welcome to.... S.J. Dibai's House of I SPY
No, your eyes do not deceive you. This is not a picture of Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson.
a website dedicated to the WONDERFULNESS of this 1960s television series
(The background on this page should be marble. If it showed up white, it's not my fault!) For the color referred to, see original look
Whether you're an I SPY expert or just a web surfer who's never heard of the show, this site is for you. I will be talking about all the things that made I SPY so special, including the casting, the location photography, and the dialect used by the series' stars. I will also have more in-depth features for the I SPY connoiseur. So just kick back, relax, and be sure to bookmark this page because you'll probably want to revisit it! :-)
General Information (didn't he fight in the Civil War?) about the series:
Cast:?Robert Culp as Kelly Robinson
Bill Cosby as Alexander Scott (who was usually known as "Scott" or "Scotty")
Ken Tobey as Russ Conway (season three)
Creator and Executive Producer: Sheldon Leonard
Producers: Morton Fine and David Friedkin
Script Continuity: Michael Preece
(Hollywood) Director of Photography: Fleet Southcott
Location Production Manager: Leon Chooluck
(seen right with Sheldon Leonard in 1966)
Location Production Facilites/Consultant and Location Director of Photography: Fouad Said
The Catchy Theme Music: Earl Hagen
The Ultra-Cool Title Sequence: Format Productions
I SPY ran in first-run installments from September 15, 1965 to April 15, 1968 on NBC. It produced a total of 82 episodes. For its first two seasons (56 episodes), it was seen on Wednesday nights at 10:00. For its final season, NBC moved it to Monday nights at that same time--in which time slot the ratings plummeted and Sheldon Leonard was more or less forced to pull the plug. The entire series was done in color, despite the plethora of black-and-white publicity photos of its stars.
So, what is this I SPY all about, anyway??
Kelly Robinson is a globetrotting tennis player, a guest at some of the finest mansions around the world--the consummate "tennis bum." He was a law student at Princeton before he went on to become a star athlete. Alexander Scott, his trainer and traveling companion, is a linguist and quite the intellectual. Scotty attended Temple University and went on to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He often serves as Kelly's interpretor. What most of the outside world doesn't know, however, is that these guys are more than just a winning tennis company--together, they comprise one of America's top intelligence teams!
Kelly and Scotty have a very close, personal relationship. Scotty once described Kelly as "somebody who was like a brother to me." (Was because he thought Kelly was dead, but that's another story--see episode #34, "Trial By Treehouse.") Even though they are such great friends, they have wildly different personalities. Kelly spends much of his time drinking, smoking, and womanizing, while Scotty would rather read or take pictures to send home to his mother, whom he calls regularly--he cares VERY much about his family. Both of them are well educated, well-read, and extremely talented as agents. And they both have a sense of humor. Much of their dialogue is quite memorable for that reason. In fact, one has to wonder how many of their witty exchanges were actually scripted. It is well-known by now that Culp and Cos had a knack for ad-libbing.
Something that's very interesting about I SPY is the answer to the question, "Who did they work for?" (Or "For whom did they work?" if you're a grammatical purist.) They definitely worked for the US government, but even though people assume that the CIA was their specific employer, this isn't so. Episode #71, "Anyplace I Hang Myself Is Home," includes a scene in which Russ Conway (I'll tell you about him in a minute) says to a class of spy-school students, "...we're more military than the CIA, and less publicized." Of course, this episode is not without its inaccuracies if previous episodes are to be believed, but you get my point. Truth be told, the guys' department or agency was never specified; it was usually referred to as "The Department." Of course, this being an especially hot time in the Cold War, their enemies' employers were collectively known as "The Other Side."
Getting back to Russ Conway, he was our boys' hard-nosed boss. Ken Tobey had appeared in episode #53, "Magic Mirror," as a tough superior named "Gabe," but when he became a recurring cast member, his character's name changed to "Conway," then "Russ Conway," and finally "Russell Gabriel Conway." And how's this for trivia: in the end credits of "Anyplace I Hang Myself Is Home," an episode in which Tobey's character is definitely named Russ Conway, it says, "Ken Tobey as Jeff." Want to be even more confused? Okay--episode #2, "A Cup Of Kindness," features Kelly's former mentor, whose name is Russ Conley!
All in all, I SPY ran for three exciting seasons that will probably never be forgotten in the annals of television history. As the series progressed, the relationship and dialogue between Kelly and Scotty just got better. And even though I SPY had its share of bad scripts, it still maintained a certain level of quality throughout its run. Even the worst episodes rose above the level of complete trash due to Culp and Cosby's coolness and chemistry. (I am now eligible for the alliteration prize!) And now, let's see what else makes I SPY so darn special....
The Illustrated Guide to I Spy