Get Smart is an American comedy television series which parodies the secret agent genre that was popular in the United States in the late 1960s. The program was created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry and had its television premiere on NBC on September 18, 1965. The show stars Don Adams (who also worked as a director on the series) as agent Maxwell Smart (Agent 86), Barbara Feldon as Agent 99, and Edward Platt as Thaddeus the Chief. Henry said that they created the show at the request of Daniel Melnick to capitalize on James Bond and Inspector Clouseau, "the two biggest things in the entertainment world today". Brooks described it as "an insane combination of James Bond and Mel Brooks comedy."
Title card from seasons one and two
|Theme music composer||Irving Szathmary|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||138 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22–25 minutes|
|Distributor||CBS Television Distribution|
|Original release||September 18, 1965 –|
May 15, 1970
|Followed by||The Nude Bomb (film)|
The show generated a number of popular catchphrases during its run, including "would you believe…", "missed it by that much", "sorry about that, Chief", "the old (such-and-such) trick", "…and loving it", and "I asked you not to tell me that". The show was followed by the films The Nude Bomb (a 1980 theatrical film made without the involvement of Brooks and Henry) and Get Smart, Again! (a 1989 made-for-TV sequel to the series), as well as a 1995 revival series and a 2008 film remake. In 2010, TV Guide ranked Get Smart's opening title sequence at number two on its list of TV's top 10 credits sequences as selected by readers.
The show switched networks in 1969 to CBS. It ended its five-season run on May 15, 1970 with 138 episodes on both networks. The Museum of Broadcast Communications finds the show notable for "broadening the parameters for the presentation of comedy on television."
The series centers on bumbling secret agent Maxwell "Max" Smart (Adams), also known as Agent 86, and his more sensible female partner, Agent 99 (Feldon). Agents 86 and 99 work for CONTROL, a secret U.S. government counterintelligence agency based in Washington, DC. The pair investigates and thwarts various threats to the world, though Smart's incompetent nature and demands to do things by-the-book invariably cause complications. However, Smart never fails to save the day. Looking on is the long-suffering head of CONTROL (Edward Platt), who is addressed simply as "Chief".
The nemesis of CONTROL is KAOS, described as "an international organization of evil". In the series, KAOS was supposedly formed in Bucharest, Romania, in 1904. Neither CONTROL nor KAOS is actually an acronym. Many guest actors appeared as KAOS agents, including William Schallert (who also had a recurring role as Admiral Hargrade, the first Chief of CONTROL). Conrad Siegfried, played by Bernie Kopell, is Smart's KAOS archenemy. King Moody (originally appearing as a generic KAOS killer) portrayed the dim-witted but burly Shtarker, Siegfried's assistant.
The enemies, world-takeover plots, and gadgets seen in Get Smart were a parody of the James Bond movie franchise. "Do what they did except just stretch it half an inch", Mel Brooks said of the methods of this TV series.
Max and 99 marry in season four, and have twins in season five. Agent 99 became the first woman in an American hit sitcom to keep her job after marriage and motherhood.
Talent Associates commissioned Mel Brooks and Buck Henry to write a script about a bungling James Bond–like hero. Brooks described the premise for the show that they created in an October 1965 Time magazine article:
I was sick of looking at all those nice, sensible situation comedies. They were such distortions of life. If a maid ever took over my house like Hazel, I'd set her hair on fire. I wanted to do a crazy, unreal, comic-strip kind of thing about something besides a family. No one had ever done a show about an idiot before. I decided to be the first.
Brooks and Henry proposed the show to ABC, where network executives called it "un-American" and demanded a "lovable dog to give the show more heart", as well as scenes showing Maxwell Smart's mother. Brooks strongly objected to the second suggestion:
The cast and crew contributed joke and gadget ideas, especially Don Adams, but dialogue was rarely ad-libbed. An exception is the third-season episode "The Little Black Book". Don Rickles encouraged Adams to misbehave, and he ad-libbed. The result was so successful that the single episode was turned into two parts.
Brooks had little involvement with the series after the first season, but Henry served as story editor through 1967. The crew of the show included:
- Leonard B. Stern – executive producer for the entire run of the series
- Irving Szathmary – music and theme composer and conductor for the entire run
- Don Adams – director of 13 episodes and writer of two episodes
- David Davis – associate producer
- Gary Nelson – director of the most episodes
- Bruce Bilson – director of the second-most episodes
- Gerald C. Gardner and Dee Caruso – head writers for the series
- Reza Badiyi – occasional director
- Allan Burns and Chris Hayward – frequent writers and producers
- Stan Burns and Mike Marmer – frequent writers
- Richard Donner – occasional director
- James Komack – writer and director
- Arne Sultan – frequent writer and producer
- Lloyd Turner and Whitey Mitchell – frequent writers and producers of season five
CONTROL is a spy agency founded at the beginning of the 20th century by Harold Harmon Hargrade, a career officer in the United States Navy's N-2 (Intelligence) branch. Hargrade served as the first chief of CONTROL. "CONTROL" is not an acronym, but it is always shown in all capital letters as if it were.
