ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Spy Shows of the 60's

Updated on January 20, 2019
Jethro : Soda Jerk or Double Naught Spy?
Jethro : Soda Jerk or Double Naught Spy?

Double-Naughts to 007: Spies Are All Around Us

I was a child of the Cold War generation, and in the 1960s espionage was a serious concern for most Americans. One result of this concern was an abundance of spy shows on our tiny, three-channel TVs. From Jethro Bodine's longing to be a "Double-Naught Spy" to Agent 007 in the ultra cool James Bond movies, spy culture stories were pervasive. It seemed that when we lampooned or otherwise played down our espionage fears, they were easier to accept. And like the cartoon superheroes who came before them, spies became cool.

As I was in grade school when these shows were on the air, I was most impressed by the groovy trendsetting ones. Get Smart and The Avengers were my favorites.


Get Smart

I didn't know and wouldn't have cared in 1965 that Mel Brooks created Get Smart and Buck Henry co-wrote some episodes, including the pilot. I was in grade school and I watched Get Smart for the gadgets. The "Cone of Silence" and the "Closet of Silence" - used when the Cone of Silence has been rented out to the CIA (according to WouldYouBelieve.com)! The 56 types of phones, including the ever-so-discreet Shoe Phone. I even got a "99" lipstick homing device for my 11th birthday.

Only in retrospect am I able to see what great comedy this show really was - I was far too young at the time to understand and enjoy all the parodies of famous movies written into the episodes. With episode titles like "The Dead Spy Scrawls", "Island of the Darned" and "The Mild Ones" the series has piqued my interest again. Below are a few choice clips:

Cone of Silence

"Get Smart" Agents 86 and 99
"Get Smart" Agents 86 and 99 | Source

The Avengers

The Avengers had been on the air in England since 1962, but the version bought by ABC (1965-67) is the one most familiar to Americans. This is the version that features Mrs. Emma Peel as John Steed's partner. With the arrival of Mrs. Peel (Diana Rigg), Steed (Patrick Macnee) evolves into the highly sophisticated, ultra-British gentleman spy for which he is best known. And while some regard Steed as something of a James Bond knock-off, The Avengers in fact predated the 007 movies.

Steed, who was originally depicted as a typical trenchcoat-wearing agent, was now wearing Savile Row suits and bowler hat (and carried an umbrella everywhere he went). The bowler and umbrella were full of tricks, including a sword hidden in the umbrella handle and a steel plate concealed in the hat. As you can see in the closing credits in the video clip below, some of Mr. Macnee's clothes were by this season designed by Pierre Cardin.

Most interesting to me is that The Avengers featured a female lead who was strong, intelligent and way ahead of her time. The mysterious Mrs. Peel was youthful, forward-looking, and always dressed in the latest mod fashions. Add to this a male lead who treated his female partner as his equal, and we see a new social movement reflected in this show even as American attitudes about women were changing.

Finally, if you're an automobile lover, you should watch this show just for the cars. Steed's signature cars were vintage 1926–1928 Bentley racing or town cars, while Peel drove a sporty Lotus Elan convertible. During the first Peel series, each episode would end with a scene of the duo driving away in some unusual vehicle.

The Avengers, Season 5

These two shows are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg! I urge those of you too young to remember the Spy shows on TV to take a peek at a variety of them.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      7 years ago from London England

      Whilst not a T.V. spy series as such but rather a very clever puppet show using marionettes. After all this time any such dolls that have surviverd are now 'collectors items'. But it was to be 40 years untill they got around to making the Thunderbirds movie. Lady Penelope the refined English aristocrat doubled as a counter intelligence asset with a flair for the colour pink very much in vogue in the 60's. Even Her Ladyship's customised chauffuer driven Rolls Royce was of pink duco. Thunderbirds are GO!

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      7 years ago from London England

      I seem to recall a couple of 1950' s T.V. spy series but vaguely as i was only a kid then. The first series was titled 'I spy' (not to be confused with the 1960's I spy) and it dealt with half hour various plots down through the years. Then there was 'Behind closed doors' a cold war counter-espionage type of no threat as we've got the deterant! Lastly there was 'Passport to danger' more applicable to diplomacy than the spy genre. The 1950's era lacked the glamorous action Ladies that were to evetually come to the forefront soon.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      7 years ago from London England

      I prepared a reply but it vanished in cyberspace. Perhaps the message was not meant to be sent but it was something to do with the Avenger Ladies living out their alter ego. Such a pity American audiences saw little of Cathy Gale but i liked them all

    • liza ann profile imageAUTHOR

      liza ann 

      7 years ago from Richmond, VA

      I never thought of the Avengers that way, limpet – but your comment adds a new dimension for me. Thank you!

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      7 years ago from London England

      The underlying theme of The Avengers is that they are an apparatus of The Establishment of the day. The Avengers are there to thwart masterminds intent on breaking the rules. In the T.V. series there were never any tradesmen visible unless there was a walk on/walk off courier and the sets were always tranquil countryside without industrial buildings in other words an ideal world (for some) but it was about ushering in new times after the bleak austerity of the war plus having a bit of fun at the same time.

    • liza ann profile imageAUTHOR

      liza ann 

      9 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Glad you liked it, puter_dr. I missed a lot of the Spy series and hope to watch more of them soon!

    • puter_dr profile image

      Mitch Bolen 

      9 years ago from Midwest USA

      Barbara Feldon and Diana Rigg were among my earliest crushes. Thanks for the trip down memory lane with the "double naught" spies!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)