Tuesday, September 27, 2005

 

It Was the Smart Move...

No, I'm not referring to Tessio's foiled attempt to take over the Corleone family at the end of The Godfather. I'm talking about Don Adams (who passed away this week at the age of 82) and the character he originated -- and milked for his entire career: Maxwell Smart. The bumbling spy -- code named Agent 86 -- who talked into his shoe; worked for CONTROL and was always on the heels of the bad guys at KAOS., was created by Oscar-winner Mel Brooks (The Producers) and Buck Henry (The Graduate) as the central character in this mod and timely comedy of the mid-to-late 60s. Adams won three Emmys -- as Best Actor in a Comedy -- for the role (and was nominated for four), but he would never really be able to shake the persona and, as a result, would keep replaying the same character for the rest of his career. The first attempt to revive Maxwell Smart came in 1980 when Agent 86 made his feature film debut in The Nude Bomb, directed by Clive Donner (who unsuccessfully tried to revive another on-screen sleuth the following year with Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen). In 1983, Adams agreed to voice the animated Inspector Gadget (which was essentially a cartoon riff on the Maxwell Smart character). Smart (and Adams) surfaced again in 1989, this time in the TV movie Get Smart, Again! A host of Inspector Gadget projects (direct-to-video and on TV) was followed, in 1995, by another effort to breathe life into Maxwell Smart, in the short-lived and updated revival of the Get Smart TV series. With age working against him, Adams was passed over for the live-action feature film version of Inspector Gadget (that role went to Matthew Broderick), but he did provide the voice of Gadget's dog, Brain, for the film. And speaking of voiceovers, did you know Adams was the (uncredited) voice of Comet, the coach reindeer, in the classic 1964 Rankin/Bass animated Christmas special Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer?

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