Though not the first of TV's international-espionage series, NBC's The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was one of the most successful -- and, by virtue of its September 22, 1964, debut date -- the first series of its kind to directly benefit from the popularity of the earliest James Bond films starring Sean Connery.

It was the height of the Cold War, a time when most Americans had only the vaguest understanding of international espionage. Then, in 1964, the televised spy genre exploded on the screen in the U.S. and around the world when the groundbreaking series "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." pulled the covers off of the spy game in what became must-watch television for the next four years on NBC.

Both Illya and Napoleon Solo worked for the top-secret organization U.N.C.L.E., which stood for The United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. Armed with the latest in Bond-like gadgetry and weaponry, and maintaining communication with the home office by way of a tiny radio disguised as a fountain pen ("Open Channel D"), Solo and Illya traveled all over the world to fight the good fight against a wide variety of colorful villains, most of whom were in the employ of the international crime-and-terrorism organization THRUSH.