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Updated: April 21, 2023

Donald James Marshall (San Diego, California, May 2, 1936) is an actor best known for his role as "Dan Erickson" in the television show Land of the Giants.

He was one of four children and was schooled at San Diego High School. He was studying engineering between 1956 and 1957, and was encouraged to try acting by a friend, Peter Bren. Marshall was still in the army at this time. He studied acting at the Bob Gist Dramatic Workshop, while studying Theatre Arts at Los Angeles City College.

Marshall has provided consultation on matters connected with his work and with racial issues, and has received an award for "Outstanding Achievement in his field as a Black Achiever in the United States".


Marshall's first professional role was in a 1961 Columbia Studios feature The Interns. In 1964 he took the role of Chris Logan, playing opposite Nichelle Nichols in Great Gettin' Up Mornin', a TV production about an African-American family preparing their children for their first day at a racially integrated school in America's south.

In 1965, Marshall appeared in a pilot for a series Braddock. In 1966 he appeared as Luke in Daktari, in the episodes Predator of Wameru, The Killer Lion and Trail of the Cheetah.

Later in the 1960's he appeared in Star Trek and he became known for his portrayal of Lieutenant Boma in the episode "The Galileo Seven". Other TV series he appeared in were Tarzan, Dragnet 1967, and Ironside. In 1968 he appeared as Ted Neumann, the recurring love interest of Julia Baker, in the television series Julia, a series about an African American widow raising her son on her own.


Marshall had a role in the 1971 film The Reluctant Heros AKA The Egghead on Hill 656, a film that was directed by Robert Day. This was a war film set in the Korean War with men under a newly commissioned lieutenant who are trapped on a hill surrounded by the enemy. His character as Pvt. Carver LeMoyne was subject to continual racial abuse by Cpl. Leroy Sprague played by Warren Oates. The film also starred Ken Berry, Jim Hutton, Ralph Meeker, Cameron Mitchell and Trini Lopez.

In the seventies he set up his own company called DJM Productions, Inc., which produced television commercials and documentary films.


In the 1980's, Marshall had few roles, appearing occasionally in episodes of Little House on the Prairie as Caleb Ledoux, as Doctor Jim Blair in Finder of Lost Loves and as Senator Ed Lawrence in Capitol.

In 1992 he played the concierge in the Paul Schneider directed TV drama Highway Heartbreaker.

Land of the Giants:

As a result of being seen in the pilot for the TV series Braddock, Marshall's agent was contacted and a request to arrange a meeting with Irwin Allen was made which led to his getting the role in Land of the Giants, acting alongside Gary Conway, Don Matheson, Kurt Kasznar, Stefan Arngrim, Deanna Lund and Heather Young. In what was possibly a ground breaking casting decision, the Irwin Allen created series featured Marshall as a competent African-American in a leading role. This was possibly the first for an African American to be featured in such a prominent role as Dan Erickson in what was to become such a popular TV series. This was also a first for an African American male in the 1960s to be featured so prominently in science fiction, quite advanced for the time. The only other African American actor to be in such a position in the 1960's was Nichelle Nichols known for her role as Uhura in the TV series "Star Trek".

On set the actors had to perform many of their own stunts and Marshall's athletism came in handy, he credited his previous football, track and pole vaulting work that helped him with the stunts required. In one of the episodes, "Ghost Town", while diving over a fire, Marshall actually dislocated his shoulder and the next day they had to shoot new scenes with Marshall's arm in a sling. Another episode "Giants and All That Jazz" that featured former world champion boxer Sugar Ray Robinson as Biff Bowers and Mike Mazurki as Loach, where Marshall had to teach Biff Bowers how to play the trumpet was one that Marshall in his own words calls "Beautiful" seems to be a favorite of his and made him want to act rather than follow or figure out what dialogue to use or say. He also says that actors had a better time on the set when Irwin Allen wasn't on the set. When he was it was much different and people would get uptight.

In recent years Marshall has written a script for a sequel to the series called Escape from a Giant Land. He hopes that this would be a big screen production and would feature as many of the original cast members as possible.

Other roles:

In addition to being the first African American male to have such a prominent role in a science fiction television series, Marshall had the memorable role as Lt Boma in the classic Star Trek episode The Galileo Seven.

Marshall went on to play the part of Dr. Fred Williams in the 1972 science-fiction horror exploitation film The Thing with Two Heads that starred Ray Milland and Rosey Grier. This was a tale about a wealthy and racist white man who has his head transplanted onto the body of a black prisoner from death row.

In 1976 he played the part of Captain Colter in an episode of The Bionic Woman and in 1979 he was in a two part episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He appeared in Planet of the Slave Girls as Julio, and in 1980 in three episodes of The Incredible Hulk.

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