted away from the Powell impersonation are an OK sample. Better yet, hop over to YouTube and check out his early stand up.


Controversy Seven: Would the real Get Smart Handbook PLEASE stand up?

Which handbook in this picture is the real deal -or are they both legit? If so, why was the Get Smart Handbook published with two different covers?

The Handbook on the left is a scan of the one I bought in Pennsylvania and the Handbook on the right is an enlarged shot out of the promo article in the reference guide. A closer look at these two volumes reveals several striking differences. Here they are in no particular sequence:

1. Different fonts: Handbook number two has a B I G boldface font while Handbook number one's font is quite Romanesque.

2. The white boarder around the picture of 86 and 99 is present in Handbook one, but not in Handbook two.

3. The broken security seal: Obviously the creators of Handbook two were the moral pillars of society that don't clip mattress tags or break security seals. Handbook one's seal, however, is busted wide open.

4. The morphing of 'Top Secret': In Handbook one, The words "Top Secret" are stamped in red to the left of the picture of Max and 99. In Handbook two, "Top Secret" was made B I G G E R, surrounded by a white square of sorts, and put up beside the right upper corner of the picture.

5. The paper clip: Handbook one features a paper clip on it's cover, while Handbook two's paper clip is either missing or covered by the Ultra big "Top Secret" sign.

What does any of this silliness mean? That Kaos has been Handbook laundering? My theory (or outrageous excuse rather) is that Handbook two was either A) a cover design bound for the scrap heap, but was later put to work for the purpose of promotion. B) The result of a very talented layout editor at USA Today Weekend. The basis for these two hypothesis is that Handbook two, although not as cool looking as Handbook one, is easier to read when shrunk and stuck in an ad.

Out of curiosity, if there are any owners of Handbook Number Two, would they please step forward before I use another poorly placed comma splice!

The truth, as Fox Mulder says, is out there.... and it's staying out there!

**Be it noted, Adams has the distinct accent of a New Yorker. The author, who had been living on the east cost region of the U.S. where this accent is common, was not aware of this accent until after a year of living in the Midwest and having her own speech patterns laughed at.

I would like to thank (as well as accuse) the members of the Get Smart Mailing list and the regular Friday night chatters for the many inspiring controversies on this page. The content of this page is entirely my own creation except where cited. See my horrible attempt at MLA Works Cited.

If you have a controversy you would like to see addressed, then email me.