CAST INTERVIEWS - MARK GODDARD
Glenn: The death of Guy Williams took every one by surprise and made news headlines all around the world. Guy in person must have been a very strong force and presence.
Mark: Yes he was, as I said June called me and told me about Guy's death and we talked for about forty minutes on the phone about Guido. I got up that following morning, and I had a conversation in my mind with Guy. In fact, I wrote it all down.
It was a long dual conversation ... I wrote, about twenty minutes of writing with Guy, and we just talked with each other. I felt he was there.
I talked about the show, I talked about what it was like to be dead, you know. It was funny, strange, but, I ... mean it's tragic. But it was like, when I say funny, it was humorous between two friends. ...It was the two of us again, just like it way before. It was Guy and I!
I miss him. I asked him.
Why did you do it? Why did you go and die? In Argentina, ...why did you die?
He said, "Well in Argentina, the people love me as Zorro, and I wanted to be where I was loved", and all this. So I said, "Well, we miss you!" I really did and I still do. It was a whole conversation about the show, our happiness, our kids, what we did, and the laughs we had along the way, and I told him how I felt.
M: How prophetic Guyís words were in this dream like conversation I had with Guy so many years ago. Since then I have travelled extensively, fell in love and married a classy woman (Evelyn, a professor of English) and teach Ďat riskí kids in a residential treatment facility. Now, I prefer a good cabernet and have split my music listening between classical and the rock of the sixties.
G: You have mentioned June Lockhart as being the most professional actress. Can you please tell us about June?
M: Well, first of all, like there is with anyone, there are two people that you're always working with, one is the actress, and the other is the person, to differentiate that, June as an actress, was always very professional. She knew her lines and every≠body else's lines.
She was very helpful to all the other actors concerned, so she was a pleasure really to work with, always. More importantly, as a woman and as a person, she does even better than that, because she is so loved by everyone that I've been connected with.
She's very outgoing to people. She's very friendly, you just think that nothing ever goes wrong in her life, because if there are things she is down about, no-one would ever know about it. She never lets anyone know that she'd be hurting in any way.
Whether she has, ever or not, I don't know. We all come across unpleasant things in our lives, but she never let those things interfere with her work as an actress or as a person. She's always very "up", very giving and makes people around her feel good.
She's like Larry Bird - the great basketball player, because he made everyone around him a better player and that's how June was, she makes everyone about her better because she always comes on with this wonderful, wonderful attitude and a positive feeling that she generates completely.
So she's really a sweetheart of a person and I'm very, very fond of June and fortunate to have worked with her.
G: I believe it is June that has kept you and the cast of Lost In Space together throughout the seventies and eighties.
M: I guess that's true, I've been back East, she lives on the West Coast with the other actors and I guess she's the one that's kept them together, to have lunches. Especially after Guy passed away, we had dinner with Guy's family. That was June's doing and I think she's helped to keep everyone together for the 20th Century Fox lunch reunions.
She would be the mother figure of our family, and as mothers do within families, she is the glue for us all. So when you lose a father like Guido, (Guy Williams) you have a mother that's there, holding a family together and she's done that very well.
And she's done it for her daughters as well, when she was divorced I think, she raised two lovely daughters Anne and June. I'm sure she's been the glue there too. So therefore you have the actress and the person behind the actress as well.
G: You have described Bill Mumy as your buddy, and you've had the opportunity to watch him grow over the years. Please tell us more about Bill.
M: Well, (laughs) Billy, when we were working on Lost In Space, he always looked up to me as a kind of an older brother, not a father figure. He used to play around with his guitar all the time. He was learning music then and I was into the Kingston Trio and stuff like that.
So I introduced him to some of that different music of the time, you know.... He was always working on his guitar. I think that Billy appreciated me more than anybody else on the show, when I say that, like, I mean... if I do have a sense of humour, I think I do, all the little jokes I pulled and the things I did on Lost In Space, Billy appreciated that most. (laughs)
I would look down and Billy would have that little devilish grin, (laughs) and he liked to have fun too, you know. As I've said, I was 28 at the time and Billy was 12, but basically it was like I was a bigger brother to him, I was like a 15 year old brother that tried to get away with a few things once in a while. (laughs)
Billy and I had so much fun together, I liked his Mum and Dad very much and I appreciated Billy's company. He was a bright young man for I-his years and he was a good kid. He was the kind of boy that you would want to have as a son.
