Unpacking nostalgia: Thoughts on vintage lunch boxes

The 1966 King-Seeley Get Smart lunch box.

The 1966 King-Seeley Get Smart lunch box.

Trent:  If you’ve got to hold on to something from the sixties, peace and love sure beats a Get Smart lunch box
Daria:  Especially if the lunch is still in it.
-from MTV’s Daria

Yes, I know there’s a page on my site devoted to lunch boxes, but I’m going to go there again. While I’m at it, I may as well recycle that quote from Daria.

I’m not sure what it is, but there’s just something about a vintage lunch box. They’re kind of like canvases of what comprised kid culture at any given time. Metal boxes featured popular cartoons, TV shows, movies and bands. Some topics ended up being pretty obscure – like the lunch box for the 1979 move Black Hole.

My school days were from the era of both metal and plastic lunch boxes. With both of

The top and bottom of the lunch box respectively. The Chief not looking at all like Ed Platt is probably the only discrepancy, but that's a trend among collectibles. Vito Scotti's character in "Mr. Big" makes a cameo in the bottom scene.

The top and bottom of the lunch box respectively. The Chief not looking at all like Ed Platt is probably the only discrepancy, but that’s a trend among collectibles. Vito Scotti’s character in “Mr. Big” makes a cameo in the bottom scene.

those varieties being durable and parents being fiscally conservative, some of us found ourselves stuck hauling a box to school years after its novelty wore off. You had better hope by the time you were in sixth grade that you still liked the box you picked out in kindergarten.

Today’s boxes are soft and insulated. Some come with useful compartments to separate the food. While they’re all about function, the aesthetics just are not there.

The Get Smart lunch box was a collectible I had yearned for early on. Made in 1966 by King-Seeley, Nick LoBianco is credited with designing the art on the box. In addition to his work on many a 1960s King-Seeley lunch box, LoBianco also designed the famed Monkees’ guitar logo in 1966. He was also a ghost artist for Charles Schulz’s Peanuts. LoBianco worked on a number of Peanuts books and was the artist that drew Snoopy for the Met Life commercials.

Among the Get Smart collectibles I’ve come across, this item has the best graphics. The front has a cute image of Max, 99 and Fang. The back has a close up of Max in the foreground. In the background he’s trying to rescue a tied up 99 from a bunch of guys that look like Blofeld. A box in good condition will reveal that LoBianco decided to give Don Adams freckles.

The bottom of the box and sides feature scenes from the pilot episode ”Mr. Big,” while the top has Max and the Chief under the Cone of Silence. The only point to split hairs over is that the Chief doesn’t look like the Chief.

The lunch box is partnered with a thermos that was made the same year. It features the art from the back of the box.

Pricing

The sides of the box include the closet scene from Mr. Big and a representation of the opening door sequence.

The sides of the box include the closet scene from Mr. Big and a representation of the opening door sequence.

So, how much is one of these worth? That depends.

Lunch box prices are generally gaged on the condition of the box, how rare it is and — as I’ve noticed — who is authoring the price guides. Here are some examples:

• Warman’s Lunch Boxes Field Guide gives a price of $725 for the box and $95 for the thermos.
• Toys & Prices lists a GS lunch box at $575 and the thermos at $95.
• Meanwhile, in legitimate pricing, www.greatestcollectibles.com has a handy chart on lunch box values, as well as information on grading and rarity. They give a mint GS box with a grade of 10 a price of $320. Mint by the way, means the box must have its original tags. Near mint, which is pristine but missing tags, is worth $255. They also give the Get Smart lunch box a rarity ranking of R5, which means there is a strong market of boxes with 500 to 1,000 them known to be in existence.

While I’m in no means any kind of appraiser, I have spent more than 20 years scoping out collectibles. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

• A near mint Get Smart lunch box will fetch around $200 on Ebay.
• One that’s been knocked around nets around $50.
• The price of a thermos runs the gamut. Depending on condition, they fetch anywhere from $75 to $15.

If you want one, shop around and keep your eyes peeled, but don’t over pay for a lunch box or thermos in poor condition. People will try to sell boxes in poor condition for far more than they are worth. Max and 99’s faces should not be rusted off (yes, I’ve seen this). There also should not be any large markings going across the front or back of the box (yes, I’ve seen this for sale to the tune of $200). No. Just no.

The graphics on the Get Smart thermos. This one has a replacement liner and lid.

The graphics on the Get Smart thermos. This one has a replacement liner and lid.

Original parts
How much a lunch box is worth is also determined by whether it has its original parts.

This is more of an issue with the thermos. Does your thermos rattle? Sorry about that. The glass liners were known to break so replacements were offered – and can still be tracked down. For the Get Smart thermos, the original stopper and cup were red. Replacements are usually a beige color.

In terms of the lunch box itself, the original handle is red. I’ve seen replacements that are white.

Then there is the matter of the thermos wire. In many cases, you won’t even find a box with the thermos wire as it was lost long already. Instead you’ll just see some mysterious empty slots. For some reason, the Get Smart boxes were made two different ways. In some boxes the wire was at the bottom of the box and in others it was on the side.

Get Smart lunch boxes appear to have been made in two ways as the slots for the thermos wire are in different spots.

