Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Robert Culp

Aw, Jeez, another one gone. Robert Culp, actor, writer, director, dead at 79. Apparently he went out for walk, fell, and hit his head.

If you aren't my age or thereabouts, you might not remember him in I Spy -- in which he took a newbie comedian-turned-actor, Bill Cosby, and taught him the ropes well enough that Coz beat him out for three Emmy awards on the show. Starting in 1965 and running for three seasons, it was the first series to feature a black guy in a lead role, and race was never an issue -- everybody on the show just assumed it was no big deal, and so it wasn't.

For Gen-Xers, Culp later went on to work on The Greatest American Hero, as the federal agent paired with the teacher who got the super-suit that came without instructions. He was Ray Romano's father-in-law on Everybody Loves Raymond.

He was in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, one of my all time favorite hippie/sixties movies. He worked all the time, in hundreds of television and theatrical shows.

Culp had been around a while before I Spy, been in a slew of TV shows and movies, later began writing them, as well. Hardcore F&SF fans know him from the three episodes he did for The Outer Limits, a somewhat rougher version of The Twilight Zone. This included "Demon with a Glass Hand," written by Harlan Ellison.

One of my first trips to Hollywood in the 80's,, when I was trying to come up with a viable movie script, my collaborator Reaves and I were out and ran into Culp in a store somewhere. I didn't have the wherewithal to speak to him, but I always liked the guy.

Adios, Bob.


Jay said...

I loved I Spy - caught reruns on some cable channel.
Will someone get the Greatest American Hero theme out of my head now?
Later, Bob - you did good work!

Michael said...

I remember that!

Another Culp story I just sent you via email:

I loved his overall persona and body of work so much that I lobbied like hell to get him hired on a show I was on -- and then scheduling conflicts prevented me from ever meeting him.

Dropping like flies, they are ...

His Sinfulness said...

Agreed - Culp was awesome. Sad to see him go.