Maxwell "Max" Smart, code number Agent 86 (portrayed by Don Adams) is the central character. Despite being a top-secret government agent, he is absurdly clumsy and very naïve, and has occasional lapses of attention. Due to his frequent verbal gaffes and physical miscues, most of the people Smart encounters believe he is grossly incompetent. Despite these faults, Smart is also resourceful, skilled in hand-to-hand combat, a proficient marksman, and incredibly lucky. These assets have led to him having a phenomenal record of success in times of crisis in which he has often averted disaster, often on a national or global scale. This performance record means his only punishment in CONTROL for his mistakes is that he is the only agent without three weeks annual vacation time. Smart uses multiple cover identities, but the one used most often is as a greeting-card salesman/executive. Owing to multiple assassination attempts, he tells his landlord he is in the insurance business, and on one occasion, that he works for the "Bureau of Internal Revenue". Smart served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and is an ensign in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He was played by Steve Carell in the 2008 film.
In 1999, TV Guide ranked Maxwell Smart number 19 on its 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time list. The character appears in every episode (though only briefly in "Ice Station Siegfried", as Don Adams was performing in Las Vegas for two weeks to settle gambling debts).
Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) is the tall, beautiful female agent whose appearance is useful in undercover operations. Generally, Agent 99 (her actual name is never revealed) is much more competent than Smart, but Smart saves her life in several episodes. "Snoopy Smart vs the Red Baron" is the introduction of 99's mother (Jane Dulo), who appears so thoroughly fooled by her daughter and Smart's cover stories that not even seeing them in combat while a prisoner of KAOS convinces her otherwise. However, at one point her mother indicates that 99's father was also a spy. Creator Buck Henry pointed out to actress Barbara Feldon on the DVD commentary for season three that when he tried to add funny lines for Agent 99, "They didn't want you to be 'joke funny'. They wanted you to be glamorous and interesting." In the episode "99 Loses CONTROL", 99 tells Victor that her name is "Susan Hilton". When Max asks why she never told him what her real name was, she replies, "You never asked", to which Max says he prefers 99. Then, at the end of the episode, she says it is not her real name. Feldon said that when asked in 2016 if Agent 99 had a real name, Henry said, "[A]bsolutely not." Her name is, in fact, intentionally never revealed, even at their own wedding in season four. She appears in all but seven episodes. She can typically be seen slouching, leaning, or sitting in scenes with Adams to hide the fact that she was slightly taller (5′ 9″ or 1.75 m) than he (5′ 8+1/″ or 1.74 m). She was played by Anne Hathaway in the 2008 film and Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd: Out of Control.
The Chief (Edward Platt) is the head of CONTROL. Although sarcastic and grouchy, the Chief is intelligent, serious, and sensible. He began his career at CONTROL as "Agent Q". (He joined the organization back when they assigned letters rather than numbers.) He is supportive of Agents 86 and 99 and rates them as his two closest friends, but he is frustrated with Smart for his frequent failures and foul-ups. As revealed in the season-one episode "The Day Smart Turned Chicken", his first name is Thaddeus, but it is rarely used. His cover identity (used primarily with 99's mom) is "Harold Clark". Another time, when KAOS arranges for the Chief to be recalled to active duty in the U.S. Navy (as a common seaman with Smart as his commanding officer), his official name is John Doe. He was played by Alan Arkin in the 2008 film.
Hymie the Robot (Dick Gautier) is a humanoid robot built by Dr. Ratton to serve KAOS (when questioned about the curious name, Dr. Ratton replied "My father's name was Hymie!"), but in his first mission, Smart manages to turn him to the side of CONTROL. Hymie has numerous superhuman abilities, such as being physically stronger and faster than any human and being able to swallow poisons and register their name, type, and quantity, though his design does not include superhuman mental processing, most significantly characterized by an overly literal interpretation of commands. For example, when Smart tells Hymie to "get a hold of yourself", he grasps each arm with the other. Hymie also has emotions and is "programmed for neatness". He was played by Patrick Warburton in the 2008 film.
Agent 8 (Burt Mustin) is a retired CONTROL agent who appears in episode 23. He is revealed to be the Chief's best friend from his days at CONTROL.
Agent 13 (Dave Ketchum) is an agent who is usually stationed inside unlikely or unlucky places, such as cigarette machines, washing machines, lockers, trash cans, or fire hydrants. He tends to resent his assignments. Agent 13 is featured in several season-two episodes. He was played by Bill Murray in the 2008 film.
Agent 44 (Victor French) is Agent 13's predecessor and is also stationed in tight corners. Agent 44 sometimes falls into bouts of self-pity and complaining, and he would sometimes try to keep Max chatting for the company. Agent 44 appears in several episodes in the second half of season one. In the final season, a new Agent 44 (played by Al Molinaro) is in two episodes. (Prior to starting as 44, Victor French has a brief guest role in the season-one episode "Too Many Chiefs" as Smart's Mutual Insurance agent.)
Agent Larabee (Robert Karvelas) is the Chief's slow-witted assistant, even more incompetent than Max, so much so that Max cleverly uses Larabee as leverage: "If I get fired, Larabee moves up!" This threat frightens the Chief into keeping Max. Robert Karvelas was Don Adams' cousin. Larabee also appears in The Nude Bomb. He was played by David Koechner in the 2008 film.
Admiral Harold Harmon Hargrade or The Admiral (William Schallert) is the former chief. He founded CONTROL as a spy agency just after the turn of the 20th century. The admiral has a poor memory, believing the current U.S. President is still Herbert Hoover. As a 91-year-old, he has bad balance and often falls over.
Charlie Watkins / Agent 38 (Angelique Pettyjohn) is an undercover male agent and master of disguise. Agent 38 appears as a scantily clad glamorous woman in two season-two episodes. He also appears once in season four as a different actress (Karen Authur). He can also switch to a feminine voice as part of the disguise.
