''Lost in Space'' revives its 'mechanical man'
It may be the most pressing question in Hollywood at the moment: Will fans of a rickety little TV show called ”Lost In Space” go for a big-budget, serious-minded, action-packed movie version? New Line is gambling big on the affirmative, but there’s one thing that won’t seem jarring at all to moviegoers. When they hear the robot’s immortal ”Danger, Will Robinson!” it will sound warmly familiar.
The voice belongs to Dick Tufeld, the only member of the Lost In Space TV cast to re-create his role for the movie. The 71-year-old actor promises that the robot isn’t the ”bubbleheaded booby” comic foil that he was in the TV show, but there’s a bigger difference — for Tufeld anyway. This time his efforts are getting recognized. While working on the TV show, neither Tufeld nor Bob May, the man inside the robot suit, were ever listed in the credits. Executive producer Irwin Allen, says Tufeld, ”wanted the audience to think this was a real mechanical man. He actually thought people would believe that.”
After the series went off the air in 1968, Tufeld — already a veteran TV announcer with credits like The Milton Berle Show and The Wonderful World of Disney on his resume — returned full-time to announcing, working over the years on soaps, commercials, and Emmy and Grammy telecasts. (May, 58, can be spotted making appearances at Lost in Space conventions.)
”The enthusiasm for this revival has kind of amazed me,” says Tufeld, who lives in Studio City, Calif., with his wife, Adrienne. He adds that he’d happily do a Space sequel — though unlike the movie’s principals, he hasn’t been asked to sign on for one yet. ”Who knows if there’d even be a robot in the sequel?” he asks. For the answer, let’s go to Space writer-producer Akiva Goldsman: ”If there’s a sequel,” he promises, ”the robot will play a bigger role.”
Mr. Tufeld, call your agent.