robotIn my studied attempt to ignore the borderline hysteria at the coming of The One, I noticed that Bob May, the actor who filled the Robot’s suite on Lost In Space has died:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Bob May, who donned The Robot’s suit in the hit 1960s television show Lost in Space, has died. He was 69.

May died Sunday of congestive heart failure at a hospital in Lancaster, said his daughter, Deborah May.

He was a veteran actor and stuntman who had appeared in movies, TV shows and on the vaudeville stage when he was tapped by Lost in Space creator Irwin Allen to play the Robinson family’s loyal metal sidekick in the series that debuted in 1965.

“He always said he got the job because he fit in the robot suit,” said June Lockhart, who played family matriarch Maureen Robinson. “It was one of those wonderful Hollywood stories. He just happened to be on the studio lot when someone saw him and sent him to see Irwin Allen about the part. Allen said, ‘If you can fit in the suit, you’ve got the job.”‘

Like many other kids of my generation I’m sure, I got hooked on Lost In Space reruns because they always ran just before the Star Trek reruns late in the afternoon after school.

May sounds as if he was quit a character, too:

The grandson of famed vaudeville comedian Chic Johnson, May was introduced to show business at age 2 when he began appearing in the Hellzapoppin comedy revue with Johnson and his partner, Ole Olsen.

He went on to appear in numerous films with Jerry Lewis and in such TV shows as The Time Tunnel,McHale’s Navy and The Red Skelton Show. He was also a stuntman in such 1950s and ’60s TV shows as Cheyenne,Surfside 6,Hawaiian Eye,The Roaring 20s and Stagecoach.

He was particularly fond of his Robot role, once saying he came to consider the suit a “home away from home.”

Lockhart said May wore the suit for hours at a time and learned the lines of every actor in the show so he would know when to respond to their cues. Because it wasn’t easy to get in and out of the suit, he kept it on during breaks.

“He was a smoker,” Lockhart remembered. “From time to time (when he was on a break), we’d see smoke coming out of the robot. That always amused us.”

Heh. God speed, my tin-topped friend.