Sam Maronies Entertainment Funhouse (Maronie Creative Services, LLC)


November 3, 2014


sam and harris

sam and harris


I’ve certainly met a lot of colorful characters in my 40-plus years as an entertainment writer, but none was more memorable than actor Jonathan Harris. Today we remember his passing on this date in 2002. He was 87.

Harris, as you know, essayed the iconic role of Dr. Zachary Smith on the outrageously campy Lost in Space television series of the 1960s. His character was a last-minute addition to the cast, whose popularity, as it turned out,  eclipsed that of star Guy Williams.

I had the great pleasure of meeting him at a 2000 Florida pop-culture convention. The rest of the surviving cast was also there and some were far less friendly than I would have liked. But Harris was a total delight. Unlike many performers who pooh-pooh a role they may have played, Harris embraced the Dr. Smith character with both arms.

He was always ‘on,’ relishing in the attention from fans and doing his best to portray a version of his TV character. He was delighted with the story I told him about going to see him at a St. Louis theatrical production right after he left Lost in Space. He recalled that gig, saying to me in his best Smith manner that the woman who ran that theater was “….a dreadful woman!”

He regaled a small group of us gathered around his table with several great show-business stories, told with his inimitable dry wit. To put it simply, he was absolutely hysterical! Never have i met an actor who was so close to his screen personna—and I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. Even in his advanced years, the more we laughed, the more the years seemed to drop away from his frail physical form.

Perhaps my best memory of him does not involve anything funny. When it came time for him to leave, fellow LIS actor Marta Kristen (‘Judy’) came over and helped the aging Harris stand up. Supporting his fragile body, she slowly helped him navigate to the convention hall exit. I’m not ashamed to say it brought a tear or two to my eyes.

Well, like many millions of fans, we miss him a lot and will never forget him. he was truly a one-of-a-kind human being.







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