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Spy Wear

Eva Pasco - 60s Retro Flashback - Spyware

The palpable mushroom cloud of the Cold War (1947 – 1991) constituted a perpetual state of political conflict and military tension between the hammered and sickled Communist nations led by the Soviet Union, and the democratic nations led by the starred and striped  United States.   Although no bloody ideological battles ensued, a proxy war was fought via military coalitions and clashes, propaganda, diplomatic haggling, economic embargos, nuclear arms race, space race,—and above all—espionage.   


Espionage of the Cold War era mushroomed into the “spy crazed” period of mid Sixties television. Shows were clouded with elements of James Bond: the protagonist works for a government agency involved in clandestine activities; villains are portrayed as foreign, eccentric, and menacing individuals intent on taking over the world or destroying it.  Other characteristic hallmark “bonds” of episodic espionage included: fast paced plots, exotic travel, tongue-in-cheek humor, sexual innuendos, attractive women, roguishly handsome men, stylish spy wear, cool gadgetry, escapism, and even spoofing. 


1961 – 1969: The Avengers – British espionage programming at its finest, dapper John Steed (Patrick Macnee) co-starred with the most memorable of Mrs. Emma Peels (Diana Rigg, 1965-67).  Beautiful, cool, and more than capable of defending herself, Mrs. Peel was one empowered appealing female. She drove a convertible Lotus Elan at high speeds and bantered with Steed! 


1964 – 1968: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. featured two agents and their battles against THRUSH. Suited and suave Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and his turtle-necked, reserved partner Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) entertained us with their wit, charm, ingenuity, gadgetry, hipness, and tongue-in-cheek humor.  


1965: I Spy –Kelly Robinson (Robert Culp) and his partner Alexander “Scotty” Scott (Bill Cosby) were two dry-humored, Cold War buddies whose spying took them to exotic lands. 


Get Smart – Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) played a bumbling American spy who worked for CONTROL. His female partner, Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon), frequently bailed him out of dangerous situations in their espionage battles against KAOS. Humorous gadgetry gained a foothold with Max’s shoe phone. 


1966 – 1973: Mission Impossible – Espionage centered on an elite covert spy ring whose nearly impossible missions would be denied if failed.  Each episode began with an agent receiving self-destructing, tape recorded instructions about the next mission. James Phelps (Peter Graves), Rollin Hand (Martin Landau), and Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain) were on a mission. 


Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I joined the spy craze ring of the Sixties during my adolescence. Composing my own spy thrillers on a girly pink Tom Thumb typewriter, INTRIGUE became my espionage headquarters for sending agents on assignments all over the world. Gadgets conjured by a fourteen year old’s vivid imagination included but were certainly not limited to: carnation camera; tint-o-shine—an eye drop solution which could trigger motion on still photos; earring radio where the volume could be adjusted by twirling the post. I wish I’d saved these relics of the Cold War era for posterity instead of self-destructing my mission impossibles.


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