Actor Barbara Feldon gets smart at Supanova

Barbara with Don Adams who played Maxwell Smart. Picture: submitted.
Barbara with Don Adams who played Maxwell Smart. Picture: submitted.

DESPITE playing the role of Agent 99, it was actor Barbara Feldon who put the “smart” in the hit television series Get Smart.

The New York actor will join I Dream of Jeannie’s Barbara Eden in a series of events as part their Supanova appearances in Perth later this month.

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In the role that defined Feldon, she was cast as the supporting actor in the show which saw her male lead Don Adams play agent Maxwell Smart.

Feldon said at the time of taking on the role, her character 99 was so different to her and not typical of the American woman, which was unheard of in that era of television.

“Her character was beyond what I was at that time, I was very much a 50s girl and very much subservient to men and a diplomat,” she said.

“She had elements that were deferential to her guy and she was very careful not to ruffle the feathers of the male species and on the other hand she was different to what we saw on television at that time.

“She was not afraid to be smart although she did not feel diplomatically that it was a good thing to show how smart she was.

“She knew she wasn’t inferior and she catered it to the male ego but was out there doing her thing and getting things done.

Barbara with Don Adams who played Maxwell Smart. Picture: submitted.

“You could say 99 was more evolved than the woman playing her but by the end of the show I was much more evolved.

“ I had a growth spark during the years of making the show and while 99 started ahead of me I caught up to her by the end of it.”

Playing 99 for five seasons, Feldon said while her relationship with Adams did not have the greatest of starts it turned into a very special friendship, which she still recalls vividly.

“During the time we did the show we were very nice to each other, very cordial but we had nothing to say to each other off screen, we came from very different worlds,” she said.

“As time went on I came to the realisation that I had prejudged who he was because we really did have more in common than I thought.

“During those years it was a very nice working relationship and it got spectacularly good when we actually acting together, with the incredible intimate rapport we had between us.”

Feldon said after the fifth season the show was axed while the duo was on hiatus which did not give the pair a chance to say their goodbyes.

“We never heard from each other for decades and then when I ran into him later it was as though seeds that had been sown earlier on during those years had blossomed and suddenly we were so fond of each other, it was the sweetest friendship.”

Reprising her role as Agent 99 in the made-for-television film Get Smart, Again! In 1989 and the short-lived television series also titled Get Smart in 1995, Feldon said she did not think any comeback of the show would do the original any justice.

“It represented that time and I don’t think it could be replicated today because that’s what made it so special, it’d be a good show but not Get Smart,” she said.

“I did see it (the movie with Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway), they’re amazingly good actors and I enjoyed their performances but it wasn’t Get Smart.

I enjoyed it as a spy action movie.”

Feldon will share more stories when she appears at Supanova at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre from June 28-30, for tickets visit www.supanova.com.au.