Goodbye Major Don West

Ah, good old angry, curly-haired, hero of my boyhood, Mark Goddard “Don West” of Lost in Space fame, died on Oct.10th, at the age of 87.

Although arguably best known in his “LoS” role Goddard made his TV debut in 1959 on the show Johnny Ringo, appearing for thirty-eight episodes. He also played Detective Sergeant Chris Ballard on The Detectives (for a whopping 64 episodes) then landed on Lost in Space in 1965. I was four at the time, so I am not so sure I caught the show at that early age or if I did, that I was aware of what it was. But I certainly got hooked on Lost in Space during its many repeated T.V. runs. And while my first true T.V. crush was for Angela Cartwright who played Penny on LoS, I had a mad hetero (not that’s there’s anything wrong with that) crush on Don West.

Much like my crush on Bobby Sherman and his choker.

Yes, I’d come to appreciate the honey’s cavorting in the water tower in Petticoat Junction and salivate over Barbara Eden’s “Jeannie” (imagine the possibilities of having a hottie like that not only agree to do your every bidding, but going away to steel herself in a bottle when you asked her to!) But I had not developed my hetero lusting that early on and took readily to hero worship of men like Goddard.

Goddard went on to appear on such 60’s T.V staples The Rifleman, The Bill Dana Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gunsmoke, Perry Mason and The Fugitive, with another long run on Many Happy Returns‘ as the character “Bob Randall” for twenty-six episodes.

Into the 70’s, Mr. G could be seen in such shows as The Streets of San Franciso (“a Quinn Martin Production”) films “Blue Shunshine,” and even in his only Broadway appearance, opposite Lisa Minnelli no less, in the musical The Act. H also worked with children, most notably at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and with his Master’s Degree in education, eventually became a special education teacher in the early 90’s.

I happened to run right into Mark Goddard at a horror/autograph convention in the late 90’s. I had just hoped on the hotel’s elevator when Goddard and what I had to assume was his son, walked on. I stood behind them too fan-geek struck to approach the guy, but it was him, Major Don West, from my childhood dreams! I figured I didn’t need to scare his little boy by gushing over his dad, at this convention where they were about to descend on the autograph floor to endure too much of that kind of thing anyway.

I wish Mark Goddard a good flight out to the outer reaches of eternity and thank him for so much great early TV, viewing, when T.V. actually was great.

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