Fang/Agent K-13 (played by Red) is a poorly trained CONTROL dog, that is seen during seasons one and two. He was a very successful CONTROL agent for quite a few years. He was trained by Max, which probably explains why he does not always follow directions properly. Their relationship began in Spy School, where they were members of the same graduating class. He sometimes uses the cover name Morris and his favorite toys are a turtleneck sweater, a rubber ducky, and one of Max's slippers. Fang's career ends in the second season, as he is no longer showing energy in solving his cases. In honor of his outstanding service to CONTROL, the Chief retires Fang to a desk job, burying evidence. (He has a brief role in the 2008 film, being a pet-store dog to which Max is in the habit of complaining.) Fang was written out of the series in season two. He appears in six season-one episodes and two season-two episodes. He first appears in the pilot, "Mr. Big". His last appearance was in the season-two episode "Perils in a Pet Shop". Shots that involved Fang ended up running long and costing the production money in overtime and wasted time. Because of that, he was written out of the series. He was handled by Bill Weatherwax.
Hodgkins is seen as the Chief's assistant in five early episodes of the series. He was played by Bryan O'Byrne, who was a schoolteacher before he embarked on acting.
Carlson (Stacy Keach Sr.) is CONTROL's gadget man during season two. While inspecting the gadgets, Max usually creates minor mayhem. Carlson follows several CONTROL scientists who fulfill the same function in season one. They are the similarly named Carleton (Frank DeVol), the egotistical Windish (Robert O. Cornthwaite), and Parker (Milton Selzer).
Dr. Steele (Ellen Weston) is a CONTROL scientist who makes three appearances in season three. Dr. Steele is an intelligent, extremely attractive woman whose cover is a chorus dancer at a high-class burlesque theater. The entrance to her laboratory is through a large courier box sidestage. Dr. Steele often performs complex scientific procedures while wearing her revealing performance costumes. She is often seen explaining her findings while warming up for her next dance, and then suddenly departing for her performance. Steele is replaced by a similar character, Dr. Simon, who appears in two episodes of season four. She is played by Ann Elder in the fourth season premiere and, in a later episode, by Sharon Acker (uncredited) and is mentioned once in season five.
Harry Hoo (Joey Forman) is a Hawaiian detective from Honolulu, who is depicted as a send-up of the fictional detective Charlie Chan. Hoo is not a member of CONTROL, but they work together on murder cases. Hoo's introduction usually creates confusion in the manner of Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" routine. ("Not who...HOO!") Hoo always analyzes a mystery by presenting "two possibilities", of which the latter (if not both) is absurd. Max likes to upstage Hoo by jumping in with "two possibilities" of his own, which are even crazier than Hoo's. Hoo responds with "Amazing!", spoken in a tone of disbelief rather than approval, but Max is oblivious to this. Initially, the character was a lampoon of Chan, but in a later episode, Hoo appeared rather more brilliant and resourceful, while Max, though helpful as always, appeared more so as a contrast.
KAOS is a fictional "international organization of evil" formed in Bucharest, Romania, in 1904. Like "CONTROL", "KAOS" is not an acronym. Brooks and Henry originally wanted the letters to stand for an organizational title but, busy with production duties, they never sketched one in. In a series episode, after making a series of demands in a recording, the speaker mentions that the demands are from "KAOS, a Delaware corporation". When Smart asks the Chief about this, he mentions they did it for tax reasons.
Mr. Big (Michael Dunn) is the presumed head of KAOS and a little person. He only appears in the black-and-white pilot episode, and is killed by his own doomsday death ray. A successor is chosen in another episode, but is arrested by CONTROL. A few nameless KAOS chiefs appear in subsequent episodes.
Ludwig Von Siegfried, Konrad Siegfried, Count Von Siegfried, simply Siegfried, or Herr Siegfried in most episodes (Bernie Kopell) is a recurring villain, and the vice president in charge of public relations and terror at KAOS though his title does vary. Siegfried is Maxwell Smart's "opposite number" and nemesis, though the two characters share similar traits and often speak fondly of one another—even in the midst of attempting to assassinate each other. Speaking English with an exaggerated German accent, the gray-haired, mustachioed, and dueling-scarred Siegfried's catchphrase is, "Zis is KAOS! Ve don't [some action] here!" He was played by Terence Stamp in the 2008 film.
Shtarker (King Moody) is Siegfried's chief henchman. Shtarker is an overzealous lackey whose most notable trait is his abrupt personality change from sadistic villain to presumptuous child, interrupting conversations to helpfully elaborate, using silly vocal noises to imitate things such as engines or guns. This prompts Siegfried to utter his catch phrase, "Shtarker...Nein! Zis is KAOS! Ve don't [weakly imitates Shtarker's sound effect] here!" (In the DVD commentary for the first episode in which the character appears, in season two, Bernie Kopell notes that "shtarker" is a real Yiddish word meaning a person of great strength.) Although he looks rather young for it, he claims to have been track champion of the Third Reich, and the second man out of El Alamein (right behind Siegfried). He was played by Ken Davitian in the 2008 film.
