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Mark Goddard Interview

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Interview: Mark GoddardEdit

Mark Goddard Interview
Lis forever mark goddard
By Lee Stobel (Galaxy Gift #3)

Q: How did you get the part of Don West?

A: Irwin Allen, who produced the series, was represented by General Artists' Corporation, so we had the same agency. And I finished The Detectives with Robert Taylor, for three years, and they asked me if I'd like to do the pilot; there was a pilot for Lost in Space. It took twenty days to shoot the pilot, and then this film was then broken up. It was later used in certain episodes. In the pilot there were all the disasters: going across the sea and the giant and all the earthquakes. The pilot took a long while to shoot, because we were going across the sea, and water had come in on us on the stage. All the location scenes were shot first. It was a place that was very red and looks like the moon, and they had the little Chariot. I never went on location; none of the principles went on location. We had doubles with our clothes on, but you could never see them up close. But when they did the show and came in close on the stage or on the backlot, then you'd see us and think we were out there also.

Q: A miniature Chariot was used in the scene with the giant Cyclops, wasn't it?

A: Right. A lot of miniatures were used throughout the pilot.

Q: How did you feel when CBS decided to buy Lost in Space as a series?

A: At the time science fiction wasn't my favorite subject to do, and I wasn't really happy about doing the show. But when we got into it, it was all right. For the first year, I enjoyed it. I liked the episodes closer to the Star Trek type of shows. Then, when it became more campy and dealt with Batman type plots, I didn't like it.

Q: Why was Jonathan Harris' role emphasized so much as the series went on?

A: I guess it was because they felt that the people wanted to see more of the Robot and Jonathan. Originally, when it was more science fiction, Irwin can really do those things so beautifully. So he really took those away from himself when he wanted to deal with the Robot and Jonathan playing games, cooking souffles, or whatever else.

Q: Did the actors get along on the set and off?

A: No. There was a lot of tension on the set for the three years it was filmed. There was always a lot of tension, because the shows started going more toward the Robot and Smith. There were hard feelings from especially Guy and June, and also myself, but not as heavy as them, because they were originally sold as being the stars of the show when it began. It ended up that Harris became the star of the show.

Q: There were personal grudges between them?

A: Yeah; Guy and June didn't like it at all. There were strong grudges between the three of those people.

Q: Is there anything that sticks out in your mind that happened on the set because of this?

A: Yeah; there were incidents when Guy would walk off the set. He left the show for a couple of episodes; we did the episodes without him. You'll see shows that he wasn't in; he'd just go home and we'd continue shooting without him. And he was more or less justified in that feeling: he was signed to play the father and be the star of the show. He had to fight all the time to get shows that were written around him and they did that after awhile. Say in the second year, but in the third year, no, they went pretty much with Smith and the Robot.

Q: How were you and Jonathan Harris off the set?

A: I was friendly with everyone, pretty much. I think there was a period for a couple of months when I was angry at Jonathan Harris, for the same reasons, feeling that he was getting too many shows thrown his way. But we talk today. I see him, and there's no animosity between us. But I also had my disagreements with Guy Williams. When they started taking shows away from Guy, giving more to Jonathan, then Guy would come in and demand whatever I had in the show: any confrontations with Smith, or to save the kid, or anything. He'd end up doing all of that and I was the one that got squeezed out; I was doing almost nothing. There was one time where I went in to do a bit and had learned my lines, and was all ready to do my scene, when Guy started reading my lines. I said 'What's going on?' and he said 'This is my scene now.' They had given the lines to him. And that's where I got angry and walked off.

Q: Was anyone hurt when an explosion was filmed?

A: I had an incident where a special effects man was hurt. He had a bucket of explosives below me, and I was on some kind of rigging. He was nearby and a cigarette was dropped in or something, and he was badly burned and I was scorched.

Q: There were a lot of dangerous scenes to be shot.

A: We had doubles, we all had doubles. Jonathan would have a double if he just had to fall down.

Q: Who was your double?

A: Jerry, uh, I can't remember his name, I blocked it from my mind. He's dead; he was killed two years ago in an accident. He was a good double, though.

Q: Was extra coaching given to either Angela Cartwright or Bill Mumy?

A: No, never. They had to go to school, only for the schooling. But never any coaching. Billy was really sharp with lines. He could learn them very quickly and was very natural at what he did; he was a bright kid. Angela was the same way. They needed very little direction on the set, too. It was a tough show to do with so many explosions and special effects that the director didn't really have time to work with the actors.

