Lost In Space Actor Deaths You May Not Know About

One of the first and most enduring science-fiction franchises, "Lost in Space" blasted off on television in 1965, and so much time has passed that many of the show's original cast members have since died. A futuristic take on the familiar "Swiss Family Robinson" story, "Lost in Space" depicted the exciting and dangerous adventures of the cosmos-wandering, planet-hopping Robinson family, along with their pilot, a robot, and a villainous stowaway. The original "Lost in Space," arguably one of the best TV shows of the 1960s, ran for just 84 episodes, but constant reruns would make it one of several popular cult classic TV shows that ran for less than five seasons. The show was hardy enough to support multiple revivals; a 1998 big-budget film version depicting the new adventures of the Robinson family and associates proved to be a blockbuster, while a Netflix series would premiere in 2018 and run for three seasons. 

Sadly, the shadow of death hangs over all iterations of the optimistic sci-fi adventure drama. Here are all the prominent stars from different versions of "Lost in Space" that we've lost.

Mark Goddard

The guy who actually carts the Robinson clan around distant star systems in all the versions of "Lost in Space" on their Jupiter 2 spaceship: Major Don West. An ill-tempered, rashly behaving hotshot, the pilot was first brought to life on the 1965-68 "Lost in Space" series by Mark Goddard. Usually severely at odds with Dr. Smith, the sneering, sabotaging villain who snuck onto the Jupiter 2, Major West got the Robinsons into much of the deep-space trouble before getting them out of it. Goddard won the part after impressing producers with his work on action shows of the 1960s like "Johnny Ringo" and "The Detectives," and he figured the show was so unique that it wouldn't get past the pilot phase. Goddard was wrong, and Major West became the role for which he was best known — to which he paid homage with a cameo in the 1998 "Lost in Space" movie, portraying a general.

According to Goddard's wife, Evelyn Pezzulich, the actor died from pulmonary fibrosis — a heart issue — on October 10, 2023, in Massachusetts. "I knew this was coming for the past few months," Goddard's "Lost in Space" costar Bill Mumy, a musician who retired in 2023, wrote on Facebook. "Shortly after a great phone chat he and I had on his 87th birthday in late July, I became aware that I would most likely never see or speak with him again. The last words we exchanged were 'I love you.'" Goddard was 87 years old.

Guy Williams

Born Armando Catalano, the actor changed his name to Guy Williams and became one of television's first action-adventure heroes. From 1957 to 1961, he played the masked, sword-wielding people's champion Zorro on "Walt Disney's Zorro." Four years later, Williams secured the lead role of Dr. John Robinson on "Lost in Space." Williams starred on all 84 episodes of the original series as a brilliant scientist and doting dad turned space traveler constantly steering his family away from cosmic threats and space monsters while trying to get everybody back safely to Earth. After "Lost in Space" was canceled in 1968, Williams retired from acting in American films and television.

In the last year of his life, Williams moved by himself to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Responding to a reported disappearance on May 6, 1989, authorities discovered Williams' remains in his apartment and determined that he'd been dead for several days. A brain aneurysm was later ruled to have caused the death of the 65-year-old actor.

Jonathan Harris

Not counting the always-worried Robot and various space monsters the Robinsons encountered on the regular, the most familiar and well-liked character from the original "Lost in Space" TV series was the comically and over-the-top dastardly villain. Initially the ship physician, secret foreign government asset Dr. Zachary Smith tries to compromise the Robinsons, their mission, and their Jupiter 2 spacecraft, only to be left on board when everyone is launched into the unfriendly and unknown environs of outer space. Every episode, actor Jonathan Harris brought a theatrical flair to Dr. Smith as he put down young Will Robinson, resented the Robot, and actively worked to undermine the efforts of the Robinson family.

After "Lost in Space" ended its three-year run in 1968, Harris found a lot of work as a voiceover artist, bringing his memorably clipped speech and withering manner to a failed pilot for a "Lost in Space" animated series, "Rainbow Brite," and "Challenge of the GoBots," among other projects. Harris checked into a Los Angeles area hospital in late 2002, complaining of a back issue. In November 2002, an undiscovered blood clot traveled to Harris' heart, killing the actor at age 87. Harris was about to reprise his role as Dr. Smith for TV movie called "Lost in Space: The Journey Home," which likely would have wrapped up the original series' storyline. It was canceled in the wake of the actor's death.

