Robert Culp passes away at 79…The Grim Reaper strikes again

March 25, 2010

I owe Robert Culp a lot for the amount of entertaining that he has provided to me over the years. The first role that I cam remember him in is I Spy with a young Bill Cosby.  One of the real reasons that I remember this show is that this was the first one that had an African-American character as the lead character.  Now, I have seen a bunch of the earlier episodes on DVD.  The plot should be copied to a buddy-buddy show now, not the flop that was done with Eddie Murphy and Own Wilson.

Making buddy buddy movies fashionable...

I Spy is an American television secret-agent adventure series. It ran for three seasons on NBC from 1965 to 1968 and teamed Robert Culp as international tennis player Kelly Robinson with Bill Cosby as his trainer, Alexander Scott. The characters’ travels as ostensible “tennis bums”, Robinson playing talented tennis as an amateur with the wealthy in return for food and lodging, and Scott tagging along, provided a cover story concealing their roles as top agents for the Pentagon. Their real work usually kept them busy chasing villains, spies, and beautiful women.

This was one of the first shows that I really remember my parents talking about.  The pairing was unusual in that time period, as we are going through the Civil Rights period.  The formula was so successful in the four year run, that they brought them back for some specials, like I Spy returns.  Robert Culp was in another show from the 80’s that I liked as well, called the Greatest American Hero.

Connie Selleca was nice eye candy too. But, if you get an Alien suit, how do you lose the instructions?

The Greatest American Hero is an American science fiction TV series which aired for three seasons from 1981 to 1983 on ABC. It premiered as a two hour movie pilot on March 18, 1981. It starred William Katt as teacher Ralph Hinkley (“Hanley” for the latter part of the first season), Robert Culp as FBI Agent Bill Maxwell, and Connie Sellecca as lawyer Pam Davidson. The show chronicles Ralph’s adventures after he is given a red suit from a group of aliens, which gives him superhuman abilities. The series was created by producer Stephen J. Cannell; Joel Colon helped design the costumes.

Robert Culp R.I.P. Your work will always be remembered….

Actor Robert Culphas has died after collapsing outside his Hollywood home yesterday.

The star, who teamed with Bill Cosby in the racially groundbreaking TV series I Spy and appeared as Bob in the critically acclaimed sex comedy Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, was taken to hospital but pronounced dead. He was 79.

His manager, Hillard Elkins, said the actor had been on a walk when he fell.

The actor’s son was told he died of a heart attack, Mr Elkins said, though police were unsure if the fall was medically related.

Los Angeles police Lt. Robert Binder said no foul play was suspected. Mr Binder said a jogger found Culp, who apparently fell and struck his head.

Culp had been working on writing screenplays, Mr Elkins said.

I Spy, which aired from 1965 to 1968, was a television milestone in more ways than one. Its combination of humour and adventure broke new ground, and it was the first integrated television show to feature a black actor in a starring role.

Culp played Kelly Robinson, a spy whose cover was that of an ace tennis player. In real life, Culp actually was a top-notch tennis player who showed his skills in numerous celebrity tournaments.

Cosby was fellow spy Alexander Scott, whose cover was that of Culp’s trainer. The pair travelled the world in the service of the U.S. government.

The series greatly advanced the careers of both actors.

Most people will not remember that he was also in Guilty Conscience w/Eminem.

3 Responses to “Robert Culp passes away at 79…The Grim Reaper strikes again”

  1. tophatal said


    Culp and Bill Cosby were great in the tv series ‘I Spy’. Everything else that he did after that paled into comparison !

    Alan Parkins

  2. Steve said

    Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice might have been as good, since it opened another door during the sexual revolution, but for sheer impact, I think you are correct…

    • tophatal said


      Bob Carol Ted & Alice may well have set the bar. But I think that Carnal Knowledge left it in its wake. Then after that you had Last Tango In Paris and most recently in ’92 – ‘The Lover’ with Tony Leung and Jane March.

      Culp lost out to Cosby in the Emmy’s for three consecutive years while the series was on network tv. That was a time when African Americans were actually being down in a positive light, alongside Diahann Carrol’s series Julia (1968-71).

      Now what have we got ?

      Alan Parkins

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