Lost in Space
07/17/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT
Three decades ago—they seem like light-years!—TV's Robinson family boarded the Jupiter II, blasted off on a mission to a star cluster called Alpha Centauri and wound up hopelessly Lost in Space. But it is only in the past few years, thanks to re-release on cable and videocassette, that the CBS show (1965-68) has come into its own as a pleasurable little classic. There are even plans to expand it into a big-screen movie next year. "Who ever dreamed that in my dotage I'd become a cult figure!" says Jonathan Harris, 80, who as stowaway Dr. Zachary Smith came close to stealing the show with his overripe diction ("Oh, the pain...the pain") and fluttering hysteria. "That's camp," he says, "and it worked!" These days he does voice-overs, including one as Lucifer in a video series for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Quoth Harris, who lives in L.A. with wife Gertrude: "I am the king of voice-overs."
For the past 11 years, June Lockhart, 70, who played space wife Maureen Robinson, has been a semiregular on ABC's General Hospital, playing the grandmother of Felicia (Kristina Malandro). In March she taped a Roseanne episode with other classic TV mothers (don't forget, Lockhart was also Timmy's mom on Lassie). "Roseanne," says Lockhart, "was the highlight of my career." The silly nadir, perhaps, was an airheaded Space episode, "The Vegetable Rebellion," in which Harris turned into a celery stalk. She and her TV husband Guy Williams (who died of a heart attack in 1989) laughed so helplessly, she says, "we were written out for two weeks." Twice-divorced and the mother of two daughters and grandmother of three, Lockhart, who lives in L.A., is more vivacious today than Mrs. R. ever was. Teasing, she asks, "When you look the way I do, why not brag?"
Bill Mumy, 41, was a busy child actor even before he played Will Robinson at age 11. Now he plays the alien Lennier on the syndicated Babylon 5, but he also does voice-overs, writes comic books and plays guitar in a rock band. He and his wife, Eileen, 40, a childbirth instructor, live in L.A.'s Laurel Canyon with their children Liliana, 1, and Seth, 5.
The cast members reassemble several times a year for lunch on the Twentieth Century Fox lot. "We just enjoy each other," says Lockhart. "We've never lost touch." And the two Robinson girls, adds Harris, "are both happy and beautiful." Angela "Penny" Cartwright, 42, runs a boutique, Rubber Boots, in North Hollywood. Marta "Judy" Kristen is still acting in stage productions in L.A. Mark Goddard, 58, who played stalwart pilot Don West, teaches school in Boston, says Mumy. Finally, it is time to give due to Bob May, 55, who spent three uncredited years hunched down in what he calls the bucket—the Robinsons' all-purpose Robot. (Red Skelton's announcer Dick Tufeld provided the voice.) May, who comes from an old vaudeville family and has two grown children, performs in supper clubs. But nothing will ever match Robot's dramatic weight. "You had to have the strength to carry the 250-pound costume on your back," explains the L.A. County resident. Back in '65 it wasn't exactly the kind of part he was looking for. "But, hey, I'm an entertainer," he says. "You don't turn down jobs."