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Matt Helm

By Wikipedia

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 cover jobs.


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Aired: September 20, 1975 - January 3, 1976

Cast: Anthony Franciosa, Laraine Stephens, Jeff Donnell, Gene Evans

Network: ABC

Genre: Detective Drama

Theme song

Image courtesy of ABC

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It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

With the exception of the Wikipedia article above, everything else is...

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