Full Name: Henry Phyfe
Series Name: The Double Life of Henry Phyfe
Codename: U-31
Nationality: American
Organization: CIS
Occupation Agent

Creator: Luther Davis
Time Span: 1966 - 1966


Henry Phyfe is an agent with the CIS.

That acronym stands for the Central Intelligence Service. That is, apparently, another piece of the U.S. alphabet intelligence community. In this agency, one of the men near the top, though not the head man, is Gerald Hannahan, referred to as the Chief, a man in his early 50s who acts as annoyed and ill-tempered as he looks. Mostly bald with a mustache, he is as quick with a smile that he obviously does not feel as he is with a frown which he does.

Phyfe, as an operative with the CIS, acts under the codename of U-31.

Except that he isn't and he doesn't.

The following opening lines from the televised adventures give the basis for that dichotomy (Note: the speaker of the parts in quotes is Chief Hannahan):

A foreign spy arrives by the name of U-31.

The first day in he's done in by a hit-and-run.

'Gotta find a man with the same face as U-31, but who?'

'Henry Phyfe!'

He swears him in and gives all the info to Henry Phyfe.

He must never talk to a soul about his secret life.

'You are now the spy. You must now lead a double life.'

     'Who me?' ... 'Henry Phyfe!'

If he could only keep his disguise a big mystery,

This could become the greatest deception in history.

'With a little luck he might even fool the enemy.'

'Henry Phyfe!'

So the concept is that a notorious enemy agent arrives in the States on some sort of mission, undoubtedly nefarious, and is promptly killed (accidentally?) in a car-pedestrian accident. Chief Hannahan realizes the incredible opportunity handed the CIS if they could find someone who looked enough like the dead spy to take his place.

As 'un-luck' would have it, they did in the form of Henry Phyfe, as mild-mannered and timid and meek a man as one could hope/fear to find. He is a dead-ringer (no pun intended) for the former U-31. Unfortunately, he is as far from being a skilled operative as one could get.

What he is in real life is an accountant for the firm of Hamble and Hamble, having to deal with demands of an overbearing boss, one of the Hamble's in the name. He has a girl friend named Judy who is sweet and caring and a good match for Henry. Unfortunately she has a mother named Florence who is also quite overbearing and not at all believing Phyfe is good enough for her daughter.

When you consider the three facts that plague Phyfe in this matter - a) that Hannahan will often come calling upon Phyfe for 'one more mission' and b) he maintains the demand that Phyfe never tell anyone (read his boss or his girl friend or his girl friend's mother) what he is doing and c) he (Phyfe) is truly no good at it whatsoever - you can understand why Phyfe is frequently asking the question, "Who, me?!"

Good Line:

When told yet again this next assignment would be the last one, Phyfe responds, "Mr. Hannahan, you always say I'll never see you again but somehow I'm always the only name on your dance card."


Number of Episodes:17
First Appearance:1966
Last Appearance:1966

Red ButtonsHenry Phyfe [ 1 ]
Fred ClarkChief Hannahan [ 1 ]
Zeme NorthJudy Kimball [ 1 ]
Marge RedmondFlorence Kimball [ 1 ]

     Based on the air dates of the episodes in the series, that is, coming in in January rather than the normal season start of September, it is good evidence that what I read about it being a replacement show is accurate. Whatever it was replacing did not make the grade and, seeing how there were only a half-season of episodes about Henry Phyfe, it did not either.

     Was this series an ABC response to Get Smart which started the previous September? It is definitely possible. It is also possible that it was ready to go at the same time as the Don Adams comedy but was held back.

     I read another blogger ponder how well this show would have done if it had gone first or at least at the same time, pitting the 'thinks he is the best agent in the world' Smart against the 'knows he is the most inept agent in the world' Phyfe. It was a very good question for which there is, of course, no answer.

1 Phyfe and a Filly
Episode 1-1, first aired 01/13/1966
Director: Unknown
Writer: Unknown

The death of the foreign spy, U-31, presents a great opportunity for the CIS to plant an agent into their ranks. Unfortunately the only person they can find who resembles the man is meek and mild Henry Phyfe. The first job is to meet up with another foreign agent for a valuable handover of intelligence.

2 Phyfe on a Ferry
Episode 1-2, first aired 01/20/1966
Director: Unknown
Writer: Unknown

[plot unknown]

3 Whatever Happened to Yesterday?
Episode 1-3, first aired 01/27/1966
Director: Leslie H. Martinson
Writer: Ben Starr

Henry is tasked by Judy with throwing a birthday party for her mother to get her to like Henry. The Chief, unfortunately, needs Phyfe to travel to Japan to pick up some microfilm U-31 is scheduled to collect.

4 Phyfe and the Models
Episode 1-4, first aired 02/03/1966
Director: Unknown
Writer: Unknown

This mission sounds like fun; impersonate an artist to collect some secret missile plans. Phyfe knows he will be in major trouble, though, if Judy learns about the artist's sexy models.

