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Just when I thought I was done with the girls-from-UNCLE, I discovered the archive of newspapers.com. They don't let you see whole articles without a subscription, but with a little creativity it's not too hard to find pages with partial OCR text, which covers more than enough to give you the gist (if not the full text) of many an article. The auto-text isn't perfect — a search for articles featuring 'David McCallum' will get you a good crop of results, but there's no way to know how many you've missed where his name has been misread as 'MCCALLL;M' or 'MwOellm' or whatever else, and the archive doesn't cover every issue of every paper in US history by any means. But even if you assume whatever you find easily is just the tip of the iceberg, it's still a veritable goldmine of historical data.

For example, limit the dates to 1964-65 and feed in the names of May Heatherly and Grace Lee, and it soon becomes apparently that those first two oft-forgotten UNCLE girls didn't just appear in the early promotion for the show, they were major features. In fact, they were such major features that I've had to split my full, chronological list of who-appeared-where into a second post, but for the basic rundown and a few key articles, keep reading.

Robert Vaughn is still the star, of course, but any number of articles have more to say about Lee and Heatherly than they do about McCallum or Carroll, and were far more likely to print a picture of them. Some don't even mention Vaughn or UNCLE as more than an afterthought. At least one article features no more than a passing mention of anything relating to the show, but still finds space for a large photo Vaughn flanked by both those lovely ladies. Heatherly in particular was the favourite — not only was she a gorgeous young actress whose career might be just taking off, recently returned to the States from Spain, but she'd reportedly spent some of those years in Spain studying to be a bullfighter, only to have to give it up on discovering that women weren't actually allowed in the ring. Her casting in UNCLE didn't need to be more than a convenient excuse; May Heatherly was already a story in her own right.

No matter how long I spent looking for references to her, I went on stumbling onto still more quite by accident, while looking for something else altogether, such as the one that appears next to a blurb primarily about Anne Francis' role in Giuoco Piano (Heatherly herself doesn't appear at all in that episode, though she is in Quadripartite). Indeed, photos of her assuring us that she had a "continuing role" in the series continued to appear long after the last of her episodes had aired. One even turns up in Press and Sun-Bulletin from Binghamton, New York next to an article about The Indian Affairs Affair as late as 1966. (Another paper misidentifies an actress as Grace Lee in a promotional shot from the end of 1965.)



It's tempting to take all this interest as definitive evidence of some lost, early plan for Heather and Wanda to be much bigger parts of the show, but a lot of their media coverage can probably be attributed to something much baser: even long before the first innocents had been cast, the producers of UNCLE were keen to market themselves on sex appeal. And it worked, at least inasmuch as it got them photo features and extra press, because much of the media was only too keen to take the excuse to print a picture of a pretty girl, with a short caption to justify it as news. Why simply print a picture of Robert Vaughn holding a gun or standing in front of a shattered glass pane when you could print a picture of him with a gorgeous woman hanging off each arm instead? (An entire photoshoot's worth of shots seem to have been taken just for this purpose.)

Nevertheless, more than a few papers were clearly under the impression that these two women were meant to be a big part of the show, stating again and again that they played continuing roles. One TV guide listing from right before the pilot elevates them all the way to the status of the stars, saying, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” Globe-trotting plot-stymier Robert Vaughn is named Solo, (so, briefly, was the show) but David McCallum, Leo G. Carroll, Grace Lee and May Heatherly help make it a quintet (notably the only photo attached is of Vaughn alone).

Less is said about Grace Lee individually, though even she got at least one dedicated article to her name in July 1964 (absent any mention of Heatherly), plus a few other scattered references to her casting, such as that in one article on a variety of Asian actors slated to appear in the next TV season. By August 1964, however, at least a few journalists (see here here and here) must have received a new press release in which her ongoing role had been replaced by that of Linda Ho, as she, not Lee, is thereafter occasionally namechecked as the actress with a "continuing role" on the show, alongside May Heatherly. At least one photo of Linda Ho with Vaughn and Heatherly was released as well, though it's not nearly as pretty as most of those with Lee, and didn't get reprinted nearly so much.

Regardless, none of the Wandas would ever appear more than once in that role, and Heatherly appeared in only four episodes. Frustratingly, none of these articles are able to shed any light on why they vanished from the show so quickly — none were nearly famous enough for that sort of treatment.

By early 1965, the original UNCLE girls were rapidly disappearing from the news, and Leigh Chapman was taking their place. Unlike Lee and Heatherly, who were news long before their episodes were shot at all, articles about Chapman's role on UNCLE don't seem to start appearing until the first episodes featuring her are about to appear on screen, in February 1965. Her own UNCLE photoshoot and a minor side-career in modelling ensured the papers were again well-supplied with flattering images to print. Chapman would ultimately spend far more time on the show than either of the first two UNCLE girls, appearing as Sarah Johnson in 6 episodes from the later half of the first season — and like Heatherly, she was a story with or without UNCLE as the excuse. By the time her appearance on UNCLE was news, Chapman had already started writing professionally and selling finished scripts to the studios, despite being largely self-taught. Not only was she young and attractive, she was a multi-talented success story who might be right on the verge of even more. One article even strongly hints that Chapman was planning on writing for UNCLE too. She was also appearing in the papers in unrelated modelling shoots and advertising through this period, and some of her scripts were already in production or about to reach the screen. The articles about her listed below don't account for more than a fraction of the more interesting examples to appear in my search results — her name was turning up all over the place.




Notably, articles about both Heatherly and Chapman make a point of their getting to leave the office to play the occasional role in the field. Of Heatherly, we're told, "Often as not, she drops some poison darts, a hand grenade and a short-barreled pistol into her purse to join series star Robert Vaughn in pursuit of the bad guys.", and of Chapman, Rolfe himself is quoted as saying, “Occasionally she’ll be called upon to remove the pistol from her waist holster and join Solo in his adventures.” Heather McNabb never did get to play such a role, of course, though Sarah Johnson's very first filmed appearance (The Love Affair) let her do exactly that. Is that further evidence that Sarah really was cast as a direct replacement for Heather? It's hard to say, but it's nice to know that even if sex appeal played a big role in getting them so much press, the producers were keen to play up the idea they'd have more to do than stand around looking pretty.

Of course, by mid-1965, UNCLE didn't need to rely on either pretty girls or multi-talented costars to make the news, and one of its costars was busily discovering they had more sex appeal than he knew how to deal with, but that's a whole other story that deserves a post of its own.



Because I'm a big believer in citing my sources, and because I'm personally fascinated by all this stuff (and perhaps just as fascinated by the challenge of finding a way to summarise it concisely), I put all the links in a table and sorted them by date, with some notes as to which episodes were in production or airing around the same time, for context. Colour coding should make it fairly easy to see at a glance who was being promoted when.

But because this post is evidently also getting close to the LJ limit, I've had to strike it off into another post.



Text from a handful of the most interesting or relevant articles is reproduced below – for where these turned up chronologically, see the table. There's no need to go through all of it – but you should really check out at least one of those articles about Heatherly and the bulls, if nothing else.

Brief contents by subject:


May Heatherly

New Series Actress Signed
May 29, 1964
Reno Gazette-Journal from Reno, Nevada · Page 37


May Heatherly, who studies bull fighting as well as acting, had been signed to a continuing role in NBC-TV's full-hour action-adventure series "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," which will be seen on Tuesdays starting in September. Red-haired Miss Heatherly, 22, was born and raised in Hollywood, but had to go to Spain to be discovered as an actress. Following her graduation from Hollywood High School, May and her parents lived in Spain for three years. She returned to California briefly and appeared in several little theater plays and then returned to Spain, where she starred in three movies. She has been back in the United States ' for only five months and says the thing she misses most about Spain are the bulls. An avid student of the art of bull fighting, May often visited the Spanish bull farms where she was allowed to try her cape work, but Spain forbids women from actually fighting bulls in the ring. May joins series star Robert Vaughn and co-stars David Mc-Callum and Leo G. Carroll in "The Man From N.N.C.L.E.," dramas based on the inside ac-"The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," per-secret organization dedicated to world peace.

Reprinted: The Corpus Christi Caller, Texas, 31st May


Actress Trades In Cape And Sword
October 17, 1964
Biddeford-Saco Journal from Biddeford, Maine · Page 12


May Heatherly has traded her cape and sword for a cloak and dagger. The red-haired actress, who spent the past five years in Spain, has given up the idea of becoming the world's greatest woman toreador in favor of becoming a successful actress. She is earning her living as a regular east member in the new spy thriller “The Man From U.N.C.L.E., on Channel II Tuesdays (8:30-9:30 p.m.).

May plays the part of Heather, the curvy secretary for the super-secret world organization known as the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. Often as not, she drops some poison darts, a hand grenade and a short-barreled pistol into her purse to join series star Robert Vaughn in pursuit of the bad guys.

The 22-year-old beauty was born in Hollywood, but had to move to Spain to be discovered as an actress. She was living in Spain, where her father was in business, when she starred in several major Spanish movies and studied bull fighting. “It’s pretty hard for a girl to become really good at bull fighting in Spain,” says May. “It wasn’t until I had been reading and watching everything about the bull rings and even practicing for several months before someone told me that Spain has a law which forbids women from entering the ring. “It’s just as well that they didn’t let me in.” she admits, “because if I had ever struck a sword into a bull in front of all those people. I probably would have stood there and cried.”

Reprinted: San Antonio Express from Texas, 1st November, with a large photo, and in The News Leader from Staunton, Virginia, 4th December




Grace Lee

Beauty Winner Signs For Role
July 5, 1964
The Fresno Bee The Republican from Fresno, California · Page 113


HOLLYWOOD--Grace Lee
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. will make its debut on NBC- TV in September and will star Robert Vaughn and costars Leo G. Carroll, David McCallum and May Heatherly in regular roles. Vaughn portrays Napoleon Solo, a sophisticated enforcement agent for U.N.C.L.E., a mysterious organization dedicated to combatting worldwide crime and threats to the welfare of people in any country on the globe. The beauteous runnerup in the Miss World Contest of 1962, has been added to the regular cast of The "Man From U.N.C.L.E. series. The lovely young woman, who hails from Formosa is 20 years old and has starred in several Chinese language films in her homeland. She has appeared in South Pacific and Flower Drum Song in the United States.




Leigh Chapman

Leigh Chapman To Portray Secretary
February 6, 1965
Biddeford-Saco Journal from Biddeford, Maine · Page 10


Sam Rolfe, producer of NBC— TV’s “The Man From U.N.C. L.E.,” has named actress - writer Leigh Chapman for the role of Sarah, Napoleon Solo’s (series star Robert Vaughn) new secretary. Monday’s (8-9 p. m.;. Rolfe said Miss Chapman, who writes television scripts in addition to acting in them, will be a semi-regular on the action- adventure series as a “gal Friday” around U.N.C.L.E. headquarters. “Her main duties will be to serve as Solo’s secretary and his link with headquarters when he’s on assignment,” says Rolfe. “Occasionally she’ll be called upon to remove the pistol from her waist holster and join Solo in his adventures.” Miss Chapman, whose home is Central, S.C., hopes to write a few scripts for “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” “What better way is there to get bigger parts than writing them yourself?” she asks.


