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JONATHAN HARRIS BIOGRAPHY

I want to tell something about the famous "Dr Smith". Let's start from the very beginning... The son of Russian immigrants, Jonathan Harris was born in New York City in 1914. Growing up in a poor family, Harris was brought up to believe in a strong work ethic. As a teenager he worked in a drugstore and decided to become a pharmacist. However, after seeing several local plays, the young man took the taste for the arts. At the same time he knew that he would have several obstacles to overcome as an actor. "I grew up in Brooklyn and had a "deeze-and-dooze" accent" he said once. "To correct that, I watched literally hundreds of old British movies, thus giving me a more British way of speaking." With much apprehension about embarking on the hit and miss the world of show business, the young Harris joined the Millpond Playhouse in Long Island. His Broadway debut was in 1942's Heart of the City and during WW2 he acted in plays in the South Pacific for war-weary troops. He returned to New York and prospered in live television. His first big success was a co-star of the 1957-1960 series The Third Man. The syndicated series starred Michael Rennie (who, od course, was there in The Day the Earth Stood Still), and Harris played his assistant, the doctor Bradford Webster, a humourless man with a strict eye for detail. Major TV roles followed then, including guest shots as a meek bank robber in The Outlaws and as Charles Dickens in Bonanza. He was also the exasperated Mr Phillips in The Bill Dana Show (1963-1965). Lost in Space, however, afforded him his favourite role. He took what had been written as a colorless vilain and turned him into a greedy, selfish coward. Harris also spent many nights dreaming up sarcastic remarks to insult the robot with ("You, sanctimonious scatterbrain!"). Harris received much acclaim for his role and even Cleveland Amory, critic for TV Guide, proclaimed Harris as "the best supporting actor of 1966." However, with the unexpected cancellation of the series, ("We had at least two more years left in us", he later said), he found himself battling the specter of typecasting. Some good roles followed. These include a guest stint on the western show Lancer; a flamboyant alien on Land of the Giants and a kind professor on Night Gallery. However, many other roles were written in the "Dr Smith" vein. His other TV roles in the early 1970's included Bewitched, Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Sanford and Son and Get Smart. He also supplied the voices of many cartoon characters for television and starred as the 300-year old space commander Gampu in the Saturday morning live-action show, Space Academy (1977-1978), as well as the delightfully evil Cylon Lucifer on Battlestar Galactica. He devoted himself entirely to voice-over work by 1982 (commercials and cartoons) and is still a much sought-after voice artist. His most recent voiceover work is in the upcoming Disney animated film A Bug's Life. He enjoys meeting fans of Lost in Space and attend conventions around the U.S.A.