Danger, Will Robinson! Cast Members Recall ‘Lost in Space’ on its 50th Anniversary

Lost in Space TV series Blu-ray
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

When it premiered on September 15, 1965, the CBS sci-fi adventure “Lost in Space” met with little enthusiasm from TV viewers. But the show, which originally debuted in black and white, gained popularity during its second month on the air, and eventually cracked the top ten weekly programs by January.

A cosmic variation on Johann David Wyss’s classic novel “The Swiss Family Robinson,” the Emmy nominated series became a beloved pop culture phenomenon when it was picked up for syndication following its cancellation after three seasons.

To mark the show’s 50th anniversary, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment releases a lavish 18-disk Blu-ray boxed set on Tuesday, featuring all 83 episodes of the campy space saga, along with hours of never-before-seen material culled from the personal archives of series creator Irwin Allen.

Allen, best known for the blockbuster disaster movies that he produced in the ‘70s, gained early success as a fantasy TV producer, creating genre shows like “The Time Tunnel,” “Land of the Giants” and “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.”

“Irwin was quite a visionary,” said Angela Cartwright, who played teenage space explorer Penny Robinson on “Lost in Space,” and later starred in the 1979 disaster sequel “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure,” which Allen directed. “He knew how to bring excitement every week into peoples’ homes, while also giving them something to think about.”

“I wish Irwin had personally directed more than just the pilot,” said Bill Mumy, whose role on the series inspired the iconic catchphrase “Danger, Will Robinson!”

“He was incredibly ambitious, and laid down an amazing template for the series in that pilot,” Mumy said. “Plus, he dressed in very bright colors and had the first comb-over I’d ever seen!”

Five decades later, Allen’s on-set behavior still amuses the cast.

“We’d lurch back and forth in that spaceship to the sound of Irwin slamming a hammer against an aluminum pail,” Cartwright said. “He’d yell ‘Left! Right! Left!’ And he’d bang on his pail while we stumbled from side to side. It was just so ridiculous!”

“He used a megaphone when he was directing, and I’d think to myself, dude, I’m five feet away from you!” Mumy said. “He was an old time Barnum and Bailey kind of guy, a real showman.”

The commentaries, outtakes and archival footage scattered throughout the Blu-rays paint Allen as a shrewd TV producer whose fondness for elaborate special effects often put the series behind schedule.

“He wasn’t the easiest person to work for, and was under a lot of stress to get the show completed,” Cartwright adds. “But he had great ideas and knew how to make them happen.”

“The buck stopped with Irwin,” Mumy said. “He was very aware of his budget, and used to walk on to the set each day after lunch and stand over by the director tapping his watch. That’s all it would take. Just a few little taps that meant time is money.”

Though the series spawned a big-budget theatrical remake in 1996 and continues to run on classic TV cable networks like Me-TV, it never achieved the same level of cultural fame as “Star Trek,” which premiered during its second season.

“We never thought of ‘Star Trek’ as competition,” Mumy said. “For me, ‘Star Trek’ was a military show and ‘Lost in Space’ was a family show, and they were both set in deep space, and they were both ridiculously campy and ridiculously cool!”

In addition to the bizarre aliens, stylish robots and aluminum foil space suits, “Lost in Space” is notable for featuring one of composer John Williams’ most recognizable television scores.

“Williams made a name for himself in those first few episodes,” Mumy said. “We had other composers later on, but if you listen to Williams’ main themes that ran throughout the entire series, they’re beautiful! They’re haunting! They’re one of the reasons why the show still resonates with viewers the way it does.”

Reflecting on the show’s enduring popularity, Cartwright and Mumy believe it comes down to one word: family.

“It’s the family aspect that really captures people’s imaginations,” Cartwright said. “Fans who grew up with the show are watching it with their young kids today. There’s a feeling of innocence to it that people enjoy passing on to their children and grandchildren.”

“Everyone can relate to the family dynamic,” Mumy adds. “And that concept is a perfect canvas to let your imagination loose in, whether you’re eighty or you’re eight.”

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 10

Leave a Reply

10 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Priest King III says:

    I remember when Lost In Space first air on television in 1965 , I was 8 years old and I remember that my Parents would let me and my another brothers stay up on Wednesday nights before going to bed to watch Lost in Space. I’m 58 years of age now and I have the blue-ray collection of Lost in Space and I still watch the episodes and enjoy everyone.

    I know during the loss’s of Jonathan Harris (Dr. Smith), Guy Williams (John Professor Robinson) and not to forget the man in the robot suit (Bob May), their characters will play on for generations to come. I really admired Mr. Irwin Allen as a producer and Director for Lost in Space, I think that there no one who could have been as creative as he was in directing Lost in Space.

    I hope that the new group who take on the remake of the show on Netflix will do a superb job, and not go way out crazy in make the classic space adventure over again. Please keep it simple to let the audience use their imagination as we did with the original show. I know the technology has step up since Lost in Space was produce back in the early 60’s.

    It would be nice to bring some of the technology in the new show that couldn’t been used 50 years ago

    Happy 50th Anniversary Lost in Space and to the casts members who brought the show alive.

  2. Happy 50Years to Lost in Space.

  3. Robert Piersa says:

    My most fond memories growing up in the 60s was lost in space. All the characters were the best and I believe this show had the prettiest female cast in the history of television. Blessings to the whole cast for giving me some of the great memories of my childhood.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Happy 50th Anniversary Lost in Space cast and crew. I loved the show way back then and I love it now. It connects me with my childhood. The most happy care free time of my life…so thank you. It’s funny I can watch an episode now and it just seems like yesterday and it’s been 50 years. Time goes by so fast. It was nice to see Mark, Marta, Angela and Bill. I hope June is doing well too. Looking forward to the new DVD set. It will be nice to see the new material.

  5. Jay says:

    I hear there’s a new Lost In Space tv show in the works. Can’t wait!

  6. Miffy says:

    Thank you Angela and Billy for sharing your memories.

  7. Donald says:

    Marta Kristen (Judy) lives in Santa Monica; Mark Goddard and June Lockhart are still alive and kicking too. Why not interview or get quotes from them? A very half-assed “tribute.”

  8. One of the most fondly remembered shows of its day. Happy 50th and many, many more…..

  9. Jorge Trujillo says:

    Happy birthday lis.

  10. me says:

    I guess the idea to post a picture of the cast NOW was also Lost In Space.

More TV News from Variety

Loading