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 Robert Culp

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Robert Culp

Actor, Screenwriter, and Director. He is best remembered for his role as 'Kelly Robinson' on the NBC television espionage series "I Spy" co-starring Bill Cosby that aired from September 1965 until April 1968. Born Robert Martin Culp in Oakland, California, his father was an attorney. After graduating from Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California where he participated in track, he attended the College of the Pacific in Stockton, California, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and San Francisco State University in San Francisco, California, and the University of Washington School of Drama at Seattle, Washington. He first gained notoriety very early in his career as the star of the 1957 to 1959 CBS Western television series "Trackdown," in which he played the role of 'Ranger Hoby Gilman' based in the fictional town of Porter, Texas, of which he is also the sheriff. After "Trackdown" ended in 1959, he continued to work in television, including a guest-starring role as Stewart Douglas in the 1960 episode "So Dim the Light" of CBS's anthology series, The "DuPont Show with June Allyson," followed by guest-starring on David McLean's NBC western series "Tate." During this time he also made appearances on the CBS western television series "Johnny Ringo" and "Rawhide," the NBC anthology series "The Barbara Stanwyck Show," and in the NBC Civil War drama, "The Americans." In 1964 he was cast as 'Captain Shark' in a first season episode of NBC's "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.". Other television appearances include "The Outer Limits," "Bonanza," "Target: The Corruptors," "Empire," "The Tender Twigs," and James Franciscus's NBC education drama series, "Mr. Novak." He then played secret agent 'Kelly Robinson' who operated undercover as a touring tennis professional on "I Spy". He wrote the scripts for seven episodes, one of which he also directed. One episode earned him an Emmy nomination for writing. For all three years of the series he was also nominated for an acting Emmy (Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series category), but lost each time to Bill Cosby. In 1971 he, Peter Falk, Robert Wagner, and Darren McGavin each stepped in to take turns with Anthony Franciosa's rotation of NBC's television series "The Name of the Game" after Franciosa was fired, alternating a lead role of the lavish 90-minute show about the magazine business with actors Gene Barry and Robert Stack. Afterwards, he appeared as the special guest murderer in three separate "Columbo" episodes (in 1971, 1972, and 1973) and also appeared in a 1990 episode, then as the father of one of two young murderers. He co-starred in AMC's comedy drama "The Greatest American Hero" that aired from 1981 to 1983 as tough veteran FBI Special Agent 'Bill Maxwell', teaming up with a high school teacher who receives superpowers from extraterrestrials. In the 2nd season finale episode "Lilacs, Mr. Maxwell", he wrote and directed with free rein to do the episode as he saw fit. In 1987 he reunited with Bill Cosby on "The Cosby Show," playing the role of Dr. Cliff Huxtable's old friend 'Scott Kelly'. In 1994 he reunited with Bill Cosby in the television movie "I Spy Returns." His film credits include "PT 109" (1963), "The Raiders" (1963), "Sunday in New York" (1963), "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" (1969), "Hannie Caulder" (1971), "Hickey & Boggs" (1972), with Bill Cosby, and which Culp directed), "A Name for Evil" (1973), "Turk 182" (1985), "Combat Academy" (1986), "The Pelican Brief" (1993), "Most Wanted" (1997), "Hunger" (2001), "Farewell, My Love" (2001), "The Almost Guys" (2004), and "Santa's Slay" (2005). He lent his voice to the digital character 'Doctor Breen', the prime antagonist in the 2004 computer game "Half-Life 2." A frequent walker in the Runyon Canyon near his home, he was found unconscious by a jogger near the entrance to the canyon and he died a short time later in a Hollywood, California hospital at the age of 79. Further investigation revealed that he died from a heart attack. At the time of his death, he had just completed the filming of a supporting role in the movie "The Assignment" and was also working on several screenplays.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: David Tucker
  • Added: 24 Mar 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 50168919
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Robert Culp (16 Aug 1930–24 Mar 2010), Find A Grave Memorial no. 50168919, citing Sunset View Cemetery, El Cerrito, Contra Costa County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .