Jonathan Harris was born on November 6, 1914. He died on November 3, 2002, just days before his 88th birthday.
Mr. Harris was one of those character actors who appeared in all sorts of television programs in the 50s and 60s before LOST IN SPACE. I happen to know without even looking that he was on THE TWILIGHT ZONE, BEWITCHED, ZORRO, and LAND OF THE GIANTS to name just a few. A few years after LiS he also starred on SPACE ACADEMY, a Saturday-morning live-action show I remember fondly. In this series he was the captain/principal mentor to the young cast; he was the good guy!
Dr. Smith was nobody's favorite character. (Mine was Will, of course.) However, because Harris was concerned about getting written out of the series, he tried to make himself the center of attention. Working with directors and writers who agreed or humored him, Harris' Dr. Smith *did* become the focus of the series; so badly, in fact, that to this day I can't bear to watch some of the worst offenders. With an excellent cast of seven talented actors (and a guy in a robot suit) it's a shame that too many episodes were based on Will-Smith-Robot.
|One of his last major voice roles was in A BUGS LIFE.|
|I was so happy to hear his voice in TOY STORY 2|
I have a very special Jonathan Harris encounter to talk about. Due to the 1998 big-budget Hollywood release of the film "Lost in Space," the original series was released on videotape all over the world. I was in Japan at the time and was able to find all sorts of Japanese-language material about the original series (which was titled "Space Family Robinson" there, by the way). At the same time I was in a yahoo chat club about LOST IN SPACE. I found out that Jonathan Harris loved hearing from his fans all over the world. I asked another member for his contact information. Then I bought extra copies of some of the Japanese magazines I had about the series and sent them to him with a note and a translation. I remember saying something like, "Thank you for countless hours of television pleasure." Well, a few weeks later I got a letter from California and it was Mr. Jonathan Harris himself writing back to thank me for the kind words and magazine cut-outs. I treasure that letter to this day.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Jonathan Harris!
"Lost in Space Forever (1998)
The closest we ever got to a "real" LiS reunion show
(I think that "prop" is the same time-belt from the episode
I mentioned above, "The Time Merchant")