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 61)
San Gabriel, California, U.S.
Other names "Art Barnes"
Occupation Actor
Years active 1959–present
Spouse(s) Eileen Joy Davis
Children 2
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. He 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 in the Robinson family.

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 notable for his musical career, with an Emmy nomination for original music in Adventures in Wonderland (1991), as a solo artist, and as half of the duo Barnes & Barnes.

Early life and career[edit]

Mumy was born in San Gabriel to Charles William Mumy, Sr. and Muriel Gertrude Mumy (née Gould). His father was 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,[2] as well as a musician, songwriter, recording artist and writer.[3]

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. He 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 in the It's Still a Good Life episode of the second revival series. He 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).

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, who played his mother on the Twilight Zone's episode of "It's a Good Life", Steve Brodie and Frank McHugh.[4]

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. He appeared in one episode as a friend of Eddie. In 1965, he guest starred on an episode of NBC's I Dream of Jeannie, "Whatever Became Of Baby Custer?" That same year, he also appeared in an episode of Bewitched entitled "Junior Executive", in which he played a young Darrin Stevens.

Billy Mumy with Brigitte Bardot in Dear Brigitte, 1965.

Dear Brigitte was released in 1965, with Mumy playing the protagonist, Erasmus, a childhood mathematical genius. Adapted from the novel Erasmus With Freckles (1963), Mumy's character is the son of Professor Robert Leaf, played by James "Jimmy" Stewart. Erasmus develops a boyhood crush on Brigitte Bardot who plays herself in the film.[5]

Between 1965 and 1968, Mumy portrayed Will Robinson in Lost in Space.[6]

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. 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. He was more recently seen in a 2006 episode of Crossing Jordan and in the Sci Fi original film A.I. Assault.[7]

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 done voice over work in national commercials for such businesses as Bud Ice, Farmers Insurance, Ford, 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 created the band The Be Five with other Babylon 5 actors.[8]

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.[9] 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 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 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.[10]

In 1996, Mumy and former costar Jonathan 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.

In 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.[11]

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 Mumy, Marta Kristen and Angela Cartwright as the animated Ratchett family.[12]

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."[13]

Personal life[edit]

He currently lives in Hollywood Hills with his wife, Eileen, and their two child-actor children, Seth and Liliana. In 1992, Mumy and Peter David co-authored the short story "The Black '59" in the anthology book Shock Rock by F. Paul Wilson.

Selected filmography[edit]

Mumy in Dear Brigitte, 1965
Year Title Role
1961 The Twilight Zone: "It's a Good Life" (episode) Anthony Fremont
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
1965 Dear Brigitte Erasmus Leaf
1965 I Dream of Jeannie Custer
1965 The Munsters: Come Back Little Googie (episode) 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
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
1994–98 Babylon 5 Lennier
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)
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]

  1. ^ "Bill Mumy profile". Retrieved February 15, 2015. 
  2. ^ Erickson, Hal Erickson. "Bill Mumy: Biography". allmovie.com. Retrieved January 17, 2015. 
  3. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Bill Mumy: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved January 17, 2015. 
  4. ^ ""Keep an Eye on Santa Claus", Going My Way, December 12, 1962". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved March 22, 2013. 
  5. ^ Mark Deming, Mark. "Dear Brigitte (1965)". AllMovie. Retrieved January 17, 2015. 
  6. ^ Noland, Claire (January 25, 2012). "Dick Tufeld dies at 85; actor who intoned 'Danger, Will Robinson!'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 11, 2015. Besides warning young Will Robinson of impending danger, Tufeld's Robot uttered other lines that became catchphrases for faithful viewers — including "That does not compute" — and needled the antagonistic Dr. Zachary Smith with barbs like "Dr. Smith is a bubble-headed booby." 
  7. ^ Erickson, Hal. "Bill Mumy". Biography (The New York Times). Retrieved January 11, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Bill Mumy's Return Trip". People. June 3, 1991. 
  9. ^ Lapka, Larry. "Barnes & Barnes: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved January 17, 2015. 
  10. ^ Profile, ksav.org; accessed February 15, 2015.
  11. ^ "Bill Mumy of Lost in Space fame shares his life lessons 09/22 by Lessons Learned". Blog Talk Radio. 2010-09-22. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  12. ^ Profile, miaminewtimes.com; accessed February 15, 2015.
  13. ^ Profile, popcultureaddict.com; accessed February 15, 2015.

External links[edit]