Also a mid-20s-year-old young lady intrigued by the entertainment of the past, classic TV and movies have always been appreciated in my family. Get Smart was a family favorite, and, even from a young age, we would have nights where I, along with the entire family, would watch episodes. Of the many episodes we watched, among the most memorable was episode 8, “The Day Smart Turned Chicken,” thanks in part to Simon Oakland’s performance as the seemingly-unfortunate Cowboy who tended to pull a Houdini at the most inopportune moments. I don’t think I could tell you how many times I’ve seen this episode; I lost count long ago. It’s always been one of my favorites, and one that I’ve seen repeatedly throughout the years, so much so that when I ended up watching West Side Story for a freshman college writing project, I immediately recognized Lieutenant Schrank as that same hilarious Cowboy—though I didn’t know his actor's name at the time.
My interest and love of Get Smart has never waned, and “The Day Smart Turned Chicken” remains one of my favorite episodes, so I was intrigued when Lucky Ladybug informed me, after discovering Kolchak: the Night Stalker for herself and talking about it, that Tony Vincenzo would be a familiar face to me. My first Kolchak episode was “Horror in the Heights,” and the rest is history.
I started following Simon’s other roles, as well, including Black Sheep Squadron, Bonanza, and Gunsmoke; Simon’s performances in the latter two were what single-handedly converted me, who had previously been utterly indifferent to the Western genre, into a Western fan. But my soft spot will always be for Tony Vincenzo. Tony is now one of my favorite fictional characters of all time—in fact, I think I like Tony just a bit more than the title character Kolchak himself!