Updated: April 10, 2013
DON MATHESON PHOTO GALLERY #01
Don Matheson was born in Dearborn, Michigan. He left high school at the
age of sixteen, and continued his education whilst in service in the
After some time in the Army Airborne division, Don was then transfered to
the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). He acted as an agent for the
United Nations Command, posted in Korea. Whilst in Korea, Don was awarded
the Bronze Star for valorous leadership and a Purple Heart for injuries
suffered in an explosion. His CID work included investigations in to the
use of narcotics amongst Army troops.
Don served in the Army for six and half years, before moving on to join
the Detroit Police Department. His experience in investigating narcotics
trafficing was soon recognized and he continued with undercover narcotics
work for the police. During this time Don was considering other careers.
Don studied pre law at Wayne University, with intention of becoming a
lawyer. Don even spent time as a jazz drummer, and took a refresher course
It was during a break away from the police that Don considered a career in
acting. He approached the Vanguard Playhouse Repertory Company, and was
asked to do a scene from 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. A director from the
Vanguard Playhouse was impressed and offered Don a part in a play called
'Lower Depths'. He resigned from the police force and continued with the
Vanguard Playhouse for a year in plays such as 'Leave it to Jane', 'Billy
the Kid', and 'Purple Dust'. During this time the opportunity also arose
to appear in commercials.
Don moved briefly to New York, living in Greenwich Village. He appreared
in an off broadway play for a while for a very low wage. He decided to
move on to Los Angeles to seek greater opportunities. He found himself an
agent, George Morris, and had a couple of guest starring roles in
television series such as 'McHale's Navy' (1962) where he played Lt.
Harris in a very brief scene. He was tested, unsuccessfully, for a number
of leading roles, including for 'The Long Hot Summer' in 1965 which was
loosely based on the William Faulkner short stories (also made into a film
with Paul Newman in 1958). He was offered a long term contract with a
major film studio, Universal, which he turned down because he didn't want
to be tied to a studio for seven years. He kept going by taking on other
odd jobs to pay the bills during this time.
On 31st October 1963, Don met his first wife Maxine Arnold at a Halloween
party at a place called the Raincheck Room in Hollywood. Maxine was an
actress at the time and had appeared in a number of plays and television
guest roles. Within a year, 29th August 1964 to be precise, they were
married in New York. Both were having a tough time getting frequent work,
and they concentrated on Don's career, believing and hoping that it was
only a matter of time before his career would take off. 'Land of the
Giants' was the big break, but it was also hard on Maxine whose career had
yet to blossom, and the situation contributed to their break up. Maxine
went on to become an agent, and indeed, became Kevin Hagen's agent for a
In the mid sixties, Don began his involvement in Irwin Allen's science
fiction series. In 1965 he appeared in Allen's 'Lost in Space' as a non
speaking alien called Rethso in 'The Sky is Falling'. He was heavily
painted in make up. Later in 1967, Don appeared in a second episode called
'Revolt of the Androids' as a robot dressed in a 'Superman' style costume.
Don Matheson was the first of the main cast to be signed up for 'Land of
the Giants'. In February 1967, Don appeared in a scene at the end of the 8
minute promotion reel. He was signed up with the option of appearing
eventually in the series itself. However, as filming on 'Land of the
Giants' didn't start until much later, Irwin Allen was paying Don even
though he was not working on anything at that time. Irwin Allen didn't
want him to be seen in something else just before appearing in 'Land of
the Giants', but did want to get his monies worth. So, Don was cast as
Proto in Allen's 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea'. Don was totally
unrecognizable in a lizard like costume. Don has enjoyed recalling his
time working with Irwin Allen in 'Voyage' and 'Lost in Space'.
Don eventually appeared, without any disguise, as Mark Wilson in 'Land of
the Giants'. He played a successful engineer and businessman whose skills
were called upon frequently in attempts to escape from the alien planet or
to free the other passengers from their giant captors.
Don's friendship with co star Deanna Lund grew throughout the series, and
in April 1970 they married. Their daughter Michele (also now an actress)
was born in 1971, but Deanna and Don later divorced in the late seventies.
Since leaving 'Land of the Giants', Don has had many guest appearances in
television shows and movies. He appeared in series such as 'Emergency',
'Shaft', the Kurt Russell western series 'The Quest', and in the mid
seventies Don starred as Cameron Faulkner in the daytime soap 'General
In 1984, Don had a regular role in the primetime series 'Falcon Crest'. He
played Richard Channing's henchman for a season. He also appeared briefly
in another primetime soap 'Dynasty'.
Don worked with Irwin Allen again in 1985 when he appeared in Allen's
production of 'Alice in Wonderland'. He played the Red Knight, and has to
joust on horseback against Lloyd Bridge's character the White Knight. The
rigid suit of red armour will not have helped ease of movement much.
In more recent years, Don hasn't been seen in as many television roles. He
has enjoyed meeting fans from the U.K. and in 1991 attended the ROVACON
convention in Virginia. His tremendous sense of humour has shone through
in meetings with followers of 'Land of the Giants'.