Get Smart lunch boxes appear to have been made in two ways as the slots for the thermos wire are in different spots.

How to treat a box
Boxes should be treated with kid gloves!

The number one lunch box enemy is water! Do not take Mr. Lunch Box for a swim because he’ll rust!

The number two enemy is a damp environment that promotes rust. Basements, garages and tool sheds are not good places for metal boxes.

The number three enemy is direct sunlight due to the fact that the images on the box will fade. This can be a challenge with where you display it. It’s best to keep the box away from the old bay window’s line of fire not only to prevent fading, but also to keep it from rusting.

If you’re going to attempt to clean it – be careful. It seems everyone has come up with their own advice on how to do that from water and vinegar to car polish. I make no endorsements on those suggestions. I have found that Swiffer dusting cloths can pick up a lot of the dirt without causing any problems.

Fun facts
• Mickey Mouse was the first character to appear on a lunch kit in 1935. This was actually a small tin – not the type of box Baby Boomers and Gen Xers were used to.
• The first metal lunch box as we know it was 1949’s Hopalong Cassidy. Made by Aladdin, this was basically a metal box with a Hopalong Cassidy decal on it.
• The fond days of metal lunch boxes ended in 1987 when King-Seeley cut production on the last metal box, Rambo. Manufacturers had began shifting to plastic boxes starting in 1972.
• Allegedly, the production of metal boxes ended not because a metal Popples box (1986) couldn’t compete with a plastic Rainbow Brite box (1983), but because a group of mothers complained that the metal boxes were hazardous and pressed Florida state legislature for a ban such lunch boxes. The claim was that kids could hurt themselves by bonking each other on the head with the metal boxes. This ruling on metal lunch boxes, however is appearing to be more myth than reality as actual proof of such a law is yet to be found.

The back of the Get Smart lunch box is the same image on the thermos.

The back of the Get Smart lunch box is the same image on the thermos.

Would the real shark please stand up?

Maxwell Smart takes to the pool table in "The Dead Spy Scrawls." Squint and you can see Mr. Spock over his shoulder.

Maxwell Smart takes to the pool table in “The Dead Spy Scrawls.” Squint and you can see Mr. Spock over his shoulder.

Episode 18
The Dead Spy Scrawls (original air date: 1-22-66)
Cast:  Shark – Jack Lambert, Stryker – Leonard Nimoy, Professor Parker – Milton Selzer, Informer – Don Brodie, Willie Marconi – Harry Bartell, Vendor – Roy Engel, Agent 46 – Clive Wayne, woman in bus terminal – Rose Michtom, pool parlor groupie/bus terminal guy – Robert Karvelas, man at pool parlor – Hans Moebus
Director:  Gary Nelson
Writers: Stan Burns and Mike Marmer
Producer:  Jay Sandrich
Filming Location: Paramount Studios, Hollywood

Synopsis: Max and 99 are tasked with finding an “Electronic Brain” Kaos is using to intercept Control’s secret messages. The device is operated by The Shark, expert pool player and proprietor of Mother’s Family Pool Hall.

The one moment we see Leonard Nimoy in the same frame as Don Adams and Barbara Feldon.

The one moment we see Leonard Nimoy in the same frame as Don Adams and Barbara Feldon.

My thoughts:
The Dead Spy Scrawls is a “what’s not to love” episode.

This is the episode where Leonard Nimoy has a part as a Kaos agent. That’s about all you need to know. Well, actually there’s more to it than that. We’ll get to Nimoy in a bit. Something more important must be discussed first.

The crux of this episode is pool — a plot device many a TV show finds itself revolving

Leonard Nimoy as a Kaos assassin? This seems illogical.

Leonard Nimoy as a Kaos assassin? This seems illogical.

around. Given this is Get Smart, we would certainly expect our star character, the all-thumbs Maxwell Smart, to be a disaster at this game — and he is. He destroys pool cues, tears the felt on the pool table and injures his instructor. It’s painful to watch – especially if you’ve ever had to re-felt a pool table.

Here’s the catch, Don Adams was actually an expert pool player. This is evident in Max’s pool game with the Shark. Be sure to look for the trick shot Adams makes at the end before the table opens to reveal the electronic brain. The scene also gives a nice homage to Adams with the “Three Fingers Yarmy” reference. Adams would go on to make a guest appearance on Celebrity Billiards with Minnesota Fats.

Now back to Leonard Nimoy. He makes a not-exactly-pre-Spock appearance as Stryker, an assassin that eliminates his targets with a bullet-firing briefcase. He’s in a handful of scenes in this episode, but other than killing Agent 46, whacking the informer, shooting at Max and being berated by the Shark, that’s about all we get. There’s one scene in the whole episode where we get to see Adams, Feldon and Nimoy in the same frame. While Star Trek wouldn’t air until the fall of 1966, Nimoy had already donned his Vulcan ears for The Cage — the first Star Trek pilot which was filmed in late 1964 and early 1965.

Agent 46's dying declaration.

Agent 46’s dying declaration.

