Bill Mumy

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Bill Mumy
Bill Mumy by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Mumy at Phoenix Comicon in May 2013
Born Charles William Mumy, Jr.
(1954-02-01) February 1, 1954 (age 60)
San Gabriel, California, US
Other names "Art Barnes"
Occupation Actor
Years active 1959–present
Spouse(s) Eileen Joy Davis
Children Seth Mumy
Liliana Mumy
Website
www.billmumy.com

Charles William "Bill" Mumy, Jr. (/ˈmmi/; born February 1, 1954), is an American actor, musician, pitchman, instrumentalist, voice-over artist, and a figure in the science-fiction community.

The red-headed Mumy came to prominence in the 1960s as a child actor, when he was credited as Billy Mumy. His most notable role was in the 1960s CBS sci-fi television series Lost in Space, where he played Will Robinson, the youngest of three children of Professor John and Dr. Maureen Robinson (played by Guy Williams and June Lockhart, respectively) and friend of the pompous and nefarious Dr. Zachary Smith (played by Jonathan Harris). "Danger, Will Robinson!"—a line frequently spoken by the character of the Robot (voiced by Dick Tufeld)—has become an iconic phrase in sci-fi culture.

He later appeared as lonely teenager Sterling North in the 1969 Disney film Rascal with Steve Forrest. He was cast as Teft in the 1971 film Bless the Beasts and Children. In the 1990s, he had the role of Lennier in the syndicated sci-fi TV series Babylon 5, and also served as narrator of A&E Network's Emmy Award-winning series Biography. He is also notable for his musical career, as a solo artist and as half of the duo Barnes & Barnes.

Early life and career[edit]

Mumy was born in San Gabriel, the son of the former Muriel Gertrude Gould and Charles William Mumy, Sr., a cattle rancher.[1] He began his professional career at age six, and has worked on more than four hundred television episodes, eighteen films, various commercials, and scores of voice-over work, as well as a musician, songwriter, recording artist and writer.

Television and film career[edit]

Among Mumy's earliest television roles was as 6-year-old Willy in the 1960 episode "Donald's Friend" of the NBC family drama television series, National Velvet, starring Lori Martin as an aspiring thoroughbred rider.

Mumy appeared in CBS's original Twilight Zone (1959 to 1964). In the episode "It's a Good Life" (November 1961), he played a child who terrorizes his town with psychic powers—a role he later reprised along with his daughter Liliana Mumy in the It's Still a Good Life episode of the second revival series. He also had a cameo in the remake of "It's a Good Life" in the 3rd segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie. Mumy also played young Pip, a boy who enjoyed playing with his father but was frequently ignored, in the episode "In Praise of Pip" (September 1963), and Billy Bayles, a boy who talks to his dead grandmother through a toy telephone, in the episode "Long Distance Call" (March 1961). He also wrote the story for the episode Found and Lost in the second Twilight Zone revival.

Mumy was in an episode on the Jack Benny Program in S13/EP12 (1962) called "Jack and the Crying Cab Driver".

Mumy in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode Bang! You're Dead, 1961

In 1961, Billy was cast on CBS's Alfred Hitchcock Presents television series in "The Door Without a Key." The same episode features John Larch, who played his father on the Twilight Zone's episode of "It's a Good Life." The same year, Mumy starred as little Jackie in the episode Bang! You're Dead. It featured actress Marta Kristen, who would later play his sister Judy on Lost in Space.

Mumy was cast as Mark Murdock in the 1962 episode "Keep an Eye on Santa Claus" of the ABC drama series Going My Way, starring Gene Kelly as a Roman Catholic priest in New York City and loosely based on the 1944 Bing Crosby film of the same name. His fellow guest stars were Cloris Leachman, Steve Brodie and Frank McHugh.[2]

In 1963, at the age of eight, young Mumy appeared in Jack Palance's ABC circus drama The Greatest Show on Earth, loosely based on a former Charlton Heston film. He was further cast in 1963 as Miles, a parentless boy, in the Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Shifty Shoebox." He portrayed Freddy in the 1963 episode "End of an Image" on the NBC modern western series Empire, starring Richard Egan as rancher Jim Redigo.

In 1964, he was cast as Richard Kimble's nephew in ABC's The Fugitive in the 15th episode entitled "Home Is The Hunted"; as Barry in the NBC medical drama The Eleventh Hour episode "Sunday Father"; as himself three times in the ABC sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet; in the Disney film For the Love of Willadena; and as a troubled orphan taken home with Darrin and Samantha Stephens in the episode "A Vision of Sugarplums" of ABC's fantasy sitcom Bewitched (December 1964).

