"I've managed to
stretch my 15 minutes of fame into
more than half a century of
1966, Vaughn appeared as a bachelor on the nighttime premiere of The
Dating Game. He was picked for the date, which was a trip to London.
In the mid 1990s, he made
several cameo appearances on Late Night With Conan O'Brien as an
audience member who berates the host and his guests beginning with, "You
people sicken me..."
Robert Francis Vaughn (born November 22nd,
1932) is an American actor noted for his stage, film and television
work. His best-known TV roles include the suave spy Napoleon Solo in
the 1960s series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and the wealthy detective
Harry Rule in the 1970s series The Protectors. In film, he portrayed
one of the title characters in The Magnificent Seven and Major Paul
Krueger in The Bridge at Remagen, and provided the voice of Proteus
IV, the computer villain of Demon Seed.
As grifter and card sharp Albert Stroller,
Vaughn appeared in all but one of the 48 episodes of the British
television drama series Hustle (above 2004-2012). From January to
February 2012, he appeared in the long-running British soap opera
Coronation Street as Milton Fanshaw, a love interest for Sylvia
Goodwin, played by veteran English actress Stephanie Cole.
Vaughn was born in New York City, to
performer parents: Marcella Frances Gaudel, a stage actress, and
Gerald Walter Vaughn, a radio actor. His ancestry includes Irish,
French, and German. After his parents divorced, Vaughn lived in
Minneapolis with his grandparents while his mother traveled. He
attended North High School and later enrolled in the University of
Minnesota as a journalism major. He quit after a year and moved to
Los Angeles with his mother and enrolled in Los Angeles City College,
then transferred to Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and
Sciences, where he earned a Master's degree in theater. Continuing
his higher education even through his successful acting career,
Vaughn earned a Ph.D. in communications from the University of
Southern California, in 1970. In 1972, he published his dissertation
as the book Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting.
Vaughn made his television debut on the
November 21st, 1955 "Black Friday" episode of the American
TV series Medic, the first of more than two hundred episodic roles by
the middle of 2000.
appeared as Stan Gray with Virginia Christine as his older sister,
Hester, in the surprise-ending episode "The Twisted Road"
of the western syndicated series, Frontier Doctor, starring Rex Allen
in the title role as Dr. Bill Baxter.
His first film appearance was as an
uncredited extra in The Ten Commandments (1956), playing a golden
calf idolater also visible in a scene in a chariot behind that of Yul
Brynner. Vaughn's first credited movie role came the following year
in the Western Hell's Crossroads (right 1957), in which he played the
real-life Bob Ford, the killer of outlaw Jesse James. After being
seen by Burt Lancaster in Calder Willingham's play End as a Man,
Vaughn was signed to a contract with Lancaster's film company and was
to have played the Steve Dallas role in Sweet Smell of Success but
was drafted into the United States Army before he could begin the film.
Vaughn's first notable appearance was in
The Young Philadelphians (above 1959) for which he was nominated for
an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe Award
for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. Next, he appeared as
gunman Lee in The Magnificent Seven (below 1960), a role he
essentially reprised 20 years later in Battle Beyond the Stars
(1980), both films being adaptations of filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's
1954 Japanese samurai epic, Seven Samurai. Vaughn is the last
surviving member of the seven actors who portrayed The Magnificent
Seven. He played a different role, Judge Oren Travis, on the
1998-2000 syndicated TV series The Magnificent Seven.
In the 1963-1964 season, Vaughn appeared
in The Lieutenant (below) as Captain Raymond Rambridge alongside Gary
Lockwood, the Marine second lieutenant at Camp Pendleton. The series
was created and produced by Gene Roddenberry who would go on to
create Star Trek. His dissatisfaction with the somewhat diminished
aspect of the character led him to request an expanded role. During
the conference, his name came up in a telephone call and he ended up
being offered a series of his own as Napoleon Solo, title character
in a series originally to be called Solo, but which became The Man
from U.N.C.L.E. after the pilot was reshot with Leo G. Carroll in the
role of Solo's boss.
