Credit: Shutterstock/Robert Vaughn

I’ve managed to stretch my 15 minutes of fame into 50 years of good fortune.

Becoming a household name in the 1960s as spy Napoleon Solo in TV’s Man From U.N.C.L.E New York born actor Robert Vaughn had a prolific acting career on the screen.

His TV career spanned the decades and saw him take star in seven ratings-busting series, including The Magnificent Seven – a late nineties TV spin off of one of the first big movies he acted in. By the end of his career, he had hundreds of TV credits and more than 50 film roles to his name.

Born to actor parents, Vaughn earned his first Oscar nomination for The Young Philadelphians in 1959. Politically minded, he’d studied journalism at university before completing a masters degree in drama. In the 1970s, he earned a doctorate after completing a PhD thesis on the impact of anti-communist witch hunts, which saw hundreds of people have their theatre careers stymied by accusations of “un-American activities”.

Perhaps his most surprising career-move in his later years was a guest role in Coronation Street – in which he played a wealthy entrepreneur with a vision for a fast-food chain called Beef Encounter.

Although not the first big-screen star to guest in the long-running British soap, he was the first American film actor to do so – his wife Linda, he revealed, was a big fan.

Vaughn continued working until very near his death from leukaemia, with his final film, Gold Star released posthumously.