Oscar-nominated Man From U.N.C.L.E. star Robert Vaughn dies aged 83 after brief battle with cancer

  • Actor Robert Vaughn passed away on Friday at the age of 83
  • Vaughn died following a brief battle with acute leukemia according to his manager
  • He is best known for playing the role of Napoleon Solo on the classic television series The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
  • Vaughn also starred in such classic films as The Magnificent Seven and The Young Philadelphians, for which he received an Oscar nomination
  • In recent years, Vaughn appeared on the British television programs Hustle and Coronation Street
  • He is survived by his wife of 40 years Linda Staab and their children Cassidy and Caitlin 

Robert Vaughn passed away on Friday at the age of 83 following a brief battle with acute leukemia.

The beloved American actor, whose career stretched across six decades, was best known for his role as Napoleon Solo on the classic NBC series The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which ran for over 100 episodes from 1964 to 1968.   

Over the course of his lifetime, Vaughn appeared on over 200 different television programs.

Vaughn was also a regular on the big screen, starting off his career with an unaccredited role in The Ten Commandments before going on to land sup[porting roles in films such as The Magnificent Seven and The Young Philadelphians, for which he received an Academy Award nomination back in 1960 for Best Supporting Actor.

In recent years he had found success across the pond, starring in the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street as well as all eight seasons of the television drama Hustle.

'Mr. Vaughn passed away with his family around him,' his manager said in a statement to Deadline.

He is survived by his wife of 40 years, actress Linda Staab, and their two children, son Cassidy and daughter Caitlin. 

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Man with a plan: Robert Vaughn, the star of the popular TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (above) passed away on Friday at the age of 83

Family: He is survived by his wife of 40 years Linda Staab and their children Cassidy and Caitlin (above in 1998) 

Staggering feat: Over the course of his lifetime, Vaughn appeared on over 200 different television programs (above with Marcia Cross in a 2015 episode of Law & Order: SVU)

Vaughn continued to work even in the past few years, and in 2015 filmed a memorable guest spot on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit opposite Desperate Housewives actress Marcia Cross.

In that episode, Vaughn played an elderly writer of great acclaim who was suffering from dementia.

His daughters had taken issue with his current wife, who they accused of abusing him by giving erectile dysfunction pills in order to produce a new heir and gain access to his fortune.

It marked the second time that Vaughn had appeared on the show, filming another episode of the long-running series back in 2006, in which he portrayed a different character. 

His work on that show brought him back to New York City, where he was born in 1932 to a mother and father who were also performers.

Vaughn's mother Marcella was a stage actress while his father Gerald did voice acting on radio programs.

He eventually left the Big Apple though and headed off to Minneapolis when his parents divorced, and stayed close by when it was time to go to college by majoring in journalism at University of Minnesota.

School was not a good fit for Vaughn at the time however, and after a year he packed up his things and moved out to Los Angeles to be with his mother.

He eventually earned his master's degree in theater from Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences, and in 1955 he booked his first role on the television series Medic.

The following year he got his first film role in The Ten Commandments and the year after that he got his first credited role in the 1957 movie Hell's Crossroads.

His career was briefly put on hold at this point as Vaughn was drafted in the United States Army.

Wild West: Vaughn in the 1959 film Good Day for a Hanging (left) and the 1960 classic The Magnificent Seven (right)

In living color: Vaughn in his role as Harry Rule in the 1970s series The Protector (above)

TV legend: Vaughn with his 1979 Emmy Award for outstanding supporting actor for a drama series in Washington: Behind Closed Doors (above)

When the 27-year-old Vaughn returned to Hollywood his first role back was in The Young Philadelphians opposite Paul Newman.

In that filmed Vaughn portrayed Chester Gwynn, a young man who loses his arm during combat while fighting in the Korean War and later returns home only to be falsely accused of first-degree murder.

For his work on The Young Philadelphians Vaughn was nominated for both the Golden Globe and Academy Award in the category of Best Supporting Actor.

Vaughn then followed that up with the biggest film role of his career, starring alongside Hollywood legends including Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner and Eli Wallach in the classic western The Magnificent Seven. 

Once again Vaughn received a Golden Globe nomination, this time for Most Promising Newcomer. 

He was only five years into his career by this point but already Vaughn had appeared on over 40 episodes of television playing different characters, and his frequent work on TV would continue throughout the 1960s.

His first major role in a series came in 1963 when he was cast on The Lieutenant, which was cancelled after only one season.

A star is born: Vaughn in the 1959 film The Young Philadelphians, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award 

Men on the range: Steve McQueen, Yul Brenner, Horst Buccholz, James Coburn,Robert Vaughn, John Sturges and Brad Dexter in The Magnificent Seven 

Dapper gentleman: Steve McQueen and Vaughn in the 1968 film Bullitt 

That turned out to be a fantastic stroke of luck for Vaughn though, who was free to audition for a new television drama that premiered in 1964 - The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Vaughn won the role of Napoleon Solo and David McCallum was Illya Kuryakin, top agents for the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.

The show ran for 105 episodes and four seasons, but aired in reruns for decades to come.

Over the four seasons that he portrayed Solo, Vaughn was twice nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

The year that the series ended, Vaughn again landed himself an impressive film role, starring opposite McQueen and Jacqueline Bisset in Bullitt, which was both a critical and financial success.

It also earned Vaughn a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the BAFTAs that year.

Vaughn spent the next few years focused mostly on film work until 1974 when he booked another series, The Protectors. 

For that show he played the role of Harry Case, the leader of an international crime fighting agency. 

The Protectors ran for only two seasons, but gave Vaughn the best award of all - his wife.

Vaughn met actress Linda Staab in 1973 when she guest starred on an episode of the program and they were married one year later.

They remained together until his death and adopted two children shortly after they were wed, son Cassidy and daughter Caitlin.

Love at first sight: Vaughn and wife Linda Staab on the episode of The Protectors when they first met

Happy couple: The pair married in 1974 (right), one year after meeting on the set of the television series (left)

Until the end: Vaughn and Staab were together for the past 40 years (above in 2006)

Shortly before he married Staab Vaughn also believed he had fathered a son Matthew with his girlfriend at the time, Kathy Ceaton.

A paternity test later revealed that Matthew was not Vaughn's son however, and in a 2002 interview Vaughn said he had not seen the boy since he was a child and that the two had no contact.

Matthew would also go on to work in the film industry too though, as the much in-demand director of films including Layer Cake, Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class.

He is now married to the model Claudia Schiffer and close friends with director Guy Rithcie, who in 2015 made a feature length remake of the classic 1960s television show The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

After marrying Staab, Vaughn and his family lived most of their life in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Staab gave up acting to focus on other endeavors and her family while Vaughn continued to appears in a number of television programs and the occasional film.

He also won his first Emmy in 1978 for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Washington: Behind Closed Doors.

And for his final role, Vaughn was the lead in the 2016 independent film Gold Star.

At the time of his death, Vaughn was just 11 days shy of his birthday. He would have been 84.  

Celebrities responded to the news of Vaughn's passing on Twitter Friday, with British producer and director Edgar Wright writing: 'RIP Napoleon Solo! The great Robert Vaughn was the coolest guy on TV when I was a kid. Superb in Bullitt, The Magnificent Seven & many more.'

Stephen Fry wrote: 'Oh no. Robert Vaughn, such a fine actor, one of the best Columbo villains (no higher praise than that) & an utterly charming man, has died.' 

Sir Roger Moore wrote: 'Sorry to hear the news about Robert Vaughn.


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