Mark Goddard, who played Major Don West, the hot-tempered pilot of the Jupiter 2, on the 1960s CBS adventure series Lost in Space, has died. He was 87.
Goddard died Tuesday in Hingham, Massachusetts, his third wife, Evelyn Pezzulich, told The Hollywood Reporter. The cause of death was of pulmonary fibrosis.
Goddard had worked as a regular on the Four Star Television series Johnny Ringo and The Detectives when he was approached by his agent about coming aboard the new Lost in Space, created and produced by Irwin Allen.
The sci-fi show revolved around the adventures of the Robinson family: Professor John Robinson (Guy Williams); his biochemist wife, Maureen (June Lockhart); and their children Judy, Penny and Will (Marta Kristen, Angela Cartwright and Billy Mumy, respectively).
Major West also was on board, as were a stowaway, Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris) and a robot (designed by Forbidden Planet’s Robert Kinoshita, played by Bob May and voiced by Dick Tufeld). Their space colonization mission, which began in October 1997, goes awry when their spacecraft is sent off course by the bumbling Dr. Smith.
“This is about a family going into space, and there’s gonna be a lot of adventures, earthquakes …” said Goddard, recalling his agent’s pitch during an interview for Tom Weaver’s 1995 book, They Fought in the Creature Features.
“I said, ‘Gee, I don’t know, I’m not sure, because of the subject matter.’ And [Goddard’s agent] said, ‘Well, listen, you just do it and don’t worry about it. Take the money. Because nobody’s gonna see it and it’ll never sell.’”
Fueled by a $600,000 pilot that took 21 days to complete, Lost in Space lasted 83 episodes over three seasons, from September 1965 through March 1968. Goddard’s character mainly feuded with Dr. Smith and, like everyone else on the show, was upstaged by the robot.
As Goddard wrote in his 2008 memoir, To Space and Back, when he saw himself in his tight, silver lamé spacesuit for the first time, he “took a deep breath, took a second look at the image of a wrapped-aluminum baked potato and said to myself, ‘How the hell did this happen?’”
The youngest of five kids, Charles Harvey Goddard was born on July 24, 1936, in Lowell, Massachusetts. Raised in the coastal town of Scituate, where his father owned a general store, he attended Holy Cross but left during his junior year in 1958 to pursue acting.
“I felt like, ‘Jeez, I’m gonna be the next Jimmy Dean.’ And when I went to New York, there were about five hundred Jimmy Deans runnin’ around,” he told Weaver. “We all had our red jackets and our little motorcycles.”
Goddard studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts while working in the evenings at Woolworths, then came to Hollywood in 1959 and appeared on an episode of The Rifleman and in a TV movie, Woman on the Run, that starred Joan Crawford and was directed by Dick Powell.
Both projects were for Four Star, the company co-founded by Powell, David Niven, Charles Boyer and Joel McCrea.
Goddard then played Cully, the deputy to a former gunslinger (Don Durant), on Johnny Ringo, a 1959-60 Western for CBS and Four Star that was the first series produced by Aaron Spelling.
When that show was canceled, Powell put Goddard on ABC’s The Detectives in September 1960. He played Sgt. Chris Ballard and infused the Robert Taylor starrer with a dose of youthful vigor. (Adam West joined the series for its final season on NBC.)
Goddard then appeared on episodes of shows like Burke’s Law, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Bill Dana Show and Perry Mason before playing the husband of Elinor Donahue’s character on the 1964-65 CBS comedy Many Happy Returns, set in a department store. (After all, he did work at Woolworths.)
Goddard said he was never tested as an actor on Lost in Space, though he found the atmosphere on the set challenging.
“There was tension all the time,” he told Weaver. “There was tension with the cinematographer, there was tension with the writers coming down, there was always something going on. … You know what they say, the ‘fish stinks from the head?’
“This isn’t fair to say because Irwin is dead and he can’t defend himself, but I think that his kind of perfection, what he wanted and the way he wanted it, his very cold manner with everyone — this permeated right from him to the writers, to the directors, to the cast to the crew. You could sense that.”
Goddard said that he was making $1,170 a week by the end of the series.
On Facebook, Mumy called Goddard “a truly fine actor … naturally gifted as well as trained” and noted that they “had a lot of great memorable times together during the three years of filming the series. We got into some pretty goofy trouble.”
Goddard also appeared in the films The Monkey’s Uncle (1965) with Annette Funicello; A Rage to Live (1965), starring Suzanne Pleshette; and The Love-Ins (1967) during that era.
After Lost in Space, Goddard said he was typecast as a “space show” actor. He worked on the soap operas One Life to Live and General Hospital; guest-starred on such shows as Petrocelli, The Streets of San Francisco, Benson and Barnaby Jones; and appeared in the 1977 film Blue Sunshine.
He had a cameo (as did Lockhart, Cartwright and Kristen) in the 1998 Lost in Space feature adaptation that had Matt LeBlanc as Don West. And on the Netflix series that ran for three seasons from 2018-21, Ignacio Serricchio played his character.
Goddard went on to complete his college education, earn a master’s degree and teach special-education children for more than 20 years in his home state.
In addition to his wife, survivors include his daughter, Melissa Goddard, a producer on the 1992 film Poison Ivy; sons John and Michael; and sisters June and Patricia. His second wife was actress Susan Anspach (Five Easy Pieces, Blume in Love).
Carol Dennis is an entertainment aficionado with an eye for all things pop culture. She dives into the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry, from movie premieres to music festivals. Carol’s passion for storytelling extends beyond her reporting, as she’s an aspiring screenwriter in her free time.