Mark Goddard, the actor renowned for his indelible portrayal of the bold and endlessly impatient Major Don West on the CBS series “Lost In Space” from 1965 to 1968, passed away at the age of 87 due to pulmonary fibrosis. His demise was announced by his wife, Evelyn Pezzulich, through a Facebook post.
“I’m deeply saddened to inform you that my beloved husband departed on October 10th,” Pezzulich conveyed. “Just a few days after celebrating his 87th birthday, he was hospitalized with pneumonia. We held onto hope as he was transferred to a rehabilitation center, but subsequent medical assessments revealed the irreversible late stages of pulmonary fibrosis, a condition without a cure.”
Before earning his breakthrough role as the resolute Major West, Goddard had already established himself as a rising young talent with supporting roles in late 1950s productions such as “Johnny Ringo” and “The Rebel.” In 1960, he joined the second season of “The Detectives,” portraying Detective Sergeant Chris Ballard for 64 episodes until 1962.
Born as Charles Harvey Goddard in Lowell, Massachusetts, on July 24, 1936, he initially studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City before relocating to Los Angeles in 1959. Soon after adopting the name Mark Goddard, he secured his first role as Cully, a deputy character in the Western series “Johnny Ringo.” Over the subsequent years, he made guest appearances in various TV Westerns, including “The Rebel” featuring Nick Adams, “Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre,” and “The Rifleman” with Chuck Connors, who would later become a friend and mentor to Goddard.
His early 1960s credits encompassed shows like “Burke’s Law,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “The Virginian,” “Gunsmoke,” “Perry Mason,” and “The Fugitive.” In 1964, he was cast as a series regular in the single season of the CBS sitcom “Many Happy Returns,” where he portrayed the son-in-law of a beleaguered department store complaint department manager, John McGiver.
However, Goddard’s defining role came in 1965 when he was chosen by “Lost In Space” creator Irwin Allen to portray Major West. Initially conceived as an action-adventure narrative following the Robinson family’s galactic journey, the handsome Goddard was intended as the love interest for the eldest Robinson daughter, Judy (Marta Kristen), and the right-hand man to her father, John (Guy Williams).
Nonetheless, as the show unfolded, a comedic chemistry emerged, particularly between actor Jonathan Harris, who played the fussy stowaway Dr. Zachary Smith, and Bill Mumy’s precocious young Will Robinson, along with the iconic robot (voiced by Dick Tufeld and worn by Bob May). Contrary to Goddard’s expectations, Major West evolved into an easily irritable straight man, serving as a foil to the self-absorbed Dr. Smith.
After “Lost in Space” was canceled in 1968, Goddard faced typecasting and the show’s reputation as a campy alternative to the more serious “Star Trek.” Subsequently, he returned to guest-starring roles in series such as “The Mod Squad” and “Adam-12.”
Although he never replicated the enduring success of Major West, Goddard maintained a consistent television presence throughout the 1970s and 1980s, appearing in popular programs like “The Streets of San Francisco,” “Quincy M.E.,” “Benson,” and “Barnaby Jones.” He also had a role in the 1979 feature film “Roller Boogie,” starring Linda Blair, following her role in “The Exorcist.”
In the 1980s, Goddard made occasional appearances on soap operas, including “One Life To Live,” “The Doctors,” and “General Hospital.” In 1998, he, along with fellow “Lost In Space” cast members Kristen, Angela Cartwright, and June Lockhart, made cameo appearances in a feature film adaptation featuring Matt LeBlanc in the role of Major West.
As his acting career neared its end, Goddard pursued further education and earned a master’s degree in education from Bridgewater State College in his home state of Massachusetts. During the 1990s and early 2000s, he served as a special education teacher in Middleboro, Massachusetts. In 2008, he published his memoir titled “To Space and Back.”
Goddard had previously been married to actress Susan Anspach (“Five Easy Pieces”) and, for most of the 1960s, to Marcia Rogers Goddard. In November 1963, Mark and Marcia Goddard discovered the body of their friend Karyn Kupcinet, a 22-year-old actress, in her West Hollywood apartment. The murder of Kupcinet, the daughter of Chicago newspaper columnist Irv Kupcinet, garnered national attention and remains one of Hollywood’s most famous unsolved crimes.