Thursday, July 24, 2014

Spaceman's Birthday

Happy birthday to Mark Goddard, born July 24, 1936 in Lowell, Massachusetts. Baby Boomer TV fans know him best as Major Don West from Lost in Space, but he also played recurring roles in Robert Taylor's ABC series The Detectives, and in the short-lived sitcom Many Happy Returns (CBS, 1964-65). As an actor, Mark didn't necessarily benefit from the changes that happened on Lost in Space in its second and third seasons, as the writers increasingly focused on Will Robinson, Dr. Zachary Smith, and the Robot. However, he continued to remain a fan favorite. After the show was canceled in 1968, he found it difficult to get acting jobs. Not until the 1980s did he enjoy a resurgence, when he landed contract roles on two popular daytime soap operas, One Life to Live and General Hospital, before going on to a new career as a teacher. 

Interviewed by syndicated columnist Dick Kleiner in 1985, Mark admitted he had once been ashamed of his association with Lost in Space: "But that was wrong of me. It was very popular with kids, and they loved it. [They] grew up with that show for three very important years in their lives. They all know me as Maj. Don West. That's a good feeling." Today, he meets those fans at nostalgia conventions, and through his website. He's also the author of a memoir, To Space and Back. 

Many happy returns, Mark!  

1 comment:

  1. Man, I loved Don West! I wanted to be lost in space so I could hang out with him, just like Penny!

    I find it interesting that he became a teacher. I know Bobby Sherman became an EMT in California. I wonder how many other "show biz" folks moved on from television (yes, Bobby Sherman had a TV career--first as the stuttering Bolt brother on Here Come the Brides and then his own series, which I don't think got very far. I say, good for both of them for going out and getting, not just "regular" jobs, but jobs that serve the great good of a community.