Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I pour one out for the late Dick Tufeld, the voice of the Lost in Space Robot

'I tip my 40 to your memory.'

'Take a drink and I...'

'... stop to think and I...'

'... I know one day soon...'

'... we'll be, we'll be hangin' out.'

'This is for my homies/This is for my homies, well well/See you when I get there/In that gangsta lean, that gangsta lean.'}
Lost in Space at 5pm weekdays on KBHK TV 44 in the early '80s was the first non-Sesame Street TV show I got hooked on. I didn't have The Wire, Breaking Bad, Community, The Boondocks, Louie or Justified back then. I had Ed Wood in outer space.

I was too young to understand Lost in Space, but I always liked having it on in the house at that age. Robots, ray guns and spaceships are irresistible to a four-year-old. The best character on this Irwin Allen Joint wasn't any of the Robinsons or creepy Dr. Smith (whose constant presence around Will Robinson made him look like he enjoyed being around young people a la Jerry Sandusky). It was the imaginatively named Robot.

This is the biggest collection of bubble-headed boobies outside of the Iowa Republican Caucus.
(Photo source: B9Creations)
Were Dr. Smith and the Robot lovers? Dr. Smith sure did speak to that "bubble-headed booby" as if he were his longtime lover. Hey, Logo channel, there's this old show from the '60s you might want to pick up...

Gay or not, the wisecracking Robot's voice by stentorian announcer Dick Tufeld was such a memorable part of my early childhood. I also remember hearing Tufeld's voice during the opening titles of the animated shows Thundarr the Barbarian, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and Spider-Woman and much later, the opening titles of Son of the Beach and the Escape from the Planet of the Apes trailer on some pre-YouTube movie trailer archive online.

Speaking of Lost in Space's impact on kids, I know the explanation on last week's Happy Endings for Dave's love of V-necks was because when he was a kid who constantly ran into bullies who would lift him up by his collar, the V-necks he wore made it easier for him to bounce, but did seeing all those V-necks on Lost in Space reruns on USA also influence his fashion choices?

'Will Robinson, do these accordion legs make me look fat?'

Anyway, back to the Robot. One of the best things about the visually stunning but so-so 1998 Lost in Space movie was the sleek design of the upgraded Robot (peep the cup I'm holding above) before he got destroyed and then re-emerged in a much more familiar-looking, bubble-headed form. Why didn't the Robot ever look this badass on the old show? Another highlight was hearing Tufeld's great voice again, this time in resonant digital stereo.

Dick Tufeld (1926-2012)
(Photo source: Daily Mail)
I wonder if his epitaph will say, "Warning! Dead bodies everywhere!"

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