Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Happy Birthday, Bob May!

When I was a kid I used to watch Lost in Space. I loved the show of the Robinson family trying to survive the dangers of space. I liked all of the characters except Dr. Smith, but my favorite character was probably The Robot. As a kid I didn't know if this was a real robot, or an actor, or what. I was fascinated by him/it, which I'm sure is what producer Irwin Allen wanted.

When I got older I realized that The Robot (he was never given a name) was actually portrayed by TWO men: Bob May was the man inside, moving the head and hands, and Dick Tufield was the voice. By the time I found this out I had figured that it couldn't be a real robot; I had seen Star Wars and knew that C-3P0 and R2-D2 were portrayed by British actors. Still, it was a bit of a let-down. I *wanted* The Robot to BE a robot. And that is probably why Irwin Allen never gave Bob May or Dick Tufield on-screen credit, even as extras or support staff. That's kind of crappy, even for an illusion.

Bob May was born on September 4, 1939. He was an actor and stuntman well-known around Hollywood when he went to producer Irwin Allen about the part of The Robot. The "suit" had already been designed by production designer Robert Kinoshita ( the same designer who had created Robby the Robot for Forbidden Planet in 1956). According to May, when he was able to get into and out of the suit in front of Allen, he was given the job. He expected to be the voice of the Robot, as well, and was evidently saddened when he learned that he had been dubbed. Still, in several episodes (such as "The Ghost Planet", I believe) his voice can be heard.

Bob May died on January 18, 2009.

Happy Birthday, Bob May!

Bob May (left), Dick Tufield (right)
Several cast members on an All-Star Family Feud Special in the mid-70s
Bob May in the suit with Bill Mumy for the Lost in Space Special in 1998
Bob May with the rest of the cast at a convention appearance

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