Mumy was reportedly the first choice to portray Eddie Munster in the 1964 CBS situation comedy The Munsters, but his parents objected because of the extensive makeup requirements. The role instead went to Butch Patrick. Mumy did appear in one episode as a friend of Eddie's. In 1965, he guest starred on an episode of NBC's I Dream of Jeannie "Whatever Became Of Baby Custer?" as a neighborhood kid who witnesses Jeannie's magic. In the same year, he also appeared in an episode of Bewitched entitled "Junior Executive", in which he played a young Darrin Stephens.

In 1971, Mumy was cast in Bless the Beasts and Children, in which he played Teft, the leader of a group of misfit teenaged boys at a summer camp who resolved to save a herd of bison from hunters.

In 1973, he played a musician friend of Cliff DeYoung in the TV movie Sunshine, and later reprised the role in Sunshine Christmas and in the TV series Sunshine.

In 1974, he played Nick Butler in the pilot episode of NBC's The Rockford Files.

He is perhaps best known for his role as Will Robinson on the CBS science fiction television series Lost in Space (1965–1968), as well as for his role as ambassadorial aide Lennier in the syndicated series Babylon 5 (1994–1998). Mumy has garnered praise from the science fiction fandom for his portrayal of these two characters.

In 1996, he was a writer and co-creator of Space Cases, a Nickelodeon television show with themes similar to Lost in Space.

He played a Starfleet member in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Siege of AR-558" (November 1998), where he assists Ezri Dax in turning cloaked Dominion mines against an army of Jem'Hadar. To Mumy's delight, his character was human this time; as Lennier, he had always appeared in prosthetic makeup.

Mumy can be seen more recently in a 2006 episode of Crossing Jordan and in the Sci Fi original film A.I. Assault.

Voice-over career[edit]

Mumy has narrated over 50 episodes of the Arts & Entertainment Channel's Biography series, as well as hosting and narrating several other documentaries and specials for A & E, Animal Planet network, The Sci-Fi Channel, and E!. His voice acting talents can be heard on animated shows like Ren and Stimpy, Scooby-Doo, Batman: The Animated Series, Steven Spielberg's Animaniacs, Little Wizard Adventures, The Oz Kids and Disney's Buzz Lightyear of Star Command and Doc McStuffins. He has also been heard in dozens of national commercials for businesses such as Farmers Insurance, Ford, Bud Ice, Blockbuster, Twix, Oscar Mayer and McDonald's.

Music[edit]

Mumy is an accomplished musician who plays guitar, bass, keyboards, banjo, mandolin, harmonica and percussion. Among his various musical credits, he has written and recorded songs with America, toured with Shaun Cassidy, and played in Rick Springfield's band in the film Hard to Hold. He also created the band The Be Five with other Babylon 5 actors, and fronts another band called Seduction of the Innocent.[3]

Mumy has released a number of solo CDs, including Dying to Be Heard, In the Current, Pandora's Box, After Dreams Come True, Los Angeles Times and Ghosts, as well as nine albums with partner Robert Haimer as Barnes and Barnes. Their most famous hit is the song "Fish Heads", which was named as one of the top 100 videos of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. The Jenerators are a blues-rock band based in Los Angeles, CA featuring Tom Hebenstreit on vocals, electric guitars and keyboards; Mumy on vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, harmonica, keyboards and percussion; Gary Stockdale on vocals and bass; Miguel Ferrer on vocals, percussion and drums; David Jolliffe on guitar, percussion and vocals; and Chris Ross on drums and percussion. In 2012, Mumy released a Byrds-tribute song, "When Roger Was Jim".

Mumy also produces and hosts 'The Real Good Radio Hour', a weekly series on KSAV Internet Radio focusing on various styles of music and the artists who pioneered them.[4]

Friendship with Jonathan Harris[edit]

