Danger, Robinson family! A family voyage into space would quickly turn into an ongoing adventure to correct course. Thanks to the wicked machinations of Dr. Smith, the Robinson family would end up Lost in Space. Heading this family was John Robinson, an expert in planetary geology and astrophysics alike. What about Guy Williams, the man behind the vibrant-colored space suit?
Guy Williams, at first known as Armando Catalano, was born on January 14, 1924, and he called New York home for many of his formative years. Early on, his interests lay all over the place: chess, math, and football among them. But, standing at 6 ft 3 with dashing good looks, those around him encouraged Williams to pursue acting. So, even though he proved a gifted student, he ceased his studies to become an actor.
Why did Guy Williams leave ‘Bonanza?’
Guy Williams’ path to acting fame began shakily. Like his school interests, he began all over the place as a mechanic, salesman, and eventually modeling. Changing his name from Armando Catalano, he finally signed a contract with MGM. Once he got his foot in the door, Williams became a mainstay in Hollywood, where he moved and eventually found love through work. Additionally, his varied sports background made Williams the perfect candidate to play Disney’s upcoming Zorro. After some additional fencing training, he put his acting skills and handsome looks to use as the masked vigilante Don Diego de la Vega.
Fans might have seen him in another big title: Bonanza. They had a brief chance with him as Ben’s nephew Will Cartwright. After Pernell Roberts left, Williams was supposed to revive the Cartwright quartet. Contract hiccups put a quick end to that. But he traded the cowboy spurs and black mask for a spacesuit in 1965 as Professor John Robinson.
Playing Zorro won Guy Williams a lot of love in Argentina. When he first visited in 1973, he received a lot of praise, interest, and admiration thanks to the role. So, when Lost in Space ended, the question of retirement rose to the forefront. Ultimately, Williams decided to retire to Buenos Aires where he could live in comfort in the place he actually felt rather at home in. Though, he did return stateside for themed segments of Family Feud that pitted the Robinson family against residents of Gotham and Gilligan’s Island.
In 1989, Williams was just 65 years old when a brain aneurysm took his life. Even after his passing, his peers in Argentina loved and respected his work so his ashes remained in the Argentine Actors’ Society cemetery for two years. In the States, he became the first name on the Bronx Wall of Fame, shined with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and earned the official title of Disney Legend.