Napoleon Solo was the part that would make
Vaughn a household name even behind the Iron Curtain. Earlier, Vaughn
had guest-starred on Lockwood's ABC series Follow the Sun. Also in
1963 he appeared in an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show as Jim
Darling, a successful businessman and an old flame of Laura Petrie in
"It's A Shame She Married Me" (below top). Vaughn would
team up again with Van Dyke on an episode of Diagnosis Murder in one
of the crossover episodes the liked to do. Sometimes they would do a
show where all the guest stars were actors who had previously starred
in other popular shows. And sometimes they would actually have
crossovers with actors playing the characters they made popular on
those shows. In the episode "Discards" (below bottom) they
did both. In the episode Jesse (Charlie Schlatter) learns his dad is
a spy who someone is trying to kill and it turns out there are a lot
of guest star suspects played by actors best known for having played
spies on other TV shows. I Spy's Robert Culp, The Avenger's Patrick
Macnee and Vaughn from The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'s. While these guest
stars are playing new characters, Barbara Bain, who had starred in
the original Mission: Impossible reprises her role of Cinnamon Carter.
From 1964 to 1968, Vaughn played Solo with
Scottish co-star David McCallum playing his fellow agent Illya
Kuryakin. This production spawned a spinoff show, large amounts of
merchandising, overseas theatrical movies of re-edited episodes, and
a sequel The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. - The
When they were filming the reunion movie,
both lead actors were asked how the success of this show affected
their careers. David McCallum said that he was often typecast and
found it difficult to play other types of roles, Robert Vaughn said
in his case the opposite was true, he played nothing but villains
after the series ended. In 1966 at the height of U.N.C.L.E.mania,
Vaughn appeared as a bachelor on the nighttime premiere of The Dating
Game. He was picked for the date, which was a trip to London.
In the year the series ended, Vaughn
landed a large role playing Chalmers, an ambitious California
politician in the film Bullitt starring Steve McQueen; he was
nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role.
Vaughn would co-star with McQueen again in The Towering Inferno, a
1974 American action drama disaster film produced by Irwin Allen and
featuring an all-star cast that also included Paul Newman.
Vaughn continued to act, in television and
in mostly B movies. He starred in two seasons of the British
detective series The Protectors in the early 1970s. He won an Emmy
for his portrayal of Frank Flaherty in "Washington: Behind
Closed Doors" (ABC, 1977) and during the 80's starred with
friend George Peppard in the final season of The A-Team (below).
According to Dirk Benedict, Vaughn was actually added to the cast of
that show because of his friendship with Peppard. It was hoped Vaughn
would help ease tensions between Mr. T and Peppard. In 1983 he
starred as villainous multi millionaire Ross Webster in Superman III.
In 1983-1984 he appeared as industrialist Harlan Adams in the
short-lived CBS series Emerald Point N.A.S., replacing Patrick
O'Neal. In 1989 Vaughn starred as an Army General in the low budget,
cult zombie movie "Chud II".
the mid 1990s, he made several cameo appearances on Late Night With
Conan O'Brien as an audience member who berates the host and his
guests beginning with, "You people sicken me..."
In 2004, after a string of guest roles on
series such as Law & Order, in which he had a recurring role
during season eight, Vaughn experienced a resurgence. He began
co-starring in the British TV drama series Hustle, made for BBC One.
The series was also broadcast in the United States on the cable
network AMC. In the series, Vaughn plays elder-statesman American con
artist Albert Stroller, a father figure to a group of younger
grifters. In September 2006, he guest-starred in Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit.
Since the mid-1990s, Vaughn has been a
spokesman in a set of generic advertisements for various personal
injury law firms around the U.S.A. and Canada, such as that of
Connecticut and Massachusetts law firm Mark E. Salomone &
Morelli, Georgia's Eichholz Law Firm and the Maine-based law offices
of Joe Bornstein. The television commercial features Vaughn urging
injured complainants to "tell the insurance companies you mean business."
also appeared as himself narrating and being a character in a radio
play broadcast by BBC Radio 4 in 2007 about making the film The
Bridge at Remagen in Prague, Czechoslovakia, during the Russian
invasion of 1968.
