Arts & Entertainment

Bill Mumy: More than “Lost in Space”

Bill Mumy’s recently published autobiography, Danger, Will Robinson: The Full Mumy — A Memoir, is crammed with fascinating facts and stories from his long acting and musical careers (see www.NCPBooks.com).

Lost in Space is definitely covered, and certainly Will Robinson is the character most people identify with me,” Mumy said from Los Angeles.

But despite the book’s title, Mumy explores much more than just the galaxy-wandering Robinson family.

Riveted to his own family’s black and white television screen of the late 50s, 4-year-old Billy longed to emulate his favorite TV adventurers such as Superman, the Lone Ranger, and Zorro, even breaking a leg after leaping fearlessly off his bed in full crusader mode.

But he carried that enthusiasm into his youthful acting career that would soon flourish.

In a poetic turn of events, Mumy ended up working alongside his Zorro idol, Guy Williams, beginning in 1965. Williams played space dad to Mumy’s Will Robinson on Lost in Space.

Riding high on the success of earlier roles in popular 60s series such as The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, 1965 proved a particularly good year for little Billy, who was not yet a teenager. The year included guest-starring roles in TV classics such as I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, and The Munsters.

Bill Mumy and Jimmy Stewart W
Bill Mumy and Jimmy Stewart in “Dear Brigitte” | Twentieth Century Fox

Also, in 1965, the young actor portrayed a key character in the film Dear Brigitte, starring Jimmy Stewart.

“[Stewart] was the best overall artist I ever worked with,” Mumy said. “He truly was a wonderful man. He showed me how you strive to be a good actor and how to treat your coworkers well. The vast majority of actors and directors I worked with as a child were very happy with me because I always knew my lines and got things done quickly.”

While he experienced few professional “horror stories” during his career, there was one notable exception: Alfred Hitchcock.

The famous auteur terrified seven-year-old Billy on the set of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. While filming a scene, Mumy said the director whispered into his ear to stop shuffling about or he would nail Billy’s feet to the floor!

Cover of Bill Mumys new book WBeyond acting, Mumy has worn many hats, including those of musician, singer, songwriter, author, and voice actor (see www.billmumy.com). But he recognizes the nostalgic value Lost in Space has for fans who grew up in the 60s. It’s hardly surprising that Mumy included the name of his plucky young space adventurer in his book’s title.

“Every child has a gift, and mine from an early age was being able to easily memorize a script and deliver the dialogue believably,” he said. “I loved being little superhero Will Robinson. As a child actor, he was everything I ever wanted to be.”

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Nick Thomas

Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama, and has written features, columns, and interviews for numerous newspapers and magazines. See getnickt.org

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