15Apr2018

‘Lost in Space’ Cast Members Reflections

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With Netflix’s new reboot of the classic sci-fi series “Lost in Space,” it’s a good time to revisit, in archived interviews, cast members of the original 1965-68 show.

JUNE LOCKHART (Maureen Robinson)

June Lockhart played Maureen, wife of Prof. John Robinson (Guy Williams), whose family goes on a space mission and gets, well, lost.

“It really fulfilled a dream for me, because as a child, my fantasy had been to be Dale to Flash Gordon,” Lockhart said in a 1998 interview.

“Oh, yes, that was my favorite comic. I had pictured myself as Dale, and here I was, living it.”

As for what she brought to Maureen: “We all have innate characteristics which are part of our makeup that one brings to a role. I think I brought that image of the stable, loving, affectionate mother who was intelligent and able to perhaps be an adviser to the kids.

“I was supposed to be a biophysicist on ‘Lost in Space.’ That certainly got lost,” she added with a laugh.

MARK GODDARD (Maj. Don West)

“Lost in Space” didn’t sound promising to Mark Goddard.

“I didn’t want to do it,” he said in 1990. “I was even told I didn’t have to. Then my agent became a producer.

“Now, the reason I didn’t want do the series at first is because I had never done science fiction, and had no idea what it was going to be like.”

But Goddard took the role of hot-headed space jockey Maj. Don West, and his unease with the genre might have worked in his favor.

“I think the writers picked up on that,” Goddard said.

“They wrote my character that way. I guess they figured that would make for some good acting. But as it turned out, working on the series was fine. I raised a couple of great kids on that show.”

Goddard’s character of Don West piloted the Robinsons’ spacecraft, the Jupiter II, though not always so well. According to Goddard, Lockhart took to calling him “Crash West.”

MARTA KRISTEN (Judy Robinson)

“This may sound mundane,” said Marta Kristen in 1998, when asked what she contributed to her “Lost in Space” role of teenage Judy, “but I think I brought a sweetness. There was a sense of innocence about me when I was doing that.

“I look at my work on ‘Lost in Space’ now and think, ‘What a lovely, real person.’ When I look at it, I see a very real and very natural person. I don’t think I had any artifice. I think it was — not naivete, but sexy youth, that innocence of a young woman.”

As for why she thought the show endured: “It has so much appeal to such a wide audience. There’s that whole, wonderful childhood fantasy that encircles the show, that the children save the family from all kinds of dread and horrible things that go on in outer space. And then, I think, it was funny. It had this lovely, funny sense of humor that people of all ages could watch and appreciate.”

ANGELA CARTWRIGHT (Penny Robinson)

After playing Danny Thomas’ daughter on “Make Room for Daddy” and one of the Von Trapp children in “The Sound of Music,” Angela Cartwright wasn’t prone to fight for more lines for youngster Penny, her character on “Lost in Space.”

“To me, because I had worked all my life, I just went to the set and did my job” the actress said in 1998. “I don’t remember there being any problem with what the story was or whatever.”

Said Cartwright of the challenges of filming with special effects: “Every week, we were doing something that had a special effect in it. The pilot (episode), I remember the most, in that chariot with the water coming in. They had these chutes where they were throwing the water in, and we were literally in that all day long for two or three days, being jostled around. But Bill (Mumy, who played Cartwright’s brother) and I thought this was great fun. We tried to get as wet as we posibly could.”

BILL MUMY (Will Robinson)

“I’ve always been a huge comic book fan and collector, and ‘Lost in Space’ was like being a superhero,” said Bill Mumy, who played young Will Robinson, in 2000.

“You had your colorful costume. You had a ray gun. You had a robot. And the character of Will was the protagonist who got to save everyone’s butt week after week. There was nothing about Will that wasn’t cool to me. I loved Will.”

“Lost in Space” began as a straightforward sci-fi adventure, but grew more comedic as three particular characters became more popular.

“Will, Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris) and the robot did certainly become the Three Stooges of the show,” Mumy admitted.

“It did get very formulaic. I personally always preferred the adventure ensemble as opposed to the fantasy, campy, comedy ones that we did. But as far as the chemistry between Jonathan and I went, it was a treat to work alongside him.”

JONATHAN HARRIS (Dr. Smith)

Who created Dr. Smith?

Harris, who died in 2002 at 87, did not mince words on the subject of the sniveling, conniving, but somehow endearing, character he played on “Lost in Space.”

“I did that,” Harris said in 1990. “Every minute of it. And I’ll tell you why. I’m a very clever actor, if you haven’t noticed. And I think that deep-dyed villainy is the most unpalatable, unpleasant thing you could live with every week.

“I decided to sneak in the character you finally saw, until it became full blown. You have to do everything in Hollywood very, very carefully, so that nobody can notice what you are doing until it is too late. I found my Dr. Smith to be far more palatable, and much more interesting. “And I wrote most of it,” Harris added. “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m a very good re-writer.  Adapted from – NJ

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