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Subject: Jonathan Harris, Who Played Dr. Smith in 'Lost in Space'


Author:
Dies at 87
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Date Posted: November 06, 2002 1:15:16 EDT



Jonathan Harris, a versatile character actor perhaps best known for his role as the villainous Dr. Smith in the science-fiction fantasy series "Lost in Space" on CBS television, died on Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 87 and lived in the Encino section of Los Angeles.

He had been hospitalized for a back injury, but died of a blood clot, a spokesman for the family said.

"Lost in Space," which thematically resembled "Swiss Family Robinson," was broadcast from 1965 to 1968. Mr. Harris was popular as the devilish saboteur Zachary Smith, a character who could also be timid and even endearing.

Mr. Harris also had regular roles in the television series "The Third Man" (1959-61) and "The Bill Dana Show" (1963-64).

Mr. Harris, whose flexible baritone could range from silliness to threatening condescension, did voiceovers for many cartoon shows and animated films, including "A Bug's Life" and "Toy Story 2." He was born Jonathan Charasuchin, grew up in the Bronx and changed his name to Harris when he was 18. He acquired a love of acting after exposure to opera and Yiddish theater.

A few years after receiving a degree in pharmacology from Fordham University, he submitted a falsified rsum and auditioned in 1939 for the repertory company at the Millpond Playhouse in Roslyn, N.Y.

He was admitted to the company, played supporting roles in its productions, gradually getting roles in theater, film and television. He appeared onstage with Marlon Brando and Paul Muni in "A Flag Is Born" in 1946 and with Alan Ladd and James Mason in the 1953 movie "Botany Bay."

He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Gertrude; a son, Richard; two grandchildren; and two sisters, Rosalie and Allene.

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