And that's true today, if he was my son, I'd be just as proud of him now as I was when he was on Lost In Space, not only because of his accomplishments as a songwriter, an actor and a producer, he does all of those things marvellously - but because he's a true father with two beautiful kids. He's a good husband, to his wife Eileen.
I have sons that are younger than Billy, the youngest is five, and I pray they all do well in their personal lives as Billy has done. Excepting what they have in their careers, I just want them to be happy in their personal lives as Billy has been.
He's kind, he's thoughtful, he goes out of his way for other people, like, ...I've had trouble in the past recognising the value of Bob May in the show as the Robot, I never really appreciated what he did too much, that's my own thing you know.
But Billy did. Billy thought Bobby should really get a better shake (recognition) from things and now he is. Billy had a lot to do with that, he wanted to see that happen, he's very generous that way.
He's not petty at all. Billy's talented, he's warm, generous and he's kind and he's everything you want in a friend. As you know yourself Glenn, that fans who have met him at conventions and shows always say he's a wonderful person.
He's quite a guy.
G: You're sparring partner was of course Jonathan Harris, when Jonathan was here in Australia he talked about the gruelling hours on the set of Lost In Space. What he looked forward to, was the humour that you supplied each day on the set. He said your marvellous dry wit & sense of humour is what he said he needed each day. Please tell us about that, and Jonathan.
M: (laughs) You know, for Jonathan, it was gruelling days, because he was in just about every scene, he had a lot of weight to pull on the show, he had a lot of lines to learn and he worked with them creatively. He made up lines, he re-wrote lines for himself and he worked very hard.
Plus, he took time in the make up chair, it wasn't just thrown on, he cared about that, he cared about every aspect of Lost in Space, because he is the consummate professional. We all were professionals, we all had a great background before doing Lost In Space, but Jonathan had done a lot of theatrical work, television work and movies. He worked very hard on the set.
The day was less gruelling for me and I always like having some fun. Early as it was, I used to invade Jonathan's make-up room while he was being made up. I used to come and tell him all the things that happened to me over the weekend or some funny story I'd heard, and I tried to get him laughing you know.
So, he was in the make-up chair, (laughs) and he couldn't say anything, it was great, he was being made up, he couldn't join in the conversation with me. So, it would be a one-way conversation, I'd tell him every thing I wanted to say. I'd get him going and laughing. Whether the conversation would be about Irwin Alien, or the special effects firecrackers going off, I would have a point of view or something smart-alec to say about it. Not too smart alecky though.
I had an outlook on things in life that Jonathan appreciated. I mean, it's the kind of thing I do with my students a lot. Itís just my perspective on how I look at life, it's the kind of thing that keeps me young too, I don't believe I'm ever going to grow up, my students always think I'm in my forties because of my attitude, more than anything else.
I think I have a sense of humour about everything; I don't take anything too heavy.
G: Laughter is a marvellous tool to have especially in teaching.
M: Yeah! My students are always laughing (-the students watching, stage a mock laughing outburst) (laughs) and they're always telling me how funny I am with different views I have on current events or topics. I just have a really good time with them, it's itís always off the top of my head. I'm just like a stand-up comic, feeding myself information and going with it. So, I guess that's what Jonathan got a kick out of on Lost In Space.
G: Angela Cartwright of course was also, growing up on Lost In Space. She is now a gorgeous lady, please tell us about Angela.
M: Well, Angela is a very beautiful young lady, she really has a heart of gold, she melts you, you know, when you're around Angela you gotta melt, she just has that power, that look and that little smile. She really has it, and a sense of humour, she doesn't take herself or anything that seriously either, you know which is nice, it's very refreshing.
After Lost In Space, we do get together sometimes, but not that often, because I live back here, when you finish a show, you pretty much lose contact with other actors, but I look forward to LIS get-togethers.
