The entertainment industry is a vast world of tens of thousands of actors, directors, producers, lighting techs, pyrotechnics teams, and beyond. Thousands of artists come and go, in and out of random movies and television shows, but some actors, they linger, sometimes for decades. They slip in and out of roles like chameleons and before you know it, that guy you think you just learned about is a longtime performer with a list of movies you’ve seen maybe once or twice. Today we lost Robert Vaughn, one of those venerable working actors who starred in in quite a few movies over his decades-long career.
Vaughn will be missed. But he left behind so many roles for viewers to enjoy for years and years to come. Here are five Robert Vaughn characters to watch!
The Magnificent Seven
The 1960 remake of Akira Kurosawa’s samurai epic received an American old-west makeover and went on to become a classic film all it’s own. Starring legends like Yule Brenner and Steven McQueen, it also included a young Robert Vaughn. Vaughn was fresh off an Oscar nomination for his previous work in The Philadelphians and a rising star. Vaughn’s Lee was a broken veteran looking for confidence. On a side-note, Vaughn was the last living member of The Magnificent Seven.
Probably his best known modern pop culture role, Vaughn played Ross Webster, the antagonist in Superman 3. Webster was essentially a poor man’s Lex Luthor who never existed in the comics, but Vaughn played him with cheesy richness. Webster’s plan was to control the world’s oil AND, get this, coffee supplies and helped create a machine to kill Superman. That machine, of course, is built by Richard Pryor.
The 80s were a golden age of action TV shows, and one of the great hits was The A-Team. Vaughn was brought into the show in season five as a new character who oversaw or antagonized the gang of Robin Hood-like mercenaries. Here’s Robert Vaughn talking about working on The A-Team:
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Robert Vaughn’s most iconic role is that of Napoleon Solo in hit 1960s American TV series The Man From UNCLE. Vaughn’s character was a small-screen version of James Bond with the same sort of suave efficiency. UNCLE ran for four seasons but later reemerged as comics books in the 80s as well. During it’s run, several episodes of UNCLE included extra scenes shown in color at movie theaters.
In 1998, as South Park rose to power, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone wrote this weird little movie about a new sport that takes over the world. Part baseball, part basketball, the film is all comedy genius. Robert Vaughn stars as Cain, the owner of a team looking to increase his wealth and power in the fledgling league.