Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

(April 29, 1913–June 25, 2012) British American television producer who, in New York during the spring of 1962, began a short-lived collaboration with author Ian Fleming on what would eventually become the MGM/NBC television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The sum of Fleming’s involvement in the series consisted of notes written hurriedly to Felton on a pad of blank Western Union telegram forms. Much of it was useless, but Felton did make note of the names Fleming gave to his two principal agents: Napoleon Solo and April Dancer.

Returning to Hollywood and working with writer Sam Rolfe, Felton created a pilot script, titled “Solo,” about an international crime-fighting organization named U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) and its various operatives, one of which, Napoleon Solo, was a secret agent like James Bond.

One year later, Felton again tried to interest Fleming in the venture, but this time the author was advised to stay away from any television projects that involved secret agents. Already embroiled in a lawsuit over the screen rights to his novel Thunderball, Fleming was not about to risk another, especially since Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were already aware of the Felton series and were dead set against it.

In January 1964, Eon Productions brought a suit against Felton’s production company, claiming that by using the title Solo for their proposed series, they were in effect stealing an actual character name from Goldfinger, then in production at Pinewood Studios. Felton pointed out that Mr. Solo in Goldfinger, a Mafia chieftain, was certainly not the same man as Napoleon Solo in their series. After he brought MGM’s best lawyer into the case, Eon Productions backed down, demanding only that Felton change the name of the series. Felton’s Arena Productions agreed, and Solo was changed to The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which made its debut on American television in the fall of 1964.

A native of London, Felton immigrated to the United States with his family in 1929 and settled in Ohio. His television producing career emerged in full flower when he came aboard the anthology series Studio One in Hollywood, where he produced sixteen episodes between 1957 and 1958. While producing The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Felton also produced its spinoff, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., which starred Stefanie Powers as April Dancer.


Subscribe on your favorite podcast app