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1990 Starlog Tribute to Guy Williams
Originally donated by Janice Reilley.

Starlog -- February 1990
By Mike Clark


Guy Williams

Television stars tend to become very familiar to their fans. They seem like old friends or even family. Not so long ago, an old friend of ours passed away… Guy Williams.

Fans who remember Williams from Zorro and Lost in Space know how well his casual charm translated through the television screen. Walt Disney effectively combined Williams’ personal charisma in two ways, as both the wealthy gentleman Don Diego and his dashing alter-ego Zorro. Like his TV character, Williams seemed to have it both ways. He enjoyed the good life a TV star acquires, while actively pursuing horseback riding and swordsmanship as recreation. Zorro seemed tailor-made for Williams.

A few years later Williams was mature enough to play our "dad" in Lost in Space. And we were glad he was there to make our journey safe through alien lands populated by threatening life forms. His portrayal of the stolid John Robinson provided an anchor for the series. Without him to shake his head in parental disapproval, Dr. Smith’s antics wouldn’t have been as much fun. However, the role of Professor Robinson made limited use of Williams’ talents and appeal. As Williams himself said, "I would have preferred to do a space show involving more real elements – survival on an alien planet and all that goes with it. To have Smith betray Will week after week or get into trouble with aliens got tiresome."

I had the pleasure of interviewing Williams for an article in STARLOG #114. (This interview available in the Article Archive) What emerged from our talk was a portrait of an easygoing actor who enjoyed what he did and never worried about the next paycheck, as evidenced by his early days as an actor: "I studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse, and did modeling as a simply and profitable way of working around the financial problems," said Williams. "It required little time and paid very well." Williams was forthcoming and candid, proud about his Zorro success and neither bitter nor regretful about the way things turned out on Lost in Space. His cavalier attitude towards stardom was evident when he said, "My career has this ‘checkering’ all through it. I’ve been leaving the business all the time."

The only sour note in this coda is the way Williams died. Williams had lived for the last 20 years in Buenos Aires, and his body was discovered almost a week after his death. The fact that Williams had so many friends and family all over the world, and that he should die alone… well, he deserved better. Williams’ family came together to honor him at a memorial service in Los Angeles, followed by a reunion of several Lost in Space cast members. They have said their goodbyes, and now it’s time for us to do so as well.

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