Actor Bob May, best known for playing the robot on TV’s Lost in Space, has died. He was 69.
May’s daughter Deborah May says her father died of congestive heart failure on Sunday at a hospital in Lancaster, California.
Born in New York, May was the grandson of vaudeville comedian Chic Johnson and made his acting debut at age 2 with the Hellzapoppin comedy team of Olsen and Johnson.
He went on to appear in numerous films including Jailhouse Rock, Beach Blanket Bingo, The Nutty Professor and such TV shows as The Time Tunnel, McHale’s Navy and The Red Skelton Show.
Although a machine endowed with superhuman strength and futuristic weaponry, The Robot often displayed human characteristics such as laughter (usually at Dr. Smith with whom he forged a great double act), sadness, and mockery. Bob May played the role in a prop costume built by Bob Stewart while the voice was dubbed by Dick Tufeld, who was also the series’ narrator.
After Lost In Space, May went back to theatre and nightclub performing interwoven with further acting for major studios.
In 1996 May and Tufeld visited Sydney on a Lost in Space fan tour. It thrilled him so much he later sent gratitude to an Aussie fan website:
To the Hotel Lawson, for its courteous and gracious care by all of the hotel personnel; the Sydney Harbour Robot Cruise with our fans and our fun ship crew on Sydney Harbour (the sights from Sydney Harbour are the best in the world); the fabulous “Phantom of the Opera” night; the outstanding Yolu Dance Theatre performances; the visit to your famous Sydney Opera House- the Sydney Centrepoint Tower restaurant (with its breathtaking views); the Intergalactic Dinner at the gorgeous Bankstown Sports Club (it was the great Las Vegas night); the wondrous Powerhouse museum- the fantastic Sydney Aquarium, the beautiful Darling Harbour with its beautiful restaurants and shops; the Chinatown restaurant.