I can tell you that since Lost In Space Angela and Marta have become quite close because they keep in constant contact. Together with June making an effort to keep us all together, it's great.
I love Angela dearly, and we're always happy to see each other and well, I think she gets a kick out of me too ... in a different way than Billy did. Angela was a little girl that I had to protect and Billy was a little boy that I could tear around the set with and not get into trouble. But Angela always had a beautiful innocence, you look back on the show, the smile was always there ready to break out.
Her smile must have worked because when I do conventions, people talk a lot about Angela. A lot of guys say they loved Angela. Marta was sexy, she was the sexy blonde on the show, and older guys loved her, but boy, I hear from a lot of guys that were probably around ten or twelve at the time Lost in Space was being filmed, and they tell me they just love that brunette Angela Cartwright.
She really stole the hearts of a lot of young men during Lost In Space, and I think that's overlooked, but she really did.
G: You've mentioned already that acting is a hard life, in 1990, Lost In Space's Captain Tucker - actor Albert Salmi, took his life, how did the news affect you? You mentioned before he was one of your favourite guest stars on the show.
M: Yes, he was one of my favourites, because of his work as an actor going way back, watching him on the big screen and knowing of his work. He was an Actor's Studio member, a very dedicated and won≠derful actor, so therefore he was one of my favourite guests on the show because of the way he worked, he was such a good actor.
I never knew him personally, I think I knew his wife a little bit; she was a member of the Actor's Studio, as well.
I don't think he took his life because acting was a tough life, anymore than Gig Young did or John Belushi did, or accident victim Jimmy Dean. It's not the life of an actor that brings this on, it's what has been troubling you in your life, probably long before you became an actor.
It's something that happens to you before you're five years old probably. That's the way I look at it, anyway, in my work with kids I see that, I see the trauma that some kids have early in life and it's hard to shake.
G: What are your memories of designer Paul Zastupnevich? Did you get to know him?
M: No, not really, he was always with Irwin and I stayed away from Irwin. (laughs) So, I wasn't around Paul too much either. He was a lovely man, very self- effacing, he did his job, he did it wonderfully, and he was Irwin's yes man, (laughs) I guess pretty much, I don't know how well he was treated by Irwin. I mean you hear some of the stories ... and ... well,.. I don't know.
Paul told me the story about the Christmas cashmere sweater, (laughs) turning out to be his birthday present. I remember I said well that sounds about right, but Paul probably would have just said "Ah, so what". And he would have just gone on with his work. He loved his work, he was dedicated to it and he got a lot of satisfaction out of it.
Paul Z, he was liked by the cast and crewmembers, but I never knew him very well. I was married with a young daughter then, and I was going to the day school a lot. I was hanging out with Billy Schumacher ≠the jockey and other actors and I was going to parties, partying all night long, so I had my other life apart from the set.
I was pretty involved in keeping my social life active in those days, you know. Having some fun and having a good time.
G: Mark, can you tell me what you did immediately after Lost In Space?
M: After Lost In Space I stopped acting for seven years. I became an agent, a father to two children and I went through a divorce. Then I got married again, and I raised two more children. I was a househusband in the 1970's before it was in vogue to do. Well, not in vogue to do, ... but I was a househusband, I really was.
I raised my two kids because my then wife, Susan Anspach, worked as an actress. She was doing films and so on. She did the films and I took care of the kids. But I chose to do that and it was a very good experience for me. Then after Susan and I had divorced, I had to get my career back, and myself together again, you know.
So I made a comeback! ... My life is a history of comebacks. I've had about nine lives that way. So I had to come back and I went to New York and I did a Broadway musical with Liza Minelli, called The Act which was directed by Martin Scorcese! He directed Goodfellas, and Taxi Driver.
Martin Scorcese is a wonderful director. So I did that, and I did One Life to Live, a soap opera, in New York and then I did General Hospital for two years. I was a regular on a couple of other shows too.
Then I did some guest shots on Jake and the Fatman, Adam 12, Barnaby Jones, Petrocelli, The Streets of San Francisco, The Fall Guy, Quincy, Benson and stuff like that.
I also appeared in a few movies called Blue Sunshine, The Death Squad, Strange Invaders, A Reason to Live and Roller Boogie.
