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A Look Back at the Original ‘Get Smart’ Cast— Plus, Fun Facts About the 1960s Sitcom!

Go behind-the-scenes of this spy comedy series!

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“Would you believe?,” was one of the many catch phrases generated by the popular TV comedy, the original Get Smart, created by funny guys Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, and featuring a cast we loved.

Unlike James Bond’s suave and savvy agent 007, Get Smart centered on incompetent secret agent Maxwell Smart, aka Agent 86, and his unnamed female partner, Agent 99. Don Adams and Barbara Feldon played the spy roles, working for CONTROL, a deep state counterintelligence agency within the United States government.

Barbara Feldon and Don Adams, 1967
Barbara Feldon and Don Adams, 1967NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

Smart is assigned by his “Chief” (Ed Platt) to foil KAOS’ latest plans for taking over the world. KAOS was the international organization of evil that Smart seems to thwart in every episode, though his bumbling nature and “by the book” detective style often lands him in hot water.

Lucky for Smart, his faithful assistant, Agent 99, comes in to save the day…and Maxwell. A lot! Due to the popularity of the James Bond films in the 60s, Get Smart was a perfect counter-point.

Even Smart’s gadgets rivaled that of Bond’s — His telephone was concealed in over 50 objects including a necktie, watch, clock and shoe, the latter forcing Smart to take it off every time to answer.

Don Adams and Barbara Feldon, 1965
Don Adams and Barbara Feldon, 1965Bettmann/Getty Images

Other gadgets included a bullet proof invisible wall in Max’s apartment that lowers from the ceiling, a camera hidden in a bowl of soup and a powerful mini laser weapon in the button of a sports jacket, aptly named the “laser blazer.”

Gag phones also appear in a garden hose, bottle of perfume, headboard of his bed, a cheese sandwich and a ton of other unique places. And we can’t forget the Cone of Silence, where Smart would go to discuss highly confidential things in the chief’s office — Spoiler alert: It wasn’t as secure as he thought.

While the series first aired in 1965 and was cancelled in 1970, we still enjoy the antics that were present on the screen for all those years and continue to live on in reruns. Here’s a look at the original Get Smart cast.

Related: ‘My Mother the Car’: The 60s Sitcom That Went So Wrong

Original Get Smart cast, then and now

Don Adams as Agent 86: Original Get Smart Cast

Don Adams in 1965 and 2003
1965 / 2003Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images ; Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images

Despite Agent 86 being a top secret government agent, Maxwell Smart is clumsy and inept, yet also resourceful, skilled in hand-to-hand combat and — most importantly — he’s really lucky.  

Born Donald James Yarmy in Manhattan, Adams dropped out of DeWitt Clinton High School, saying he had little use for school, and became a theater usher. After his discharge from the military in 1945, Yarmy worked as a comic and impressionist in a Florida strip club, but was fired after refusing to use racy material.

Don Adams, 1965
Don Adams, 1965Warner Brothers/Getty Images

He married a singer, who performed as Adelaide Adams, and Don decided to take her name, because performers were called up for auditions in alphabetical order. He began his TV career when he won the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour talent contest in 1948.

This led to many appearances on comedy and variety series such as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Steve Allen Show and a regular role on Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall.

Lucille Ball and Don Adam, 1967
Lucille Ball and Don Adam, 1967Bettmann/Getty Images

Adams reunited with best friend Bill Dana on Dana’s show, playing an inept hotel detective which led to his Agent 86 role. Adams became an instant success in 1965 as Smart, a role that brought him wealth, awards and worldwide fame.

A number of variety shows and TV movies came his way after Get Smart went off the air, and he brought Agent 86 back to TV in the 1989 TV movie, Get Smart, Again!. After attempts at serious roles that never came to fruition, he returned to the role that made him world famous in a third revival of Maxwell Smart, but it only lasted 7 episodes.

Don Adams and Barbara Feldon, 2003
Don Adams and Barbara Feldon, 2003Robert Mora/Getty Images

For the remainder of his career, Adams lent his unique voice to many commercials and voiceover work, including the animated character Inspector Gadget.

While he loved show biz, he also loved horses, his leisure time largely spent either at racetracks or in card games at the Playboy Mansion. Adams died in 2005 from a lung infection.

Barbara Feldon as Agent 99: Original Get Smart Cast

Barbara Feldon in 1965 and 2017
1965 / 2017 Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images ; Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images

Feldon always thought agent 99 was deeply in love with Max and understood his quirks. Of course, Smart is clueless about her affection, yet he does show his care through his concern for her well-being.

Born Barbara Anne Hall in Butler, Pennsylvania, Feldon graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Arts in drama. Feldon’s career began as a model, with her first break coming in the form of the much parodied TV commercial for Top Brass, a hair cream for men.

Barbara Feldon, 1965
Barbara Feldon, 1965Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This 30 second on-screen appearance led to small roles in TV series such as Flipper, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Twelve O’Clock High, but her most memorable role, of course, came in the form of Agent 99.