Bob May

Probably the image most commonly associated with the "Lost in Space" franchise is a clunky robot, covered in lights and waving its arms around while shouting "Danger, Will Robinson!" That's the Jupiter 2's robot, Robot, and while announcer Dick Tufeld gave the sci-fi icon its voice, it was controlled from the inside by Bob May. Starting his showbiz career in vaudeville at the age of 2, May served as a stuntman on the Westerns and action shows that filled the dial in the '60s, like "Cheyenne," "Stagecoach," and "Hawaiian Eye." Short in stature, he could fit into the robot suit and would spend entire shooting days inside. While he never appeared outside of the Robot costume across more than 80 episodes of "Lost in Space," fans of the show knew exactly who he was, and he was a big draw at science-fiction conventions, which he frequented after retiring from acting in 1980.

A few weeks after losing his San Fernando Valley home to a wildfire, May died in a hospital north of Los Angeles in January 2009. The actor and stuntman, suffering from congestive heart failure, was 69 years old.

Dick Tufeld

He never showed his face on camera, but Dick Tufeld was an integral part of all 84 episodes of the original "Lost in Space" television series. Not only the series' resident announcer and narrator, he also provided the voice for the Robinson family's robot assistant, Robot. It was Tufeld who, in his booming voice, frequently delivered the show's memorable catchphrase-meets-thesis statement: "Danger, Will Robinson!" Tufeld worked the microphone on numerous other '60s sci-fi series created by Irwin Allen, including "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and "The Time Tunnel," delivering scene-setting opening narration. Tufeld also narrated Saturday morning cartoons including "Thundarr the Barbarian," "The Fantastic Four," and "Spider-Woman," and reprised his Robot voice for cameos on "The Simpsons" and in the 1998 "Lost in Space" film.

Experiencing a slew of health issues after a fall in 2011, including a diagnosis of heart disease, Tufeld died at his Studio City, California, home in January 2012 while watching an NFL game on TV. He was 85.

William Hurt

Updating beloved old television series from the 1960s into cinematic spectacles starring A-list actors was a major trend in Hollywood in the 1990s. Following the movie versions of "The Flintstones," "The Addams Family," "The Fugitive," and "Mission: Impossible," "Lost in Space" hit cineplexes in 1998. Academy-Award winning "Kiss of the Spider Woman" star William Hurt headed up the cast as John Robinson, patriarch of the Robinson family as it investigates a path to Alpha Prime, a planet that the residents of a future, depleted Earth plan to inhabit. Of course, under John Robinson's command, the family gets lost ... in space.

Hurt, additionally nominated for Oscars for his performances in "A History of Violence," "Children of a Lesser God," and "Broadcast News," announced in 2018 that he'd been diagnosed with prostate cancer which had metastasized and moved into the actor's bones. He died in March 2022, a week before celebrating his 72nd birthday. "It is with great sadness that the Hurt family mourns the passing of William Hurt, beloved father and Oscar winning actor," the actor's son, Will Hurt, told media outlets, including Deadline. "He died peacefully, among family, of natural causes."

Joe E. Tata

Joe E. Tata is likely most recognizable for portraying the one older adult who consistently appeared across 10 seasons of "Beverly Hills, 90210" and its constant cast changes: Nat Bussichio, owner and operator of youthful hangout spot the Peach Pit. Back in the 1960s, Tata landed most of his first jobs in the science-fiction TV of the era. In addition to playing various supervillains' underlings on five episodes of "Batman," he was a favorite of Irwin Allen's production operation, showing up in multiple episodes of "The Time Tunnel," "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," and "Lost in Space." On the latter, Tata played five different small roles, all of them uncredited, in five different episodes, all airing in 1967. Tata's characters: the voices of a magician's dummy, a talking computer, a robot, and a robot judge, and in his solo on-screen appearance, an unnamed alien.

Doctors diagnosed the actor with Alzheimer's disease in 2018, and in April 2022, Tata was placed in the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. The actor died the following August at age 85.

Michael Rennie

In the two-part 1965 "Lost in Space" episode "The Keeper," the Robinsons contend with an enigmatic and charismatic authoritarian also called the Keeper. He travels the universe, collecting two of every species of every animal from every planet, using the power of hypnosis to lure creatures into cages — which is how he briefly collects Dr. Smith and wishes to make two other crew members part of his menagerie. This regal Keeper, who commands respect and engenders fear, is portrayed by Michael Rennie. His casting must have felt like an Easter egg for sci-fi fans who watched this "Lost in Space" episode as it aired — Rennie is best known for playing the stoic alien Klaatu in the classic 1951 alien invasion movie "The Day the Earth Stood Still," which helped popularize grey alien imagery.

And just before he filmed this "Lost in Space" episode, Rennie wrapped up a six-year run as Harry Lime on the spy show "The Third Man."

