SORRY ABOUT THAT, chief," agent 86 would say, and the TV viewing audience doubled up with laughter.

People greeted him on the street with, "Would you believe eight?"

And because reruns of "Get Smart" are ubiquitous, you can still watch Don Adams and his antics on the all-time popular spy spoof series.

Today Adams is playing in "The Owl and the Pussycat" in Arlington Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. His wife, Judy Luciano, costars.

"We thought we would like to do a play together," Adams said last week. "Plays are tough. I really don't like doing plays. The rehearsals are long and the play becomes a bore after a while."

At the end of the play's four-week run, Adams will go to New York to make commercials and then back to his home in California where he will play a movie called "The Return of Maxwell Smart."

Maxwell Smart, the irrepressible agent 86, of course marked the high point of Adam's career. "Get Smart" was top rated from 1965 to 1970, and Adams won his Emmy for the role in 1967.

Adams, who is 50, writes and directs TV commericals for Universal Studios. He lives in Beverly Hills with a getaway place in Palm Springs. He has five daughters from two marriages and says he spends most of his time writing and directing, playing golf and tennis and enjoying his first grandchild.