Would you survive if caught in the middle of the Land of the Lost? Luckily for the Marshall family, in this cult-classic 1974 series, they do all right. In this time-warped alternate universe, Sleestaks, primates, dinosaurs, and more rule the land.
Land of the Lost became a classic Saturday morning series for fans of all ages. As the Marshall family fought to survive and searched for a way home, fans made this show a home of their own. Let’s see what the Marshall clan is up to today.
1. Spencer Milligan (Rick Marshall)
Rick Marshall is the patriarch and a protective and devoted father to Will and Holly. He was a forest ranger and led with messages of unity and taking the necessary precautions. And when Rick fell through a time doorway and exited the program after season 2, the show suffered.
One of Milligan’s first roles was in the 1973 Woody Allen film, Sleeper. However, everyone knows him from Land of the Lost. The reason behind his departure at the end of Season 2? As Milligan described on NBC’s Today show, “We had a difference of opinion, let’s put it this way, on using my face for stuff and paying me — lunch boxes, compasses — where they were selling them and I thought it was only fair that everyone should get their fair share.” Obviously the powers that be disagreed.
Fans later saw Milligan in four episodes of the Jack Klugman-led show, Quincy M.E. in the early ’80s. However, his career never really left that pre-historic wonderland.
Today Spencer is 85 years old and resides in Door County, Wisconsin where he teaches acting and directs local plays.
2. Wesley Eure (Will Marshall)
Will was the sometimes whiny son, but grew to be just as devoted to his family as his dad. He’s spirited, brave, and adventurous — even a bit reckless when he ignores the potential consequences.
Wesley Eure was living in Las Vegas as a 17-year-old kid and worked as a driver for Robert Goulet and Carol Lawrence during their summer tour. After that summer, he moved to LA and began the search for acting roles. He answered an ad one day and won the part of a neighbor boy on The Partridge Family.
In 1974, Eure wasn’t waiting next door any longer. Along with booking his Will Marshall, he secured a recurring role of Michael Horton on the daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives. Eure portrayed this character from ‘74 to ’80, for 128 episodes. Then, in the late ’80s, he hosted the popular Nickelodeon game show Finders Keepers. The actor continued with this children’s programming theme. In 1999, he co-created the Emmy-nominated animated show Dragon Tales for PBS.
His personal life, unfortunately, affected the business side, too. Eure was a closeted homosexual in the early ’70s and had a serious relationship with movie star Richard Chamberlain. However, Chamberlain was nearly 20 years older, so he broke it off after a few years. The rumors of Eure’s homosexuality reportedly led to NBC releasing him from his Days of Our Lives contract in 1981. He discussed his sexuality during interviews for the 2009 Land of the Lost film reboot. and he now organizes and hosts HIV/AIDS fund-raisers in California. He’s also been involved with making music, writing books, as well as raising money for charitable causes. At 71 years old, the man does it all, and it’s been fun to watch.
In an interview with alteredrealitymag, Eure said of the show, “The thing about Land of the Lost is they never talked down to kids. They made kids rise up to the occasion, talking about time doorways and matrixes and complex concepts of sci-fi, they just put it right out there and let the kid’s imagination take over. The science fiction had us seeing our deceased mother in the mist and we walked through time doorways. At the end of season one, the Land of the Lost entered a time loop that was going to destroy this amazing land. Enik told us in order to save the Land of the Lost we had to go back to earth because our doppelgängers needed to come into the Land of the Lost in order to keep the loop from imploding. He told us “three must leave so three may enter.” I believe the reason we have such a huge fan base today is because the sci-fi is terrific. I know the visual effects now seem hokey, but at the time they were state of the art. Obviously, they’re not CGI, but if you look at the scripts by Star Trek‘s Dorothy Fontana and all of these amazing writers, you see why it holds up today. It’s the science fiction!”
3. Kathy Coleman (Holly Marshall)
Holly Marshall is a smart, creative, and spunky young pig-tailed girl. She is resourceful and hardworking. She also took the liberty of naming much of the life and creatures in Land of the Lost.
