Monday, June 15, 2009

R.I.P. Del Monroe (Kowalski)

Actor Del Monroe, best known as Kowalski on classic TV Sci-Fi series VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (1964-1968), passed away Friday June 05, 2009 at age 73.

Monroe’s Crewman Kowalski has the distinction of serving longer aboard the fictional Submarine Seaview than anyone else – dating back to the VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA theatrical feature film of 1961 (as “Kowski”, not “Kowalski”)… the popularity of which brought about the television series.Kowalski (he never had a first name – though his BROTHER who guest starred in the 1966 episode “Deadly Waters” sported the name “Stan”) was a constant presence on the Seaview, excelling at every submariner specialty that the scripts required of him.

He was originally portrayed as the skeptical almost-trouble-maker of the crew, but quickly evolved into the lead featured crewman – strong, loyal, and true!

Oh, and did I say “strong”? No one, over the four years of the series, suffered as much physical abuse and recovered more resiliently than Kowalski!

He was often beaten and/or shot, glass exploded in his eyes, was upended while on a speeding motorcycle, walked into the jaws of a giant whale, was burned and/or frozen, hypnotized and brainwashed, possessed by aliens, zapped by a lethal toy tank, tossed about by a wild gorilla, pounded into delirium by time-traveling androids – but still retained enough consciousness to right the ship before disaster, nearly suffocated as the ship’s air mixture was sabotaged… and in a bizarre but memorable moment – mutated into an upright walking amphibian!
THIS GUY COULD TAKE IT!!! …Though he did spend his share of time in Sick Bay!

So, farewell, Kowalski! We never knew your full name, but we knew what you were made of… the talents of Del Monroe, the actor that brought you to life!

(Hope he had a regular stunt double!)


Chris Barat said...


I don't know which would be preferable... having ONE guy on hand to take abuse (as with Kowalski) or dispatching a series of one-shot "redshirts" (as STAR TREK did most famously). One advantage of the former approach is that Kowalski certainly must have gotten the audience's sympathy! (Through his persistence, at least!)


Joe Torcivia said...


Another advantage is that you don’t have to bring a new actor into the show every week!

…Not with good ol’ indestructible Kowalski! Who, by the way, proves that you CAN wear RED and have a lengthy career of service aboard a ‘60s Sci-Fi TV craft!

It wasn’t easy, though! Each year, it seemed, Irwin Allen and company upped the “Crush-Kowalski-Quotient”, with the most abuse heaped upon him in the fourth and final season. They might score hits, but they could never “sink” him!

Actually, VOYAGE had the best of both worlds, preserving Kowalski as they were offing other “expendable crewman” some time before Warp Drive was a gleam in Gene Roddenberry’s eye. And, those guys wore Red AND Blue!