At age 11, in 1965, Mumy began working with Jonathan Harris on Lost in Space, and the two became close friends, both on and off set. He would also spend time with Harris' family when not working on "Space" or taking a hiatus from the show. In 1996, Mumy and Harris were reunited at a Walt Disney convention in Orlando, Florida. Mumy worked again with Harris on the 1998 retrospective special Lost In Space: Forever, where they reprised their roles in a scene written by Mumy (with Harris rewriting his lines). This occurred the year after the rest of the cast (including both Mumy & Harris) stated in a TV Guide article that the Sci Fi Channel planned to do a Lost in Space marathon while promoting a new movie. Harris was to appear in the planned TV movie, Lost in Space: The Journey Home, but died before production started in 2002; the production was subsequently cancelled. Mumy read the eulogy at Harris' funeral and was asked to narrate an account of his longtime friend's life on A&E Biography that year. During a 2010 interview on Blog Talk Radio's Lessons Learned, Rick Tocquigny was asked if Mumy was a Jonathan Harris fan before they appeared together on Lost in Space. Tocquigny said that at age 5, Mumy was too young to watch his mentor's show The Third Man which would have been aired late at night, but that he was old enough to see The Bill Dana Show (which also starred Harris's real-life best friend Don Adams). After that, Mumy was indeed a Harris fan, having seen reruns of The Third Man. He was also a fan of Guy Williams, who would play his father on Lost in Space, due to Williams' TV portrayals of Zorro.[5]

On June 14, 2006, Mumy got to work with Harris one last time, though posthumously. Years before he passed away, Harris recorded voice work for the animated short The Bolt Who Screwed Christmas, narrating the film and playing the part of The Bolt. As a tribute to Harris, writer director John Wardlaw added a scene to the film that reunited Lost in Space cast members Bill Mumy, Marta Kristen and Angela Cartwright as the animated Ratchett family.[6]

In May 2013, eleven years after the death of Mumy's acting mentor in November 2002, Mumy commented on his connection between the familiar actor (Harris) and the unfamiliar actor's (Mumy) on- and off-screen connection on Lost in Space. "Yes we did. Indeed, dear boy. Don’t you forget it." Mumy also added, "Well, yeah. I never really had too many uncomfortable moments working with any actor. I was comfortable working with most everybody. It’s just the more that Jonathan and I did together, the more he changed the character. He really changed the character of Dr. Smith himself. He really turned him from a snarling saboteur villain to this bumbling insulting kook. The more he played it for comedy, the more Irwin Allen liked it. The show really went the way that Jonathan led it. But we had great chemistry together, and we never had a bad day. We were always prepared, as was Bobby May who was inside the robot. When we had our work to do—and I think this is a very big reason [for] the way it went—they’d get us done in a couple of takes. Nobody screwed up. It was easier for the crew and it was easier for us, and people seemed to like it."[7]

Personal life[edit]

He currently lives in Hollywood Hills, California, with his wife, Eileen, and their two child-actor children, Seth and Liliana.

Selected filmography[edit]

Mumy in Dear Brigitte, 1965
Year Title Role
1960 The Wizard of Baghdad Aladdin (uncredited)
1961 Tammy Tell Me True Neil Bateman (uncredited)
1961 Twilight Zone:"It's a Good Life" Anthony Fremont
1962 Sammy the Way out Seal Petey Loomis
1962 House Guest Tony Mitchell
1963 A Child is Waiting Boy counting Jean's pearls
1963 A Ticklish Affair Alex Martin
1963 Palm Springs Weekend 'Boom Boom' Yates
1964 For the Love of Willadean Freddy Gray
1965 Dear Brigitte Erasmus Leaf
1965 I Dream of Jeannie Custer
1965 The Munsters: Come Back Little Googie Googie Miller
1965 Bewitched Darrin the Boy
1965–68 Lost in Space Will Robinson
1968 Wild in the Streets Boy
1969 Rascal Sterling North
1971 Bless the Beasts and Children Teft
1973 Papillon Lariot
1980 Fish Heads Art Barnes
1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie Tim (Segment #3)
1984 Hard to Hold Keyboard Player
1991 The Flash Roger Braintree
1991 Captain America Young General Fleming
1992 Double Trouble Bob
1994–98 Babylon 5 Lennier
1995 Three Wishes Neighbor
1996 The Oz Kids Underground Adventure Voice of Sam
1997 The Oz Kids The Monkey Prince Voice of Sam
1997 The Weird Al Show UPS guy
1998 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Kellin
2004 Comic Book: The Movie Himself
2005 Holly Hobbie and Friends: Surprise Party
(Direct to DVD)
Voice of Bud (Amy's father)
2006 A.I. Assault Army guy
2009 The Bolt Who Screwed Christmas
(Theatrical Short)
Voice of Tiny Tap / Knob Ratchett
2013–present Bravest Warriors
(Web Series)
4 episodes; Voice of Beth's father

References[edit]

External links[edit]