Fritz Feld portrayed the character of Mr. Zumdish in three episodes of Lost in Space, “The Android Machine,” “The Toymaker,” and “Two Weeks in Space.” In his first two appearances he is an employee of the Galactic Department Store (although called the Celestial Department Store in “The Toymaker”). In “Two Weeks in Space, Zumdish is portrayed as running Alterous Fun Tours, Limited, but it is unclear whether this is actually a new job or if it is part of the elaborate hoax perpetrated by the aliens on the Robinsons. Zumdish is the only guest character to appear three times in the same rôle in the series. His most noteworthy characteristic was the punctuation of his declarations with a pop made by slapping his hand to his open mouth.
Dee Hartford also guested in three episode of Lost in Space, but in two different rôles. In “The Android Machine” and “Revolt of the Androids” Hartford appears as Verda. In her first appearance she is a silver-skinned android ordered from the Galactic Department Store by Dr. Smith; over the course of the earlier episode she begins to develop human emotions which make her so valuable that Mr. Zumdish is willing to break his store’s no-return policy in that one case. When Verda is next seen in “Revolt of the Androids,” she is much more human looking and has taken on even more human characteristics, including a strong sense of self-preservation. Hartford’s third appearance was as Nancy Pi Squared, Farnum B.’s stereotypically hard-as-nails but with a heart of gold agent in “Space Beauty.”
Sheila Matthews, later series producer Irwin Allen’s wife, is the only other actor to appear three times in three different important supporting rôles in the series. In season one’s “Return from Outer Space,” Matthews was cast as Ruth Templeton, a social worker at the county boys’ home where Will is to be sent. In “The Space Vikings” (season two) Matthews has the part of Brynhilda, the boisterous and jovial Valkyrie, complete with Wagner’s leitmotif, “ha yo to ho.” In season three’s “Princess of Space” she appears as Aunt Gamma, sporting a pink beehive hairdo.
The episodes “The Sky Pirate” (season one) and “Treasure of the Lost Planet” (season two) featured Albert Salmi as the pirate Captain Tucker. In the earlier episode there is marvellously charming chemistry between a younger, more naïf Will Robinson who ends up emotionally devastated by the realisation of Tucker’s true character at the end of the episode. The later episode shows a (slightly) more mature and wary Will interacting with Tucker on a different level, and much less likely to let his emotional defences down with the scoundrel.
The character of Farnum B. was portrayed twice by character actor Leonard Stone in “Day at the Zoo” and “Space Beauty.” In “Zoo” he is intent on acquiring human specimens for his touring space zoo; in “Beauty,” motivated by an immense greed, he seeks to entice Judy Robinson into a beauty contest, eager to reap the reward for supplying a mysterious alien with a consort.
Don Matheson, who later starred in “Land of the Giants” and also appeared as a guest in “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” appeared as two different characters in Lost in Space. He first appeared as the Tauron Rethso in “The Sky Is Falling” in season one. This was a non-speaking rôle, but a nonetheless central one in the episode. He returned as IDAK Alpha 12 (the ultimately good android) in “Revolt of the Androids,” but is almost unrecognisable in silver make-up and skullcap.
Were there too many or too few returning characters in Lost in Space? I suppose the answer depends on the individual fan. Dr. Smith was originally intended as a recurring but not permanent character. It was owing to his runaway popularity with fans in the first season that he was made a regular on the show. Irwin Allen reputedly intended to add the recurring character of a talking purple llama in the fourth season. Personally, I think it might have been nice to see Jimmy Hapgood again, or revisit some of the other one-off guests on the show, but the possibilities of bringing back these characters never seems to have been seriously entertained by either the series’ regular writers or Allen himself.