In 1975, the ABC Network
attempted to adapt Donald Hamilton's character for a television series
entitled, Matt Helm. Anthony Franciosa played Helm in this series
which was only loosely connected to the novels.
The idea of building a series around an assassin was considered too
controversial in the 1970s, so instead the show followed former secret
agent Helm's adventures as a private detective. Following the airing of a
pilot TV movie on May 7, 1975, the series debuted on September 20, 1975
and lasted for only 13 episodes.
About the Character Matt Helm
Matt Helm, a fictional character created by author Donald
Hamilton, is a U.S. government counteragent—a man whose primary job is
to kill or nullify enemy agents—not a spy or secret agent in the
ordinary sense of the term as used in spy thrillers.
He appeared in 27 books over a 33-year period beginning in 1960 and
established himself as the most tough-minded and most competent of all
fictional agents, whatever their roles. The series was noted for its
between-books continuity, which was somewhat rare for the genre. In the
latter books, however, Helm's origins as a man of action in World War II
disappeared and he became an apparently ageless character, a common fate
of long-running fictional heroes.
A movie series starring Dean Martin was made in the mid-to-late 1960s
using the name Matt Helm and some of the book titles, but it bore no
resemblance at all to the character, atmosphere, or themes of the original
books. (One reason for this was the attitude among filmmakers that the
only way to compete with the James Bond movie series was to parody them.
See also Casino Royale). Likewise, a 1970s TV series, which cast Helm as
an ex-spy turned private detective, also departed from the books and was
unsuccessful. In 2002, it was reported that DreamWorks had optioned the
entire Helm book series. On August 9, 2005, Variety reported that
DreamWorks has signed Michael Brandt and Derek Haas to write a screenplay
for a high-six-figure deal. According to the article, the film will be a
contemporary adaptation of the character, but no casting or release
information has yet been announced. It has yet to be seen how faithful the
new film will be to the original novels.
The Dean Martin version of Matt Helm served as a significant
inspiration for Mike Myers' Austin Powers and many references can be seen.
Most significantly, both characters are fashion photographers as their