The Everett Collection

Success caught Get Smart's Barbara Feldon by surprise

For many actors, success is the ultimate goal. For others, it's just a nice added bonus. However, for Get Smart's Barbara Feldon, success came as a surprise. 

Feldon was best known for her role as Agent 99 in the 1965 series, Get Smart. Feldon was a lot like her character in real life: smart, calm, composed and, of course, stylish.

All of those traits made her character the perfect counterpart to series star, Maxwell Smart, played by Don Adams. But before Feldon was Agent 99 on Get Smart, the actress mainly had success in commercials. 

While she made good money and had some fame to her name from her commercial work, according to a 1968 interview with Progress Bulletin, Feldon had no idea her career would explode the way it did after becoming Agent 99.

"I never expected the kind of big success that you can have from TV," Feldon said. "I would have been a fool to expect it. I had worked so long and hard in the commercial area that I had no fantasies."

Get Smart was a blend of spy fiction and comedy, which appealed to a wide audience. The series was successful in terms of viewership, especially during the early seasons. The series not only made her rich, but it provided Feldon with many other acting opportunities.

According to the interview, because of Get Smart's success she was able to land a role in a film and was opposite to Dick Van Dyke, as well as recurring roles on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In

"There is the shocking and surprising realization at first that people know who you are," Feldon said. "I go to the market and see my picture on the cover of a magazine and it seems like it's somebody else's picture."

Feldon thought Get Smart would be her only TV series, but it was just the beginning of her long career. Despite having newfound fame, money and opportunity, Feldon couldn't have cared less about success.

She was content with what she had, and with an amazing role like Agent 99, we wouldn't be complaining much either! 

"I have no desire to be a superstar," Feldon said. "It can interfere with living. Some are desirous of this. They need it and are willing to invest the time, but it can't add anything to my life. I need room to grow and time to do it in."

"People start living extravagantly," Feldon continued. "One must resist getting pulled into their orbit of extravagance. I really don't believe it's wise or necessary to live on that scale. You become burdened by your own status symbol."

Forget money and fame; being Agent 99 was enough of a ''status symbol'' for Feldon.

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