A Tribute to Robert Vaughn (1932-2016)

Robert Francis Vaughn (November 22, 1932 – November 11, 2016) was an American actor noted for his stage, film and television work. His best-known TV roles include suave spy Napoleon Solo in the 1960s series The Man from U.N.C.L.E.; wealthy detective Harry Rule in the 1970s series The Protectors; and formidable General Hunt Stockwell in the 5th season of the 1980s series The A-Team. In film, he portrayed quiet, skittish gunman Lee in The Magnificent Seven, Major Paul Krueger in The Bridge at Remagen, the voice of Proteus IV, the computer villain of Demon Seed, Walter Chalmers in Bullitt, Ross Webster in Superman III, and war veteran Chester A. Gwynn in The Young Philadelphians which earned him a 1960 Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Written by David Lawler with Bronwyn Knox
“Theme from The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” by Jerry Goldsmith

Recorded November 12, 2016


© BlissVille, David Lawler copyright 2016 for all original vocal and audio content featuring David Lawler and selected guests each episode. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor
bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended.

Running Time: 45:56


“In Praise Of Harve Bennett (1930-2015)”

“If I pinch his cheek hard enough, he’ll let me direct!”


Two days before Leonard Nimoy’s passing (why are we being told now?), a photon tube was lowered into the torpedo bay and shot into the atmosphere of the Genesis planet. Harve Bennett had extensive science fiction television credits, producing “The Six Million Dollar Man”, “The Bionic Woman” (favorites of mine when I was a kid), and “The Mod Squad”. He came out of nowhere to produce the middle section of Star Trek films – II, III, IV, and V when Paramount executives asked him if he could take over the franchise.

As a producer, he proved he could craft a compelling a story while staying within budget. Although he was a man who brimmed with ideas and ambition, Gene Roddenberry never successfully coped with the rigors of film production, and the first Star Trek movie was not a box office success – at least not the success Paramount was hoping for (in the wake of Star Wars). A string of successful staffing decisions (that of hiring Nicholas Meyer and Leonard Nimoy to direct, contracting Industrial Light & Magic to produce visual effects, and utilizing TV production crews to shoot) led to Star Trek’s most profitable phase in the film franchise up to that point.

In Hollywood though people have short memories and if it isn’t about your past success, it’s about your most recent failure. When the William Shatner-directed Star Trek V: The Final Frontier did not perform up to expectations and Paramount nixed his idea for a reboot, he left the franchise (or was fired, depending upon who tells the story). In addition to producing four Star Trek movies, he came up with the idea of bringing Khan back, he achieved the damn-near-impossible writing the script for Star Trek III:The Search For Spock and bringing Spock back to life in a credible way, and he co-wrote Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Like Gene Coon and Robert Justman before him, Harve Bennett was another unsung hero of the franchise. He was the man who single-handedly saved Star Trek.

Follow-Up Notes: “The Needs Of The Many”

Regan's Vulcan Salute
“Live Long And Prosper”


On Saturday, the day after Leonard Nimoy’s passing, we watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. This is the definitive “trilogy” of the Star Trek movie franchise, and all of it focuses on either the character of Spock, or the actor who plays him – Leonard Nimoy. Strangely though, upon watching these movies for the umpteenth time, it occurs to me Nimoy has very little screen time in two of them – Star Trek IV being the exception.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is mainly about Kirk, grappling with his mortality. His heroic actions aside, Spock is the focus at the end when he sacrifices his life in order to save the Enterprise after Khan detonates the Genesis torpedo. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is the perfect science fiction, space opera, adventure movie. It has thrills, epic space battles, the naval tradition, philosophical debate, ambition over substance, wit and humor, and of course, pathos and catharsis.

Star Trek III: The Search For Spock is, essentially, a placeholder movie to get us to the fourth installment. It is a much smaller movie, on a smaller scale but it looks great. This is a more intimate story that deals with the lead characters as people, not members of Starfleet. They openly defy orders, steal the Enterprise, and blow it up. KIrk loses his son and his ship. He makes the ultimate sacrifice and changes the rules.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is just plain silly, but it’s fun. The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise went back in time a few times before, but never on this scale. An alien probe causes ecological chaos on planet Earth while trying to communicate with an extinct species of whale. Naturally, Kirk and Spock decide to travel back in time to retrieve these whales, bring them to the future so they can, in McCoy’s words, “tell this alien probe what to go do with itself.”

Nimoy used these movies as a springboard for his directorial career, and as me and Andrew noted, his later work was comprised of unusual choices: Three Man and a Baby, The Good Mother, Funny About Love, and the inexplicable Holy Matrimony, featuring recent Oscar winner Patricia Arquette.

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP