Sam Rolfe, creator of such popular TV series as “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “Have Gun, Will Travel,” died July 10 after suffering a heart attack while he was playing tennis. He was 69.
Rolfe wrote and produced “U.N.C.L.E.,” the spy show starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum that aired on NBC from 1964-68, and the Richard Boone-starring Western from 1957-63, earning an Emmy nomination for each show. “Have Gun, Will Travel” ranked among the top three programs on TV (behind two other Westerns, “Gunsmoke” and “Wagon Train”) from 1958-61.
In addition to his TV work, which most recently included the miniseries “On Wings of Eagles,” Rolfe earned an Academy Award nomination for writing the 1953 Jimmy Stewart feature “The Naked Spur.”
Rolfe was under contract to CBS when he left in 1962 to produce “The Eleventh Hour,” starring Wendell Corey, and later “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” both for MGM. He briefly allied himself with David Susskind and Dan Melnick as a VP at their Talent Associates-Paramount Ltd. production company in 1963 but left after only three weeks. At the time he told Daily Variety that he felt he should be working alone, not with a partner, and decided to resign “before I involved myself too deeply” with the company’s projects.
Survived by his wife, a daughter and a son. Private services will be held today, with a memorial service at a later date.