Don Adams (1923-2005)
Before I ever saw a James Bond movie, I was well-versed in the cliches of secret agent skullduggery by the '60s TV classic Get Smart, starring comic Don Adams and with brilliant behind the scenes work by co-creators Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. But Adams did the heavy lifting in front of the camera, with a razor sharp sense of timing to pull off every "Would you believe...?" and "Sorry about that, Chief."
Adams was also a gifted impressionist, and is equally remembered for his cartoon voice work (I spent a healthy chunk of my childhood trying to ape Tennessee Tuxedo), but it was Agent 86 that followed him through his career, getting dusted off every decade or so for another attempt to recreate the magic of the original.
So his death this week from a respiratory illness comes as sad news, although learning that he was the only survivor of his Marine platoon on Guadalcanal, and that he was a frequent guest at the Playboy Mansion, makes one realize he's already been to heaven and hell.
For more on Adams remarkable life and career, check out the obituary written by son-in-law and talented character actor Jim Beaver.