Timeless TV Classic          

It Takes a Thief – Television at its Best

by Guy Belleranti

Crime and espionage have always been a popular subject in movies and television programs. One 1960’s series that fell into this category was It Takes a Thief. 

It Takes a Thief ran from January 1968 through September 1970 on ABC with 66 one hour color episodes being produced.

Robert Wagner played Alexander Mundy a cool and classy super cat burglar/ professional thief who made one mistake. He got caught. However, Mundy gets out of prison by agreeing to work for a secret U.S. government spy agency called SIA.

Mundy’s assignments take him to exotic world locations where he puts his thieving skills to work for the espionage agency by retrieving important information and secrets.

Other important characters on the program included:

- Noah Bain (played by Malachi Throne), Mundy’s superior in the SIA
- Wally Powers (played by Edward Binns), who takes over as Mundy’s boss in the final season
- Fred Astaire as Mundy’s father, Alistair.

Astaire joined the series in a number of episodes during 1969 and 1970. His Alistair Mundy character was a thief just like his son, Alexander, and the two teamed together on special jobs for the SIA a number of times.

The show featured adventure, action, suspense and a bit of humor. Alistair comments on more than one occasion that “I’ve heard of stealing from the government, but not for the government”.

Wagner was a great choice for the role of Alexander Mundy, playing the suave thief with Cary Grant style. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the series didn’t draw at least a little of its inspiration from the 1955 Grant film To Catch a Thief (directed by Alfred Hitchcock). In this movie Grant portrayed a “retired” jewel thief/burglar.

In addition to the regular cast members and exotic locales, It Takes a Thief also benefited from appearances by a number of name guest stars. Among them were Bette Davis, Peter Sellers, Raymond Burr, Senta Berger, Joseph Cotton, Tina Sinatra (Frank’s daughter), Marilyn McCoo (of the Fifth Dimension), Fernando Lamas, Keye Luke and Susan Saint James.





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