Robert Martin Culp, American actor and Director, Died at 79

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Dead, Robert Martin Culp on March 24, 2010 at the age of 79, he was an American actor, screenwriter, voice actor and director, widely known for his work in television.

Born on August 16, 1930 in Oakland, California to Crozier Cordell Culp, an attorney, and his wife, Bethel Martin (née Collins) Culp.

Culp first came to national attention very early in his career as the star of the 1957–1959 Western television series Trackdown, in which he played Ranger Hoby Gilman, based in the fictional town of Porter, Texas, of which he is also the sheriff.

Track down is a spin-off of Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre, which also aired on CBS.

Culp’s character was introduced in an episode titled “Badge of Honour”.

Culp later appeared in two other episodes of Zane Grey Theatre — “Morning Incident” and “Calico Bait” (both 1960) playing different roles.

Track down then had a CBS spin-off of its own: Wanted: Dead or Alive, with Steve McQueen as bounty hunter Josh Randall.

Culp was cast as Captain Shark in a first season episode of NBC’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964).

Among his more memorable performances were in three episodes of the science-fiction anthology series on ABC The Outer Limits (1963–1965), including the classic “Demon with a Glass Hand”, written by Harlan Ellison.

In the 1961 season, he guest starred on the NBC’s western Bonanza In the 1961–1962 season, he guest starred on ABC’s crime drama Target: The Corruptors!. In the 1962–1963 season, he guest starred in NBC’s modern Western series Empire starring Richard Egan.

In 1965, he was cast as Frank Melo in “The Tender Twigs” of James Franciscus’s NBC education drama series, Mr. Novak, guest starring along with the Crawford brothers, Johnny and Robert.

In 1973, Culp almost took the male lead in the sci-fi television series Space: 1999. During negotiations with creator and executive producer Gerry Anderson, Culp expressed himself to be not only an asset as an actor, but also as a director and producer for the proposed series.

The part instead went to Martin Landau.

Bob returned to series TV as stern “CIA Chief Bill Maxwell”, whose job was to protect handsome Robert Redford lookalike William Katt, who starred as an ersatz The Greatest American Hero (1981).

The show lasted three seasons. Other series guest spots, both comedic and dramatic, included Hotel (1983), Highway to Heaven (1984), The Golden Girls (1985) and an episode of his old buddy’s show The Cosby Show (1984).

He was also a guest murderer in three of the “Columbo” episodes.

Although he was relegated to appearing in such film fodder as Turk 182! (1985), Big Bad Mama II (1987) and Pucker Up and Bark Like a Dog (1989), the 1990s offered him one of his best film roles in years as the ill-fated President in the Denzel Washington/Julia Roberts political thriller The Pelican Brief (1993).

A year later, he again reteamed with Cosby in the TV-movie I Spy Returns (1994).

Culp became very active in the 1960s Civil Rights movement and later became a prominent face in local civic causes, joining in a lawsuit to cease construction of an elephant exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo and accusing officials there of mistreatment.

In the long run, however, the construction was given the green light.

Culp also married a fifth time to Candace Faulkner and, by her, had daughter Samantha Culp in 1982.

 

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