Writing man's actress
March 7, 1965
Green Bay Press-Gazette from Green Bay, Wisconsin · Page 67


ACTRESS Leigh (pronounced Lee) Chapman soon may be able to write her own ticket in this town. She already is able to write her own teleplay. Leigh, a bountifully beauteous brunette, is one of the few Hollywood actresses whose acting and writing credits have been lengthening at approximately the same rate. But now Leigh, the writer, will have to go some to keep up with Leigh, the actress. That's because Leigh, the actress, has become the newest regular in NBC-TV's "The Man From U. N. C. L. E." (Mondays 7 p.m. WFRV-TV). The brown-eyed lovely appears as Sarah, the secretary of Napoleon Solo, series star Robert Vaughn.

Leigh's writing career started at Win-throp College in South Carolina. "It was a girls' school" says she, "and there was nothing else to do." Graduated cum laude in three years, Leigh went to Hollywood not to become a writer or even an actress, but because her husband wanted to become an actor. When the plan failed and, with it, the marriage, Leigh had to go to work. She became secretary to a lawyer in a big talent agency. In nothing flat, she was miserable. "I decided I wanted to become an actress," she said, "but I was scared. I'd sneak out on my lunch hour to classes and auditions, but I was always afraid I'd get canned. Meanwhile, I was saving my money. "After a year, my boss dared me to quit and take the plunge into acting. He must have gotten tired of me sitting in the office crying." Leigh got her first job when her roommate's agent tipped her to a small part in a "Burke's Law" episode. Other roles followed in' episodes of "Dr. Kildare," Chrysler Theatre" and even a lead in Tony Francioso's series.

One role, however, did not lead to' another. Between roles she did commercials ' and modeling. At this point, TV writer Ed Lakso came into her life, via a blind date to a writers' guild dinner. When Lakso offered her $50 to type a script, sfie accepted. "Things were very, very lean," she explained, "and I like money. I typed maybe 12 scripts and, in the process, read them. I started to think how much more I could make writing than typing. "Meanwhile, Ed and I started dating. And when you're dating a writer, you hear him discuss scripts all the time and you learn." ' Leigh learned. She wrote her first screenplay, for a low budget movie, in five days. Since then, she has written two "Burkes" and a "Kildare" episode. As for writing vs. acting, Leigh prefers writing, "especially over the long haul. It's more satisfying. I hate hunting jobs. I'm the hermit type. I even write in a closet a big one, but it's still a closet." Leigh didn't have to go hunting for her "U. N. C. L. E." role. The producer, remembering her acting on the "Dr. Kildare" show, hunted for her. Now Leigh intends to divide her time between typewriter and camera.

Reprinted 13th March, in The Berkshire Eagle as "Actress Writes Her Own Ticket"

I feel it only fair to mention that over on Stephen Bowie's blog, he reports receiving a copy of this article (or some reprint thereof) from Chapman, with a post-it note attached reading: "Crying in an office? No f---ing way. And Bob Hope Theatre? Never even heard of it."


Leigh Chapman Poses Double Threat
April 16, 1965
Asbury Park Press from Asbury Park, New Jersey · Page 12

[Includes Photo of Chapman]

TV shows may not be Improving in quality this season, but the writers are getting prettier. A pleasing sample is handsome, well-proportioned Leigh Chapman who plays the new secretary to Napoleon Solo on "The Man From Uncle" series. At the moment Leigh will report on "The Uncle" set at 6 a.m., do her scenes, finish at noon, and then rush to Columbia Studios to become a writer for a picture temporarily called "It's A Tough Life." In the past year Miss Chapman has turned into a lady with two careers: acting small parts in "Burke's Law," "Dr. Kildare," "The Bob Hope Theatre" and "Valentine's Day," and writing scripts for two "Burke's Law," one "Dr. Kildare," and two low budget pictures: "Swinging Summer" and "Juniper Hodge, Private Eye." Both of Leigh's creative ventures are just beginning and she's not sure the whole thing isn't a dream. "This last season was the first time I've ever made money in my life," she says. "It feels marvelous. I say, 'You, Rosalie Chapman, are making good money for putting words on paper.' I can't believe it."


