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NBC (ended 1969)
Actor Don Marshall passed away on 10/30 at the age of 80. For those unfamiliar with the actor, he's probably best known as Lt. Boma, the officer in the Star Trek episode "The Galileo Seven." The character later appeared in two Trek novels, Dreadnaught! and Battlestations!,and later That Which Divides where he's given the first name of Samuel. The character also appeared in the IDW comic book version of "The Galileo Seven."


"The Galileo Seven" has several coincidental connections to his main s.f. acting gig a year later in Land of the Giants. Marshall played Dan Erickson, the co-pilot on the ill-fated sub-orbital shuttle Spindrift. Like the Galileo, there were seven passengers and in both cases, the ships crashed on a planet inhabited by giant creatures. In Star Trek, they were 10' tall tribesmen: on Land of the Giants, they were essentially human beings 12 times larger than an Earthling.

Donald James Marshall was born on May 2, 1936, in San Diego. After serving in the Army, he studied theater at Los Angeles City College and was also a track star. His talents as a runner and pole vaulter served him well when it came time to do the many stunts that Land of the Giants required.


Scoutcon 2008: with LotG costars Deanna Lund, Don Matheson, Gary Conway, and Heather Young

Mr. Marshall also appeared as a guest star in Julia, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Mission: Impossible, Good Times, The Incredible Hulk, and Little House on the Prairie, among many others. Theatrically he appeared in Uptown Saturday Night and The Thing With Two Heads.

In the 60s, Mr. Marshall was one of the first actors to play a major black leading role in a TV show, putting him alongside such actors as Diahann Carroll (Julia), Bill Cosby (I, Spy), and Greg Morris (Mission: Impossible). He was arguably the first major black character in any s.f. series.

Ironically, his casting on Irwin Allen's Land of the Giants was non-deliberate: the producer didn't hire him looking for a black actor, and no direct mention is made of the character's race during the show. He does teach jazz trumpet to a black giant musician (played by Sugar Ray Robinson) in "Giants and All That Jazz."


IMO, Dan was the best character on the show. Captain Steve was a control freak, Don was an intellectual snob (and an egotistical jerk in the first season), Valerie was a rich snob, and Fizthugh was a slightly more sympathetic Dr. Smith. Barry and Betty were pretty much non-entities. Dan was... The Guy Who Got Shit Done. You could count on him to be there for you, and he had everyone's back.

And MeTV, a retro channel, is running the repeats on Saturday nights 1 am/midnight. Check it out if you get a chance. Faint praise, but it's probably the best of the four Irwin Allen 60s s.f. shows.

After Mr. Marshall retired from acting in 1992, he founded DJR Productions, a video production company.


He will be missed.
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Nov 04, 2016
I didn't see Land of the Giants until I first got cable in the '90s, but I immediately recognized Don Marshall from his Star Trek appearance. Thankfully, he wasn't one of the red shirts who died in TG7 (Of course, he was a blue shirt in that episode, and actually it was only gold shirts who were killed). 😄

I definitely thought LOTG (and Time Tunnel) were Irwin Allen's better shows, not as cheesy as Lost in Space. And I agree Marshall's Dan Erickson was the best character in that series. In typical '60s fashion, he only got fourth billing after the two white guys and the boy (then before the women and the guy with the accent), when he should have had second billing, considering he was the Spindrift's co-pilot. But all-in-all, LOTG was enjoyable to watch.
Don, you will be missed. RIP. 😞
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Nov 04, 2016
Well, Kurt Kazner was billed last because he was the "Special Guest Star." Him and Gary Conway were really the two main characters.

Time Tunnel seemed to descend into cheesiness pretty quickly. Or maybe it was just the generic bland cast. Cripes, Doug and Tony made Captain Crane and Major West look like Deniros by comparison.

LotG did pretty good for its first season (remember when the giants had alien writing and needed translators?). But it started to go downhill in the second season. And by the time they started bring in spacemen and time travelers who did that irritating "teleport in a bomb blast" thing that Allen liked to do, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion.
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Nov 04, 2016
I could never understand why Kazner was billed as "Special Guest Star". He was practically a regular since he appeared in every episode of the series. About the only ones who didn't were Heather Young, who was pregnant during season 2, and Stefan Arngrim (Barry, the youngest).
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Nov 04, 2016
It was the 60s, and they treated "Special Guest Stars" differently. ;)

Jonathan Harris had demanded SGS status for Lost in Space , which presumably came with a pay hike and enhanced crediting. Kazner or his agent simply demanded the same thing from Irwin Allen.
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Jan 17, 2018
All I knew about the Martin Landau story was that Rollin Hand wasn't originally intended to be a regular, so thanks for that.

Off topic, but one thing I kind of like about the first season of Wild Wild West is that sometimes Artemus doesn't wear a disguise, as opposed to episodes in season 4 where a disguise is almost tacked on at the end (i.e., Night of the Pistoleros, Night of Fire and Brimstone).
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Jan 17, 2018
Well, the Landau SGS thing was a little different. You probably know the story, but it seemed to be a combination of Landau not being expected to be a regular character, and Landau not thinking the show would last. He was only expected to be in the pilot episode, but the audience liked him so much that the producers kept him on.

It's probably why in the pilot, Rollin is chosen for the mission: he looks like their target. Even then, in some first season episodes he doesn't use disguises as much as just plays himself playing "a character".
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Jan 17, 2018
In fact, the Bionic Woman episode he was in with Philip Carey is one of my favorite episodes of that show.
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Jan 17, 2018
Martin Landau was billed as a "Special Guest Star" during the first season of Mission: Impossible, and, I believe, originally, Dr. Smith wasn't going to be an ongoing character on Lost in Space.

I wonder if Dan being the best character on Land of the Giants explains why the episode where Steve is exposed to a spore that causes him to turn on the others is my favorite episode.
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Nov 04, 2016
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Nov 04, 2016
I loved watching LotG and still do love watching ST. He will be missed, He was a great role model and inspiration.
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Nov 04, 2016
This man was an inspiration to many....he will most definitely be missed. Peace to you Brother...and a whole lot of respect. RIP
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