At this time last year I was super busy writing about not one, not two, but three of my biggest character crushes! Narrowing it down to a single fictional person was too hard, so I went large with ambition.
First up was the irrepressible Archie Goodwin from the Nero Wolfe series of books by Rex Stout. (Read the original post here.) Archie is witty, sly, highly intelligent, and almost too charming for his own good.
Then it was The Night Stalker‘s Carl Kolchak’s turn to be honored. (Read the original post here.) Carl is an irreverent, sarcastic every-man who always manages to do the right thing, even when the right thing requires an almost super-human amount of courage.
Last, and in no way least, was Hamilton Burger from Perry Mason. Hamilton gets an immense amount of flack for doing the very things which make him such an honorable man. He is a dedicated public servant whose sense of fair-mindedness and justice never wavers. (Read the original post here.)
Why this trip down memory lane? It’s neither for kicks nor clicks, rest assured. No, it’s simply because my choice of character crush for this year’s Reel Infatuation Blogathon embodies ALL of the above-mentioned characteristics. In one merely human man, you ask? In one merely human man, I reiterate.
Here’s why Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin) ticks off as many boxes as three extraordinary people.
ARTEMUS GORDON, THE SECRET SERVICE AGENT OF MY DREAMS:
Being a Secret Service Agent in a steampunky version of the Old West is quite demanding. In addition to dealing with all of the usual hazards (assassins and villains of every stripe and motive), they must face, outsmart, and defeat countless other challenges, as they work to shield the president and ordinary folks alike, including: magic/magicians, mad scientists, the supernatural, and impressive weapons the likes of which have never been seen. Fortunately for the sleepy citizens of the burgeoning United States of America, James T. West and Artemus Gordon are at the top of their field. There isn’t a scary or violent situation they won’t run into, head-first, with a first class plan. Sometimes they emerge beaten or broken, but emerge they always do. Thanks, guys!
Jim is serious (and seriously handsome), dedicated, smart, fearless, and quick-thinking. He even has a sense of humor, making him pretty fine character crush material in his own right. I won’t be upset if you prefer him. After all, the show’s title refers to both a place and a person. This person:
Of course, a team requires at least two people. Jim couldn’t do what he does so well, without the help of another, even more impressive agent. That agent is, of course, Artie. Or, “Gordon, Artie Gordon,” if you prefer. (Series creator, Michael Garrison, called the show “James Bond on horseback.”)
Agent Gordon is, well, remarkable. By any metric. Seriously remarkable. He meets and exceeds all of the standard Secret Service requirements as well as Jim does, but Artie is an overachiever of the highest caliber. Jim doesn’t do anything that Artie couldn’t, but Artie does things that Jim couldn’t master given a time frame of one hundred years.
Artie is basically the Lon Chaney of the 19th century. His impersonation skills are legendary. If a disguise is necessary, he creates one…no matter how complex. He doesn’t stop with the visual, but completes the package with a believable characterization and appropriate accent (taking advantage of star Ross Martin’s fluency in a half-dozen languages). Not one to master a task or two and call it a career, he is also the inventor of cool high-tech gadgets which serve to get our heroes out of any jam, no matter how fraught.
In or out of costume (his repertoire consists of 100+ people), Artie is quick with a quip or put-down. He’s defused many a potentially deadly situation with well-timed sarcasm or clowning, and isn’t above cunning and conning. The man IS a government agent, after all.
What he does, and however he gets there, is always for the greater good of both individuals and collective humanity. He’s there to see evil vanquished and justice prevail, fairly, in a wonky world composed of every shade of grey.
Perhaps his most shining asset is, however, a fully developed ability to charm. No matter the situation, he’s equipped with a winning smile and what can best be stated as a little something extra, or: that amorphous, elusive thing known as magnetism. Ya have it or ya don’t. Jim wears that fine blue suit to match his sparkling eyes and perfect physique, but Artie has it. And for that, we should all be thankful.
THE WILD WILD WEST (1965-1969):
(Thanks MeTV for the screenshots. That’s the wonderful Victor Buono in the bottom right corner.)
- 4 Seasons
- 104 Episodes
- Starring Robert Conrad and Ross Martin