A Year: Day to Day Men: 22nd of November
The Field of Straw
November 22, 1932 was the birthdate of actor Robert Vaughn.
Born in New York City, Robert Vaughn studied at the Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences, earning a Master’s Degree in theater. He received a Ph. D in communications from the University of Southern California in 1970. He published his dissertation as a book, “Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting” in 1972.
Vaughn made his television debut in November of 1955 on the series “Medic”, the first of more than two hundred appearances on the show. He first film appearance was as an uncredited extra playing a golden calf idolater visible behind Yul Brynner in a scene from “The Ten Commandments”. Vaughn’s first credited movie role was playing Bob Ford, the killer of Jesse James, in the 1957 western “Hell’s Crossroads”.
Vaughn’s first film appearance of note was in “The Young Philadelphians”, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. He next appeared as the gunman Lee in “ The Magnificent Seven” in 1960, the western adaption of Kuorsawa’s epic “ Seven Samurai”.
Robert Vaughn was offered his most memorable role in 1964, starring in his own series as secret agent Napoleon Solo in the television series “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”. His co-star was Scottish actor David McCallum who played fellow agent Illya Kuryakin. This role would make Robert Vaughn a household name even behind the Iron Curtain. This series which ran from 1964 to 1968 created a spin-off show, large amounts of merchandising, overseas theatrical movies, and a sequel.
After the series ended, Vaughn was given the role of playing the ambitious California politician Chalmers, in the critical and box-office smash film “Bullitt” starring Steve McQueen. Vaughn was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role. He won an Emmy for his portrayal of Frank Flaherty in ABC’s 1977 “Washington: Behind Closed Doors”. Vaughn did acting work in England also, appearing on the BBC drama “Hustle” and the British soap opera “Coronation Street”.
Robert Vaughn died from acute leukemia in Danbury, Connecticut on the 11th of November in 2016, eleven days before his eighty-fourth birthday. He was the first popular American actor to take a public stand against the Vietnam War and was an active member in the peace group Another Mother for Peace. Vaughn published his autobiography “A Fortunate Life” in 2008.