Dietrick/Dietrich (Oscar Beregi/Fabian Dean) are high-ranking KAOS agents. Despite two different actors playing two different personalities, the similarity of names lends a formidable quality to the characters. In Episode 103 (Tequila Mockingbird), Max races to retrieve a valuable figurine before Dietrick can lay his hands on it. Dietrick is determined and forceful, suggesting he is a high-ranking member of KAOS. Actor Oscar Beregi plays KAOS agents of the same style as Dietrick in two later episodes, The Beast Master (Episode 23), and Victor Borgia (Episode 136). In Episode 131 (Witness for the Execution), Dietrich is referred to as "the highest-ranking KAOS agent ever to defect." Actor Fabian Dean plays Dietrich as someone who is paranoid and anxious, and Max must protect him from The Exterminator, a hitman hired by KAOS.
The Claw (Leonard Strong) is a Doctor No-type Asian villain representing the East Asian branch of KAOS. In place of the Claw's left hand is a powerful magnetic prosthesis with immobile fingers and an occasional attachment, hence his name (although when Smart first meets him, the Claw asks, "Do you know what they call me?" holding up his claw. Smart helpfully suggests "Lefty?"). Sometimes, the Claw would accidentally nab something with it, creating confusion. He is unable to pronounce the letter L and mispronounces his name as "Craw", with Smart repeatedly referring to him as "The Craw", much to his annoyance ("Not The Craw, THE CRAW!"). Like Siegfried, he has a huge, dimwitted assistant named Bobo.
Natz or Spinoza (Ted de Corsia) is a villain who was arrested by Max at an unknown point and desires revenge for it. He attempts to exact his revenge using the KAOS robot Hymie, though Hymie ultimately defects to CONTROL. Later, Spinoza hatches a plan to destroy Hymie using a new robot named Groppo', though this plan, too, ultimately fails.
Doctor Ratton (Jim Boles) is a scientist who defected to KAOS. He built the robot Hymie for KAOS, but his abuse of Hymie ultimately leads to Hymie defecting and shooting him. Doctor Ratton survived the wound to construct the robot Groppo for Spinoza. However, to ensure that Doctor Ratton does not return to the side of CONTROL and create more robots to counter KAOS, Spinoza uses Groppo to kill Ratton.
Simon the Likeable (Jack Gilford), who appears in "And Baby Makes 4" parts one and two, is a KAOS killer whose nice face mesmerizes everyone into liking him—except 99's mother, who knocks him out with a right cross, because Simon resembles her late, much-hated, and unlamented husband. (99's father never appears in any episode.)
Doctor Yes (Donald Davis), who appears in "Dr. Yes", is a parody of James Bond's Doctor No. He dresses outlandishly in Mandarin costume. When he asks questions of his four assistants, they each respond yes in their own individual languages, mainly in the order "Jawohl, Oui, Da, Sí". He captures Max and 99 in this episode, and accidentally kills himself—when stung by an "electronic mosquito", he scratches his face with his poisonous fingernail.
In Get Smart, telephones are concealed in over 50 objects, including a necktie, comb, watch, and a clock. A recurring gag is Max's shoe phone (an idea from Brooks). To use or answer it, he has to take off his shoe. Several variations on the shoe phone were used. In "I Shot 86 Today" (season four), his shoe phone is disguised as a golf shoe, complete with cleats, developed by the attractive armorer Dr. Simon. Smart's shoes sometimes contain other devices housed in the heels: an explosive pellet, a smoke bomb, compressed air capsules that propelled the wearer off the ground, and a suicide pill (which Max believes is for the enemy).
Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) had her concealed telephones, as well. She had one in her makeup compact, and also one in her fingernail. To use this last device, she would pretend to bite her nail nervously, while actually talking on her "nail phone".
On February 17, 2002, the prop shoe phone was included in a display titled "Spies: Secrets from the CIA, KGB, and Hollywood", a collection of real and fictional spy gear that exhibited at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Flinders University in South Australia has researched medical applications for shoe phone technology after being inspired by the show.
Gag phones also appear in other guises. In the episode "Too Many Chiefs" (season one), Max tells Tanya, the KAOS informer whom he is protecting, that if anyone breaks in, to pick up the house phone, dial 1-1-7, and press the trigger on the handset, which converts it to a gun. The phone-gun is only used that once, but Max once carried a gun-phone, a revolver with a rotary dial built into the cylinder. In the episode "Satan Place", Max simultaneously holds conversations on seven different phones: the shoe, his tie, his belt, his wallet, a garter, a handkerchief, and a pair of eyeglasses. Other unusual locations include a garden hose, a car cigarette lighter (hidden in the car phone), a bottle of perfume (Max complains of smelling like a woman), the steering wheel of his car, a painting of Agent 99, the headboard of his bed, a cheese sandwich, lab test tubes (Max grabs the wrong one and splashes himself), a Bunsen burner (Max puts out the flame anytime he pronounces a "p"), a plant in a planter beside the real working phone (operated by the dial of the working phone), and inside another full-sized working phone.
Other gadgets include a bullet-proof invisible wall in Max's apartment that lowers from the ceiling, into which Max and others often walk; a camera hidden in a bowl of soup (cream of Technicolor) that takes a picture (with a conspicuous flash) of the person eating the soup with each spoonful; a mini magnet on a belt, which turns out to be stronger than KAOS's maxi magnet; and a powerful miniature laser weapon in the button of a sports jacket (the "laser blazer").
