We lost another of the greats this week, with the passing of Robert Culp at the age of 79.
Mr. Culp was an accomplished actor, writer, and director, best known for his role as Kelly Robinson, opposite Bill Cosby on the 1960s TV series I SPY.
In a DVD commentary, Culp noted that I SPY never really got the attention it deserved. I’d have to say that is true, as it often seemed to be “that other spy show” to the more popular THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. Imported spy-craze era shows, such as THE AVENGERS and SECRET AGENT, probably also helped dilute I SPY’s impact on our collective cultural memory.
On a personal level, I SPY aired on NBC at 10 PM (my mid-sixties bed-time, preventing me from seeing its original run) and it didn’t have much play in later syndication that I recall – so, I’m pretty much enjoying it now, bit-by-bit on DVD. As with most sixties-era series, it is time well spent.
In other roles of note, ironically, Mr. Culp played a villain on THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., in “The Shark Affair”, the season before the debut of I SPY.
Culp starred in THREE (count ‘em THREE) episodes of the classic 1960s version of THE OUTER LIMITS. Two of which, “The Architects of Fear” and “Demon with a Glass Hand”, were among the very best of the series – and the other, “Corpus Earthling”, while not in the same class as the other two, was considerably lifted by Culp’s performance.
Culp also had a long-running role in the series THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO.
And, by certain accounts I’ve read, Robert Culp was a huge comic book fan and collector. That may have helped made his numerous sci-fi and fantasy roles all the more memorable.