Eva's 60s Retro Flashbacks
The palpable mushroom cloud
of the Cold War (1947 – 1991) constituted a perpetual state of political conflict and military tension between
the hammered and sickled Communist nations led by the Soviet Union, and the democratic nations led by the
starred and striped United
States. Although no bloody ideological battles ensued, a proxy war was fought via military coalitions
and clashes, propaganda, diplomatic haggling, economic embargos, nuclear arms race, space race,—and above
Espionage of the Cold War era mushroomed into the “spy crazed” period of mid Sixties
television. Shows were clouded with elements of James Bond: the protagonist works for a government agency
involved in clandestine activities; villains are portrayed as foreign, eccentric, and menacing individuals
intent on taking over the world or destroying it. Other
characteristic hallmark “bonds” of episodic espionage included: fast paced plots, exotic travel,
tongue-in-cheek humor, sexual innuendos, attractive women, roguishly handsome men, stylish spy wear, cool
gadgetry, escapism, and even spoofing.
1961 – 1969: The Avengers – British espionage programming at
its finest, dapper John Steed (Patrick Macnee) co-starred with the most memorable of Mrs. Emma Peels (Diana
Rigg, 1965-67). Beautiful, cool, and more than capable of defending
herself, Mrs. Peel was one empowered appealing female. She drove a convertible Lotus Elan at high speeds and
bantered with Steed!
1964 – 1968: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. featured two agents and
their battles against THRUSH. Suited and suave Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and his turtle-necked, reserved
partner Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) entertained us with their wit, charm, ingenuity, gadgetry, hipness, and
Spy –Kelly Robinson (Robert Culp) and his partner Alexander
“Scotty” Scott (Bill Cosby) were two dry-humored, Cold War buddies whose spying took them to exotic
Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) played a bumbling American spy who worked for CONTROL. His female partner, Agent 99
(Barbara Feldon), frequently bailed him out of dangerous situations in their espionage battles against KAOS.
Humorous gadgetry gained a foothold with Max’s shoe phone.
1966 – 1973: Mission Impossible – Espionage centered on an elite covert spy ring whose nearly impossible missions would
be denied if failed. Each episode began with an agent receiving
self-destructing, tape recorded instructions about the next mission. James Phelps (Peter Graves), Rollin Hand
(Martin Landau), and Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain) were on a mission.
Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I joined the spy craze ring of the Sixties
during my adolescence. Composing my own spy thrillers on a girly pink Tom Thumb typewriter, INTRIGUE became my
espionage headquarters for sending agents on assignments all over the world. Gadgets conjured by a fourteen
year old’s vivid imagination included but were certainly not limited to: carnation camera; tint-o-shine—an eye
drop solution which could trigger motion on still photos; earring radio where the volume could be adjusted by
twirling the post. I wish I’d saved these relics of the Cold War era for posterity instead of self-destructing
my mission impossibles.
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