Robert Culp, who starred with Bill Cosby in "I Spy" (and helped to make him famous by giving him acting tips and writing scripts to showcase him), has passed on: http://www.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/Movies/03/24/obit.robert.culp/index.html?hpt=T2
[Insert string of curses here.]http://hmssweblog.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/i-spys-robert-culp-dies/
Includes link to full first (and authorized) "I Spy" episode on YouTube and a memorable Culp cameo on "Get Smart."
And here, if any "I Spy" fans are around, is a transcript of two interviews in which Culp discusses the genesis of "I Spy," and how he worked as a writer to shape what we saw on the screen: http://ispy65.tripod.com/id198.htm
Harlan Ellison called him friend, and applauded his work. Culp wrote several episodes of "I Spy," and probably the best episode of "The Rifleman," a two-parter with his trademark noir-ish atmosphere and with the leads, Lucas and Mark, isolated from their friends as they try to escape a Mexican bandit gang. When I saw it in reruns a few years ago, without knowing who wrote it, it reminded me instantly of Culp's "I Spy" script "Home to Judgment," which aired five or six years later. That's surely a high compliment to pay to any writer: that his style is immediately recognizable.
Regarding his acting, he was remarkable. He starred in the Ellison-scripted "Demon with the Glass Hand" on "Outer Limits." Watch the way he moves in that, and how his silhouette (I presume he was the model for that) runs in the "I Spy" title credits. He moved like no other actor. He could do drama, he could do comedy.
He was also considered for the role of John D. MacDonald's boat-bum investigator and salvage expert, Travis McGee, when the film of "Darker than Amber" was being mounted in '69 or '70. For some reason MacDonald hated Culp as McGee; they ended up going with Rod Taylor. Much as I like Taylor, I think Culp might have been a better choice. MacDonald has McGee say in one novel that when he is worked up, he can look like something from an unused corner of [censored] (not an exact quote), and Culp could certainly do that.
I'm going to try to find a copy of 1972's "Hickey and Boggs," in which he re-teamed with Cosby; I've never seen it.
May we meet in heaven, Mr. Culp. I'm sure you have grand stories to tell.