Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Robert Culp, 1930-2010. R.I.P.

Actor Robert Culp died today of head injuries after sustaining a fall at his Hollywood home. He was 79.

Culp is best known for teaming up with Bill Cosby in the 1960s hit NBC TV series I Spy. The show is noted for Cosby being the first African-American to be a co-star in an American TV series. It is also noted for Culp and Cosby's chemistry.

I remember him best from the early 1980s TV series The Greatest American Hero with William Katt and Connie Sellecca which aired on ABC.

Culp appeared in movies such as Bob, Ted, Carol & Alice with Elliot Gould, Natalie Wood and Dyan Cannon as well as The Pelican Brief with Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts. He also had a recurring role on Everybody Loves Raymond as Ray Romano's father-in-law.

I never saw I Spy until this year when it started airing on RTV. Although I have heard various accounts about how NBC was nervous about having Cosby in a co-starring role on I Spy. Culp listened to NBC's concerns and politely informed them he would not be doing the series without Cosby. That ended that discussion.

Less than two decades later, Cosby would be the King of NBC. Thank goodness for Culp's firmness. He would guest star on one episode of The Cosby Show and also reunited with him in a 1999 episode of the CBS series Cosby a dream sequence reprising their roles on I Spy.

Here's a 2007 interview with Culp discussing his relationship with Cosby. The full three hour interview for the Archive of American Television is here.

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