The episode opens with Max and 99 seeking out Agent 46 in a bus station – they need to provide him with $2,000. He initially communicates via the silent signal system. Max confuses the signals for ones in the spy baseball handbook. By the time they determine that 46 is signaling a blue alert (extreme emergency condition) he ends up shot by Stryker. He then leaves his dying declaration scrawled in wet cement.

Stryker returns to the Shark’s Kaos front – Mother’s Family Pool Hall. Its marketing phrase is “The family that plays together, stays together.” After being chastised for interrupting the Shark’s game, Stryker proceeds to report that he eliminated 46 and plans to do the same to 86. The two then intercept a message from Control using Kaos’ electronic brain. The device is neatly tucked inside the Shark’s pool table and can only be opened when the proper sequence of balls land in the correct pockets.

Back at Control, Parker explains 46’s markings in cement are code from The Dead Spy Scrawls, a message system used by dying Control agents. The scrawl in question translates to PI for “Paid Informer” as well as a Washington, D.C. phone number, which Max traces back to to the informer 46 was supposed to meet. The Informer agrees to sell his information to the tune of $2,000.

Max, who is being tailed by Stryker, treks back to the bus station where he confuses a vendor for his contact and ends up with a $500 pack of gum. The informer then makes his presence known – only to be shot by Stryker. Max is at least able to get three words from the informer before he dies: Shark, pool, mother. The Chief connects the dots that the Shark is their man.

Max manages to convince the Chief to let him infiltrate the pool parlor. The Chief reluctantly agrees, but lines up pool lessons with pool expert Willie Marconi. This does not turn out well — especially for Marconi. As for Max’s buffoonery, well, at least that’s on point.

All hope for the mission, however, is not lost. Just before the Chief can pinch the bridge

The Dead Spy Scrawls - decoded.

The Dead Spy Scrawls – decoded.

of his nose in frustration, Parker and 99 arrive to save the day. Max is outfitted with a Pool Cue Gun and a Remote Control Cue Ball. 99 gets to operate a Lipstick Remote that controls the cue ball.

The episode buttons up exactly how we’d expect. Decked out in a flashy jacket Max, with 99 posing as his girlfriend, show up at the pool hall and challenges the Shark to a game — little do they know Kaos is about to intercept a Control message so the Shark has to be goaded into playing. The scene shows some absurd shots as well as a few legitimate ones. The Shark is none too happy that Max’s trick shot (or should I say Don’s) opens the up the electronic brain. A fight ensues. Stryker ends up shot and the Shark gets a knot on his head.

By the way, Max would still like that $13,000 he’s owed from the pool game.

Watch for:
• Aunt Rose appears in the bus terminal.
• Robert Karvelas is noticeable as one of the Shark’s pool groupies. He also shows up in the bus terminal, but you may have do a double take and squint to catch him.

The Shark accesses the Electronic Brain. Kaos went to a lot of effort to hack Control.

The Shark accesses the Electronic Brain. Kaos went to a lot of effort to hack Control.

Footnotes:
• The episode’s title refers to the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of manuscripts discovered in 1946-47, 1956 and 2017 in the Qumran Caves near the Dead Sea.

• Three Fingers Yarmy, who Max mentions, is a nod to Don Adams’ real last name. Yarmy is also mentioned in the third season episode “Don’t Look Back” and, if you count it as Smart-lore, the name is one of the Easter eggs in the 2008 feature film.

• The character Willie Marconi is a nod to professional pool player Willie Mosconi, who, between 1941 and 1957, won the World Straight Pool Championship 15 times.

• Jack Lambert appeared in a load of westerns, usually playing a tough guy – most notably as compulsive killer Steve “The Claw” Michel in the film Dick Tracy’s Dilemma. He appeared in multiple episodes of Gunsmoke, Daniel Boone and Wagon Train

• Leonard Nimoy is best known as Star Trek’s Mr. Spock and as Paris in Mission: Impossible. Post Star Trek TOS, Nimoy hosted In Search Of. He would later go on to host other similar shows – Ancient Mysteries and History’s Mysteries. He had a reoccurring role as Dr. William Bell in the TV series Fringe. Nimoy has quite the TV résumé pre-Star Trek, having appeared in Dragnet, Sea Hunt, Wagon Train, The Virginian and Gunsmoke. He also appeared in a 1964 episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., “The Project Strigas Affair” with future Star Trek co-star William Shatner.

• Don Brodie also appeared in the first season episode “The Day Smart Turned

Be careful not to confuse the Silent Signal System for the hand gestures in the Control Baseball Handbook.

Be careful not to confuse the Silent Signal System for the hand gestures in the Control Baseball Handbook.

Chicken.” His character rented Max that creepy chicken suit. He began appearing in movies starting in the 1930s and his TV series appearances ranged from the 1950s to the 1980s.

• In addition to a career as a character actor, Harry Bartell was also a radio announcer. He made TV appearances in Gunsmoke, The Wild Wild West, Dragnet and The Partners. He also appeared in the second season episode “Cutback at Control” as Dietrich.

• Roy Engel had a reoccurring role in The Wild Wild West as President Ulysses S. Grant. He appeared in numerous TV shows including Maverick, Have Gun – Will Travel, My Favorite Martian, The Andy Griffith Show, Lassie, Bonanza and Mission: Impossible.