I was going along, continually guest starring in something and then I really said to myself 'I don't want to hang out, waiting for the next call, waiting for the next series!" It would have come. I would have done another show, I would have done another soap opera, but I said "Iím not going to do it! "
I came back to Massachusetts, I came back to my roots, I went back to college, I finished college, it took me a year and a half to get my degree to become what I really wanted to be - a teacher.
G: By the mid eighties, Lost In Space conventions were being organised across the United States. Lost In Space suddenly, was getting very popular. Did you notice the popularity increase?
M: There's never been a time when Lost In Space has been far away from any of us. But as I said, I never knew the extent of the show's popularity until 1990, when 30,000 people turned up for the 25th anniversary of the show.
G: Yes!, and the most popular question then was "When are you going to make a Lost In Space movie?"
M: All the time, Glenn, you have heard all of us, whenever we were at a convention and that question came up, our answer was always "NEVER, NO! Itíll never be made!"
We just thought Irwin would never make it. It looked like he had lost the boat on that one.
G: Irwin Allen died in 1991, and then, in 1992 Prelude Pictures acquired the rights and announced confirmed plans of a full length expensive motion picture. Were you surprised when Prelude broke the news?
M: Yes! Yes! I was shocked. I never thought it would be made. None of us did. As it turns out, now they are making it at the very perfect time. They have to be, they've got the perfect cast and it should work. If it works, than the wait was right.
G: Please describe your feelings when New Line Cinema/Prelude Pictures approached you early in 1997 for you to participate in this movie.
M: At first, I was wondering what role I could play because they were talking about cameos and I hadn't seen a script, so I had no idea what they were talking about. And then when I got a script, I thought, Oh, there's a part at the beginning, a part name of Jeb Walker.
I thought maybe I could play him in his younger stage. And then when he ages in the film, I could play him too, that would be nice. That would have been a great part. Then, New Line Cinema asked me to play the General at Mission Control. I said to myself 'Oh God, I can't play a General'.
'That's the last thing I wanna do, I can't stretch that far'. Because that kind of authority and that kind of presence that Generals have is something that I didn't want to stretch to. A General has a great standing of authority. I'm kind of a ..you know, a fun kind of loving guy... you want me to play a stern General?
I said 'Oh God, how can I do this?' I was concerned, but, I worked on it. I had the support of William Hurt, and other advisors on the movie and I came up with what I wanted to do. I got my haircut just right, it was a crew cut, and I put a little scar on my chin.
I started working in the character. This General is supposed to be hard bitten, but he doesn't have to be as written, like old and stodgy. I said I don't have to be like that, I can be back to more of the rough edges of this General, because there are those guys around'. There was a Navy Commander who committed suicide not that long, who worked his way up through the ranks - thoroughly committed to his work.
I made a choice, I wrote a biography on this General, I had my character work his way up, and he made it the top, just on his own hard work. He's unmarried, a career man, you know, no-nonsense, tough... Boom! So, that's what I created and I hope I was successful.
G: Are you happy with the way the scenes worked out with you?
M: Yes! ... It was one of the most exciting times In my life, there were a dozen sound stages at Shepperton, all Lost In Space.
In fact, everywhere you looked around Shepperton Studios it was "Lost In Space. During filming, I had some problems, here and there, once in a while I guess. I know that they edit scenes like that, they can put it together, but everything overall was great playing the General. I just know they are happy with it.
The director Stephen Hopkins couldn't be happier with it, the writer Akiva Goldsman was happy with it. William Hurt said I did a good job, and if William Hurt says I did a good 'oh then you gotta feel that you've done a great job! Anyway, on my last day on the set, the cast and crew gave me a round of applause.
I did my last scene and Kris Wiseman said "That's it for Mark... ", the whole crew and cast clapped for me. It was emotional, and that for me, was my highlight.
G: That's wonderful to hear, was your wife Evelyn there to see that?
M: Yes! She loved visiting the movie set, and of course meeting William Hurt was important to her. She admires him so much as an actor you know. He is so good. So, that was a highlight too of course.
the Next & Final Part to the Mark Goddard interview