The last week has been tumultuous. This applies to everyone, irrespective of their political leanings. Exhausting. For those of us who grew up in the 1960s, the events of the past weeks seem more surreal than anything we confronted during the days of LSD, flower power, Jack Kennedy, and Tricky Dick. Just when I thought it was all over and I could try to relax during the weekend, the internet told me that an actor indelibly linked with the more innocent days of the swinging sixties, Robert Vaughn, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., had passed away at the age of 83.
Just about everyone with a television during the mid-sixties knew Vaughn's alter ego, Napoleon Solo; all of us little boys, now older and wiser, tuned in each week to watch U.N.C.L.E.'s top agent, along with the help of David McCallum — Illya Kuryakin – save the world.
Vaughn would go on as an actor, writer, and pitch man for hair loss cures and personal injury law firms, but his defining moment, his Warholian fifteen minutes, came with his role on the tube as America's number one spy.
The series ran for three-and-half years and I never missed an episode. As the generation who watched that show and lived through the 1960s grew up and went on their own journeys, few as exciting as Mr. Solo's, whenever we'd see Mr. Vaughn we'd be transported in time to a simpler more heroic era when heroes wore suits and ties and came to work through a secret entrance in a tailor's shop in Manhattan.
Vaughn became an icon of those times and as long as kids from the sixties are around he'll be fondly remembered. Did I forget to mention that when I dial out on my iPhone I open “channel D”?