Paul Mantee, Star of ‘Robinson Crusoe on Mars,’ Dies at 82

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Paul Mantee, an actor with more than 120 credits on the IMDb who’s probably best known for his role as Det. Al Carossa on “Cagney & Lacey” and as the star of cult film “Robinson Crusoe on Mars,” has died. He was 82.

Mantee was toiling in small, often uncredited roles in the likes of “The Rifleman” or “Hawaiian Eye” when he was chosen to star in the 1964 sci-fi adventure “Robinson Crusoe on Mars,” a survival tale in which the actor played an astronaut stranded on the Red Planet with a monkey. (Adam West co-starred in the film.) The film has come to be critically hailed, and Mantee also appeared the same year in a supporting role in the feature Western “Blood on the Arrow,” but he largely returned to labor in TV roles.

His late ’60s TV credits include “Batman,” “The Fugitive,” “I Spy” and “Mission: Impossible.” Mantee did have a small role in Sydney Pollack’s “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” in 1969.

He worked steadily in TV throughout the 1970s and ’80s, including eight appearances in different roles on “Mannix” and guest roles on “S.W.A.T.,” “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “Quincy, M.E.”

” Cagney & Lacey” brought Mantee his first series-regular role, and he revisited the role of Det. Carossa for the 1994 TV movie “Cagney & Lacey: The Return.” He had a recurring role on another cop show, NBC’s “Hunter,” as Commander Clayton, and did a guest gig on “Seinfeld.”

His final credits in the 1990s including three feature films, “Lurking Fear,” Ron Howard’s “Apollo 13” and “Memorial Day.” He subsequently turned to writing magazine articles and novels, and he had recently been writing columns for a Malibu newspaper.

Survivors include his wife Suzy.

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  1. RM says:

    Paul was wonderful enough to have my friend and I over for lunch a few years ago. Both fans of his 1964 movie. He went out of his way to invite Victor Lundin over and we all spent the entire afternoon at his home reminiscing about his early days. I cant remember when someone in the acting community was so gracious. I can’t believe they are both gone and in one year so close together. They both struck me as extremely tight friends who still kept in touch. My prayers and respect to both of these guys’ families. Where now does a humble genuine actor exist?

  2. Dave Lucas says:

    When “Robinson Crusoe on Mars” was released, it was paired with “Godzilla vs. The Thing” (Mothra, really). I saw it that opening weekend at my local cinema. There was a block-long line of kids waiting to see that matinee show. I was one of them. Movie made a big impression on me, one of the better ’60s sci-fi entries. Now I have it on DVD. Still watch it now and then. Always find Mantee’s performance engaging and the story intriguing. (The FX are showing their age, though.) A sci-fi movie icon is now among the stars. Thanks, Paul.

  3. Am says:

    Paul Mantee was my uncle. I think he would be amazed at all of the good things that are being said about him and his career.
    your favorite niece (YFN)

  4. The Location Station says:

    Well, just for the heck of it, how about a photo of the actor whose death you’re announcing, instead of that useless graphic? We KNOW it’s an obituary, you said in the title that the actor had died, but I don’t recall what he looks like.

    • Frank W says:

      I loved Robinson Crusoe on Mars, but when I saw it, the real star to me was Batman’s Adam West. Not sure if I remember Paul Mantee by name from this movie, but he stuck with me as the assassin in Charles Bronson’s Breakout. He also wrote a wonderful funny article for TV Guide back in the 70s about a guest star role as a bad guy (I want to say it was on Harry-O).

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