• Both Get Smart appearances by Hans Moebus, as with a lot of the parts he had, are uncredited. In “The Dead Spy Scrawls” he’s seen in Mother’s Family Pool Hall. He also appears in “Back to the Old Drawing Board.” He can also be seen in Bonanza Gunsmoke, Ironside, Bewitched, Mission: Impossible and Batman. He is known for Psycho, Gone with the Wind and North by Northwest.

Glick meter: We get an “And Loving it” as well as a “Would You Believe” which references Steubenville, Ohio. Poor Max is kind of a disaster in this episode.

Oh Max meter: There really isn’t any flirting going on between 99 and 86. Sorry about that.

Control Agents: Agent 46, Professor Parker

Kaos Agents: Shark, Stryker

Gadgets: Remote Control Cue Ball, Lipstick Remote, Pool Cue Gun, Micro Camera, gun briefcase, Electronic Brain (hidden in a pool table).

Episode Locations: Mother’s Family Pool Hall, bus terminal.

The old trick shot in the 60s TV sitcom trick.

The old trick shot in the 60s TV sitcom trick.

Would you believe: Bill Dana’s contribution to Get Smart

Bill Dana as José Jiménez.

Bill Dana as José Jiménez.

Sometimes a mere word – or a few – can create something big. Thus was the case with a joke formula written by comedian and noted screenwriter Bill Dana in the early 1960s.

Dana passed away on June 15 at the age of 92.

Born William Szathmary on Oct. 5, 1924, Dana was best recognized as the thick-accented immigrant character José Jiménez. Dana also had a hand in Get Smart’s success -and in influencing the popular vernacular of the late 1960s. However, his efforts came long before Get Smart or even his own show, The Bill Dana Show, were conceived.

In the early 1950s, Dana had started out as an NBC page and performed in New York nightclubs with partner Gene Wood. After the Wood/Dana partnership ran its course, Dana set his focus on writing material.

Around this time the talent agency representing Dana, NRB Associates, expressed interest in stand-up comedian Don Adams, who had just made an appearance on the Garry Moore Show. They directed Adams to work with Dana, who would write material for him.

Adams was sent to a swank 20th floor duplex apartment on Central Park West. There he found Dana, who was decked out in a smoking jacket. Adams would learn, after Dana’s unemployment check dropped on the floor during the course of the meeting, the posh digs didn’t belong to his new partner. The smoking jacket wasn’t Dana’s either. Dana had been house sitting for Imogene Coca, who was known as Sid Caesar’s partner on Your Show of Shows.

The two would eventually expand on Adams’ depiction of a detective with an exaggerated

The cast of The Bill Dana Show, including Don Adams, Maggie Peterson, Jonathan Harris and Bill Dana.

The cast of The Bill Dana Show, including Don Adams, Maggie Peterson, Jonathan Harris and Bill Dana.

William Powell voice. “The Voice” found its way into other routines – notably as a defense attorney and a football coach.

Adams had some hesitation about using the nails-on-chalkboard voice but Dana encouraged it.

“That character, when you said the words, they just pierced right through you. It was a comedy writer’s dream,” said Dana in a 2001 documentary, Inside TVLand: Get Smart.

“Bill Dana said to me, you know, that voice is funny,” said Adams. “I said, I hate that voice. Bill Dana said, no, no, no, it’s funny. Use it.”

Dana would later defend use of The Voice when producer Sheldon Leonard wanted to “release” Don Adams from The Bill Dana Show.

Their other enduring collaboration, scrawled on a piece of yellow legal paper, was one Dana would later lacquer and frame: The Would You Believe gag.

The routine was a take off on the British in India themed movies of the 1930s, including The Lives of a Bengal Lancer  and Gunga Din, In it, Lieutenant Faversham confronts villain Mohammed Sidney Kahn:

Faversham: Not so fast, smarty Kahn. You think you’ve got me, but I have you surrounded by the entire mounted Seventeenth Bengal Lancers.
Kahn: I don’t believe that.
Faversham: Would you believe the First Bengal Lancers?
Kahn: No.
Faversham: How about Gunga Din on a donkey?

The Voice originally wasn’t used in this gag. Instead, Adams used his Cary Grant impersonation for Faversham’s lines.

Dana and Adams, circa 2001 with the original Would You Believe gag.

Dana and Adams, circa 2001 with the original Would You Believe gag.

The routine replayed itself in other acts, other shows and would find a place on The Bill Dana Show. Get Smart had a solid collection of these over the years. The joke was so strong that it became one of the elements most commonly associated with Get Smart, in addition to the Shoephone, the opening door sequence and Maxwell Smart’s voice. It’s assumed it was always there – even though it wasn’t used in every episode.

Moving forward, Dana took up the reins as a writer on The Steve Allen Show and created his own character for Allen’s Man in the Street segments – José Jiménez. These segments included a pantheon of other comedians: Don Knots, Pat Harrington Jr., Tom Poston and Louis Nye.

Dana’s Jiménez would eventually make the variety show rounds (including a take on the Ed Sullivan Show) and net a few comedy albums.