5 The Reluctant Lover
Episode 1-5, first aired 02/10/1966
Director: Unknown
Writer: Unknown

Learning that U-31 is supposed to make contact with a pair of married agents, the Chief sends Henry Phyfe in. Unfortunately, the wife has had the hots for U-31 for years and the husband is a very jealous man who is also suspicious that U-31 isn't really U-31.

6 Phyfe's First Felony
Episode 1-6, first aired 02/17/1966
Director: Charles R. Rondeau
Writers: Rich Eustis, Al Rogers

Someone has stolen intelligence and is threatening to reveal to the press all sorts of information about the CIS. U-31, aka Henry Phyfe, is sent to get the intel back but that means a bit of larceny.

7 The Unfriendly Persuasion
Episode 1-7, first aired 02/24/1966
Director: Leslie H. Martinson
Writers: Charles Marion, Monroe Manning, Phil Leslie, William Raynor, Myles Wilder

It falls to U-31 to get intel from an unfriendly source over a round of golf, the intel being the location of a scientist being help captive. Henry Phyfe is sent in, of course, for U-31 but unfortunately Phyfe has never played the game before.

8 Phyfe and the Code Book
Episode 1-8, first aired 03/03/1966
Director: Unknown
Writer: Unknown

This story is told in flashbacks regarding a mission dealing with how Henry Phyfe handled a top-secret codebook snatch and how that assignment made a wreck out of the Chief.

9 The Old Flame
Episode 1-9, first aired 03/10/1966
Director: Unknown
Writer: Unknown

Henry Phyfe's mission is to meet up with a fellow foreign agent, this one being a beautiful female who has long longed for U-31. Phyfe is given a picture of the woman so he can recognize her at the hotel of the meet but unfortunately Judy's mother finds the photo and is certain Phyfe is cheating on her daughter so she heads to the hotel herself to confront them.

10 Operation Henry Phyfe
Episode 1-10, first aired 03/17/1966
Director: Unknown
Writer: Unknown

[plot unknown]

11 Visit to Washington
Episode 1-11, first aired 03/24/1966
Director: Unknown
Writer: Unknown

[plot unknown]

12 Phyfe Takes a Wife
Episode 1-12, first aired 03/31/1966
Director: Unknown
Writer: Unknown

It falls to Henry Phyfe to find out, as U-31, whether a man-crazed female scientist is a security risk who might be willing to reveal all she knows if seduced. The seducer, of course, needs to be U-31/Phyfe.

13 Jail Bird Phyfe
Episode 1-13, first aired 04/07/1966
Director: Howard Morris
Writers: Sloan Nibley, Bill Lutz

Henry Phyfe is told by the Chief to meet up with a foreign agent known as the Butcher. Phyfe, though, has an assignment from his accounting boss to go to a military base for a meeting. The Butcher spots Phyfe and joins him at the base to get U-31's help stealing something from that facility.

14 Spend a Million Phyfe
Episode 1-14, first aired 04/14/1966
Director: Unknown
Writer: Unknown

[plot unknown]

15 A Shot in the Dark
Episode 1-15, first aired 04/21/1966
Director: Unknown
Writer: Unknown

Chief Hannahan instructs Henry Phyfe to meet up with an agent known as the Crusher. That fellow tells Phyfe/U-31 that U-31's next assignment is to eliminate the Chief! Hannahan and Phyfe have a plan, though, and what could go wrong?

16 Phyfe Goes Skiing
Episode 1-16, first aired 04/28/1966
Director: Unknown
Writer: Unknown

Word has come in that a foreign agent is wanting to defect. Henry Phyfe is sent as U-31 to a skiing lodge to meet up with the would-be defector. Unfortunately, U-31 is known to be an excellent skier and Phyfe - not so much.

17 Will the Real U-31 Try to Stand Up?
Episode 1-17, first aired 05/05/1966
Director: Unknown
Writer: Unknown

[plot unknown]


     I vaguely remember this series from 1966. My father was not a fan of spy shows at all but he did like Red Buttons and so must have watched a few episodes. Since we only had one television in the house and I was 14 at the time, I watched them as well.

     I definitely remember the concept but nothing about any particular episode. Having watched a couple now for this entry, I can see why, because there is nothing memorable about it.

     Red Buttons was a wonderful actor capable of both drama and comedy. In the humorous vein, however, he always seemed to play the put-upon fellow. He did it very well but it kind of gets old after a while.

     Still, for a brief smile or two, check out an episode on YouTube or other streaming sites.


My Grade: C


Be the first to leave your own comments about this series.

Tell us what you think of the series. Give your grade and comments.

Your Grade:
Your Comments:

To give your opinion, you must be logged in.

Sign In

SpyGuysAndGals is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, and links with the Buy from Amazon button are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.