Kathy Coleman’s first and most famous role is, of course, from Land of the Lost. And many younger male fans admit to having a crush on the young, corduroy-touting actress.
Coleman never acted after her Holly, but in 2020 she did have a part in the TV movie, Fault — though it’s no fault of her own if it’s not widely seen. While she has been out of the limelight, she has nonetheless written some memoirs. Her first was published in 2015, and her second in 2017. The latter highlights her time working on Land of the Lost and is appropriately titled, Run Holly Run.
Today she’s 61 years old and has two sons from a previous marriage. Additionally, she and Wesley made a cameo in the 2009 Will Ferrel Land of the Lost reboot, though it didn’t make the final cut. She warmly reflected about her co-stars to Fox News, “It was amazing. And even today, we’re as close as we can be. It’s like having a second family. When you’re doing a show, you don’t always expect to get along with everybody. But we got along famously. We’ve been getting together to do Comic-Con and travel the country for the last eight years to meet with fans.”
4. Phillip Paley (Cha-Ka)
Cha-Ka is a memorable recurring creature from the show; an adolescent that resembles the extinct Paranthropus apes of Earth. He is covered from head to toe in hair — except on his face, palms, and feet. Additionally, he is incredibly loyal and friendly. He’s willing to learn more about the human species, more so than his older siblings.
Born in LA, Paley began his acting career at age ten as Cha-Ka. He was discovered by becoming a karate black belt at age nine and appearing on Johnny Carson alongside Chuck Norri. Besides an episode of Airwolf in 1985, and a part in Roger Corman’s teen exploitation comedy titled Beach Balls in 1988, he retired from acting.
He’s 59 years old now and does attend conventions like Comic-Con to meet his fans. He did reflect to the Los Angeles Times that he was more than ready for the show to end after three seasons: “It was really hard work and all my friends were out doing stuff and I was a guy with a job. I was getting up every morning, sitting through makeup, working hard.”
5. Ron Harper (Jack Marshall)
Season three brought a parental substitution, as Uncle Jack Marshall got swept over the same magical waterfall when he was out looking for his family. Uncle Jack wasn’t above using deception to further his goals. Additionally, he wasn’t above using violence against the Sleestak with homemade bombs and flare guns. Season three changed a bit. The family left High Bluff and made their home in the Temple on the outskirts of the Lost City. Land of the Lost even got more mythical, like when fans met Medusa.
Ron Harper was a seasoned pro. After serving in the US Navy, he got his big break with a leading role on the 1961 series, 87th Precinct. Then, in 1967, he was part of the well-received show Garrison’s Gorillas, as the titular Lt. Craig Garrison.
Additionally, in ‘74 when the Marshalls were getting lost, Harper had his time of it on the short-lived tv version of Planet of the Apes.
More recently in 1990, he completed 62 episodes of the soap opera Generations. And he was still acting all the way up until 2015, even playing a minister in the 2001 Michael Bay epic, Pearl Harbor.
Today Harper is 87 years old and still resides in California, not sure we won’t see him yet again one day. Speaking to classicfilmtvcafe, he actually drew an interesting contrast between the TV shows Land of the Lost and Planet of the Apes. “On Land of the Lost,” he said, “we did much more interesting stories each week. There was more science fiction; strange things would happen in the plots. Planet of the Apes didn’t take advantage of its premise. It was the same routine each week and the audience quickly became aware of that.”
What do you remember most?
While Land of the Lost only ran for three seasons, this sci-fi show had such a following that it spawned some reboot attempts. For example, in a 1991 series that ran for two seasons, and then the 2009 film adaptation. Fans also learned in 2015 that Sid and Marty Krofft were workshopping another reboot, so hopefully we’ll get to revisit the Sleestaks one day!
So, let’s discuss: do you remember an episode of Land of the Lost vividly? Did anyone enjoy the 1991 series or 2009 film?