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Agent 86 - Code name for bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) on the spy spoof GET SMART/NBC/ABC/1965-70.

Don Adams as Control Agent Maxwell Smart - GET SMART

Max's worked for Control, a super secret spy agency (which everyone knew about) and operated under the guise of a greeting card salesman for the Potomac Greeting Card Company.

Max was born in 1930 (delivered by a Dr. Linquist) under the zodiac sign of Scorpio and raised in Washington, DC. He models himself after another klutzy Control agent No. 4 (a.k.a. "Herbert Gaffer").

Max is so devoted to his career that he embroiders his bathrobe and pajamas with his secret agent number 86.

Max's Class A Control Identification card reads:

Name: Agent 86 (Maxwell Smart)
Sex: Male
Hair: Black
Eyes: Beady
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 149
Date of Birth: November 30th.
Spy of the year: 1965, 1966, 1967.
Credit card #: 86000860008600086.
Max's skills included speaking French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Swahili, and a rare East Himalayan dialect and being an expert in explosives.

When asked about his martial arts skills he remarked, "I happen to be an expert in karate, Judo and tempura. Would you believe that I can brake eight boards with one karate chop? No? Would you believe three boards? Would you believe a loaf of bread?"

On the topic of cowardice, Max said "Just remember this 'A coward is a frightened man who's scared to be brave; but a brave man is only a coward who isn't scared to be frightened'."

Despite Max's abilities, (he failed Torture 101 three years in a row, however) he was in constant trouble with his superior called The Chief (Ed Platt). A typical conversation between them might go like this:


Chief: Max, I don't know what I'm going to do about you. You bungle assignment after assignment.
Max: I resent that, Chief
Chief: Do you deny it? 
Max: No, but I resent it.
Chief: Max, you realize you'll be facing every kind of danger imaginable.
Max: And loving it

According to "The Get Smart Handbook" by Joey Green (Collier Books, 1993) Don Adam's Agent 86 character was a combination of two earlier inspirations:

  1. a pompous but very confused detective who gathered all the suspects in a room to find the murderer (a character Adams created in 1954); and
  2. the sophisticated vocal mannerisms of William Powell from the Thin Man movies which Adams exaggerated just a bit to create such classic lines as "Sorry about that Chief," "Would you believe?," "The old (so & so) Trick," and "Missed it by that much."

Other agents in the employ of Control were:

  • Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon), Max's attractive female partner and later wife.
  • Agent 13 (Dave Ketchum) famous for hiding in strange objects. like mail boxes, trash cans, grandfather clocks and vending machines.

While on assignment, Agent 86 assumed the aliases of many individuals including:

  • The Scar (an explosives expert)
  • The Masked Marvel (a table tennis champion)
  • Major Fritz Kessler (a former SS officer knows as the Beast of Buenos Aires)
  • Running Creek (an American Indian)
  • Yakimoto (a Japanese gardener)
  • Conchita (a flamenco dancer)

Maxwell Smart reappeared in the 1980 motion picture The Nude Bomb (a.k.a. The Return of Maxwell Smart) wherein he worked for the spy agency PITS (Provisional Intelligence Tactical Service).

TRIVIA NOTE: Writer David Melnick gave Maxwell Smart the operative number 86 (a la the 007 signature of James Bond). The term referred to the slang expression "to eighty-six someone" meaning "to refuse credit, to stop serving a drunk any more liquor, to oust an obnoxious patron."

Mel Brooks, the series co-creator derived Smart's first name from his relatives (both his father and his own son's were called Max).

Don Adams was born Donald James Yarmy in 1927 in New York City to a Hungarian Jewish father and an Irish Catholic mother.

Steve Carrel (of THE OFFICE fame) assumed the mantel of the bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart in the remake Get Smart: The Movie (2008). Anne Hathaway played Agent 99.

Anne Hathaway and Steve Carrel - GET SMART: THE MOVIE
Anne Hathaway and Steve Carrel

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