The character became a hit and in 1961 Dana made several guest appearances on the The Danny Thomas Show with José serving as an elevator operator. Riding the tide of popularity, NBC gave Dana his own show which ran from 1963 to 1965.

José Jiménez and Byron Glick ponder their fate in "Blood for Two Turnips."

José Jiménez and Byron Glick ponder their fate in “Blood for Two Turnips.”

In The Bill Dana Show, José was employed as a bellhop at the swank Park Central Hotel. Much to the annoyance of hotel manger Mr. Phillips (played by Jonathan Harris), José would either find himself in some predicament or engage in a daydream sequence ala shades of Walter Mitty.

Gary Crosby played fellow bellhop Eddie for the first season. Joining the cast later in the series were Don Adams as house detective Byron Glick and Maggie Peterson as Susie the waitress.

The Jiménez/Glick episodes produced some of the funniest bits in the series. However, that was infrequent. Adams appeared in only 15 of the show’s 42 episodes.

Nevertheless, it was the Glick character that would survive. After The Bill Dana Show was canceled, Adams, still under contract with NBC, found a future with Get Smart.
Dana actually appeared in two episodes of Get Smart.

His first stint was a cameo in the third season episode “Super Sonic Boom.” In that episode, Max and 99 are gaslighted in to believing they’ve been smuggled into Argentina. Once they escape Kaos by crawling out of a sewer, Max approaches a man on the street played by Dana and addresses him in Spanish. Dana responds by saying he doesn’t speak Spanish.

Dana’s second appearance, which he was paid SAG minimum for, was in the fifth season episode “Ice Station Siegfried.”

In this episode he fills in for Don Adams, portraying CIA Agent Quigley. In DVD commentary, Dana remarked that the character was José Jiménez without the accent -and longer sideburns.

“Don and I were like brothers. It was just one of those situations where he was under the weather… a lot of personal stuff going on at the same time. He wasn’t feeling well,” said Dana.

Dana was also one of the writers of the The Nude Bomb (1980), which he had a role in as fashion designer Jonathan Levinson Seigle.

As for José Jiménez, his last TV appearance was in a 1966 episode of Batman. The character was laid to rest in 1970 with Dana actually holding a mock funeral for José on Sunset Boulevard. This character really wouldn’t fly today.

This is only snippet of what can be noted about Bill Dana. It’s also worth pointing out that his brother Irving Szathmary composed the Get Smart theme. Dana’s other brother Al Szathmary served as Don Adams’ stand-in on Get Smart.

Bill Dana with Barbara Feldon in Ice Station Siegfried.

Bill Dana with Barbara Feldon in Ice Station Siegfried.

Kisses for Kaos: The old jealous spy trick

On the job: 99 has a date night with a Kaos agent. Max offers his assistance - and disapproval.

On the job: 99 has a date night with a Kaos agent. Max offers his assistance – and disapproval.

Episode 17
Kisses for KAOS (original air date: 1-15-66)
Cast:  Savage — Michael Dante, Mondo — John Abbot, Parker — Milton Selzer, Policeman —  Ray Kellogg, Gallery Patron —  Rose Michtom
Director:  Gary Nelson
Writers:  Stan Burns and Mike Marmer
Producer:  Jay Sandrich
Filming Location: Paramount Studios, Hollywood

Synopsis:
99 masquerades as a socialite and Max as her chauffeur in order to stop creepy Kaos art dealer/chemist Rex Savage from hanging his exploding paintings in the Pentagon.

This Kaos agent's gloves? They won't be coming off.

This Kaos agent’s gloves? They won’t be coming off.

My Thoughts:
The episode opens with Max posing as a gardener and 99 as a nurse watching a fake

Exploding consulates? That may require extra paperwork.

Exploding consulates? That may require extra paperwork.

baby. Max busies himself recording the activities of a foreign consulate when said consulate blows up. He manages to turn up one piece of evidence from the scene of the explosion – a portion of a painting from a gallery owned by Rex Savage. The Chief reveals that pieces of paintings from Savage’s gallery have been found at previous explosions – an embassy and a police station.

The problem is, Savage is a ghost to Control’s records – no photo or finger prints. 99, using the alias Melissa Westbrook, is tasked with posing as a wealthy society girl in order to make contact with Savage. Max tags along as her chauffeur.

In the meantime, Savage, a chemist, and his artist partner Mondo have been mulling their plan to add an exploding painting to the Pentagon.

99 manages to charm Savage during her visit to the gallery, but the gadgets she and Max are outfitted with fail. She’s supposed to gather his fingerprints with a special pencil – but Savage always wears gloves. She then decides to met with Savage alone in the local lover’s lane in hopes he will eventually take his gloves off. Max, whose jealousy is prominently on display in this episode, wholeheartedly disapproves.

The night out, however, proves unsuccessful. While cuddling, 99 complains about Savage’s gloves – his response is to put a softer glove over the other glove. Max, in the meantime gets thrown in the clink for violating 387B of the penal code – sitting in a chauffeur’s uniform next to a rubber dummy. The rubber dummy lobby, by the way, has been trying to get this law repealed.

Cop: What kind of weirdo are you?
Max: I don’t know, just a plain, normal everyday weirdo.

Forget the fax machine - Control sends memos by hurling a rock through a window.

