Updated: July 14, 2022
IN MEMORY OF ANNOUNCER DICK TUFELD
Dick Tufeld, who possessed one of Hollywood's most often-heard disembodied voices, especially from the 1950s through the 1970s, announcing or narrating television shows like "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and commercials for products like Mr. Bubble bubble bath and Gallo wine, but who was best known for his electronic intonations as the robot in the loopy science-fiction series "Lost in Space," died on January 22 2012 at his home in the Studio City section of Los Angeles, he was 85.(The cause was congestive heart failure).
Mr. Tufeld's broadcasting career began in the 1940s in radio and reached into the contemporary age of television on "The Simpsons."
His voice, with its midrange, goes-down-easy, slightly excited, static-free hum, first became recognizable narrating "Space Patrol," a live radio show for children (it was also a television program) that began in 1950 and ran until the mid-1950s, with Mr. Tufeld introducing the shows' weekly missions made "in the name of interplanetary justice." In the 1950s and '60s he could be heard on episodes of "Annie Oakley," "Zorro," "Peyton Place," "Surfside 6" and "Bewitched." He worked on variety shows starring Red Skelton and Judy Garland and cartoon shows featuring Bugs Bunny and Garfield. He narrated "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" and the trailer for the Disney film "Mary Poppins." He did ads for Zenith televisions: "A giant 25-inch picture" with "redder reds, brighter greens and more brilliant blues!"
Later he worked on game shows, including "The Joker's Wild" ("A jackpot of fun and surprises!"), the comedy series "It's Garry Shandling's Show" and the 1978 animated version of "Fantastic Four."
But most television aficionados of a certain age will remember Mr. Tufeld for his roles in adventure series of the 1960s produced by his friend Irwin Allen: "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," about the crew of a submarine, which starred Richard Basehart and David Hedison; "The Time Tunnel," about scientists who find themselves present at historic events; and "Lost in Space," a futuristic — it was set in 1997 — reimagination of "Swiss Family Robinson." In "Lost in Space" a clean-cut, space-traveling clan (the Robinsons), along with a pilot and a talking robot (physically, a hulking ancestor of R2D2 from "Star Wars," played by Bob May but voiced by Mr. Tufeld), is sent careening around the galaxy by the machinations of a conniving villain, who is somehow marooned on the spacecraft himself. Alighting on various planets, they have campy, semi-threatening adventures.
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The cast included Mark Goddard as the pilot, Maj. Don West; Jonathan Harris as the villain, Dr. Zachary Smith; and Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Marta Kristen, Angela Cartwright and Billy Mumy as the Robinsons. Billy was the family's youngest child, Will, the focus of one of the robot's most frequent and most famous declarations: "Danger, Will Robinson!"
The show, which ran from 1965 to 1968, had its fanatical adherents. It was resurrected for a 1998 movie that starred Gary Oldman, William Hurt and Matt LeBlanc. Several original cast members appeared in the film, but Mr. Tufeld was the only one to reprise his role.