Feldon played the iconic role for the entire duration of the comedy show, and was nominated twice for an Emmy. Unlike other female roles of the 50s and 60s that saw women relegated to the kitchen, raising a family and tending to domestic chores, Agent 99 was showcased as a strong woman capable of having her own career.

Barbara Feldon, 1965
Barbara Feldon, 1965Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Additionally, instead of hiding her height, which was several inches taller than Adams, the sitcom played it out in the open, which was quite rare for that era of TV. During her time as Agent 99, Feldon’s guest appearances were plenty — among them five times on The Dean Martin Show alone, where she sang and danced while performing opposite Martin in several comedy skits.

Feldon guest starred in many 1980s TV series, including Thriller, The Name of the Game and The Carol Burnett Show. When the sitcom went off the air, Feldon ventured out into TV movies such as Let’s Switch, A Vacation in Hell and she even voiced Patti Bear in the 1973 animated TV special, The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas.

Barbara Feldon, Get Smart, 1965-1970
Barbara Feldon, Get Smart, 1965-1970Bettmann/Getty Images

She also appeared in big screen ventures such as Smile, Last Request and Fitzwilly. A few Get Smart revivals saw Feldon reprise her role, but after a few occasional off-Broadway plays and voicing several TV and radio commercials, Feldon stepped away from the bright lights. However, she is still actively writing.

In 2015, she had two editorial pieces featured in Metropolitan Magazine and a book, Living Alone and Loving It, published in 2003. 

Edward Platt as The Chief : Original Get Smart Cast

Edward Platt, 1965
Edward Platt, 1965John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Rounding out the original Get Smart cast, Platt was the head of CONTROL. Although his surname was never revealed to viewers, The Chief’s first name was Thaddeus. On some episodes, Chief uses the code name of Harold Clark for those not in CONTROL. His two closest friends are his operatives, Agent 99 and 86, but he gets visibly frustrated with Smart’s bumbling antics.

Born Edward Cuthbert Platt on Staten Island, he spent some of his childhood in Kentucky and then at a private school in Upstate New York, where he was a member of the ski jump team.

Cast of Get Smart, 1970
Cast of Get Smart, 1970Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Trained as an operatic bass baritone, Platt sang for two years with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra before becoming an actor. He debuted on Broadway in Allego and followed it up later on The Shrike.

It was in 1955 that he appeared in Rebel Without a Cause as James Dean’s dad, but returned to Broadway and his musical roots in Oh, Captain!, before appearing in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.

Joyce Taylor, Edward Platt, Atlantis, The Lost Continent, 1961
Joyce Taylor, Edward Platt, Atlantis, The Lost Continent, 1961FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

TV episodic roles ran the gamut, from the original Perry Mason to 77 Sunset Strip to westerns such as Bonanza, Rawhide and Gunsmoke.

Related: 10 Fascinating Facts About the ‘Bonanza’ Cast

After Get Smart went off the air, Platt was seen in comedies such as Bewitched, The Odd Couple and Love, American Style. He also ventured behind the cameras and produced the film Santee with Glenn Ford. Unfortunately, Platt was found dead in his Santa Monica apartment at the age of 58.

Related: 12 Spookily Fun Unknown Facts About the Original ‘Bewitched’

Fun facts about the original Get Smart cast

1. Puppy love

Original Get Smart cast: Don Adams and Fang, 1965
Don Adams, 1965Warner Brothers/Getty Images

The dog that worked for CONTROL was Agent K-13. His name was Fang.

2. Celebrity guests

Original Get Smart cast: Guest star Johnny Carson, 1960
Johnny Carson, 1960Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Talk show host Johnny Carson made cameo appearances twice during the show’s run. One time he was a train conductor and another as a royal herald in a foreign King’s court.

3. Unknown acronyms

Original Get Smart cast: Don Adams and Barbara Feldon, 1970
Don Adams and Barbara Feldon, 1970Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

CONTROL and KAOS were supposed to be acronyms, but creators Buck Henry and Mel Brooks never came up with anything for them to stand for.

4. Serving as inspiration

Don Adams, 1965
Don Adams, 1965Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The show was the principal inspiration for Inspector Gadget (1983), in which the main character was voiced by Don Adams and was also a bumbling and inept agent.

5. Adams the voice actor

Original Get Smart cast: Don Adams, 1967
Don Adams, 1967Bettmann/Getty Images

Don Adams was already using his William Powell-like voice two years before Get Smart premiered, as the cartoon character Tennessee Tuxedo on morning television.

6. A unique reference

Original Get Smart cast: series co-creator Mel Brooks, 1976
Mel Brooks, 1976Jack Mitchell/Getty Images

Mel Brooks decided on Smart’s code number 86 as a reference to the slang term, meaning to forcibly eject someone such as a patron from a bar or casino.


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