Guido Panzini


The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1964-1968)
McHale's Navy (1962-1966)
One Day At A Time (1975-1984)
Type: Common Character
Group: 28

    This is weird because it involves a kind of character I would not normally count towards a crossover connection. That would be a fictional character that, in a way, exists in the real world. The easiest example would be Pee-wee Herman. Fictional character player by Paul Reubens. However, to an extent, Pee-wee is a real person in the real world in that Pee-wee Herman has appeared on many talk shows as if he was a real person. He's hosted Saturday Night Live. He has also appeared on sitcoms like 227. But I wouldn't use him as a link between two fictional worlds for the same reason I wouldn't use, say, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is part of our real world so it can be assumed he would be a part of any fictional world based on our world. Pee-wee is fictional but does exist as a celebrity figure in our world. Thus, it can be assumed he exists as a celebrity figure in fictional worlds based on our world. Because that is ALWAYS how Pee-wee would appear on those shows, as the celebrity Pee-wee Herman.

    Guido Panzini is similar in many ways to Pee-wee Herman but the nature of his appearances on various dramas and sitcoms was slightly different than those by Pee-wee. Guido Panzini is a character created in the 50s by Pat Harrington, later famous for playing Schneider on One Day At A Time. Panzini was a comic alter ego to Pat Harrington similar to how Pee-Wee is for Paul Reubens. Pat Harrington would appear on various variety and talk shows as Guido Panzini, treating the situation as if Panzini was a real person. But when the Panzini character would appear on dramas and sitcoms it was never as "Guido Panzini, the celebrity seen on The Steve Allen Show". On The Man From U.N.C.L.E. nobody recognized him as such. This leads to other problems but, at the very least, it establishes him as a fictional character that CAN link fictional worlds together.

   Man, not sure that even made sense to me! But that seems appropriate, given that putting all of Guido Panzini's appearances together into one biography his own history barely makes sense. So, if I may, allow me to lay out what is known about the implausible life of Guido Panzini. I'm going to take this in the chronological order of the shows on which he appears which is not the same as the actual chronological order of his appearances. Oookay... here goes...

   Historically, Guido Panzini first shows up during World War II in the Italian costal city of Voltafiore. Lieutenant Commander Quinton McHale of the U.S. Navy and his P.T. boat was stationed in the area. McHale and his crew spent most of their time loafing and trying to pull one over on their commanding officer, Captain Binghamton (On this occasion, though, McHale and Binghamton ended up joining forces.). Panzini first shows up in Voltafiore claiming to be a doctor. Captain Binghamton meanwhile is attempting to curry favor with his superior, General Bronson. Bronson loves athletics so Binghamton keeps trying to add athletic facilities to his area. Meanwhile, Army Colonel Douglas Harrigan is trying to do the same thing, also doing all he can to undermine Captain Binghamton's efforts.

   Binghamton crosses paths with Guido Panzini who convinces Binghamton he is an architect who for a price can build a golf course for Binghamton. Clearly, at this point in time Panzini is in fact a professional con man. Once Binghamton gives Panzini $1,000 to build the golf course, Panzini flees with the money. No slouch as a con man himself, McHale puts a plan in play to help Binghamton. McHale and his men construct only the very start of a golf course. They then invite Harrigan over to take a look at it. Not going beyond the first tee, Harrigan is convinced Binghamton has created a full golf course and proceeds to bully him out of it, intending to claim responsibility for the course and impress General Bronson. Of course since there IS no course, the whole thing will blow up in his face, just as planned. In the middle of the con, military officer's show up having captured Panzini. McHale and Binghamton manage to hush up the truth about Panzini in front of Harrigan, passing him off as Binghamton's doctor. In the end, the con goes down and Harrigan ends up looking like an ass in front of the general.

   Panzini next shows up in the late 50s on several interview and variety shows, claiming to be a famous Italian golf pro. Another con, or had he in fact become a golf pro? The truth of the matter is questionable. On at least one occasion his caddy appeared to be Don Knotts. That alone is fishy. On top of that, his caddy seemed excessively nervous and fidgety. I just don't know. The fact that when last seen he was building fake golf courses and now was claiming to be a golf pro to me hints that his golf pro position may have grown directly out of his previous con. Also odd is the fact that in these appearances Panzini actually appears slightly younger than he did in World War II. Odd. While it is possible the golf pro Panzini was actually the son of WWII Panzini that seems unlikely and an unnecessarily complicated explanation. My guess would be he's a good enough con man that he spent the intervening years pampering himself, enabling him to preserve his youthful appearance.

   What comes next is maybe the oddest moment of all. Panzini then shows up in an episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E... as an expert and physician for dogs! Now, given his con man past this might not seem so odd, his new position just one more BS lie, one more con. But the thing is... he really seems to be an actual credible expert on dogs! No con! He knows his stuff and is of indispensable aid to agent Illya Kuryakin as he investigates a case involving dogs. At one point he gives amazing factual details about a dog based on a quick look at a photo of that dog. Again, he could just be doing an amazing con job but... he really sincerely seemed to know his dog sh*t... so to speak. My belief would be that while he had spent years as a con man, switching apparent professions like other men change their pants, he actually had a personal interest in dogs and used a portion of his ill gotten gains to truly become a dog expert. It is possible at this point he fully embraced a career caring for dogs, maybe trying to put his past behind him, maybe attempting to just lay low for awhile.

   Guido Panzini then largely disappears from sight for decades, finally reappearing in the early 80s on the show One Day At A Time. Oddly enough, the superintendent of the apartment building featured on that show looked suspiciously like Guido Panzini. I'm sure certain authorities on the hunt for Panzini may have even assumed building super Dwayne Schneider was in fact Panzini living under an assumed name. As it turns out, this was not the case. Guido Panzini again showed his face when he approached Ann Romano and Francine Webster's advertising firm about doing some work for him. At this point Panzini had apparently become a legitimate designer. Having arrived simply intending to broker a business deal, Panzini soon fell for Francine Webster and began to woo her. This caused problems as Panzini's near doppelganger Dwayne Schneider also had romantic designs on Miss Webster. In the end, Panzini went on his way without winning her hand. But at the same time, neither did Schneider.

   At this point Panzini disappears entirely. His last appearance would seem to indicate he had some financial success in his life. How much of that money was from cons? How much from his time as a golf pro, as a vet, or as a designer? Was he ever actually involved in any of those professions? Hard to say. But it can be assumed that with a large sum of money stashed away, in the end Guido Panzini retired to a life of leisure, perhaps in some Italian villa.

Other Man From U.N.C.L.E. Crossover Links
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Please Don't Eat The Daisies


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