With the recent passing of Lamar Lundy, former L.A. Ram and Lost in Space monster on February 24, 2007 the time has come to offer a tribute to him and all those responsible for arguably the best monster ever to appear on Lost in Space-the awesome one-eyed Cyclops. This creature made its first appearance in the unaired version of the Lost in Space pilot "No Place to Hide" in several scenes, encountering various Robinsons (see the review of No Place to Hide in the Attack of the Monster Reviews section for more information).
When said pilot was dissected and incorporated into a few early first season episodes it was decided that this beast was far too appealing (and expensive) to be relegated to a few stock shots so additional scenes were filmed. Robert "Big Buck" Maffei was the original model for this enormous suit but for reasons unknown he was not used to film any scenes (the only surviving shots of Maffei are from a photo session with David "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" Hedison). That job went to Lamar Lundy who needed padding to wear the suit in the scenes shot for the pilot as it was way too big. Neither man was asked back for additional shooting. This job went to Dawson Palmer, Irwin's "resident monster" who was always ready to don a shaggy suit or silver greasepaint for the cause. Like Lundy, Palmer was a former sports star (basketball) who used his large stature to gain steady employment and semi-stardom in Allen's series. Dawson died in a motorcycle accident on September 10 1972 and deserves a place in the Monster Hall of Fame alongside similar greats like Ben (Creature From the Black Lagoon) Chapman and Glenn (Frankenstein's monster) Strange. The Cyclops was Dawson's second stint as a Lost in Space monster; he is credited as a "Bubble Creature" in the second episode "The Derelict."
The Cyclops' first appearance, in the fourth episode, "There Were Giants in the Earth" was to be a brief encounter between the Robinson's faithful robot and the giant. While following the huge footprints left in the creature's wake the mechanical man comes face-to-face so to speak with their maker. For some reason the fifty-two foot tall ("Sixteen meters high" says the robot) terror is afraid of the robot and leaves in "great shambling leaps" as described by scriptwriter Carey Wilber. The robot's computers are blown in disbelief as he returns to camp.
In a later scene, as Penny and the turtle get lost in the grotto they meet the giant and, as in the earlier scene, the beast is more wary of Penny than she is of him! The cyclops cocks his head, studying her as Penny manages a weak smile and says, "How do you do? Do you live here?" He replies by throwing his head back, beating his chest and roaring. "That wasn't at all nice," scolds Penny. "You must reply politely when spoken to." Thinking the monster is hungry she directs him towards a large mushroom which he crumbles in his massive claw. Penny, still trying to communicate with the cyclops offers him a (large) flower in friendship. As the giants growls and approaches her she hurriedly hands him the blossom. He slowly shambles off again, still holding the flower. "Good-bye! Have a nice day!" bids Penny as he leaves.
Immediately after the Robinsons depart for greener and warmer pastures in the Chariot, Dr. Smith re-activates the robot while prattling about "a cozy fire and some warm eggnog." Over a ridge behind Smith the one-eyed monster approaches the campsite in what must have been a memorable image, courtesy of a clever split-screen effect. Again and again the robot repeats "humanoid not sixteen meters high" and by the time Smith realizes this is a warning he sees the cyclops, only yards away! Smith hurriedly backs away and pushes the robot forward, shrieking "Do something! Anything!" The mechanical man obeys and blasts the behemoth twice with lasers from his claws. Bellowing in pain, the monster drops Penny's flower and, you guessed it, shambles away.
If none of the preceding scenes seem familiar it is because all were filmed but unfortunately deleted before the episode was broadcast. In fact, Dawson's only surviving scene was a very brief shot at the beginning of the episode. Will rescues his dad and Don by blasting the beast with a laser pistol, and he falls behind some rocks. When the creature rises to his feet we see Dawson in his full monstrous splendor, ready to battle the irksome humans another time. Those dramatic moments where Robinson and West are trapped in a cave and the later encounter in the Chariot were taken directly from the pilot with Lundy in the costume.
The Cyclops appeared once more in the two-part episode "The Keeper." There he was reduced to a mere seven feet tall so he could fit through the hatch of the Keeper's spaceship. As there were four actors in monster costumes to simulate an escaping menagerie it is not known if Palmer or Lundy reprised their roles or not. After his brief acting gig with Allen, Robert Maffei definitely never worked for him again. In the third season episode "Flight into the Future" the giant made a brief appearance but this was recycled footage from the pilot, the only time the full Cyclops costume was ever seen on the air in color. By the late 1960's only the head/mask had survived, popping up in the Land of the Giants episode "Double Cross."
During Lost in Space's initial run a plastic Aurora "monster model" was released and children everywhere eagerly scooped the kit up and glued that grey boulder into the monster's huge brown hands. His image was splashed across puzzles, trading cards and even a lunchbox. In the late 1990's when Lost in Space the television series enjoyed a resurgence of sorts a rubber Hallowe'en mask and plush doll bearing the beast's likeness were released, indications that the one-eyed wonder has been unofficially cristened a Lost in space mascot by his many admirers.
Robert Big Buck Maffei versus Captain Lee Crane
Dawson Palmer without his mask
Portrait of Dawson Palmer 1966
Holding the flower. From the missing Giants scenes
D.O.A.-The Chariot cruises past his massive corpse
Lamar on location