Vale: Robert Culp

Robert Culp, known for his roles in I Spy and The Greatest American Hero has died, aged 79.

Robert Culp, known for his roles in I Spy and The Greatest American Hero has died, aged 79.

His manager said he was on a walk when he fell. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead just before noon. The actor’s son was told he died of a heart attack, though police were unsure if the fall was medically related. Los Angeles police said no foul play was suspected.

Culp’s most profile television roles were playing alongside Bill Cosby in the racially groundbreaking TV series I Spy and as FBI agent Bill Maxwell in The Greatest American Hero.

I Spy which aired from 1965 to 1968, with its mix of crime and humour broke new ground as the first integrated television show to feature a black actor in a starring role. Culp played Kelly Robinson, a spy whose cover was that of an ace tennis player. Both he and Cosby were involved in civil rights causes, and when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968 the pair traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, to join the striking garbage workers King had been organizing.

In the 1980s, he starred as irascible FBI agent in The Greatest American Hero, starring alongside William Katt as the fumbling but lovable schoolteacher with a superhero suit with powers he could never quite master.

He also starred in Trackdown (1957-1959), plus a string of television guest roles in such shows as Everybody Loves Raymond, Robot Chicken, Chicago Hope, Diagnosis Murder, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Cosby, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Colombo, Who’s the Boss, Matlock, Murder She Wrote, Police Story, Roots: The Next Generation, get Smart, Gunsmoke, Ben Casey and more.

Films included Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, The Castaway Cowboy, Golden Girl, Turk 182! and The Pelican Brief.

Culp was still active in the industry, writing screenplays.

6 Responses

  1. What a shock. My condolences to his family. I loved The Greatest American Hero, and have the whole series on DVD. He was an awesome FBI man, or villain (did that a few times on Colombo). Very sad, very sad indeed.

  2. I will always remember him from his two great roles in the original version of The Outer Limits, especially The Demon With a Glass Hand – one of the best episodes of a television drama I can recall.

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