Dick Tufeld reported dead
“The year: 1994. From out of space comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the Moon, unleashing cosmic destruction! Man’s civilization is cast in ruin!”
–start of the opening narration from Thundarr the Barbarian
I wonder how many fans of that 1980s cartoon show realized that the authoritative voice delivering that portentous dialogue was Dick Tufeld, the voice of the B-9 Robot on the 1960s Lost in Space series?
Unsurprisingly, he started in radio, but worked repeatedly with producer Irwin Allen, providing narration for The Time Tunnel and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, as well as the voice of the Robot in Allen’s Lost in Space series (a role which he would reprise on The Simpsons, as well as in the 1998 big screen version).
Dick Tufeld’s characterization of the Robot was part of what really made the show work for fans. He quickly moved beyond the mindless “Crush! Kill! Destroy!”* robot of the early episodes. He became quite the foil to Dr. Smith, and a friend to Will Robinson. He laughed, he was self-sacrificing…he was righteously indignant with Dr. Smith. That richness of personality, which made the Robot a fan favorite, came largely from Dick Tufeld’s talented portrayal.
I’ve taken Dick Tufeld’s voice into the classroom with me. It always brought a smile to my adult students.
Good-bye, Dick Tufeld…thank you for being the voice of friendship to a red-headed nine-year old genius and to anyone who has ever said, “Danger, Will Robinson!”
* The line “Crush! Kill! Destroy!” is associated with B–9, but I believe it isn’t used by the Robot until the 1998 remake.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.