Name: Maxwell Smart
Location: Washington DC
Type of Detective: Secret Agent (Agent 86)
First Appeared: 1965
Memorable Phrase: “Would you believe…?”
The world of secret agents took a satiric turn during the Cold War when two comedic geniuses – Buck Henry and Mel Brooks – created a series called Get Smart for NBC. The protagonist for the series was the inept and overzealous Maxwell Smart (played by Don Adams), also known as Agent 86.
Smart worked for CONTROL, a spy agency founded by The Chief just after the turn of the century. Agent 99, Smart’s partner and later wife, also co-stars. The Chief is an ex-Navy officer who, although generally supportive of his agents, gets routinely frustrated with Smart’s antics. As a team, Agents 86 and 99 attempted to investigate and deter possible threats to society, with Smart’s naivety causing comedic obstacles along the way. Most of the people Smart encountered found him to be incredibly dumb, but luck (or Agent 99) always availed to save him in the end.
Smart was a quirky and multi-faceted character – his clumsiness and attention deficits often juxtaposed with sheer luck and clever resourcefulness. He was a man of gadgetry, and was well known for using mundane objects as his spy instruments: the telephone shoe, the tooth radio, and the finger gun.
The Get Smart series ran for four seasons on NBC, with a final season airing on CBS. Maxwell Smart remains a treasured fictional secret agent today, for both civilians and private eyes. The series inspired a major motion picture starring Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway in 2008.