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Dick Tufeld, R.I.P.

It is with great sorrow that I report the death of announcer and voice actor Dick Tufeld, best known to a generation of genre fans as the voice of the Robot on the wonderfully campy ‘60s TV series Lost in Space. He was 85.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Tufeld, who suffered from heart disease and had been in failing health since sustaining a fall last year, passed away at home while watching the NFL playoffs on January 22.

Richard Norton Tufeld was born December 11, 1926, in Los Angeles, California. He began his career as the announcer for the ABC radio programs The Amazing Mr. Malone and Falstaff’s Fables before landing a gig as announcer for the sci-fi radio serial Space Patrol in 1952.

Tufeld left radio for television news in October 1955, but then transitioned to a role as announcer for Disney TV series such as Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color and Zorro, which starred future Lost in Space co-star Guy Williams.

Soon after this, he began doing voiceover work on producer Irwin Allen’s series The Time Tunnel and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. But the Allen series Tufeld will always be remembered for is Lost in Space.

Though actor Bob May inhabited the costume of the Class M-3, Model B9, General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot (nicknamed “Robot”), Tufeld’s nuanced voice work, which garnered laughs as easily as it did empathy, gave Robot a soul and made him as real as any of the show’s flesh-and-blood actors. Many of Tufeld’s lines, such as “Danger, Will Robinson!” and “That does not compute,” entered and have remained in the pop-culture lexicon since the show’s initial 1965 – 1968 run.

In his long and varied career, Tufeld also did voice work for local TV and radio, commercials and several animated series, including The Fantastic Four, Thundarr the Barbarian, and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.  He went on to reprise his role as Robot in two episodes of The Simpsons as well as the 1998 big-screen version of Lost in Space.

Tufeld lost his wife of 56 years, Adrienne, in 2004. He is survived by sons Bruce and Craig, daughters Lynn and Melissa, six grandchildren and a brother.

If you’d like to stroll down memory lane, head over to Hulu and enjoy Tufeld’s work on Lost in Space. He really was one of the best things about the show.

~Theron Neel

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