Another of the show's recurring gags is the "Cone of Silence". Smart would pedantically insist on following CONTROL's security protocols; when in the chief's office, he would insist on speaking under the Cone of Silence—two transparent plastic hemispheres which are electrically lowered on top of Max and Chief—which invariably malfunction, requiring the characters to shout loudly to even have a chance of being understood by each other. Bystanders in the room could often hear them better, and sometimes relay messages back and forth. The Cone of Silence was the idea of Buck Henry, though it was preceded in an episode of the syndicated television show Science Fiction Theatre titled "Barrier of Silence", written by Lou Huston, that first aired on September 3, 1955, 10 years ahead of Get Smart.
The car that Smart is seen driving most frequently is a red 1965 Sunbeam Tiger two-seat roadster. This car had various custom features, such as a machine gun, smoke screen, radar tracking, and an ejection seat. The Sunbeam Alpine, upon which the Tiger was based, was used by customizer Gene Winfield because the Alpine's four-cylinder engine afforded more room under the hood than the V8 in the Tiger. AMT, Winfield's employer, made a model kit of the Tiger, complete with hidden weapons. It is the only kit of the Tiger, and has been reissued multiple times as a stock Tiger.
In the black-and-white pilot episode only, Smart drives a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT PF Spider Cabriolet.
In the opening credits, the Tiger was used for seasons one and two. In seasons three and four, Smart drives a light blue Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, because Volkswagen had become a sponsor of the show. The Volkswagen was never used in the body of the show. In season five (1969–1970), Buick became a show sponsor, so the Tiger was replaced with a gold 1969 Opel GT, which also appears in the body of the show.
In season four (1968–1969), Adams uses a yellow Citroën 2CV in the wedding episode "With Love and Twitches" , and a blue 1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 convertible with a tan interior and four seats (as required by the plot) in the episodes "A Tale of Two Tails" and "The Laser Blazer".
In the short-lived 1995 TV series, Smart is trying to sell the Karmann Ghia through the classified ads.
In Get Smart, Again!, Smart is seen driving a red 1986 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce.
The Sunbeam Tiger, the Karmann Ghia, and the Opel GT all make brief appearances in the 2008 film. The Sunbeam Tiger is seen in the CONTROL Museum, along with the original shoe phone, which Smart also briefly uses. The Opel GT is driven by Bernie Kopell and is rear-ended by a truck. Smart steals the Karmann Ghia to continue his escape.
Spies at work
CONTROL and KAOS did not seem to be above everyday bureaucracy and business quirks. KAOS is a Delaware corporation for tax purposes. CONTROL's union is the Guild of Surviving Control Agents, and Max is their negotiator; when a captured KAOS agent tells him about their survivors' benefits, the Chief is within earshot, and Max promptly uses the information for his labor talks.
In one episode, where Max infiltrates a KAOS-run garden shop, he refuses to arrest the manager until after 5 pm, so he can collect a full day's pay. The Chief threatens to fire him, but Max is not afraid; according to CONTROL's seniority policy, "If I get fired from CONTROL, Larrabee moves up!" The Chief gives in and lets Max stay on the job, rather than risk having the (even more) inept Larrabee take Max's place.
In another episode, Siegfried and Max casually discuss the various flavors of cyanide pills they have been issued. It is raspberry that month at CONTROL, and Max offers Siegfried a taste. In the same episode, Max and Siegfried have a show and tell of various weapons they have; Max boasts of having a deadly nonregulation pistol from a Chicago mail-order house. (The prop used is actually an 1893 Borchardt C-93 pistol.)
Cover names were common. In "The Man Called Smart, Part 1", a phone call is announced for an alias, and Max identifies himself as the person in question. Second and third calls come in, each with its own alias, the last of which is his own real name of Maxwell Smart, which he initially does not answer. Smart tells the skeptical gallery owner that those are his names, as well, making it obvious to any spy that he is taking calls from fellow agents and informants. Smart then makes himself even more visible by tangling the handset cords of the three phones.
CONTROL has a policy of burning pertinent documents after cases are closed; the reasons were detailed in their Rules and Regulations book, but nobody can read them, since they burned the only copy.
In the interest of company morale, both CONTROL and KAOS have their own bowling teams. In one episode where Smart takes over as Chief, in a conversation between Smart and Larabee, CONTROL is noted to have a delicatessen.
Notable guest stars
Get Smart used several familiar character actors and celebrities, and some future stars, in guest roles, including:
- Ian Abercrombie
- Steve Allen
- Barbara Bain
- Billy Barty
- Lee Bergere
- Shelley Berman
- Milton Berle
- Joseph Bernard
- Lynn Borden
- Ernest Borgnine
- Tom Bosley
- Victor Buono
- Carol Burnett
- John Byner
- James Caan
- Howard Caine
- Johnny Carson
- Jack Cassidy
- Ellen Corby
- Wally Cox
- Broderick Crawford
- Dennis Cross
- Robert Culp
- John Dehner
- Phyllis Diller
- Michael Dunn
- Robert Easton
- Dana Elcar
- Bill Erwin
- Jamie Farr
- John Fiedler
- Joey Forman
- Alice Ghostley
- Jack Gilford
- Leo Gordon
- Farley Granger
- Buddy Hackett
- Sid Haig
- Jonathan Harris
- Marcel Hillaire
- Bob Hope
- John Hoyt
- Conrad Janis
- Gordon Jump
- Kitty Kelly
- Ted Knight
- James Komack
- Martin Landau
- Charles Lane
- Len Lesser
- Laurie Main
- Kenneth Mars
- Judith McConnell
- Pat McCormick
- Robert Middleton
- Al Molinaro
- Howard Morton
- Burt Mustin
- Barry Newman
- Julie Newmar
- Leonard Nimoy
- Alan Oppenheimer
- Pat Paulsen
- Angelique Pettyjohn
- Regis Philbin
- Tom Poston
- Ann Prentiss
- Vincent Price
- Maudie Prickett
- Don Rickles
- Alex Rocco
- Cesar Romero
- Vito Scotti
- Larry Storch
- Vic Tayback
- Fred Willard
- Jason Wingreen
- Dana Wynter
- Del Close
- Victor Sen Yung
The series featured several cameo appearances by famous actors and comedians, sometimes uncredited and often comedian friends of Adams. Johnny Carson appeared, credited as "special guest conductor", in "Aboard the Orient Express". Carson returned for an uncredited cameo as a royal footman in the third-season episode "The King Lives?" Other performers to make cameo appearances included Steve Allen, Milton Berle, Ernest Borgnine, Wally Cox, Robert Culp (as a waiter in an episode sending up Culp's I Spy), Phyllis Diller, Buddy Hackett, Bob Hope, and Martin Landau.
Actress Rose Michtom (the real-life aunt of the show's executive producer Leonard Stern) appeared in at least 44 episodes—usually as a background extra with no speaking role. In the season-one episode "Too Many Chiefs", when she is shown in a photograph, Max refers to her as "my Aunt Rose", but the Chief corrects Max by saying that she is actually KAOS agent Alexi Sebastian disguised as Max's Aunt Rose. Fans refer to her as "Aunt Rose" in all of her dozens of appearances, though her character is never actually named in most of them.
The series was broadcast on NBC-TV from September 18, 1965, to September 13, 1969, after which it moved to the CBS network for its final season, running from September 26, 1969, to September 11, 1970, with 138 total episodes produced. During its five-season run, Get Smart only broke the top 30 twice. It ranked at number 12 during its first season, and at number 22 during its second season, before falling out of the top 30 for its last three seasons. The series won seven Emmy Awards, and it was nominated for another 14 Emmys and two Golden Globe Awards. In 1995, the series was briefly resurrected starring Adams and Feldon with Andy Dick as Max's and 99's son Zack Smart and Elaine Hendrix as 66.
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|1||30||September 18, 1965||May 7, 1966||NBC|
|2||30||September 17, 1966||April 22, 1967|
|3||26||September 16, 1967||April 6, 1968|
|4||26||September 21, 1968||March 29, 1969|
|5||26||September 26, 1969||May 15, 1970||CBS|
|1967||Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Comedy||Don Adams|
|1967||Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy||Buck Henry, Leonard Stern|
|1968||Outstanding Comedy Series||Burt Nodella, producer|
|1968||Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Comedy||Don Adams|
|1968||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy||Bruce Bilson|
|1969||Outstanding Comedy Series||Burt Nodella|
|1969||Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Comedy||Don Adams|
- 1980: The Nude Bomb (dir. Clive Donner)—also known as The Return of Maxwell Smart or Maxwell Smart and the Nude Bomb—was theatrically released. It was panned by critics and barely returned its budget at the box office.
- 1989: The made-for-TV Get Smart, Again! (dir. Gary Nelson) on ABC
- 2008: Get Smart (dir. Peter Segal) starring Steve Carell as Smart alongside Anne Hathaway as 99. Distributed by Warner Bros., the film includes a dedication to Adams and Platt, who had died in 2005 and 1974, respectively. It received mixed critical reviews but was a commercial success, earning over $230 million worldwide.
In October 2008, it was reported that Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures and Mosaic Media Group are producing a sequel. Carell and Hathaway are set to return, but the status of other cast members has not yet been announced. As of 2019, Get Smart 2 is no longer in development
Get Smart, Again! eventually prompted the development of a short-lived 1995 weekly series on Fox also titled Get Smart, with Adams and Feldon reprising their characters with Maxwell Smart now being the Chief of Control as their bumbling son, Zach (Andy Dick), becomes Control's star agent (Zach's twin sister is never seen nor mentioned — though the new leader of KAOS, a hidden female figure, would have been revealed as the other twin if the show had continued.) And 99 is now a congresswoman. The beginning teaser shows Maxwell Smart and Zach driving to Control headquarters in a car wash separately; Smart, Zach and their secretary cram themselves into a secret elevator: a soda machine which "disappears". (A cleaning lady sits down in the open space when all of a sudden the machine pops up and knocks the woman into the ceiling!) A late episode of the 1995 series shows that just as Siegfried is leaving a room, Maxwell Smart accidentally activates an atomic bomb just before the end of the show. (The teaser for the episode shows an atomic bomb going off.) This ending is similar to a device used by the Get Smart-inspired series Sledge Hammer! at the end of its first season. Hopes for the series were not high, as Andy Dick had already moved on to NewsRadio, which premiered weeks later in 1995.
With the revival series on Fox, Get Smart became the first television franchise to air new episodes (or made-for-TV films) on each of the aforementioned current four major American television networks, although several TV shows in the 1940s and 1950s aired on NBC, CBS, ABC and DuMont. The different versions of Get Smart did not all feature the original lead cast.
Get Smart was parodied on a sketch in the Mexican comedy show De Nuez en Cuando called ["Super Agente 3.1486"], making fun of the Spanish title of the series (Super Agente 86) and the way the series is dubbed.
The Simpsons episode "Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade" parodies the opening of Get Smart in the couch gag. Homer goes through many futuristic doors and passageways until he reaches the phone booth, falls through the floor, and lands on the couch, with the rest of the family already seated.
Adams in similar roles
In the 1960s, Adams had a supporting role on the sitcom The Bill Dana Show (1963–1965) as the hopelessly inept hotel detective Byron Glick. His speech mannerisms, catch phrases ("Would you believe...?"), and other comedy bits were adapted for his "Maxwell Smart" role on Get Smart.
When WCGV-TV, a new independent station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin signed on the air in 1980, Adams did in-house promos as Agent 86 to let viewers know when the reruns of Get Smart aired on the station by using his shoephone.
In one of Adams' five appearances as a guest passenger on the series The Love Boat, his character, even when he thought he had been shot, makes no attempt to visit the ship's doctor. The role of the doctor on Love Boat was played by Bernie Kopell, who played Siegfried on Get Smart.
In 1982, Adams starred in a series of local commercials for New York City electronics chain Savemart as Maxwell Smart. The slogan was "Get Smart. Get SaveMart Smart." In addition, Adams starred in a series of commercials for White Castle in 1992, paying homage to his Get Smart character with his catch phrase "Would you believe...?"
In the 1980s, Adams provided the (similar) voice of a bungling cyborg secret agent in the animated series Inspector Gadget. This later became a feature film in 1999 starring Matthew Broderick in the title role of Inspector John Brown Gadget (in which Adams had a cameo), and its prequel series Gadget Boy and Heather. Neither were directly related to Get Smart.
In the mid-1980s, Adams reprised his role of Maxwell Smart for a series of telephone banking commercials for Empire of America Federal Savings Bank in Buffalo, New York. The telephone banking service was called SmartLine, and Sherwin Greenberg Productions (a video production company and bank subsidiary) produced radio and television ads, as well as a series of still photos for use in promotional flyers that featured Don Adams' Maxwell Smart character wearing the familiar trenchcoat and holding a shoe phone to his ear. The television commercials were videotaped in Sherwin Greenberg Productions' studio on a set that resembled an old alleyway which utilized fog-making machinery for special effect. The production company even secured a lookalike of the red Alpine that Adams used in the television series, making it a memorable promotion for those familiar with the series of nearly 20 years earlier.
In the late 1980s Adams portrayed Smart in a series of TV commercials for Toyota New Zealand, for the 1990 model Toyota Starlet. While it is customary for the actor to go to the foreign location for shooting, Adams' apparent intense dislike of long-distance flying meant that the New Zealand specification car had to be shipped to the US for filming. He also appeared in another series of Canadian commercials in the late 1990s for a dial-around long distance carrier. In the movie Back to the Beach (1987), Adams played the Harbor Master, who used several of Maxwell Smart's catch phrases (including an exchange in which Frankie Avalon's character did a vague impression of Siegfried).
Adams played Smart in a 1989 TV commercial for Kmart. He was seen talking on his trademark shoe phone, telling the Chief about the great selection of electronics available at Kmart. An exact replica of himself approaches him, and Smart says, "Don't tell me you're a double agent." (This was a reference to a running gag on the original series, in which Max detected some sort of setback or danger, and would say to 99, "Don't tell me..." and then 99 replied by stating a confirmation of whatever Max was afraid to hear, to which Max would always respond, "I asked you not to tell me that!")
Adams also appeared in a number of McDonald's Hamburger Restaurant television commercials which also featured numerous classic/nostalgic TV series stars, such as Barbara Billingsley from "Leave It To Beaver", Buddy Ebsen from "The Beverly Hillbillies" and Al Lewis from "The Munsters".
Adam also starred in a Canadian sitcom called “Check It Out” in which he played a supermarket manager but many of Adams’ recurring Get Smart jokes - such as ‘the old [something something] trick’ and ‘I told you not to tell me that!’ - were used and reused in the show but in a supermarket setting.
Books and comics
A series of novels based on characters and dialog of the series was written by William Johnston and published by Tempo Books in the late 1960s. Dell Comics published a comic book for eight issues during 1966 and 1967, drawn in part by Steve Ditko.
The 1966 Batman movie, made during that TV show's original run, prompted other television shows to propose similar films. The only one completed was Munster Go Home (1966), which was a box office flop, causing the cancellation of other projects, including the Get Smart movie. The script for that movie was turned into the three-part episode, "A Man Called Smart," airing April 8, 15 and 22, 1967.
Home media and rights
All five seasons are available as box sets in region 1 (USA, Canada, and others) and Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, and others). The region 1 discs are published by HBO Home Video, and region 4 by Time Life Video. Each region 1 box contains 4 discs, while region 4 editions have a 5th disc with bonus material. Region 4 editions are also available as individual discs with four to five episodes per disc. The season 1 set was released in both regions in 2008. Seasons 2 and 3 box sets were released in region 4 on July 23, 2008. Seasons 4 and 5 were released in region 4 on November 5, 2008. Seasons 2, 3, 4 and 5 in region 1 were released throughout 2009.
Another box set of the complete series is available in both regions, first published in 2006 by Time Life Video. In 2009 the region 1 edition was replaced by an HBO edition, and became more widely available. All editions contain a 5th disc for each season, with bonus material. The set has 25 discs altogether.
The first four seasons were produced for NBC by Talent Associates. When it moved to CBS at the start of season five, it became an in-house production, with Talent Associates as silent partner. The series was sold to NBC Films for syndication.
Over decades, US distribution has changed from National Telefilm Associates to Republic Pictures, to Worldvision Enterprises, to Paramount Domestic Television, to CBS Paramount Domestic Television, to the current distributor, CBS Television Distribution. For decades, the syndication rights of all but a handful of the fifth-season episodes were encumbered with restrictions and reporting requirements; as a result, most of that season was rarely seen in syndication (though they were shown with more regularity on Nick at Nite and TV Land). The distribution changes (including the loosening of restrictions on the fifth season) were the result of corporate changes, especially the 2006 split of Viacom (owners of Paramount Pictures) into two companies.
HBO currently owns the copyrights to the series itself, due to Time-Life Films' 1977 acquisition of Talent Associates. Home videos are distributed by HBO Home Video. For a time the DVD release was only available through Time-Life (a former Time Warner division). Warner Bros. Television owns international distribution rights.
- Melnick was a partner of the show's production company Talent Associates, along with Leonard Stern and David Susskind.
- Get Smart Buck Henry Season 1 commentary
- "Q&A with Mel Brooks". Los Angeles Times. May 19, 2008. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
- "WouldYouBelieve.com – Catchphrases". wouldyoubelieve.com.
- Tomashoff, Craig. "Credits Check" TV Guide, October 18, 2010, Pages 16–17
- Tovares, Raul. "GET SMART U.S. Spy Parody". Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
- Buck Henry and Barbara Feldon, Season 3 DVD commentary
- Get Smart episode "Hoo Done It" (season 2)
- Smith, Kyle (March 21, 2008). "How Maxwell Smart and His Shoe-Phone Changed TV". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on November 23, 2008.
- "Smart Money". Time. October 15, 1965. Retrieved August 30, 2009.
- Don Rickles, Get Smart Series 3 DVD commentary
- Barnes, Mike (June 1, 2012). "Dee Caruso, a Writer on Classic 1960s Sitcoms, Dies at 83". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
- TV Guide Guide to TV. Barnes and Noble. 2003. p. 651. ISBN 0-7607-5634-1.
- "He Kept 86 in Control: An Interview with Get Smart Writer Whitey Mitchell". Archived from the original on September 8, 2012. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
- Buck Henry, Season 3 DVD commentary
- Birkmeyer, Carl. "Agent 99".
- Clash, Jim. "Interview: Barbara Feldon (Agent 99) Gives Her Younger Self Some Sound Advice".
- Thomlison, Adam. "Q: I know the main agent in "Get Smart" is Maxwell Smart, but do they ever say the name of Agent 99?". TV Media. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
- Clash, Jim. "Barbara Feldon (Agent 99): Why I Did 'Get Smart' In Bare Feet".
- Season four, episode 25
- Season three, episode 13
- Season three, episode 23
- Season one, episode 19
- Season three, episode eight
- ABC News Adelaide -See this report
- "Cone of Silence". Technovelgy. Archived from the original on August 24, 2011. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
- "1960's Smart Car" (PDF). Sunbeam Alpine Owners Club 'The Horn'. December 1, 2007. p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 19, 2016. Retrieved May 16, 2016.
- "10 TV Cars You Wish You Owned". News.wyotech.edu. June 25, 2009. Archived from the original on June 28, 2009. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
- Grant, David (2008). The Legendary Custom Cars and Hot Rods of Gene Winfield. Motorbooks. ISBN 978-0-7603-2778-4.
- "1960's Smart Car" (PDF). Sunbeam Alpine Owners Club 'The Horn'. December 1, 2007. p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 19, 2016. Retrieved May 16, 2016.
- Schiemann Harms Medien GmbH & Co. KG. "250 GT Cabrio P.F. S2 – AUTO SALON SINGEN – Bilder". Autosalon-singen.de. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
- "1960's Smart Car" (PDF). Sunbeam Alpine Owners Club 'The Horn'. December 1, 2007. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 19, 2016. Retrieved May 16, 2016.
- Get Smart - "School Days" episode credits - air date 10/2/1965
- Get Smart episode guide season one, wouldyoubelieve.com
- "The Aunt Rose Files". Graeme.50webs.com. Retrieved April 24, 2012.
- "Get Smart: DVD Sequel to Star Heroes' Oka". TV Series Finale. April 23, 2007. Retrieved April 23, 2008.
- Get Smart-2 Archived May 22, 2010, at the Wayback Machine October 6, 2008 by Peter Sciretta – /Film
- "Get Smart: Steve Carell to Return as Agent 86 in Movie Sequel". Tvseriesfinale.com. Retrieved October 7, 2008.
- YouTube – Broadcast Yourself Archived July 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
- Dougherty, Philip H. "Don Adams Gets Smart For Savemart Spots"The New York Times January 20, 1982
- Leonard Stern, Get Smart Season 2 DVD commentary
- Get Smart By Mel Brooks, Christopher Sergel, Buck Henry ISBN 0-87129-260-2, ISBN 978-0-87129-260-5
- "Get Smart – Release Date Moved Closer for the Retail Release of The Complete Series!". Archived from the original on October 26, 2012.
- "HBO Digitizes Mel Brooks & Buck Henry's "Get Smart" For 50th Anniversary « Movie City News".
- "Digital HD Platforms Will 'Get Smart' in August - High-Def Digest".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Get Smart.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Get Smart|