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Man from U.N.C.L.E. - The espionage series THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E./NBC/1964-68 and the spin-off series THE GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E./NBC/1966-67 featured a secret multi-national law enforcement agency located a block from the East River at East 46th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in New York City near the United Nations complex.

Illya, Solo and Waverly

Hidden behind the facade of four brownstone buildings on the north side of the block is a modern three-story office building that houses U.N.C.L.E. (The United Network Command for Law and Enforcement). U.N.C.L.E. is divided into eight sections (with overlapping jurisdictions). They consist of:

  • Section 1, Policy and Operations

  • Section II, Operations and Enforcement

  • Section III, Enforcement and Intelligence

  • Section IV, Intelligence and Communications

  • Section V, Communications and Security

  • Section VI, Security and Personnel

  • Section VII Propaganda and Finance

  • Camouflage and Deception

To gain access to U.N.C.L.E., employees use one of five entrances:

  1. Hinged-wall in the locker room shower area of a public garage (used by clerical staff);

  2. Underground tunnel from the river;

  3. Nightspot called the Mask Club; and

  4. Del Floria's, a below-street-level tailor shop.

  5. Fifth  entrance used by high-level personnel was later shown on episode No.18 "The Mad, Mad Tea Party Affair". Enforcement agents Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and his Russian partner Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin (David McCallum) generally used the tailor shop entrance at the base of the first brownstone building.

Upon entering Del Floria's, agents walk into a dressing cubicle. Then, Mr. Del Floria pushes a button under his clothing press which allows the agents access into the U.N.C.L.E. headquarters reception area through the rear wall of the cubicle (opened by turning a clothing hook). A beautiful female receptionist who monitors all visitors to the tailor shop via a camera hidden in a TV set next to the tailor's press then issues the agents numbered triangular badges (worn on the lapel) which give access to particular parts of the building. Each badge gives the agents different privileges:

  • Red badges give access only to the ground floor which houses routine personnel and communications.

  • Yellow badges give entry to the second floor which houses communications and code devices.

  • White badges permit entry to all three floors. The third floor contains the armory, interrogation rooms, and offices of both Enforcement agents, and Policy and Operations.

The suave, cool Napoleon Solo is usually issued badge No. 11 and his quiet-mannered Russian partner Illya Kuryakin wears badge No.2. They both report to Mr. Waverly (Leo G. Carroll), chief officer in charge of Section I who wears badge No.1 (in the original pilot actor Will Kuluva played Section I Head).

In the 1983 TV movie reunion The Return from the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair the new U.N.C.L.E. badges were still triangular but black with yellow logo and numerals. To prevent unauthorized access to U.N.C.L.E., each ID badge was coated with a special chemical (applied by the receptionist's fingertips). Any person entering the facility without the chemical marker would activate delicate sensors which set off the security alarms.

When leaving U.N.C.L.E. all agents return their ID badges to the receptionist. Some sharp-eyed TV viewers, might point out, however, that in the "The Vulcan Affair" and "The Love Affair" certain U.N.C.L.E. personnel were seen without badges and the alarms did not go off. And in "The Waverly Ring Affair" Solo leaves Del Floria's wearing his badge; and in episode "The Summit Five Affair," Illya wears his badge outside of U.N.C.L.E. headquarters.

The original idea for the MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. was conceived by Norman Felton, the executive producer of the series whose inspiration came from a combination of actor Cary Grant's suave, witty role in Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 suspense film North by Northwest and Ian Fleming's Thrilling Cities, a travel book on the best places to wine and dine around the world based on the author's own experiences as a journalist and former intelligence agent.

In fact, Ian Fleming was paid a consultation fee to collaborate on the series which had the tentative title "Solo-Around the World;" and later "Mr. Solo" (a Solo character also appeared as a minor villain in Fleming's novel "Goldfinger"). Ian Fleming later bowed out of the series project due to legal concerns over the similarities of his James Bond character and Napoleon Solo. He died shortly after this. His two distinct contribution to the series were the names Napoleon Solo and April Dancer (originally envisioned as Solo's secretary, a la Miss Moneypenny in Fleming's Bond novels), who would became the lead character in the GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E., a spin-off series.

It was scriptwriter Sam Rolfe who created the name U.N.C.L.E. In his series prospectus he noted on the very first line that "although the term "U.N.C.L.E." is not defined, it does not stand for "United Nations Committee for Law and Enforcement). However, some folks from the United Nations thought the "UN" in "U.N.C.L.E." stood for United Nations and so to avert a lawsuit that would invariably point to the criminal statutes in the State of New York Penal Code, Paragraph  974(a) that made it illegal to use the United Nations name for commercial gain, the series producers stated their acronym U.N.C.L.E. stood for "United Network Command for Law and Enforcement" (Unilateral Network of Combined Leaders against Evil." was an alternate choice).

Apparently, the UN changed its tune when a few years later the official UN Newsletter The Secretariat News (issue 2/16/1966) ran a tongue-in-cheek article about a UN visitor who encountered agent Napoleon Solo in a secret floor below the basement level of the United Nations.

The MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. spawned a number of parodies including:

  • Mad magazine's "The Man from AUNTIE"

  • Archie comic book's (featuring Jughead) "The Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E"

  • MGM's Tom and Jerry cartoon "The Mouse from H.U.N.G.E.R

  • MY FAVORITE MARTIAN episode entitled "The Man from Uncle Martin" with the evil organization C.R.U.S.H.

  • THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW episode "The Man from My Uncle" Episode No. 153 about undercover agent who conducted a stakeout from Richie's bedroom

  • GET SMART episode No. 51 "The Man From YENTA" (YENTA-Yiddish for "a gossip" - stood for Your Espionage Network and Training Academy)

  • THE AVENGERS episode "The Girl from Auntie"

  • PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES episode "Say Uncle" with cameo appearances by both Robert Vaughn and David McCallum.

TRIVIA NOTE: The New York street set on the MGM lot used for filming THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. including the brownstone entrances to Del Floria's tailor shop was destroyed by fire in 1967. What was left of the MGM backlot was later sold for a housing development in the early 1970s. When Napoleon Solo returned to Del Floria's tailor shop on the 1983 TV movie reunion The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair (now working as a computer industry executive) he tried to enter U.N.C.L.E. headquarters through the rear wall of Del Floria's dressing room but discovered much to his chagrin (the current owner thought he was crazy) that U.N.C.L.E. headquarters had moved to a novelty shop and was now headed by Sir John Raleigh (Patrick Macnee of THE AVENGERS) who replaced Mr. Waverly.  See also - Man from U.N.C.L.E. Car

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