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Irwin Allen

PART TWO by Joel Eisner
Author, The Official Batman Batbook,
Lost in Space Forever
, and the upcoming
Price of Fear: The Film Career of Vincent Price

Lost in Space : Time Tunnel: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: Irwin AllenAt one time, I used to run the International Fan Club for Irwin Allen's TV shows and I have something to add to your article on The Man From the 25th Century.

The Man From the 25th Century was originally meant to be a spin off from Lost in Space, not replace it (there is info on this show and Allen in the book, The Studio by Gregory Dunne).

Lost in Space / Time Tunnel: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: Irwin AllenJames Darren's character was supposed to encounter the Robinsons and relate his story in flashback. However, the series was ending its third season production and there was no time to rewrite a script to encompass the new story so the short pilot film was created. (The pilot in fact was the only time you got to see the ramp from the which the Chariot was supposed to leave the Jupiter 2, which was never used).

Irwin Allen pilotI had the opportunity to interview John Crawford (Lost in Space's Time Merchant) who played the alien leader in the pilot and Patrick Culliton (Wiley from the Starman TV series) who played one of the alien guards. They both knew the pilot wasn't going to go anywhere as it was shot in a few days and neither of them knew what the show was about. It was all so confusing with all the stock footage and quickly written dialogue.

Lost in Space's Dr. SmithLost in Space was considered for a 4th season and in fact a fourth season script written by Carey Wilbur entitled Malice in Wonderspace has survived. It was a takeoff on Alice in Wonderland. It was nothing special, however it would have had Dr. Smith in drag as the Red Queen.

During the second season, they were having problems with the chimp who played the Bloop. It kept biting everyone. So the trainer had the chimp's teeth taken out and replaced with dentures but Irwin had the Bloop replaced.

Lost in Space: Irwin AllenExcept for stock footage at the beginning of the third season, the chimp was gone (it went on to star in Lancelot Link Secret Chimp).

Irwin decided to add a talking giraffe to the cast but discovered it was too tall to fit into the shots with the casts so he changed it to a talking kangaroo with the voice of Hermione Gingold but that was changed to a talking purple llama with the voice of actor Richard Haydn.

Lost in Space castThe llama (yes, a real llama) was painted purple and added to The Great Vegetable Rebellion episode and was supposed to join the cast at the end onboard the Jupiter 2. However, Dr. Smith, who was turned into a stalk of celery in the episode, was constantly attacked by the animal and refused to return to work unless the animal was gone.

The llama was out and the part rewritten for actor James Millhollin (who is listed in the credits as Willoughby the llama) but he ultimately did not join the cast.

There is a funny story about this, but it is too long to go into here. It is in my Lost in Space book, which I am updating.

According to Don Marshall from Land of the Giants, that series was meant as mid-season replacement show for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea in January, 1968. But Voyage's ratings picked up and it was decided to delay the show until September, 1968. The cast was paid for the 13 episodes that were to be shot but not filmed (they had a pay or play contract) and paid again when they filmed the following year.

As for Irwin Allen, he was a genius but also a nut. He was afraid of germs, so he rarely shook hands with anyone. But one thing everyone agreed with, he had no sense of humor at all.

Howard Schwartz, who as the director of photography on Batman (he was also one of the cameramen on the George Reeves Superman show, when it went to color), also held the same position for the first season of Land of the Giants. He told me that they used to shoot as much film as possible before Irwin came down to the set and screwed things up.

Irwin Allen's Land of the GiantsThey were shooting the pilot for Land of the Giants in the junkyard set where they had these giant fog machines to give it an eerie effect. Irwin came down and saw they weren't using enough fog, by his standards (his favorite catchphrase was 'time is money'). He spent a lot on the fog machines so he demanded that they use more fog.

Schwartz told him if they did, he wouldn't be able to film because the fog would be too dense to shoot through. Irwin didn't believe it and turned the machines up high. They had to shut down production for the rest of the day to clear the fog out of the soundstage.

Irwin used to have a very bushy head of Brillo like hair. Well, if you look at pictures of Allen from the 1950's, he was primarly bald. So, when the studio filled up with fog, he turned up the giant fans on the set but wound up blowing the toupee off his head and across the studio floor.

- Joel Eisner

 

PART THREE:
CLICK HERE TO READ
AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT
POINT OF VIEW ON IRWIN
ALLEN'S SCI-FI PRODUCTIONS
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Irwin Allen
Irwin Allen - Part Two
Irwin Allen - Another View
Irwin Allen's Time Tunnel
Lost in Space Jet Pack

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