Thursday, March 25, 2010

Robert Culp (1930-2010)

It has just come to my attention regarding the passing of actor Robert Culp at 79. Culp fell while walking yesterday, but no one's sure as of press time if the fall was a collapse as a result of a heart attack.

Culp's first starring role was in the Western, Trackdown, spun off from Zane Grey Theatre, and would later have a spin-off of its own in Steve McQueen's Wanted: Dead or Alive. It was the groundbreaking spy series I Spy that elevated Culp to icon status, however. Culp co-starred with Bill Cosby as secret agents, and while Cosby won Emmy awards in each of the series' 3 seasons (1965-68), beating out his co-star, Culp earned one for writing. Culp had written seven episodes of the series and directed at least one.

After several turns on the guest-star merry-go-round, Culp landed another iconic role, as FBI agent Bill Maxwell, opposite William Katt in The Greatest American Hero (1981-83). He'd also reunite with Cosby by making a guest appearance on The Cosby Show.

The most unlikely role Culp ever took, in this writer's opinion, was that of the narrator in a music video for one of Eminem's early singles, "Guilty Conscience", a rap battle duet with Dr. Dre. Culp only appeared in the video, as someone else was the narrator on the actual track, but perhaps didn't have enough of a telegenic presence to translate to the video, hence Culp being hired to fill the role in the clip.

I Spy currently airs on Retro, but I don't know if anyone is currently running Greatest American Hero anywhere.

Rest in peace, Robert. You will be missed.

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