Q: Did the jet pack really work?

A: Yes, Guy was in it. He never actually went on it, though. They had a man from Bell Laboratories who did the flying on the jet pack. They filmed him in the air, and Guy would come into the picture or jump out, so you would think it was him all along. They actually worked; they were really quite exciting.

Q: How did the Robot move?

A: Whenever we did something on the space ship set, they had him on wires, however the blocking of the set went. And when we were outside, too. Going across dirt they used the same technique. On close shots above the waist, Bob May used to only wear the top part from the waist up. His legs would be showing, but you wouldn't see them on the screen.

Q: What was Bob May like?

A: He was all right; he took his role quite seriously. He got to feel that he was the Robot. They'd dub in his voice afterwards. Bob would have liked to have done the voice himself, but that never worked out. He got along with everyone fine and worked hard. First time I met him, he was a friend of Jerry Lewis.

Q: How long did it take to do the scene where the Robot runs amuck in "The Reluctant Stowaway"?

A: If you get scenes like that in one take, you're all right. But that was a hard scene to shoot because explosions had to be rigged up and had to go off at certain times. The camera had to move from left to right like the ship was moving, and the actors had to move left and right. That kind of scene would take the better part of a morning. I remember that show: I had just been in a motorcycle accident.

Q: How was the effect of stars shining through the Jupiter 2's window done?

A: That was done with large screens and back projection. They'd shoot the planet or stars or miniature -on film, and shoot it backwards on the window as if it were a screen. They'd say 'one-to-three go' and they'd run the film while we said our dialogue and at the same time the stars would be shot on the window.

Q: Was Irwin Allen ever seen on the set?

A: He'd come down to see if everything was going fine. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was right next door to us. He'd visit Voyage, and us, then The Time Tunnel. We'd see him every day, every two or three weeks.

Q: Did he direct the pilot film?

A: Yes; he's a good director. He knows his business. He's a nice man; I like him, now that it's all over.

Q: Has he offered you any parts in his movies?

A: There's been talk about some things. I haven't been out there, though. Whether I do a movie for him depends on what the subject matter was. I may though; I might like to.

Q: How do you feel about the laser pistols?

A: I just went along with it. I did a western where I used a rifle and a pistol. When I was on The Detectives I used a police special. I was doing a space show where I was using a ray gun. It was just an extension of those periods. I was fortunate enough to use a rifle of the 1880's, and use one in the sixties, and a ray gun of the future. I just had to hold it a long time so that they could draw in the beam.

Q: Did you keep any of the laser pistols?

A: No, they're at 20th Century Fox somewhere.

Q: Why was the Jupiter 2 brought out only in "Visit to a Hostile Planet"?

A: Because the Jupiter 2 was built inside on a stage on the back lot, and they built it so large they couldn't get it through the doors. It cost them $30,000 to build it. Finally, they took it apart for this one show and brought it outside. They never had any reason to take it back outside again.

Q: What were your favorite episodes?

A: I liked the one with Michael Conrad ["Fugitives in Space"] and the one where I had to fight Warren Oates ["Welcome Stranger"]. I liked the one with the kids on motorcycles ["Collision of the Planets"]. That was kind of fun. The pilot was exciting to film. It was fun when we were dealing with heat and earthquakes, the kinds of things that can possibly happen when you're out in space.

Q: There were several changes over the years, such as the addition of the Space Pod in year three, the disappearance and reappearance of the Astrogator in year two, the disappearance of the Bloop. What was the rationale for this?

A: You couldn't analyze these things too closely. If you tried to figure them out, you'd go crazy. They did everything arbitrarily.

Q: How was the shooting of the upper and lower decks arranged?

A: We used to shoot it in a separate stage for the bedrooms and where we used to eat.

Q: How long did it take to film an episode?

A: Six or seven days, sometimes eight.

Q: Have you seen any of the cast since the show was canceled?

A: I see Billy Mumy once in a while. He used to live near me on Lookout Mountain. I was in an acting class with Marta Kristen for awhile. She has a little girl who is six or seven by now. I got a note from June when I was in Los Angeles; she congratulated me on the show (The Act). As for guest stars, Michael Conrad studies at the Actor's Studio and I've seen Warren Oates once in a while. I worked with Albert Salmi when I did Petrocelli; he's a nice guy.

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