The CIA is offering its employees a fanciful look back at the "good old days." In corridors of its suburban Washington headquarters, the Central Intelligence Agency is displaying "spy-fi archives" - a collection of Hollywood gadgetry and memorabilia that romanticized the spy business in its cold-war heyday.
There's Maxwell Smart's shoe phone and a "stereophonic gun" (two barrels, one trigger) from the hit TV show "Get Smart." There's the pen Robert Vaughn used as a secret communicator in "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." There's a mock tarantula used in a famous scene from the 1962 James Bond film "Dr. No."
And there's much more - all from the private collection of Hollywood screenwriter Danny Biederman.
The catch: Only people cleared for entry to the secretive agency's headquarters - not the general public - can see the exhibit, which opened last Thursday.
"It's like freaky, bringing these two universes together. It's like beyond fiction," Mr. Biederman said as he strolled through the agency, where some real-life tools of the spy trade may be not entirely unlike those that helped U.N.C.L.E. foil T.H.R.U.S.H.
"During the cold war, when the CIA was even more secretive than today, it was left to Hollywood to imagine what spying was really about," says Rachel Apple of the CIA Fine Arts Commission. "They did us a favor because they portrayed us very favorably - as heroes."
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society