Rennie lived in the U.S. for decades, and ended his screen acting career in 1970. When he returned home to the Yorkshire region of England to see his mother in June 1971, the actor died of an undisclosed cause. Rennie was 62 years old.

Mercedes McCambridge

A star of hit radio shows like "The Great Gildersleeve," "I Love a Mystery," and "Abie's Irish Rose," Mercedes McCambridge moved into screen acting in 1949. For her first-ever film role, as political secretary Sadie Burke in "All the King's Men," McCambridge won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In the 1950s and '60s, McCambridge worked far more in television than in film, and in a 1966 episode of "Lost in Space," the actor portrayed a memorable character named Sybilla. The rare romantic interest for the odious Dr. Smith, Sybilla ruled over a family of oddballs and a garden of man-eating plants that threaten the Robinsons' spaceship — all made possible with her magic abilities. She's so enchanting that Dr. Smith nearly marries her and tries to take her back to Earth. That entry into the speculative fiction genre, along with McCambridge's voice acting background, would set up the actor for her most remembered role: She provided the frightening, otherworldly vocals for the demon Pazuzu in the 1973 blockbuster "The Exorcist," which is rumored to be affected by a curse.

After a handful of TV appearances in 1987 and 1988, and being victimized by her son in a stock-trading scandal before he died by suicide, McCambridge retired from acting and public life. In March 2004, she died of natural causes at age 87.

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Michael Conrad

One of several dozen one-off TV roles Michael Conrad would play in the 1960s was Creech, an orange fur-covered, primate alien creature in one of the last episodes of the original "Lost in Space" in 1968. The Robinsons are drawn into Creech's exploits when Dr. Smith, thinking the space ape will lead him to a fortune in deutronium deposits, helps Conrad's character break out of the prison in which he's been rightfully and safely incarcerated.

After many more small acting roles, Conrad landed his signature gig in 1981, playing Phil Esterhaus, the desk sergeant on NBC's police drama "Hill Street Blues." He won two Emmy Awards for his performance, which included delivering the show's catchphrase each episode to a collective of police officers: "Let's be careful out there." While "Hill Street Blues" was still in production, Conrad joined the ranks of actors who passed away while filming. The character actor died from cancer of the urethra at a hospital in Los Angeles. Conrad was 58.

Lyle Waggoner

While he'd later become a full-fledged TV star with his work as the announcer and then also a sketch performer on "The Carol Burnett Show," and as love interest Major Steve Trevor (and his character's own son) on the '70s iteration of "Wonder Woman," Lyle Waggoner got onto television in the mid-'60s via small roles on many long-running television series. A 1967 episode of "Lost in Space" included Waggoner's fourth-ever screen credit. In an installment called "Deadliest of the Species," Waggoner popped up briefly on screen as Mechanical Man I, half of a duo of robot-like figures on a hostile planet upon which the Robinsons find themselves when their Robot falls in love with a female bot who is also programmed to kill humans.

According to his agent, Waggoner died from the effects of cancer at his home in Westlake Village, California, in March 2020. The actor and announcer was 84.

Al Lewis

When he showed up for a guest-star appearance on a funnier than usual episode of "Lost in Space" in 1967, Al Lewis certainly got fondly noticed by audiences. A broad comic actor well known for his big roles on two major sitcoms of the 1960s, Lewis previously portrayed Officer Leo Schnauser on "Car 54, Where Are You?" and then the boisterous, vampiric Grandpa Munster on "The Munsters." He'd make a career out of reprising his role as the eldest Munster, but when he showed up on "Lost in Space," he played a supernatural character of a different sort. Zalto is a bumbling, cave-dwelling space wizard who trains an eager Dr. Smith in the ways of magic. Zalto also manages to get his spaceship's rockets blown up by Earth's Alpha Control when he gets too close. He survives as the result of the most elaborate disappearing act of his career.

Following several years of poor health, Lewis died in February 2006 at the age of 82.

Fritz Feld

A recognizable and prolific character actor, Fritz Feld appeared in more than 200 movies and TV series in a career that spanned more than 70 years. His parts were usually small, but he specialized in snooty, uptight gatekeeper types — managers and restaurant maitre d's. Feld portrayed that kind of character more than 20 times, including a three-episode, recurring stint on "Lost in Space" as Mr. Zumdish. A fastidious, pretentious, well-dressed employee of the Celestial Department Store, he cared greatly about manners and propriety. He even makes a call on the Robinson family's spaceship seeking payment for the female robot they order as a companion for their long-serving robot, Robot. Mr. Zumdish remained a pain to the Robinsons when they encountered him again as the leader of a space tourism organization.

Feld died at age 93 in a long-term medical care facility in November 1993, following what The New York Times reported was a long period of sickness.