Kannapolis Girl Writes Movies — And Acts Too
July 4, 1965
The Daily Independent from Kannapolis, North Carolina · Page 2

[Small photo with article]

This one took up so much space I had to make a whole new post for it, as this one was already costing close to the LJ limit. It's a really good read though, and goes through Chapman's life and career to date in a lot of detail, though obviously a lot of the contents are already covered in the shorter articles above.


Independence Day 1965
Multiple papers print photos of Chapman from a modelling shoot, wearing a suitably patriotically-themed outfit, often mentioning her role in the show, eg.



Articles about the show

Ken Murphy Screens TV
August 09, 1964
Waterloo Daily Courier - Page 18
Scan of Article


Found a scan of this one on the web (second link above), and by luck, was finally able to track down the original publication date and the paper it came from.

Anyway, this is an opinionated article about upcoming TV, functioning less as a review of the show than a review of the whatever press release Mr. Murphy was working with. Lightly mocking but informative. What stands out about this one to me is that it's the one early-promo article I've seen which lists as recurring guest stars not May Heatherly and Grace Lee, but instead May Heatherly and Linda Ho, who'd appear as Wanda in The Green Opal Affair. It also mentions Illya's middle name of Nickovetch, which I don't think I've seen more than a handful of times anywhere in my sources. A photo of Vaughn, Heatherly and Ho also appears in the Australian TV Guide sometime later (presumably Australia didn't get UNCLE until a year or more after everyone else), so clearly the press releases were updated


Tuesday Premiere - U.N.C.L.E. Promises Adventure
September 18, 1964
Fort Lauderdale News from Fort Lauderdale, Florida · 55
Scan of Article


One neat little piece of pre-premiere hype that I did want to share, as not only is it one of few to namecheck Linda Ho as well as May Heatherly (and Illya's middle name again), it also adds some neat details about standing sets and props, including the infamous UNCLE Special.

Excitement, adventure, suspense and a touch cf humor. Mix all these ingredients together and you have one of television's most looked-forward-to new series of the fall season, "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," premiering Tuesday on NBC. The series, which stars Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo, sophisticated enforcement agent for U.N.C.L.E., a mysterious organization dedicated to combating world-wide crime and threats to the welfare of people in any country on the globe, is television's answer to the highly popular spy-adventure stories which have been captivating motion picture audiences recently.

THRUSH IS ENEMY
U.N.C.L.E. which is an abbreviation for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement has as its principal enemy an organization called "Thrush," a world-wide group cf evil for hire. U.N.C.L.E.'s assignments may -range from stopping Thrush from firmg a deadly missile from the U.S. into friendly Canada to discovering why a tractor ordered by a Siberian farmer turns out to be a walking mechanical monster. Co-starring in the series are the veteran actor Leo G. Carroll as Mr. Waverly, Napoleon Solo's immediate superior and a high official in U.N.C.L.E., and the brilliant young Scottish actor David McCallum, soon to be seen as Judas in "The Greatest Story Ever Told," as U.N.C.L.E. agent Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin.

Adding a touch of glamour to U.N.C.L.E. headquarters will be 22-year-old May Heatherly, who was signed for the series after starring in three films In Spain, and the lovely Chinese actress, Linda Ho.

PROP MEN BUSY
Handling the production reins on the series for Arena Productions and MGM Television will be Executive Producer Norman Felton, who serves in a similar capacity for the studio's popular "Dr. Kildare" series, and Producer Sam Rolfe, who produced "The Eleventh Hour." They also are the co-developers of "U.N.C.L.E." Perhaps among the busiest behind-the-scenes workers on the series will be the prop and special effects men, who have assignments to create such innovcations as a pocket-Eize, convertible pistol-rifle dubbed "The U.N.C.L.E. Special" and a workable model of a cigaret lighter-tape recorder which will be used by U.N.C.L.E. agents.

Perhaps among the busiest behind-the-scenes workers on the series will be the prop and special effects men, who have assignments to create such innovations as a pocket-size, convertible pistol-rifle dubbed "The U.N.C.L.E. Special" and a workable model of a cigaret lighter-tape recorder
which will be used by U.N.C.L.E. agents.

Several standing sets already have been built at MGM featuring the colorful interior and exterior of U.N.C.L.E. headquarters in New York City, plus the many bizarre locations used by the agents of Thrush.

In all, the series is one which promises to take its viewers on an exciting trip along the high road to adventure.


Video's 'Man from UNCLE'
Cover, Article Scan
November 15, 1964
Honolulu Star-Advertiser from Honolulu, Hawaii · 78


Another interesting article, evidently drawn from the same material as the two above, as it again namechecks Linda Ho and mentions Illya's middle name. This one also came with a cover page (supposedly originally in colour) featuring a photo of May Heatherly. The OCR text for this one was a mess, so I've only copied a small chunk of the most relevant text, but there's some interesting stuff in the rest of the article, mostly about Vaughn having to deal with deep-water scenes when he could barely swim. (One has to laugh a little at their inevitably choosing Mata Hari as the example of a real-world 'feminine spy'. Hey writers, lemme talk to you about Christine Granville and Nancy Wake instead for one red-hot second!)

This week's color cover subject, pretty May Heatherly, a communications research agent, uses
he beauty and charm to combat international spies for UNCLE.

And you needn't wince. Pretty young ladies have been the secret weapon of international spy rings dating back to the days of Cleopatra---and even before. Miss Mata Hari was the master of deadly feminine spies.

But TV's Napoleon Solo hasn't met HER yet.


“With Gun in Hand and Tongue in Cheek”
24th October 1964
TV Guide

TV Guide Cover, Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4
This is one of those classic old TV Guide articles that featured UNCLE, dating to only about a month after the show first began to air, and it's fascinating as a glimpse of how the show was first marketed. The title is such a great summation it could apply to any of the first three seasons, but the article focuses heavily on Robert Vaughn as the star, with only a single mention of David McCallum's Illya. May Heatherly gets as much space as he does, and even slightly more (no sign of any of the Wandas here). By the next time UNCLE warranted a TV Guide cover, it was April the following year, and the title was "The Greatest Thing Since Peanut Butter and Jelly" - a dedicated profile of David McCallum and his fanbase.


TV Heroes Are All Handsome And Invincible
November 1 1964
Chicago Tribune

[Photo of Vaughn with Lee and Heatherly]
This one I include partially because the Chicago Tribune will let me link to the full article text, but mostly just because it puzzles me. It turned up in my search only because the article features a large photo of Vaughn, Heatherly and Lee, but the title sounds like it could be a reference to Norman Felton's earliest concept for the series (to wit: assorted frustrations with the ubiquity of the generic beefy 6-foot tall action hero and the lack of variety in TV drama). But the article itself is a long stream of assorted quotes and handwavy ideas about what makes a TV hero successful, and it actually references The Man from UNCLE only in passing, and so vaguely that I'm not even entirely sure what point it's supposed to make. The writer seems to have no idea of the potential irony of the title in combination with the show they've picked as an illustration, and takes a lot of words to say what mostly amounts to, "Turns out most folks like escapism and some wish-fulfillment fantasy in their TV. What a great shame that low-brow fare is so popular! But it's pretty hard to come up with novel ideas that work well in a weekly format, so you get a lot of same-y stuff. Whodathunk?" Possibly this seemed like a more novel sort of observation 50 years ago, though I doubt it.

The article is by Cynthia Lowry, who you probably haven't heard of, but by the time you've spent as many hours as I have going through old entertainment news, you start to recognise her name (and then you start recognising her articles by style before you've even seen her name). Ms Lowry evidently had a very successful career selling thinkpiece entertainment news to a great number of different newspapers back in the 60's. She doesn't seem to have been much impressed with UNCLE, so I tend to grumble a bit whenever I run into her name, but she certainly seems to have had quite the successful career.

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mrua7
Jul. 15th, 2017 06:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this!
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