Having only just reflected on the loss of a musical great, I find myself reeling from the news that Robert Vaughn has died.
As with Leonard Cohen, I shouldn’t be too perturbed. Vaughn was also in his 80s, so could hardly be accused of having been taken from us too young. I think the shock is more from the news coming so soon after that of Cohen.
And yet, there is still an impact. I’d only recently started a series of blogs about old TV shows and their influences on me and my writing. Items on two of Robert Vaughn’s shows were planned – The Man From UNCLE and The Protectors, both quite different, but each planting their own seeds in my increasingly warped mind.
It’s also only a few weeks ago since I wrote about the latest version of The Magnificent Seven, the original of which featured Vaughn, the last surviving cast member. That aside, only two weeks ago I finally got around to watching Bullitt.
So, one way or another, he’s been on my mind recently. Maybe that awareness added to the impact.
Of course, he wasn’t just around in the ’60s and ’70s and, although he’s more noted for his action hero roles, there was more to him than that, both as an actor and a man with strong political beliefs. I suspect recent events in the UK and US would have caused him concern.
Those who haven’t been around half as long as me may have come across him in the more recent TV series Hustle – and then there was a brief stint on Coronation Street (though I understand no doors were kicked open or guns fired).
Naturally, I’m sad to see him go, but I’m also grateful for the fun his roles have provided me with. He will always be the only Napoleon Solo (don’t get me started again on this year’s remake) and, together with David McCallum, he played out some frankly outrageous action sequences, stirring up my fertile imagination.
This year seems to have been a particularly bad one for losing individuals who have formed a big part of my life. Friday 11th October has just been the icing on the cake. Or have I spoken too soon?
For now, it’s time to say goodbye to someone who always came across as one of the nice guys, even if he didn’t always play one. In The Man from UNCLE, the agents communicated with a pen-like instrument. When they switched it on, they had to request a channel to be opened (usually Channel D). Sadly, with these recent deaths and the political upsets we’re experiencing, I’m beginning to wonder if someone opened Channel F.
Robert Vaughn – 22 November 1932 – 11 November 2016