Bob May: The Man behind the Curtain
Bob May played one of the most memorable characters in TV’s Lost in Space although most people would never know it meeting him. I am, of course, talking about The Robot. If the words “Danger, Will Robinson” come to mind, think again, that was Dick Tufeld. And while The Robot will forever be associated with memorable quotes like that, the physical characterization of The Robot was all May.
May was born into the entertainment industry. His grandfather was the Vaudeville comedian Chic Johnson. During his years in the industry, May worked as an actor, stuntman and director. He appeared in a number of films including Stagecoach, The Nutty Professor and played Adolf Hitler in an episode of The Time Tunnel.
A chance encounter at the studios led to May meeting Lost in Space series creator Irwin Allen. Years later, May insists that the only reason he got the role of The Robot was because he “fit in the suit.” That suit became a home away from home for May as he spent hours on set in costume, choosing to stay in the suit while on break, due to the difficulty of having to get out of it. He amused the rest of the cast by having a cigarette in costume, with smoke trailing out of The Robot.
His final appearance on screen was as the Clown in the Jerry Lewis vehicle, Hardly Working. May was a regular at the local conventions and was always glad to sign autographs for fans. Sadly, he passed away January 18th aged 69.
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