Robert Vaughn


Actor
Robert Vaughn

About

Also Known As
Robert Francis Vaughn
Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
November 22, 1932
Died
November 10, 2016
Cause of Death
Leukemia

Biography

A magnetic performer who was equally at home playing heroes or heels, Robert Vaughn was a leading man and character actor whose five-decade career included such hit films as "The Magnificent Seven" (1960), "Bullitt" (1968) and "The Towering Inferno" (1974). His greatest successes, however, came on the small screen; first as the dashing Napoleon Solo in the runaway hit series "The Man fro...

Photos & Videos

Family & Companions

Linda Staab
Wife
Married in 1974.

Bibliography

"Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting"
Robert Vaughn (1972)
"Christ, Shakespeare, Ho Chi Min: As I Knew Them"
Robert Vaughn

Notes

There is an official website at http://home.pacbell.net/cdezign/rv.html

Biography

A magnetic performer who was equally at home playing heroes or heels, Robert Vaughn was a leading man and character actor whose five-decade career included such hit films as "The Magnificent Seven" (1960), "Bullitt" (1968) and "The Towering Inferno" (1974). His greatest successes, however, came on the small screen; first as the dashing Napoleon Solo in the runaway hit series "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." (NBC, 1964-68), and later, with an Emmy win for "Washington: Behind Closed Doors" (ABC, 1977) and numerous other miniseries and TV-movies. The quality of projects offered to Vaughn dropped off in the 1980s and 1990s, but he rebounded in 2004 with the UK series "Hustle" (BBC One, 2004-10), which afforded him a chance to once again display his considerable charm, an attribute that was the main reason for his enduring popularity. Robert Vaughn died on November 10, 2016 of leukemia. He was 83.

Born Nov. 22, 1932 in New York City, Robert Francis Vaughn was born into a family of performers - mother Marcella Gaudel was a stage actress, while his father, Gerald Walter Vaughn, was a radio actor. His parents separated when he was young, forcing Vaughn to move to Minneapolis, MN with his mother, where he eventually attended the University of Minnesota to earn a journalism major. Vaughn began exploring acting in 1950, and after winning the Philip Morris Intercollegiate Acting Contest, he relocated to Los Angeles where enrolled in Los Angeles City College before transferring to Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences. There, he earned a Masters degree in theater and began making his first appearances on television in 1955.

He actually played two roles in his first movie, "The Ten Commandments" (1956), which cast him as both a spear-carrier for pharaoh Yul Brynner and a Hebrew worshiping a golden calf. Within a year's time, he had moved up to supporting player onscreen, beginning with the 1957 Western, "Hell's Crossroads," which cast him as Jesse James' killer, Bob Ford. His first leads were only a year away - Vaughn survived the indignities of B-grade dreck like "No Time to Be Young" (1957), which cast him as an upstanding young man who goes terribly awry, and the title role in Roger Corman's cult classic "Teenage Caveman" (1958), to earn an Academy Award nomination as a young man on trial for murder in "The Young Philadelphians" (1959). Vaughn lost the Oscar but took home a Golden Globe for his performance, and left the ceremony a newly minted A-list player. His next major picture was John Sturges' "The Magnificent Seven" (1960), an adaptation of Akira Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai" (1954) set in the Old West. Though he had just 16 lines of dialogue in the film, Vaughn made an impression as a haunted gunman who joins Yul Brynner in defense of a small town against a bandit (Eli Wallach) and his gang. Both films helped to cement Vaughn's screen persona in the minds of audiences - charming on the outside, but with layers of emotional turmoil just below the polished surface.

Despite his success in films, Vaughn was primarily a television actor in the early 1960s; in addition to his near-constant stream of guest appearances, he co-starred on Gene Roddenberry's military drama "The Lieutenant" (NBC, 1963-64) as a tough captain who made life difficult for series star Gary Lockwood's stalwart officer. But he soon tired of the secondary status, and asked producer Norman Felton for his own series. The result was "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," a tongue-in-cheek spy series that drew its inspiration from the wave of espionage-related entertainment that followed in the wake of the James Bond film franchise phenomenon.

Initially, the series focused around Vaughn's charming, cool-headed American spy Napoleon Solo. James Bond creator Ian Fleming had conceived the character, who was joined by brooding Russian agent Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum) after audiences reacted positively to the pair's chemistry. Because the tone of the show was light but action-packed, with plenty of beautiful ladies for Vaughn to romance, it was not surprising how quickly the show became a massive hit for NBC, resulting in countless tie-ins, including eight theatrical movies constructed from episodes. Vaughn received three Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor, but was consistently overshadowed by McCallum in both Emmy nods and fan popularity. In 1983, Vaughn and McCallum reprised their roles for a CBS TV movie, "The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.," which was intended as the launch of a new series, but critical and audience response did not warrant the revamp.

In addition to his acting career, Vaughn was involved for many years in political causes; a longtime Democrat, he actively campaigned for candidates like Robert F. Kennedy (with whom he was friendly), and was a member of the Vietnam War-era group Another Mother for Peace, as well as Dissenting Democrats. Vaughn was long rumored to be the Democratic Party's choice to run in opposition of Ronald Reagan's bid for California governor in 1966, but he decided against the position. Vaughn's interest in liberal causes was also reflected in his book, Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting (1972). The publication was his PhD dissertation from the University of Southern California, which he received in 1970 - at the height of his acting career.

The popularity of "U.N.C.L.E." translated into a brief spate of theatrical roles for Vaughn, beginning in 1968 with "Bullitt," which reunited him with his "Magnificent Seven" co-star, Steve McQueen. Vaughn's ambitious but corrupt politician, which earned him a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor, led to more complex characters in the films that followed: the polished but war-weary Nazi officer betrayed by his commanders in "The Bridge at Remagen" (1969), the compassionate scientist wary of efforts to revive a man (Terence Stamp) in a coma since birth in "The Mind of Mr. Soames" (1971), Casca, one of the conspirators against Julius Caesar (John Gielgud) in the critically panned 1970 film version of the Shakespeare play; a turn as Harry S. Truman in "The Man from Independence" (1974), and the doomed senator in "The Towering Inferno" (1974). Unfortunately, too few of his films from this period were hits - for every "Inferno," there were misses like "Clay Pigeon" (1971) and "Demon Seed" (1977), with Vaughn as the voice of a computer that impregnates Julie Christie. By the end of the decade, he was back on television, where he found more substantial fare like the miniseries "Washington: Behind Closed Doors" (ABC, 1977), a thinly veiled portrait of the Nixon administration which earned Vaughn an Emmy for a chilly interpretation of H.R. Halderman. He found further praise for his turn as Woodrow Wilson in the miniseries "Backstairs at the White House" (NBC, 1979), and as real estate tycoon Morgan Wendell in "Centennial" (NBC, 1978-79).

Vaughn continued to keep a hand in features during this period, but by the 1980s, he was appearing largely in B-level genre efforts; the exceptions were Blake Edwards' black comedy "S.O.B." (1981), which cast him as a cost-cutting studio chief; "Battle Beyond the Stars" (1980), a cheeky sci-fi adaptation of "The Magnificent Seven" produced by Roger Corman, with a script by John Sayles and special effects by James Cameron; and the disappointing "Superman III" (1983), in which he teamed up with Richard Pryor to take over the world and destroy Superman (Christopher Reeve) with a super-computer. Television remained his best showcase, which allowed him to play two presidents and a war hero between 1982 and 1986 - "FDR: That Man in the White House" (HBO, 1982), General Douglas MacArthur in "The Last Bastion" (PBS, 1984), and Roosevelt again in "Murrow" (HBO, 1986). In 1983, he returned to series work as a villainous businessman in the short-lived drama, "Emerald Point N.A.S." (CBS, 1983-84), and in the final season of "The A-Team" (NBC, 1983-87) as a general who brings the outlaw outfit into the military fold for special missions.

