Farewell, Maxwell Smart

Don Adams, who as TV's Maxwell Smart lampooned spies, spy movies and an earlier generation of technology, has died at age 82.

Well before the era of the cell phone, Smart--also known as Agent 86 in the "Get Smart" series--was renowned for the portable telephone built into his shoe. In keeping with the state of the art at the time, the gadget had a rotary dial. Secure communications were also much on the mind of the fictional spies, and another notable technology from the show was the "cone of silence," the plexiglas equivalent of two tin cans connected by a wire. The device has long been surpassed by more sophisticated technology, but the phrase has become part of everyday language.

Besides his work on television, Adams was a stand-up comic and served in the Marines Corps in World War II (where he survived a bullet wound and disease on Guadalcanal, according to the New York Times). He won three Emmys for his comic role in "Get Smart," which ran from 1965 to 1970, and in the 1980s provided the voice for the title character in the animated series "Inspector Gadget."

According to the obituary written by the Los Angeles Times, Adams died of a lung infection Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was born Donald Yarmy in New York.

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About the author

Jonathan Skillings is managing editor of CNET News, based in the Boston bureau. He's been with CNET since 2000, after a decade in tech journalism at the IDG News Service, PC Week, and an AS/400 magazine. He's also been a soldier and a schoolteacher, and will always be a die-hard fan of jazz, the brassier the better.

 

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