Forget the fax machine – Control sends memos by hurling a rock through a window.

99, however, manages to score an intimate supper with Savage after finding out that he only takes his gloves off when eating or bathing. Carlson supplies Max and 99 with a few devices for the dinner: The Soup Bowl Camera, Bread Roll Print and Fruit Recorder.

With the exception of Max’s jealousy (and his use of a gong) dinner and the devices work out smoothly – until Mondo barges in the apartment and reveals to Savage that he’s been courting a Control agent.

Max and 99 are hauled off to Savage’s gallery where 99 is instructed to paint a shirtless Max (yes, shirtless) to death with exploding paint. 99, however, stops Savage and Mondo in their tracks by dumping a can of explosive paint on the floor. Of course, this also stops Max and 99 from escaping.

The episode closes with Max having repainted his apartment – only he used Savage’s paint. Well, at least he covered the furniture.

The episode is a veritable gadget toy box. Here’s a run down of some of the gadgets and other fun items:

• Inter office top secret relay – forget those pneumatic tubes of the good old days, those

Outgoing rocks from Control's Inter office top secret relay. Did one come crashing through your picture window? No worries - just plunk it in a mailbox. Control's address is on it.

Outgoing rocks from Control’s Inter office top secret relay. Did one come crashing through your picture window? No worries – just plunk it in a mailbox. Control’s address is on it.

office instant messaging systems of the last decade or two or even texting – Control sends inter office memos via a rock through the window. If you find one, don’t worry – just return it by plunking it in any mailbox. Control’s address is printed on the rock.
• Pencil Painter – A pencil scientifically treated to obtain a suspect’s finger prints – as long as that person isn’t a smooth talking man that likes wearing gloves.
• Chauffeur’s Cap Camera – Best used for still photography.
• Steering Wheel Phone – Installed in Max’s car and in need of adjustments – every time a driver turns the corner, the phone dials the operator.
• Soup Bowl Camera – A camera in the bowl takes selfies while the person eats. The flash is absorbed by the soup.
• Bread Roll Print – The rolls gather fingerprints.
• Fruit Recorder – This bowl of fruit records conversations – just don’t eat the banana.
• Inflato Girl – It’s exactly what it says it is. How they got away with it in this episode is beyond me.
• Even Kaos has its own ammunition: A painting of a camera that is actually a camera and Savage’s collection of paints that go boom.

For those that have the TimeLife DVDs, there is an audio commentary by Barbara Feldon for this episode. She talks at length about being taller than Don Adams as discusses a conflict that occurred early on with the show’s advertiser.

This episode is fine, though for some reason it never particularly wowed me. However, watching this one via the DVDs provides the opportunity to pick up on minute details that would be overlooked otherwise – specifically the facial expressions coming from Don Adams and Barbara Feldon.

There are some things you can't explain. The Inflato Girl is one of them.

There are some things you can’t explain. The Inflato Girl is one of them.

Watch for:
Aunt Rose makes an appearance.

Footnotes:
• A former pro-baseball player, Michael Dante appeared in numerous TV westerns including Cheyenne, Maverick, Bonanza and Death Valley Days. He appeared as Maab in the Star Trek episode “Friday’s Child.”

• John Abbott’s career in TV and film spanned all the way back to the 30s, with his most notable roles being in The Jungle Book and Gigi. He had an uncredited role as Mason in Jane Eyre, staring Orson Wells and Joan Fontaine. He also appeared in The Partners and Star Trek.

• Ray Kellogg appeared in a number of TV series including Perry Mason, The Real McCoys and The Dick Van Dyke Show. He was usually seen playing a bartender or a law enforcement official.

Glick meter: Max gives us a Would You Believe for our troubles in this one: 25 Control agents quickly turns into a vicious street cleaner and a toothless police dog.

Oh Max meter: When 99 suggests setting up a date to get Savage’s photo and finger prints, she’s noticeably surprised (and delighted) to detect Max’s jealousy.

99: If I could just get him alone
Max (offended): What do you mean alone? …I don’t think you should be alone with him.
99 (smiling): Max, you sound like you’re jealous.
Max: Jealous. Now that’s ridiculous 99. It’s just that, that man might turn out to be a dangerous kisser -er killer.

Control Agents: Professor Parker returns.

Kaos Agents: Savage and Mondo.

Gadgets: Secret Message Leaves, Pencil Painter, Cap Camera, Camera Painting, Steering Wheel Phone, Soup Bowl Camera, Bread Roll Print, Fruit Recorder, Explosive Paint, Vibration Explosive Paint and Nitro-Floor Paint. It’s up to you whether you consider the Inflato-Girl a gadget. *eye roll*

Episode Locations: Max’s apartment and Rex Savage’s Art Gallery. I could include that consulate, although that’s not much of a location anymore.

When you repurpose paint from a Kaos agent, make sure it's not the exploding kind before you paint your apartment.

When you repurpose paint from a Kaos agent, make sure it’s not the exploding kind before you paint your apartment.

Color me bad: The Get Smart coloring books

Three of the four Get Smart coloring books from 1965 and 1966.

Three of the four Get Smart coloring books from 1965 and 1966.