Frequent references are made to his
playing Napoleon Solo and the character's great spying abilities.
In November 2011, it was announced that
Vaughn would appear for three weeks in the British soap opera
Coronation Street. His cameo as Milton in the long-running program
lasted for three weeks, from January to February 2012.
is a long-time member of the Democratic Party. His family was also
Democratic and was involved in politics in Minneapolis and early in
his career, he was described as a "liberal Democrat".
(pictured on the far left with Bobby Kennedy, on the right, and
Norman Topping, president of the University of Southern California,
Vaughn was the chair of the California
Democratic State Central Committee speakers bureau and actively
campaigned for candidates in the 1960s. In spite of being a
registered Democrat, Vaughn did not support President Barack Obama,
and described him as "not up to the job" in March 2009.
Vaughn was the first popular American
actor to take a public stand against the Vietnam war and was active
in the Vietnam War-era peace group, Another Mother for Peace, and,
with Dick Van Dyke and Carl Reiner, was a founder of Dissenting
Democrats. Early in the 1968 presidential election, they supported
the candidacy of Eugene McCarthy, mentioned for the Vice Presidency.
The choice was prophetic, as McCarthy was not selected for the second
position but did seek the Presidency in 1968. Vaughn was also
reported to have political ambitions of his own, but in a 1973
interview, he denied having had any political aspirations.
has portrayed Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman,
in addition to Woodrow Wilson (in the 1979 television mini-series
Backstairs at the White House). He additionally played Roosevelt in
the 1982 telefilm FDR: That Man in the White House.
Vaughn married actress Linda Staab in
1974. They appeared together in a 1973 episode of The Protectors,
called "It Could Be Practically Anywhere on the Island", in
which Staab played a ditzy American whose dog was stolen; eventually
Vaughn's character, Harry Rule, found the dog. They have adopted two
children, Cassidy (born 1976) and Caitlin (born 1981). They reside in
In his memoir, A Fortunate Life, Vaughn
recalls watching his good friend Jack Nicholson stumble his way
through a scene of Bus Stop in a mid-1950s acting class without the
"confidence" to carry it off. "Nicholson declared,
'Vaughnie, I'm going to give myself two more years in this business.
Then I'm going to look for another way to make a living.' 'Hang in
there, Jack,' Vaughn told him. 'You're too young to quit.'"
He portrayed Juror 9 in Twelve Angry Men
at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in the UK in October 2013.
Between November 2013 and June 2014, he played the same role when the
production was transferred to the Garrick Theatre in London's West End.
Vaughn died in a hospice in Danbury,
Connecticut, on November 11th, 2016, eleven days before his 84th
birthday, after a year-long battle with leukemia.
77 Sunset Strip
- Your Fortune for a Penny (1963)
- Heckler (1961)
- series regular as General Hunt Stockwell
(13 episodes 1986-1987)
- The Last Flight Out (1960)
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
- Dry Run (1959)
- The Landslide Adventure (1961)
As the World Turns
- as Rick Hamlin (1995)
The Asphalt Jungle
- The Scott Machine (1961)
Backstairs at the White House (TV Mini-Series)
- Episode #1.1 (1979)
- Fake S.O.S. (1956)
- Marine Story (1956)
The Blue and the Gray (TV Mini-Series)
- as Sen. Reynolds (1982)
- The Way Station (1962)
- Borrowed Glory (1959)
- Who Killed the Movie Mogul? (1995)
- The Debasers: Milton Bonner and Phillip
Captains and the Kings (TV Mini-Series)
- as Charles Desmond (6 episodes 1976)
Centennial (TV Mini-Series)
- as Morgan Wendell (10 episodes 1989 - 1979)
- Interrupted Honeymoon (1960)
- Last Salute to the Commodore (1976)
- Troubled Waters (1975)
- guest star as Milton Fanshaw (13
- Move My Lips/Dead Stranger in Paradise (1993)
- An Old Friend for Dinner (1993)
- Go Ahead, Fry Me (1993)
- Comes a Searcher/Vengeance in the Grass (1993)
- Fatal Distraction/Lethal Luau (1993)