Vaughn breezed through the late 1980s and 1990s in mostly low-budget and independent features, as well as episodic television. On more than one occasion, he could be seen playing for broad laughs, such as his faded horror star Byron Orlock in the Corman-produced comedy "Transylvanian Twist" (1989). There was a brief stint on the daytime soap "One Life to Live" (ABC, 1968- ), and numerous commercials for law offices, as well as a recurring, nostalgia-driven role on the network version of "The Magnificent Seven" (CBS, 1998-99). A trio of appearances on "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-10) in 1997 and 1998 as a lawyer who struggles to conceal his history of mental illness was a step towards more quality material. In 2004, he received his juiciest role in decades as the father figure for a group of London-based con men in the BBC One series, "Hustle" (2004-12). Following the end of that series in 2012, Vaughn made guest appearances in episodes of long-running British soap "Coronation Street" (ITV 1960- ) and "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC 1999- ), but otherwise he quietly retired. Robert Vaughn died of leukemia on November 10, 2016, at the age of 83.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Excuse Me for Living (2012)
The Magnificent Eleven (2011)
The Warrior Class (2007)
2 B Perfectly Honest (2004)
Nick
Gang Warz (2004)
Happy Hour (2003)
Tully Sr
Pootie Tang (2001)
An American Affair (1999)
Virtual Obsession (1998)
Adam Spring
McCinsey's Island (1998)
The Sender (1998)
Baseketball (1998)
Motel Blue (1997)
Vulcan (1997)
Milk and Money (1996)
Joe's Apartment (1996)
Dancing in the Dark (1995)
Dennis Forbes
Escape to Witch Mountain (1995)
Edward Bolt
Witch Academy (1995)
Blind Vision (1992)
Mr X
Going Under (1991)
Buried Alive (1990)
Dark Avenger (1990)
Commissioner Peter Kinghorn
Brutal Glory (1990)
Max
Perry Mason: The Case of the Defiant Daughter (1990)
That's Adequate (1989)
C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. (1989)
Masters
Another Way - D Kikan Joho (1989)
Nobody's Perfect (1989)
Doctor
River of Death (1989)
Transylvania Twist (1989)
Lord Byron Orlock
Skeleton Coast (1988)
Captive Rage (1988)
The Emissary (1988)
Ambassador Mackay
Hour of the Assassin (1987)
Sam Merrick
Desperado (1987)
Nightstick (1987)
Ray Melton
Black Moon Rising (1986)
The Delta Force (1986)
General Woodbridge
Murrow (1986)
Prince of Bel Air (1986)
International Airport (1985)
Private Sessions (1985)
Oliver Coles
Intimate Agony (1983)
The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1983)
Napoleon Solo
Superman III (1983)
Ross Webster
Fantasies (1982)
Girard
A Question of Honor (1982)
The Day the Bubble Burst (1982)
S.O.B. (1981)
David Blackman
Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
City in Fear (1980)
Hangar 18 (1980)
Doctor Franken (1980)
Dr Arno Franken
Virus (1980)
Mirror, Mirror (1979)
Michael Jacoby
Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff (1979)
Dr Neal
Cuba Crossing (1979)
Brass Target (1978)
The Islander (1978)
Senator Gerald Stratton
Starship Invasions (1977)
Professor Duncan
Demon Seed (1977)
Voice
Kiss Me... Kill Me (1976)
Edward Fuller
Baby Sitter - Un maledetto pasticcio (1975)
Stuart Chase
The Towering Inferno (1974)
The Woman Hunter (1972)
Jerry Hunter
The Statue (1971)
Ray Whiteley
Clay Pigeon (1971)
Tallin, also known as Henry Neilson
The Mind of Mr. Soames (1970)
Dr. Michael Bergen
Julius Caesar (1970)
Casca
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969)
Photographer
The Bridge at Remagen (1969)
Maj. Paul Kreuger
Bullitt (1968)
Walter Chalmers
The Helicopter Spies (1968)
How to Steal the World (1968)
The Venetian Affair (1967)
Bill Fenner
The Karate Killers (1967)
To Trap a Spy (1966)
Napoleon Solo
The Spy With My Face (1966)
Napoleon Solo
The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)
Napoleon Solo
The Spy in the Green Hat (1966)
One Spy Too Many (1966)
Napoleon Solo
One of Our Spies Is Missing (1966)
The Caretakers (1963)
Jim Melford
The Big Show (1961)
Klaus Everard
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Lee
Good Day for a Hanging (1959)
Eddie Campbell
The Young Philadelphians (1959)
Chester Gwynne
Teenage Cave Man (1958)
The boy
Unwed Mother (1958)
Don Bigelow
No Time to Be Young (1957)
Buddy Root
Hell's Crossroads (1957)
Bob Ford
The Ten Commandments (1956)
Spearman/Hebrew at Golden Calf