Coloring is all the rage at the moment – adult coloring that is. In that vein, and since I’m a bit swamped with all kinds of work and chores, the time is due for an entry on the Get Smart coloring books.

A colored in Agent 99 in her chauffeur's outfit from the pilot episode.

A colored in Agent 99 in her chauffeur’s outfit from the pilot episode.

Now referring to these collectibles in the plural, while technically accurate, isn’t exactly correct. Produced by Saalfield Artcraft, there were four Get Smart coloring books with publishing dates of 1965 and 1966. They each had different covers, but the guts on the inside were the same.

There was the yellow one — and the red one that looked like the yellow one except it was die cut along the top corner. There was also the blue one that didn’t look like either of the first two, but there was another red one that looked like the blue one.

Are you confused? Good. The first yellow/red cover design is Max and Fang with the dog’s leash wrapped around him. The second blue/red cover design is a photo of Max and Fang tied to chairs.

Through some resourceful ebaying, I finally managed to score three of them. All have been colored in and that is typical when finding one of these.

The art was drawn by comic book artist Sam Burlockoff. Born in 1924, his comic book work spanned the 1940s into the 1950s, primarily as an inker. In addition to illustrating other Saalfield coloring books, he also did illustration work for encyclopedias. Among the syndicated comics he worked on in the 1960s were Flash Gordon and The Saint. Burlockoff passed away in 2007.

In terms of continuity, Max is drawn to look like Don Adams – a few of the pages are take-offs on Get Smart publicity photos. Agent 99 looks cute, yet she does not quite look like Barbara Feldon. The Chief is given a full head of hair and a mustache. He looks more like Chief Quimby from Inspector Gadget rather than Ed Platt.

As for Saalfield Artcraft, its parent, the Akron, Ohio-based Saalfield Publishing Company, was once one of the largest publishers children’s materials in the world. It began publishing children’s books in 1899. Under Saalfield Artcraft, it produced the likes of coloring books, paper dolls and puzzles. The company went defunct in 1976, however, Kent State purchased the company’s library and archives in 1977.

A peekaboo into the coloring books. We've got 99 doing a new hair color, a sweet fluorescent hot air balloon and Max and 99 chasing after some sort of flying saucer.

A peekaboo into the coloring books. We’ve got 99 doing a new hair color, a sweet fluorescent hot air balloon and Max and 99 chasing after some sort of flying saucer.

As I mentioned before, if you get your hands on one of these – or any vintage coloring book for that matter – don’t expect them to be mint. I’m a bit of a research nerd, so I actually find that aspect interesting. The colored pages are a like a time capsule of a kid’s day back in the 60s. Which pages did they color? What colors did they pick? Did they stay in the lines?

I noticed some patterns. The first couple pages were usually always colored – then the coloring would peter off with the exception of a few random pages in the middle and at the end. Not that I can blame those choices – the best illustrations, in my opinion, were on the first couple pages. In two of the coloring books I found that the previous owners had colored in the pages displaying the “Captured Kaos Weapons.” Hmmm….

Two different approaches to the Kaos weapons. One young artist went with realism while the other gave the guns a more colorful look.

Two different approaches to the Kaos weapons. One young artist went with realism while the other gave the guns a more colorful look.

The coloring habit has recently proved to not just be a past time for little ones. If you walk into a store — and, at this point, one of any kind — you will likely find a shelf of adult coloring books. Inside will be pages of intricate patterns and repetitive detail ranging from paisleys and flowers to mandalas and animals.

I own several and they are a fun and relaxing way to spend time. I also have a bit of a compulsive art habit and spend all kinds of spare time drawing my own illustrations. Periodically I post my art on Instagram – feel free to take peeky-boo there (@ahaverstick86). For fun, I did my own take on a couple of the Get Smart coloring pages by adding some… enhancements.

Well, the kids got to color, so I wanted a turn too.

Well, the kids got to color, so I wanted a turn too.

 

Anatomy of a fansite

Would you believe I still need to load all this stuff?

You’ve probably visited one while surfing the web for some topic that peeked your interest and while you might have found the answer you were looking for, you may wonder what kind of person is on the other end of that information.
I’m referring to fansites and their owners.
I have been busy with extensive site maintenance since early spring – hence why writing about episodes have been pushed to the back burner. While in the midst of website housekeeping, I figured I should talk a little about what goes into maintaining this site. For those just stumbling into this blog, it’s attached to a larger site, www.ilovegetsmart.com
The site is coming upon its 17th birthday. The internet was a different world when this was built – a slower, smaller world. The site still reflects that era – well just a little.
The fansite of 20 years ago was probably one that had visually distracting wallpaper in the background — coupled with a few annoying midi files that played when a page was opened. Maybe there were frames. Maybe there were image maps and roll over text. Sure, it was gaudy but, hey, everyone has their guilty pleasures.

Media - old school. A stack of VHS taps and a few boxes of floppy disks are probably the foundation of any longtime website.

Believe it or not, there were actually a bevy of Get Smart sites back in the late 90s. They focused on aspects of the show ranging from fan fic to photographs. A handful of these sits shot up in the early 2000s during TV Land’s run of Get Smart.
However, over the years a good number of those sites vanished. Many of them went by the wayside with the demise of Geocities, which closed down in 2009. Others likely remained inactive long enough that their service provider pulled the plug. Still, there are a few of us that, despite changing media trends, life, universe and everything, are still hanging around.
In the summer of 1999 I taught myself HTML and started my site over on Geocities, focusing on three different topics: Swing music, The Beatles and what would eventually over take the whole thing — Get Smart. At the time I was — and still am — part of an email-based fan group dedicated to the show. Some of the topics we discussed there and during our weekly chat made their way to my website — like that noted painting of Agent 99 we see in two episodes.
My angle has been to take those sort of topics — like Max’s cars and all of Control’s female agents — and craft fun content.
I have some photos here and there — enough to illustrate things, but this site was not photo heavy for a few reasons. When the site started years ago, there were a couple sites focused entirely photos but I didn’t want mine to look like a copy of those — I wanted maybe more unique things. Technology back then was different. There was very little space to work with and adding and acquiring photos was a process.
Since technology has improved, there is more room for that kind of media, but I still see keeping photos to what they are — except for when there is a new blog post – then I’ll add a few relating to that topic.
Over the years other sites have lifted photos from my site without asking or even referencing the site. Lately I’ve been seeing people building social media sites with images that they’ve grabbed from Google – images that I know belong to other sites. I used to have a page featuring original artwork, but because of this growing trend, I deleted it.

Required reading: Webmasters wanting to create a site with substance had to be ready to do their homework.

If you’ve found a fansite on your favorite show that’s still hanging around, keep in mind it’s a labor of love for that webmaster. There’s no monetary gain from this hobby, and in all likelihood the webmaster is probably operating on a deficit. So, while other girls are into getting blinged out nails at the salon and having fab lunch dates at the local bistro, I’m the weirdo scouring ebay for a new collectible. To each their own.
Now, my world doesn’t entirely revolve around this — as hard as that might be to believe 😉 I have a job and a family to tend to, so opportunities to work on this website can be sporadic. Thankfully my husband humors my nerdity.
Now for a fun fact!
What’s turned out to be the most popular part of my site? Interestingly, the most referenced and visited section is about a gun Max is pictured with — the AR-7. I’ve found that page linked to various message boards over the years and people still come back here to read about that topic.

The guts of a fansite or, in this case, scrapbooking for geeks.

Would you believe… it’s something new?

Don Adams, Barbara Feldon and “Red” in a scene from “I’m Only Human.”

A little more than 15 years ago I started a Get Smart website, The Unclassified Get Smart Site. Its initial home was over on the now defunct Geocities. I eventually moved the site under a domain name, www.ilovegetsmart.com

Beyond being an online Get Smart shrine, it became a library of sorts for various news articles on the show, which I had collected over the years. Other fans have also contributed to that part of the site with their own collection of GS articles.

In addition, I also added a section on all the goofy nit-picky things we would debate on the GS list serve and during our old Friday night chat sessions.

I had not gotten to the point of doing anything with episodes specifically, so that is going to be the primary focus of this blog. My personal challenge is to go through each episode and then write some sort of yarn about it here.

Other notions for this blog include a few words about some of the Get Smart collectibles out there.

This blog is going to be focused on the original series. The section on my website regarding the 2008 movie is about all the time I’m going to spend on that.

One thing of note: I’m going to go through the episodes in the order that they appear on the DVDs. The episodes on the DVDs are in order by their original air date. The show wasn’t always aired that way in syndication. For example, Diplomat’s Daughter was the second episode to air, but for those that grew up watching GS on Nick at Night or TVLand, the second episode is Our Man in Toyland.

Syndication of the series had another issue – some episodes were not shown as often as others. This matter was addressed over in The Smartian Controversies, but it largely boils down to contract. Syndicated episodes have various scenes cut out of them – which is a whole other thing depending on which network you watched your reruns on. Nick at Nite aired GS in the early ’90s and pulled it in early 1995. TVLand began airing GS in 2001. Each channel had different edits of the show and at the time caused a bit of fan confusion.

And I suppose you’re wondering where you can ‘get’ Smart? See what I did there 😉 The DVDs are easily available via the internet and are available in two versions – the Time-Life box set and the HBO release. The Time-Life version has all kinds and varieties of extras. Choose wisely.

Get Smart is being shown around the world and in the U.S. The show airs on MeTV out of Chicago. Most pay TV providers offer it. Even better, you can also get the channel over the air. Thanks to my handy dandy TV antenna, I watch an hour of the show on South Bend, Indiana Channel 57.2 during MeTV’s Sunday night Spy Block.

MeTV airs the show on Sunday at 1 and 1:30 a.m. and 11 and 11:30 p.m. CDT. If you think that’s a little too late, I will point out that there was a six year period where GS wasn’t shown at all in the U.S., so I’ll take what I can get.

Would you believe I have fond memories of staying up ‘til the crack of 2 a.m. to watch it on Nick at Nite?

This Sunbeam and cardboard Max belong to Get Smart fan Sue Kesler. She let myself (pictured) and other fans sit in her ultimate GS collectible during the Get Smart in the Park portion of the Get Smart Gathering in Beverly Hills in 2003.