Barbara Feldon, ‘Agent 99’ of ‘Get Smart,’ Writes Memoir

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Barbara Feldon

Barbara Feldon, best known as effervescent “Agent 99” on the classic 1960s TV spy spoof Get Smart, has written her memoir, Getting Smarter, in which she relays stories from her time in Hollywood and, for the first time, of her not-so picture-perfect marriage. The beloved actress turned 91 on March 12, 2024. The 240-page title, via Stewart-Hall Books, is available for purchase here.

Get Smart starred Don Adams as the well-intentioned secret agent, Maxwell Smart (“Agent 86”), who continually gets into self-made predicaments. His fellow secret agent was portrayed by the stunning Feldon, who played the straight man, or in her case, the “straight woman,” to fix her colleague’s continual bumbling. Together, they reported to “the Chief” (actor Edward Platt) of the fictitious U.S. counterintelligence agency, CONTROL, in Washington, D.C., to foil KAOS, the “international organization of evil.” The series, created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, aired for five seasons, from 1965-1970.

With Getting Smarter, Feldon’s story finds its roots in her romance with husband Lucien Feldon Verdeaux, a glamorous European with a wealth of shocking revelations about him that laid in wait. And tucked into the dramatic and sometimes zany adventures with her husband is her initiation into show business, including a stint as a show girl, modeling during the Mod era, and the fun of working alongside Adams in the award-winning Get Smart.

Over its 138 episodes, the series featured dozens of guest stars, some of whom were headliners and others who were still on the way up, including Don Rickles, Johnny Carson, Ann Prentiss, Regis Philbin, Fred Willard, Phyllis Diller, Milton Berle, and Carol Burnett.

Barbara Feldon, with Don Adams and Edward Platt, in Get Smart

As Feldon writes in Getting Smarter, “It was eight o’clock. The shooting day began. The stand-ins – our patient look-alikes – stepped away. Don Adams and I stood on our marks, a buzzer sounded, red lights flashed, the director called ‘Action’ and we became “Max” and “99,” which was effortless for me, because Don’s energy was like a rocket blasting off with me attached.”

Watch the two leads meet for the first time in the series’ pilot episode

Adams, born Donald Yarmy, died on Sept. 25, 2005, at age 82.

From the book’s announcement: Told with a sense of the comical but viewed with a philosophical eye, Barbara takes readers with her from her early life in Pittsburgh and career in New York City (including her headlining top prize win on The $64,000 Question) through the colorful ’60s scene in Los Angeles and beyond. It is her journey from disillusion to compassion, from naivety to wisdom—getting smarter every step of the way.

Getting Smarter includes more than 60 photos from Feldon’s personal collection.

Feldon was born March 12, 1933, in a Pittsburgh, Pa., suburb. Not long after she graduated from Carnegie Mellon University, she won the grand prize on TV’s The $64,000 Question. This is Feldon’s second book, following 2003’s Living Alone and Loving It: A Guide to Relishing the Solo Life, in which she explores thriving as a single person living in a “couple’s world.”

Related: Don Adams – The ‘smart-est’ secret agent of the ’60s

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4 Comments so far

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  1. Dr. No
    #1 Dr. No 9 March, 2023, 13:12

    Always had a crush on Barbara Feldon/Agent 99, watching “Get Smart” as a pre-teen in the mid 60’s.

    Well-written and wry, as well as splendid comedic timing show, corniness, and all.

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    • Nettie
      Nettie 12 March, 2023, 16:30

      I loved watching Get Smart when I was a young. Happy birthday Barbara Feldon, I’m a Pittsburgher too. Ty for sharing and writing ur book I can’t wait to read it! God bless U.

      Reply this comment
  2. Tom Jones
    #2 Tom Jones 2 December, 2023, 17:03

    Cool, elegant, and beautiful. Miss Feldon has been a delicate glow on the harshly lit landscape of American celebrity for decades.

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