Jonathan Harris

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Jonathan Harris (1914-2002) talks about his early career on the New York stage and his first appearances on television. He recalls appearing on various classic anthology series, including Omnibus, Lights Out, Schlitz Playhouse, and The General Electric Theatre. He describes appearing on several episodic series including Zorro, The Third Man, and The Bill Dana Show, where he found his comedic persona. Harris details his time as “Dr. Zachary Smith” on Lost in Space, including how he got the part and added comedy to the character, and his sometime rocky relationship with fellow cast members, including Guy Williams and June Lockhart. He concludes by recalling later career work, including doing voice-over for several cartoons, as well as a guest stint on Sanford and Son. Jeff Abraham conducted the interview on June 14, 2001 in North Hollywood, CA.

"I'm so grateful for 'Lost in Space,' you have no idea. A robot who was my straight man? Come on, you don't get that every day."

Highlights
Jonathan Harris on appearing on Shirley Temple's Storybook, and on working with Agnes Moorehead on that show
03:31
Jonathan Harris on being hired to play "Dr. Zachary Smith" on Lost in Space by Irwin Allen
08:23
Jonathan Harris on co-starring on The Third Man as "Bradford Webster"
06:04
Jonathan Harris on playing "Mr. Phillips" on The Bill Dana Show
10:47
Jonathan Harris on the campy Lost in Space episode "The Great Vegetable Rebellion"
01:52
Jonathan Harris on his longevity
01:00
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on movies he watched growing up, and on working in a drug store
14:25
On his early interest in theater; on early roles he played in the theater
13:39

Chapter 2

On his first Broadway role, in Henry Miller's “Heart of a City”; on his first television role on the Chevrolet Tele-Theater production "His Name is Jason"; on appearing on Lights Out
14:25
On live television bloopers, and on appearing on The Web and on Shirley Temple's Storybook with Agnes Moorehead; on appearing on Schlitz Playhouse of Stars and on Kraft Television Theatre; on appearing in the General Electric Theater production of "Blaze of Glory" with Lou Costello, and on working with actors he admired
14:27

Chapter 3

On appearing on Omnibus, in the episode "Dear Brutus"; on being typecast as eccentrics and villains, and on being a character actor; on appearing on Zorro, starring Guy Williams
11:29
On co-starring on The Third Man as "Bradford Webster"; on playing "Mr. Phillips" on The Bill Dana Show; on the writing of The Bill Dana Show and on Sheldon Leonard's direction
16:53

Chapter 4

On being hired to play "Dr. Zachary Smith" on Lost in Space by Irwin Allen; on turning "Dr. Zachary Smith" into a more comedic villain on Lost in Space, and on Irwin Allen's reaction; on working with "The Robot" (voiced by Dick Tufeld) on Lost in Space
15:10
On working with the cast of Lost in Space; on the success of Lost in Space and how the show evolved over time into being more campy; on the guest-stars of the show, and on the production schedule
14:02

Chapter 5

On the campy Lost in Space episode "The Great Vegetable Rebellion"; on the end of Lost in Space, and on the lasting legacy of the show; on guest-starring on Land of the Giants
07:58
On guest-starring on Sanford and Son, and on his friendship with Redd Foxx; on doing various cartoon voice-overs; on his longevity and on advice to aspiring actors; on picking his stage name, and on how he'd like to be remembered
12:48
Shows

Bill Dana Show, The

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Jonathan Harris on playing "Mr. Phillips" on The Bill Dana Show
05:04
Jonathan Harris on the writing The Bill Dana Show and Sheldon Leonard's direction
04:19
Jonathan Harris on working with Don Adams on The Bill Dana Show, and on the end of the show
01:24

Chevrolet Tele-Theater aka Chevrolet on Broadway

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Jonathan Harris on his first television role on the Chevrolet Tele-Theater production "His Name is Jason"
02:29

General Electric Theater, The

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Jonathan Harris on appearing in the General Electric Theater production of "Blaze of Glory" with Lou Costello, and on working with actors he admired
02:47

Land of the Giants

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Jonathan Harris on guest-starring on Land of the Giants
01:31

Lights Out

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Jonathan Harris on appearing on Lights Out
02:52

Lost in Space

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Jonathan Harris on being hired to play "Dr. Zachary Smith" on Lost in Space by Irwin Allen
08:23
Jonathan Harris on turning "Dr. Zachary Smith" into a more comedic villain on Lost in Space, and on Irwin Allen's reaction
04:18
Jonathan Harris on working with "The Robot" (voiced by Dick Tufeld) on Lost in Space
02:27
Jonathan Harris on working with Bill Mumy as "Will Robinson" on Lost in Space
01:17
Jonathan Harris on working with Guy Williams as "John Robinson" on Lost in Space
03:13
Jonathan Harris on working with June Lockhart as "Maureen Robinson" on Lost in Space
00:50
Jonathan Harris on the success of Lost in Space and how the show evolved over time into being more campy
01:23
Jonathan Harris on the guest-stars of Lost in Space, and on favorite episodes
03:48
Jonathan Harris on the production schedule of Lost in Space
03:28
Jonathan Harris on the campy Lost in Space episode "The Great Vegetable Rebellion"
01:52
Jonathan Harris on the end of Lost in Space, and on the lasting legacy of the show
04:35

Omnibus

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Jonathan Harris on appearing on Omnibus, in the episode "Dear Brutus"
03:47

Sanford and Son

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Jonathan Harris on guest-starring on Sanford and Son, and on his friendship with Redd Foxx
03:29

Schlitz Playhouse of Stars aka Celebrity Playhouse

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Jonathan Harris on appearing on Schlitz Playhouse of Stars in "The Kind Mr. Smith" with Vincent Price, and on appearing on Kraft Television Theatre
02:31

Shirley Temple's Storybook

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Jonathan Harris on appearing on Shirley Temple's Storybook, and on working with Agnes Moorehead on that show
03:31

Third Man, The

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Jonathan Harris on co-starring on The Third Man as "Bradford Webster"
06:04

Web, The

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Jonathan Harris on appearing on The Web
01:16

Zorro

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Jonathan Harris on appearing on Zorro starring Guy Williams
05:39
Topics

Advice

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Jonathan Harris on advice to aspiring actors
00:43

Bloopers

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Jonathan Harris on mistakes made on live television
04:21

Television Industry

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Jonathan Harris on advice to aspiring actors
00:43
Professions

Actor

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Jonathan Harris on being typecast as eccentrics and villains, and on being a character actor
02:03
Jonathan Harris on advice to aspiring actors
00:43

Performers

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Jonathan Harris on being typecast as eccentrics and villains, and on being a character actor
02:03
Jonathan Harris on advice to aspiring actors
00:43
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Jonathan Harris on appearing on Zorro, starring Guy Williams
05:39

Animation

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Jonathan Harris on doing various cartoon voice-overs, including for the series Freakazoid!
04:49

Classic Anthology Series

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Jonathan Harris on his first television role on the Chevrolet Tele-Theater production "His Name is Jason"
02:29
Jonathan Harris on appearing on Lights Out
02:52
Jonathan Harris on appearing on The Web
01:16
Jonathan Harris on appearing on Shirley Temple's Storybook
03:31
Jonathan Harris on appearing on Schlitz Playhouse of Stars and on Kraft Television Theatre
02:31
Jonathan Harris on appearing in the General Electric Theater production of "Blaze of Glory" with Lou Costello
02:47
Jonathan Harris on appearing on Omnibus in the episode "Dear Brutus"
03:47

Comedy Series

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Jonathan Harris on playing "Mr. Phillips" on The Bill Dana Show
10:47
Jonathan Harris on guest-starring on Sanford and Son, and on his friendship with Redd Foxx
03:29

Drama Series

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Jonathan Harris on co-starring on The Third Man as "Bradford Webster"
05:57

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

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Jonathan Harris on playing "Dr. Zachary Smith" on Lost in Space
29:12
Jonathan Harris on Lost in Space
06:27
Jonathan Harris on guest-starring on Land of the Giants
01:31
People

Don Adams

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Jonathan Harris on working with Don Adams on The Bill Dana Show, and on the end of the show
01:24

Irwin Allen

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Jonathan Harris on being hired to play "Dr. Zachary Smith" on Lost in Space by Irwin Allen
12:23

Lou Costello

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Jonathan Harris on appearing in the General Electric Theater production of "Blaze of Glory" with Lou Costello, and on working with actors he admired
02:47

Bill Dana

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Jonathan Harris on playing "Mr. Phillips" on The Bill Dana Show
05:04
Jonathan Harris on the writing The Bill Dana Show and Sheldon Leonard's direction
04:18

Redd Foxx

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Jonathan Harris on guest-starring on Sanford and Son, and on his friendship with Redd Foxx
03:29

Sheldon Leonard

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Jonathan Harris on working with Sheldon Leonard on The Bill Dana Show
03:58

June Lockhart

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Jonathan Harris on working with June Lockhart as "Maureen Robinson" on Lost in Space
00:50

Agnes Moorehead

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Jonathan Harris on appearing on Shirley Temple's Storybook, and on working with Agnes Moorehead on that show
03:31

Bill Mumy

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Jonathan Harris on working with Bill Mumy as "Will Robinson" on Lost in Space
01:17

Shirley Temple

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Jonathan Harris on appearing on Shirley Temple's Storybook, and on working with Agnes Moorehead on that show
03:31

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