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Robert Vaughn (1932)

Robert Francis Vaughn

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Robert Francis Vaughn, , is an American actor noted for stage, film and television work. His best known roles include the suave spy Napoleon Solo in the 1960s television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., wealthy detective Harry Rule in the 1970s television series The Protectors, Albert Stroller in the BBC One series Hustle, as Lee in the feature film The Magnificent Seven and as the voice of Proteus, the computer in the feature film The Demon Seed.


 early life
Vaughn was born in New York City to performer parents: Marcella Frances (née Gaudel), a stage actress, and Gerald Walter Vaughn, a radio actor. He is of Irish and French ancestry, After his parents divorced Vaughn lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his grandparents while his mother traveled. He attended North High School and later enrolled in the University of Minnesota as a journalism major. He quit after a year and moved to Los Angeles, California with his mother. He enrolled in Los Angeles City College, then transferred to Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences, where he earned a Master's degree in theater. Continuing his higher education even through his successful acting career, Vaughn earned a Ph.D. in communications from the University of Southern California, in 1970. In 1972, he published his dissertation as the book Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting.

Vaughn made his television debut on the November 21, 1955 "Black Friday" episode of the American TV series Medic, the first of more than two hundred episodic roles by mid-2000. He appeared with Virginia Christine in the episode "The Twisted Road", the story of a troubled brother-sister relationship which results in the murder of a young woman, of the western syndicated series, Frontier Doctor, starring Rex Allen in the title role.

His first film appearance was as an uncredited extra in The Ten Commandments , playing a golden calf idolater and also visible in a scene in a chariot behind that of Yul Brynner. Vaughn's first credited movie role came the following year in the Western Hell's Crossroads , in which he played the real-life Bob Ford, the killer of outlaw Jesse James. After being seen by Burt Lancaster in Calder Willingham's play End as a Man, Vaughn was signed to a contract with Lancaster's film company and was to have played the Steve Dallas role in The Sweet Smell of Success but was drafted into the Army before he could begin the film.

Vaughn's first notable appearance was in The Young Philadelphians for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture. Next he appeared as gunman Lee in The Magnificent Seven , a role he essentially reprised 20 years later in Battle Beyond the Stars , both films being adaptations of filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's 1954 Japanese samurai epic, Seven Samurai. Vaughn played a different role, Judge Oren Travis, on the 1998-2000 syndicated TV series The Magnificent Seven. Vaughn is the only surviving member of the title cast of the original 1960 film .

In the 1963-1964 season, Vaughn appeared in The Lieutenant as Captain Raymond Rambridge alongside Gary Lockwood, the Marine second lieutenant at Camp Pendleton. His dissatisfaction with the somewhat diminished aspect of the character led him to request an expanded role. During the conference, his name came up in a telephone call and he ended up being offered a series of his own - as Napoleon Solo, title character in a series originally to be called Solo, but which became The Man from U.N.C.L.E. after the pilot was reshot with Leo G. Carroll in the role of Solo's boss. This was the part that would make Vaughn a household name even behind the Iron Curtain . Earlier, Vaughn had guest starred on Lockwood's ABC series Follow the Sun.
Also in 1963 he appeared in an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show as Jim Darling, a successful businessman and an old flame of Laura Petrie in 'It's A Shame She Married Me'.

From 1964 to 1968, Vaughn played Solo with Scottish co-star David McCallum playing his fellow agent Illya Kuryakin. This production spawned a spin-off show, large amounts of merchandising, overseas theatrical movies of re-edited episodes, and a sequel The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. - The Fifteen-Year-Later Affair. In the year the series ended, Vaughn landed a large role playing Chalmers, an ambitious California politician in the film Bullitt starring Steve McQueen; he was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role.

Vaughn continued to act, in television and in mostly B movies. He starred in two seasons of the British detective series The Protectors in the early 1970s, and a decade later starred with friend George Peppard in the final season of The A-Team. According to Dirk Benedict, Vaughn was actually added to the cast of that show because of his friendship with Peppard. It was hoped Vaughn would help ease tensions between Mr. T and Peppard.

In 2004, after a string of guest roles on series such as Law & Order, in which he had a recurring role during season eight, Vaughn experienced a resurgence. He began co-starring in the British series Hustle, made for BBC One, which was also broadcast in the United States on the cable network AMC. In the series, Vaughn plays elder-statesman con artist Albert Stroller, a father figure to a group of younger grifters. In September 2006, he guest-starred in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Since the mid-1990s, Vaughn has been a spokesman in a set of generic advertisements for various personal injury law firms around the U.S.A. and Canada, such as that of Mark E. Solomone and the Eichholz Law Firm. The television commercial features Vaughn urging injured complainants to "...tell the insurance companies you mean business."

Vaughn also appeared as himself narrating and being a character in a radio play broadcast by BBC Radio 4 in 2007 about making the film The Bridge at Remagen in Prague, Czechoslovakia, during the Russian invasion of 1968.

Frequent references are made to his playing Napoleon Solo and the character's great spying abilities.

In November 2011, it was announced that Vaughn will appear for three weeks in the long running British soap opera Coronation Street in early 2012.

  • In August 1955, shortly before his screen debut, Robert Vaughn was cast as Judas Iscariot in The Pilgrimage Play, at the historic Pilgrimage Theater in Hollywood. The venue, now known as the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, was built in the 1920s for annual productions of the play by theosophist Christine Wetherill Stevenson.
  • He appeared in the United States in the early 1970s as the lead actor in the Tom Stoppard play, The Real Inspector Hound.
  • Has portrayed Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman in addition to Woodrow Wilson, in the 1979 television miniseries Backstairs at the White House. He additionally played Roosevelt on TV, in the 1982 telefilm FDR: That Man in the White House).

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Robert Vaughn", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.