Tag Archive: Mission Impossible


MISSION: EMBARRASSING by Tony Piazza

      One fine summer day, A.T.A. (during the Age of Television Antennas) I decided to go visit my father on location for an episode of “Mission Impossible” (The original T.V. series, C.B.S.). Actually the company was shooting the prologue for a number of episodes where Phelps gets his instructions via the most advanced technology of that day (1970) – a reel to reel tape recorder! These were hidden in various locations around the city -San Francisco Zoo, Golden Gate Park…a telephone booth?* and later they would dub in the voice giving the instructions… “Good morning, Mr. Phelps,” etc. (you know the routine). This day they were at Civic Center at the library building across from City Hall. I had met and talked with one of the I.M.F. members, Rollin Hand (MARTIN LANDAU) on the set of “They Call Me Mister Tibbs” (He was married then to another “Mission” member Cinnamon Carter (BARBARA BAIN), but now I was going to meet the big boss himself…Mr. Phelps (PETER GRAVES). I made two mistakes that day however; one was that I brought a high school friend with me, and the other was that I brought this high school friend with me. Yes, it was that bad! No sooner had we arrived and started walking towards the location when Peter Graves stepped out of a building in front of us and my friend shouted to my extreme dismay, “Hey, look…there’s James Arness’s** younger brother!”

IMF Team (Landau, Graves, and Bain)

“Good morning, Mister Phelps…your assignment if you wish to accept it, is to kick this smart mouth kid in the…”

Well I guess that summed up my attitude at that moment.

Graves was a good sport about it, but I’ve never forgot it!

Martin Landau and myself (1970)

THIS MESSAGE WILL SELF DESTRUCT IN….

As an aside, I first met the director of photography, MICHEL HUGO on that show. Subsequently he would become my boss on “The Streets of  San Francisco,” “Bert D’ Angelo, Superstar”, and two TV movies. He and his wife, Gloria also became good friends. Sadly he passed away a couple of years ago.

Cinematographer Michel Hugo, lobby of QM Studios 1970s 

* What writer with a massive salary came up with that gem!

** For my younger readers- James Arness was Matt Dillion, Marshall of the long running TV show “Gunsmoke.”

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 Tony Piazza is author of the 1930s Hollywood murder mystery novel; “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His next novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” has just been released. He was an actor/extra during the 1970’s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden.

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Twilight Zone Experience by Tony Piazza

 The Director, VIRGIL VOGEL and myself at the studio working on “The Streets of San Francisco”. I was a dead ringer for his son Ken, and one day at the police HQ set they placed me at a desk in the foreground with MICHAEL DOUGLAS behind talking on the phone. I saw the episode later and thought he was being artsy, although thought it strange that I was featured and not the main actor. Come to find out, he did this so his wife in LA could see how much I resembled their son!

We became good friends. He started with Universal in 1940 as an assistant editor. He went on to direct “The Mole People” with JOHN AGAR, and “The Land Unknown” with JOCK MAHONY. He really came into his element with TV, directing such shows as, “Bonanza”, “Wagon Train”, “Magnum PI”, “Mission Impossible”, and many more including “The Streets of San Francisco”. QM really liked Virgil’s directing…and assigned him the larger number of episodes. And they were smart to do so, because his episodes were consistently well liked by critics and public alike.

  Back in the 1970’s, in-between shots of “The Streets of San Francisco”, I got to visit with Virgil and discuss some stories from his career. Virgil was more than happy to share anecdotes from his past; and one which has stood out in my mind all these years, was the trick that he pulled on the lead actress, CYNTHIA PATRICK in his first stint as director for Universal on “The Mole People”. With a twinkle in his eye, he related a scene in which the actress was to walk across a platform covered with sand on the sound stage. She was told to walk across on “action!” and nothing more. What she didn’t know was that there was a stage hand under a trap door and when she reached a certain point he would reach up a pull her down through the opening. Needless to say she went screaming and kicking- AND Virgil got exactly the “take” he was looking for.

 I’ll save the story on how we first met…and how he really thought I was his son! I saw his son’s picture…I really was a dead ringer. Seems something out of “Twilight Zone,” but really a lot of fun!

