Image: The Everett Collection
When The Man from U.N.C.L.E. premiered in 1964, it was the only spy show on American television. As Napoleon Solo, Robert Vaughn was playing spy in a landscape full of sitcoms. The success of the show led to a sea change in programming.
The series underwent drastic changes over its run, evolving from a black & white thriller to a colorful, camp romp. Thoughout it all, however, Vaughn was cooler than cool. In short, he was our American Bond. (In fact, James Bond creator Ian Fleming came up with the character of Napoleon Solo.)
Earlier today, the television star passed away after a bout with leukemia, according to Deadline. He was 83 years old.
Vaughn was raised in Minnesota, and attended the University of Minnesota briefly, before moving to L.A. There he studied theater and earned his first television role in 1955 on Medic. Over his decades-long career, Vaughn also appeared as a regular on The A-Team, and took dozens guest roles on other series.
His big-screen career was just as robust, as the actor easily portrayed characters brooding, funny and suave, in everything from The Magnificent Seven to Superman III.
In the 1980s, he reprised his role of Naploeon Solo. Undoubtedly, scores of Boomers dug out their old Napoleon Solo Gun toys and briefly dreamed again of being secret agents. He will be missed.