rallamajoop: (Leigh Chapman)
[personal profile] rallamajoop
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 every time it appeared, 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.

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.

Such factors aside, it could be tempting to take some of this as evidence of some lost, early plan for Heather and Wanda to be much bigger parts of the show, but what's really going on is probably much simpler: 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. It's Evony-marketing, 60's style, if not quite so dishonest — pretty girls would always be a feature on the show, just perhaps not these pretty girls necessarily .

Articles mentioning Heatherly and Lee started appearing long before the show made it to the air, and continued until significantly after the last of the few episodes actually featuring either of them had aired. Often, their role was limited to adding eye-candy to photos where the focus was on Vaughn (an entire photoshoot's worth of shots seem to have been taken just for this purpose), but as many had something to say about the girls' actual jobs on the show, and others found space to talk about them without a single photo anywhere. At least one article even mentions Linda Ho, who replaced Grace Lee as Wanda after Lee's single actual appearance (she appears with Vaughn and Heatherly in at least one promotional photo too — ironically, Linda Ho would only appear once in the role herself). Frustratingly, none of these articles are able to shed much light on why Heatherly and the various Wandas vanished from the show so quickly — neither 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), below you will find a list of source links, and the text from some of the most interesting news items. No-one's obligated to read all of it, but you should really check out at least one of those articles about Heatherly and the bulls, if nothing else.

Links are organised by date – to put things in context, I've included a list of what episodes were in production and what was airing as all this news came out. Coloured text identifies each actress named and each episode they appeared in.

Links go either to the exact newspaper.com article, unless marked with a ▼, in which case the link is a shortcut to the article text, which I've reproduced below.

In Production Airing News Item – About
May ▼ 29th, Article ✶ – Hiring of May Heatherly, bulls
27th Column – Film news, mentions hiring of May Heatherly
▼ 31st, Copy of ✶
Jun Iowa-Scuba
Jul King of Knaves ▼ 5th, Article – Hiring of Grace Lee
Green Opal
Deadly Games
Aug Quadripartite 8th Column – TV News, mentions hiring of Lee & Heatherly
Giuoco Piano 8th TV Week Cover Story – UNCLE hype, photo of Heatherly
Dove 30th TV Mag Cover, pg2 – Vaughn with Heatherly & Lee
Double ▼ ?? Column – UNCLE, photo Heatherly, mentions Linda Ho
Sep Love 22nd Vulcan 12th Article – UNCLE, mentions Heatherly & Lee
Project Strigas 29th Iowa-Scuba 29th, PhotoHeatherly & Lee, caption about UNCLE

Oct Finny Foot 6th Quadripartite 6thHeatherly listed with UNCLE stars for Quadripartite
Yellow Scarf 13th Shark ▼ 17th, Article ◊ – Heatherly & bulls
Terbuf 20th Deadly Games ▼ 24th Feature Article – UNCLE, mentions Heatherly
25th TV Week Cover – Vaughn with Heatherly & Lee
27th Green Opal 30th, Photo ★ – Heatherly, caption about UNCLE
Nov Fiddlesticks ▼ 1st, Copy of ◊ & PhotoHeatherly & bulls
10th Giuoco Piano ▼ 1st Article – Mentions UNCLE, photo of Heatherly & Lee
17th Double 15th, PhotoHeatherly, caption about UNCLE
24th Project Strigas 22nd, PhotoHeatherly, caption about UNCLE
Dec Deadly Decoy 1st Finny Foot
Secret Sceptre 8th Neptune
Mad Tea Party 15th Dove
Bow-Wow 22nd King of Knaves
29th Terbuf
Jan Four Steps 5th 16th, Copy of ★Heatherly appearing in UNCLE
See Paris And Die 11th Deadly Decoy 23rd, PhotoHeatherly, caption about UNCLE
Hong Kong Shilling 18th Fiddlesticks
25th Yellow Scarf
Feb Never-Never 1st Mad Tea Party ▼ 6th, Article – Hiring of Leigh Chapman
Girls of Nazarone 8th Secret Sceptre 12th, PhotoChapman, caption about hiring for UNCLE
Gazebo-Maze 15th Bow-Wow 20th, PhotoChapman, caption about acting & writing
22nd Four Steps
Mar Odd Man 1st See Paris And Die 6th, PhotoChapman, short caption about UNCLE
8th Brain-Killer ▼ 7th, Article+Photo † – Chapman writing/acting + UNCLE
15th Hong Kong Shilling 13th, Copy of †Chapman
22nd Never-Never
29th Love
Apr 5th Gazebo-Maze 11th, Photo ‡ – Chapman, short caption
12th Girls of Nazarone 12th, Copy of ‡Chapman
19th Odd Man ▼ 16th, Article+PhotoChapman, UNCLE, acting & writing
May 26th 30th, Feature PhotoChapman, UNCLE, acting & writing
June 3rd 6th, PhotoHeatherly, caption about UNCLE
10th 6th, PhotoChapman, caption about UNCLE
July 17th ▼ 4th - Independence Day
▼ 4th, Extended Article+PhotoChapman, writing & acting

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.

Grace Lee

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

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

Found this one on the web, sans attribution, and to my frustration, haven't been able to track down a source. Probably published sometime August-early September, but I've no way of knowing for sure.

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. 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

“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.

But even if UNCLE is briefly recognised as perhaps more a spoof of the 'handsome invincible hero' than a straight example, it's still clearly good enough to serve as an illustration — and a perfect excuse to print pictures of two very pretty girls as well! Isn't it good to know the Chicago Tribune has loftier standards than all that shallow pandering to the masses you get on TV?
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