 VIRGIL VOGEL’S CREDITS:

 1996 One West Waikiki (TV series)

1980 Portrait of a Rebel: The Remarkable Mrs. Sanger (TV movie)

1980 Skag (TV series)

1980 Power (TV movie)

1978-1979 Centennial (TV mini-series)

1979 David Cassidy – Man Undercover (TV series)

1978 Colorado C.I. (TV movie)

1973-1978 Police Story (TV series)

1978 No Margin for Error (TV movie)

1978 ABC Afterschool Specials (TV series)

1977-1978 Police Woman (TV series)

1977 Man from Atlantis (TV series)

1977 The Oregon Trail (TV series)

1977 The Fantastic Journey (TV series)

1976-1977 Most Wanted (TV series)

1973-1976 The Streets of San Francisco (TV series)

1976 Bert D’Angelo/Superstar (TV series)

1976 Law of the Land (TV movie)

1975 Cop on the Beat (TV movie)

1975 Joe Forrester (TV series)

1975 Caribe (TV series)

1969-1974 The F.B.I. (TV series)

1974 The Six Million Dollar Man (TV series)

1973 Cannon (TV series)

1973 Barnaby Jones (TV series)

1970-1973 Mission: Impossible (TV series)

1971 Dan August (TV series)

1995 High Sierra Search and Rescue (TV series)

1993 Walker, Texas Ranger (TV series)

1992 Mario and the Mob (TV movie)

1992 Tequila and Bonetti (TV series)

1992 McGee and Me! (TV series)

1989-1991 The Young Riders (TV series)

1991 Quantum Leap (TV series)

1989 Hardball (TV series)

1989 A Man Called Hawk (TV series)

1987-1988 Miami Vice (TV series)

1988 Dirty Dozen: The Series (TV series)

1988 Probe (TV series)

1988 Longarm (TV movie)

1985-1987 Spenser: For Hire (TV series)

1987 Desperado (TV movie)

1986/I Condor (TV movie)

1983-1986 Magnum, P.I. (TV series)

1984-1985 Airwolf (TV series)

1985 Scarecrow and Mrs. King (TV series)

1985 Lady Blue (TV series)

1985 Street Hawk (TV series)

1983 Lottery! (TV series)

1982-1983 Tales of the Gold Monkey (TV series)

1982 Knight Rider (TV series)

1982 Voyagers! (TV series)

1981 Today’s F.B.I. (TV series)

1981 Nurse (TV series)

1980 Beulah Land (TV mini-series)

1980 Portrait of a Rebel: The Remarkable Mrs. Sanger (TV movie)

1980 Skag (TV series)

1980 Power (TV movie)

1978-1979 Centennial (TV mini-series)

1979 David Cassidy – Man Undercover (TV series)

1978 Colorado C.I. (TV movie)

1973-1978 Police Story (TV series)

1978 No Margin for Error (TV movie)

1978 ABC Afterschool Specials (TV series)

1977-1978 Police Woman (TV series)

1977 Man from Atlantis (TV series)

1977 The Oregon Trail (TV series)

1977 The Fantastic Journey (TV series)

1976-1977 Most Wanted (TV series)

1973-1976 The Streets of San Francisco (TV series)

1976 Bert D’Angelo/Superstar (TV series)

1976 Law of the Land (TV movie)

1975 Cop on the Beat (TV movie)

1975 Joe Forrester (TV series)

1975 Caribe (TV series)

1969-1974 The F.B.I. (TV series)

1974 The Six Million Dollar Man (TV series)

1973 Cannon (TV series)

1973 Barnaby Jones (TV series)

1970-1973 Mission: Impossible (TV series)

The Martyr (1970) (as Virgil Vogel)

1971 Dan August (TV series)

1969-1970 The High Chaparral (TV series)

1970 Lancer (TV series)

1970 Double Jeopardy (TV movie)

1969 Here Come the Brides (TV series)

1965-1969 The Big Valley (TV series)

1965-1966 Bonanza (TV series)

1966 A Man Called Shenandoah (TV series)

1965 Burke’s Law (TV series)

1965 Honey West (TV series)

1965 The Sword of Ali Baba

1958-1965 Wagon Train (TV series)

1961 Whispering Smith (TV series)

1960 The Deputy (TV series)

1960 Overland Trail (TV series)

1959 Laramie (TV series)

1959 Invasion of the Animal People

1959 M Squad (TV series)

1959 Mike Hammer (TV series)

1959 State Trooper (TV series)

1959 Shotgun Slade (TV series)

1957 The Land Unknown (as Virgil Vogel)

1957 The Kettles on Old MacDonald’s Farm

1956 The Mole People (as Virgil Vogel)

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Tony Piazza is author of the 1930’s Hollywood murder mystery novel; “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His next novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” is due out early 2012. He was an actor/extra during the 1970’s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden.