Robert Culp

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, Robert Culp (1930-2010) talks about his childhood interests and how he aspired to be an animator for Disney when he grew up. He talks about his acting training and his move to New York City, breaking into theater and television. He explains how he was able to get work in television as an indirect result of the Hollywood Blacklist: since he was a newcomer, he had no affiliations. Culp talks about his early experiences in Los Angeles as a struggling actor and describes his first role as a series regular, on the series Trackdown. He speaks fondly of working with Dick Powell, whose Four Star Productions produced that series. He describes some of the roles he had in a variety of the popular TV genres of the day— Western, detective, medical, sci-fi— including his memorable parts on the classic sci-fi anthology The Outer Limits. Culp then speaks in great detail about the role and the series with which he is most closely associated: "Kelly Robinson" on I Spy. For I Spy he talks about the on-location shooting, working with co-star Bill Cosby (and the controversial casting of an African-American lead), and talks about some of the series' episodes in which he acted as well as wrote. He then speaks about two other series in which he memorably appeared: The Greatest American Hero and Everybody Loves Raymond. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview on November 6, 2007 in Los Angeles, CA.

"On opening night, the lights hit me and I went backstage and sat behind the flats, listening. Not to the people onstage. I knew what they were saying. To the audience. I had never experienced that before. It was alive. I had never been so thrilled in my life. I never stopped working as an actor from then on."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Robert Culp on appearing in various stage plays in New York City, which led him to television
Robert Culp on his work on Everybody Loves Raymond
Robert Culp on his I Spy character, "Kelly Robinson"
Robert Culp on his chemistry with Bill Cosby on I Spy, and on acting advice he gave him
Robert Culp on his Greatest American Hero co-stars William Katt and Connie Sellecca
Robert Culp on the rumor of his being set to replace Larry Hagman on Dallas, and on the end of Greatest American Hero
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on originally wanting to be a cartoonist, and on discovering acting
On his earliest impressions of television, and on playing a part on radio and being signed by William Morris; on the Hollywood Blacklist
On modifying his acting when going from stage to television; on making a living as an actor

Chapter 2

On making money as an actor, and on getting work on the stage; on writing a play, and on learning how to prepare material to perform; on appearing in various stage plays in New York City, which led him to television
On moving to Los Angeles and appearing on NBC Matinee Theater and Trackdown; on becoming a writer for Trackdown, the series he was starring in
On playing "Hoby Gilman" in the Four Star-produced western series Trackdown; on his experience with Dick Powell and Powell's Four Star Productions

Chapter 3

On what it was like to work for Dick Powell's Four Star productions; on the Western genre
On meeting and working with Sam Peckinpah on The Westerner episode "Line Camp"; on working on a Shirley Temple's Storybook episode when he heard that President Kennedy had been shot
On working on Alfred Hitchcock Presents; on meeting Barbara Stanwyck on The Barbara Stanwyck Show; on Mary Astor

Chapter 4

On guest-starring on the series Cain's Hundred; on the events that led up starring on I Spy produced by Sheldon Leonard; on Sheldon Leonard casting Bill Cosby on I Spy at the suggestion of Rob Reiner
On shooting the pilot for I Spy co-starring Bill Cosby and produced by Sheldon Leonard, and on writing four episodes; on his I Spy character, "Kelly Robinson"
On public reaction to I Spy; on traveling around the world to shoot I Spy

Chapter 5

On his chemistry with Bill Cosby on I Spy; on he and Bill Cosby acting as mentors for each other on I Spy; on dealing with the racial aspect of I Spy
On the non-legacy of I Spy; on the 1994 revival of I Spy
On how The Greatest American Hero came about, and on working with the cast; on working with Stephen J. Cannell on Greatest American Hero; on how his fanbase shifted with Greatest American Hero, and on appearing on The Cosby Show

Chapter 6

On the rumor of his being set to replace Larry Hagman on Dallas, and on the end of Greatest American Hero; on his work on three episodes of The Outer Limits
On his work on Everybody Loves Raymond; on then-current projects
On professional achievements and regrets; on advice to an aspiring actor; on how he would like to be remembered
Shows

Alfred Hitchcock Presents aka The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

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Robert Culp on working on Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Barbara Stanwyck Show, The

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Robert Culp on meeting Barbara Stanwyck on The Barbara Stanwyck Show

Cain's Hundred

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Robert Culp on guest-starring on the series Cain's Hundred, and on writing an episode of the series

Dallas

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Robert Culp on the rumor of his being set to replace Larry Hagman on Dallas, and on the end of Greatest American Hero

Everybody Loves Raymond

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Robert Culp on his work on Everybody Loves Raymond

Greatest American Hero, The

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Robert Culp on how The Greatest American Hero came about for him
Robert Culp on his Greatest American Hero co-stars William Katt and Connie Sellecca
Robert Culp on working with Stephen J. Cannell on Greatest American Hero
Robert Culp on how his fanbase shifted with Greatest American Hero, and on appearing on The Cosby Show
Robert Culp on the rumor of his being set to replace Larry Hagman on Dallas, and on the end of Greatest American Hero

I Spy

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Robert Culp on the events that led up to his starring on I Spy
Robert Culp on Sheldon Leonard casting Bill Cosby on I Spy at the suggestion of Rob Reiner
Robert Culp on shooting the original pilot for I Spy co-starring Bill Cosby and produced by Sheldon Leonard, and on writing four episodes
Robert Culp on his I Spy character, "Kelly Robinson"
Robert Culp on public and critical reaction to I Spy, and on the end of the show
Robert Culp on traveling around the world to shoot I Spy
Robert Culp on his chemistry with Bill Cosby on I Spy, and on acting advice he gave him
Robert Culp on he and Bill Cosby acting as mentors for each other on I Spy
Robert Culp on dealing with the racial aspect of I Spy
Robert Culp on the non-legacy of I Spy
Robert Culp on the 1994 revival of I Spy

NBC Matinee Theater

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Robert Culp on moving to Los Angeles and appearing on NBC Matinee Theater and Trackdown produced by Dick Powell's Four Star Productions

Outer Limits, The (1963-65)

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Robert Culp on his work on three episodes of The Outer Limits

Rifleman, The

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Robert Culp on meeting and working with Sam Peckinpah on The Westerner episode "Line Camp"

Shirley Temple's Storybook

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Robert Culp on working on a Shirley Temple's Storybook episode when he heard that President Kennedy had been shot

Trackdown

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Robert Culp on moving to Los Angeles and appearing on NBC Matinee Theater and Trackdown produced by Dick Powell's Four Star Productions
Robert Culp on becoming a writer for Trackdown while he was starring on it
Robert Culp on playing "Hoby Gilman" in the Four Star-produced western series Trackdown

Westerner, The

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Robert Culp on meeting and working with Sam Peckinpah on The Westerner episode "Line Camp"

You Are There

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Robert Culp on his first work for television on You Are There and on how his being new to television during the Blacklist period got him started in television
Topics

Advice

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Robert Culp on advice to an aspiring actor

Characters & Catchphrases

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Robert Culp on playing "Hoby Gilman" on the western series Trackdown
Robert Culp on his I Spy character, "Kelly Robinson"

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Robert Culp on he and Bill Cosby acting as mentors for each other on I Spy

Diversity in Television

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Robert Culp on dealing with the racial aspect of I Spy

Historic Events and Social Change

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Robert Culp on working on a Shirley Temple's Storybook episode when he heard that President Kennedy had been shot
Robert Culp on dealing with the racial aspect of I Spy

Hollywood Blacklist

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Robert Culp on the Hollywood Blacklist

Industry Crossroads

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Robert Culp on the Hollywood Blacklist

JFK Assassination and Funeral

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Robert Culp on working on a Shirley Temple's Storybook episode when he heard that President Kennedy had been shot

Pivotal Career Moments

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Robert Culp on he and Bill Cosby acting as mentors for each other on I Spy

Pop Culture

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Robert Culp on playing "Hoby Gilman" on the western series Trackdown
Robert Culp on his I Spy character, "Kelly Robinson"

Television Industry

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Robert Culp on the Hollywood Blacklist
Robert Culp on advice to an aspiring actor

Underrepresented Voices

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Robert Culp on dealing with the racial aspect of I Spy
Professions

Actor

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Robert Culp on modifying his acting when going from stage to television
Robert Culp on making a living as an actor
Robert Culp on making money as an actor, and on getting work on the stage
Robert Culp on writing a play, and on learning how to prepare material to perform
Robert Culp on his chemistry with Bill Cosby on I Spy, and on acting advice he gave him
Robert Culp on advice to an aspiring actor

Performers

View Profession
Robert Culp on modifying his acting when going from stage to television
Robert Culp on making a living as an actor
Robert Culp on making money as an actor, and on getting work on the stage
Robert Culp on writing a play, and on learning how to prepare material to perform
Robert Culp on his chemistry with Bill Cosby on I Spy, and on acting advice he gave him
Robert Culp on advice to an aspiring actor
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Robert Culp on starring on I Spy
Robert Culp on starring on I Spy
Robert Culp on co-starring on The Greatest American Hero

Classic Anthology Series

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Robert Culp on moving to Los Angeles and appearing on NBC Matinee Theater and Trackdown
Robert Culp working on an episode of Shirley Temple's Storybook
Robert Culp on working on Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Robert Culp on meeting Barbara Stanwyck on The Barbara Stanwyck Show

Western Series

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Robert Culp on writing and starring in Trackdown
Robert Culp on the Western genre
Robert Culp on writing for the Western genre
Robert Culp on meeting and working with Sam Peckinpah on The Westerner episode "Line Camp"
People

Mary Astor

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Robert Culp on Mary Astor

Stephen J. Cannell

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Robert Culp on working with Stephen J. Cannell on Greatest American Hero

Bill Cosby

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Robert Culp on Sheldon Leonard casting Bill Cosby on I Spy at the suggestion of Rob Reiner
Robert Culp on shooting the pilot for I Spy co-starring Bill Cosby and produced by Sheldon Leonard, and on writing four episodes
Robert Culp on his chemistry with Bill Cosby on I Spy
Robert Culp on he and Bill Cosby acting as mentors for each other on I Spy

Larry Hagman

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Robert Culp on the rumor of his being set to replace Larry Hagman on Dallas, and on the end of Greatest American Hero

William Katt

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Robert Culp on his Greatest American Hero co-stars William Katt and Connie Sellecca

Sheldon Leonard

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Robert Culp on the events that led up starring on I Spy produced by Sheldon Leonard
Robert Culp on Sheldon Leonard casting Bill Cosby on I Spy at the suggestion of Rob Reiner
Robert Culp on shooting the pilot for I Spy co-starring Bill Cosby and produced by Sheldon Leonard, and on writing four episodes

Sam Peckinpah

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Robert Culp on meeting and working with Sam Peckinpah on The Westerner episode "Line Camp"

Dick Powell

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Robert Culp on his experience with Dick Powell and Powell's Four Star Productions
Robert Culp on moving to Los Angeles and appearing on NBC Matinee Theater and Trackdown produced by Dick Powell's Four Star Productions
Robert Culp on what it was like to work for Dick Powell's Four Star productions

Rob Reiner

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Robert Culp on Sheldon Leonard casting Bill Cosby on I Spy at the suggestion of Rob Reiner

Connie Sellecca

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Robert Culp on his Greatest American Hero co-stars William Katt and Connie Sellecca

Barbara Stanwyck

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Robert Culp on meeting Barbara Stanwyck on The Barbara Stanwyck Show

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