Producer (Feature Film)

Witchslayer Gretl (2012)
Producer
Wide Awake (2007)
Producer
Cheater's Club (2006)
Executive Producer

Music (Feature Film)

On Deadly Ground (1994)
Song Performer
On Deadly Ground (1994)
Song

Cast (Special)

Steve McQueen: The E! True Hollywood Story (1998)
Lincoln (1992)
Voice
Dangerous Game of Fame (1992)
Manhunt... Update! (1989)
Host
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (1989)
You Are the Jury (1986)
Host
You Are the Jury (1986)
NBC's 60th Anniversary Celebration (1986)
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (1986)
The 37th Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards (1985)
Performer
Jimmy Durante Meets the Lively Arts (1965)
Guest

Producer (Special)

Cheater's Club (2006)
Executive Producer

Cast (Short)

Italy's in Season (1967)
Himself

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Menno's Mind (1997)
Tracks of Glory: The Major Taylor Story (1992)
Visions (1988)
Evergreen (1985)
The Blue and the Gray (1982)
Inside the Third Reich (1982)
Field Marshall Erhard Milch
The Gossip Columnist (1980)
Backstairs at the White House (1979)
The Rebels (1979)
Washington: Behind Closed Doors (1977)
Captains and the Kings Part 5 & 6 (1976)
Captains and the Kings (1976)

Life Events

1951

Moved to L.A.

1957

Played first leading role in features, "No Time to Be Young"

1957

Feature film debut, "Hell's Crossroads"

1962

Starred as A. Dunster Lowell, the title role in the NBC detective pilot, "The Boston Terrier"

1963

First TV series, played Capt. Raymond Rambridge, one of the three leading roles, on the NBC drama series, "The Lieutenant"

1964

Played Hamlet in a production at the Pasadena Playhouse

1972

First TV-movie, "The Woman Hunter"

1976

First TV miniseries, "Captains and the Kings"

1990

Played in "Love Letters" opposite Polly Bergen onstage in both New York and Los Angeles

1993

Hosted and served as narrator for the short-lived Fox-TV adventure spoof series, "Danger Theater"

1995

Joined the cast of the daytime drama, "As the World Turns", as attorney Rick Hamlin

1998

Had supporting role in the feature "BASEketball"

1998

Recieved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (July 27)

Photo Collections

The Magnificent Seven - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from The Magnificent Seven (1960). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
One of Our Spies is Missing - Publicity Stills
Here are a few publicity stills from MGM's One of Our Spies is Missing (1966), starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum from the TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E..

Videos

Movie Clip

To Trap A Spy (1964) - You Might Have Taken That Man Alive Joining a complex caper in which nameless espionage goons have penetrated a disguised Manhattan entrance to some modern agency, we see them nearly get past William Marshall (later known as “Blacula”) at the elevators, before they encounter Ilya (David McCallum), Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and their boss Allison (Will Kuluva), early in the sort-of TV pilot, then the delayed first feature film in the The Man From U.N.C.L.E. franchise, To Trap A Spy, 1966.
Young Philadelphians, The (1959) - Interesting Heredity On summer break from Princeton, pre-Law roommates Robert Vaughn, as ultra-rich party animal Chet, and Paul Newman as respectable but under-funded Tony, at the polo club, meet Chet’s guardian uncles, Robert Douglas, then Frank Conroy, who appears to know the secret of Tony’s lineage, in The Young Philadelphians, 1959.
S.O.B. (1981) - They Want Vice! Studio boss Robert Vaughn, with his number-two Larry Hagman and aides, summoned to the soundstage where producer Felix (Richard Mulligan) has his mojo back, having decided to convert his flop wholesome musical into an erotic fantasy, in Blake Edwards’ S.O.B., 1981.
Demon Seed - Try To Behave Rationally Susan (Julie Christie) makes the dramatic discovery that big Proteus 4 (voice of Robert Vaughn) has taken over little computer Alfred, which runs her home, in Demon Seed, 1977, directed by Donald Cammell.
Bullitt (1968) - We're Babysitting Delivered by his plainclothes detective crew (Don Gordon, Carl Reindel), Steve McQueen (title character) at the Pacific Heights, San Francisco home of politician Chalmers (Robert Vaughn), who’s hosting a fundraiser and has an assignment, early in director Peter Yates’ Bullitt, 1968.
Mind Of Mr. Soames, The (1970) - You're Going To Make Him Human Introducing the main players, Nigel Davenport the chief of a British neurological institute, Robert Vaughn, the American surgeon flying in to wake up his star patient, Terence Stamp as the title character, age 30 and comatose since birth, in The Mind Of Mr. Soames, 1970.
Mind Of Mr. Soames, The (1970) - It Was Never Easy Being Born Dr. Bergen (Robert Vaughn) has performed surgery which will cause Terence Stamp, the 30-year old title character, to wake from the coma he’s been in since birth, Nigel Davenport as Dr. Maitland, among those responding when the alarm sounds, in The Mind Of Mr. Soames, 1970.
Mind Of Mr. Soames, The (1970) - He Can't Have Things All His Own Way Several weeks since being awakened from a life-long coma at age 30, Terence Stamp (title character), guided by ambitious chief doctor Maitland (Nigel Davenport), takes his first steps, his surgeon Bergen (Robert Vaughn) more compassionate, in The Mind Of Mr. Soames, 1970.
Demon Seed - Proteus 4 Researcher Alex (Fritz Weaver) is narrating the history of the battleship-sized computer Proteus 4, then returning to his extra modern home, opening Demon Seed, 1977, from a novel by Dean R. Koontz.

Trailer

Clay Pigeon (1971) -- (Original Trailer) Arlo Guthrie’s “I Could Be Singing,” featured in the film, is the background for the original trailer for the budget-challenged counter-culture crime oddity, with it’s impressive cast, Clay Pigeon, 1971, by would-be Hollywood maverick director and star Tom Stern, not the well-known cinematographer.
S.O.B. (1981) -- (Original Trailer) Emphasis on the writer-director, his wife Julie Andrews, his company of Hollywood veteran pals, and Robert Preston getting the best lines, the original trailer for Blake Edwards’ indulgent satire, S.O.B., 1981.
Good Day For A Hanging - (Original Trailer) A reformed bank robber has to choose between his former gang and doing the right thing in A Good Day For A Hanging (1959) starring Fred MacMurray and Robert Vaughn.
Bullitt - (Original Trailer) Steve McQueen and a souped-up Mustang go roaring after the mob in San Francisco in Bullitt (1968).
Helicopter Spies, The - (Original Trailer) The Men from U.N.C.L.E. try to stop a band of would-be sorcerers from using a deadly weapon in The Helicopter Spies (1967).
Young Philadelphians, The - (Original Trailer) A young lawyer (Paul Newman) from the wrong side of town tries to break into society in The Young Philadelphians (1964).
Karate Killers, The - (Original Trailer) The men from U.N.C.L.E. fight off The Karate Killers (1967) to track down a secret formula that can turn sea water into gold.
One Spy Too Many - (Original Trailer) The Men from U.N.C.L.E. try to keep Rip Torn from conquering the world in One Spy Too Many (1965).
How to Steal the World - (Original Trailer) Secret agent Napoleon Solo fights to stop a top-secret plot to conquer the world in How to Steal the World (1968).
To Trap a Spy - (Original Trailer) The Men from U.N.C.L.E. try to stop the assassination of an African leader touring the U.S. in To Trap a Spy (1964).
Spy with My Face, The - (Original Trailer) Man from U.N.C.L.E. Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) battles his evil impersonator in The Spy with My Face (1965).
Glass Bottom Boat, The -- (Original Trailer) Doris Day is mistaken for a Russian spy in The Glass Bottom Boat (1966) co-starring Rod Taylor.

Family

Walter Vaughn
Father
Actor. Divorced from Vaughn's mother in 1933; died c. 1950.
Marcella Vaughn
Mother
Actor. Divorced from Vaughn's father in 1933.
Caitlin Vaughn
Daughter
Cassidy Vaughn
Child

Companions

Linda Staab
Wife
Married in 1974.

Bibliography

"Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting"
Robert Vaughn (1972)
"Christ, Shakespeare, Ho Chi Min: As I Knew Them"
Robert Vaughn

Notes

There is an official website at http://home.pacbell.net/cdezign/rv.html