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Billy Mumy's Christmas Adventures
by Billy Ingram

TVParty

Young Billy Mumy was one of the industry's finest child actors during the Sixties, honing his skills in episodic television and major motion pictures, working with legendary directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Irwin Allen and John Cassavetes before he even hit puberty.

Billy Mumy appeared in some of the most memorable episodes of classic tv shows like 'The Twilight Zone' (It's A Good Life), 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' ("Bang, You're Dead"), 'The Munsters' ("Come Back Little Googie"), 'I Dream of Jeannie' among many others.

These single episode guest roles are unforgetable because of Mumy's ability to display emotion without being cloying, a trap many of today's unaturally cute kid stars fall into.

He also had the good fortune to work on some of the best written and directed television programs of all time. Classic TV lovers will never forget his performance as the kid who wished everyone into the cornfield on The Twilight Zone, or the little boy running around town with a loaded gun on 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' - both filmed when the actor was only seven years old.

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Billy and SamIn 1964 and 1965, Mumy starred in two memorable Christmas episodes with a sci-fi fantasy flavor.

In 1964, Billy Mumy guest-starred in the Christmas episode for the first season of Bewitched, playing a troubled orphan that Darin and Samantha want to share the Holidays with. The cynical kid wants nothing to do with Christmas traditions until Samantha takes him (via broomstick) to the North Pole to visit the REAL Santa.

Contary to popular belief, acting is not all natural instinct, there is a tremendous degree of skill involved. Especially when you're acting in front of massive cameras on a sound stage filled with dozens of anxious (or bored) teamsters.

Ten year-old Billy Mumy was already a seasoned pro by 1964, able to wrench just the right amount of emotional punch from the contrived, sentimental ending tacked onto this 'Bewitched' episode.

TVPartyBilly Mumy returned to guest on 'Bewitched' in 1965 ('The Junior Executive'), but by then he was already starring on his own CBS television series as Will Robinson on Lost In Space (1965-1968).

At an age when many kids were playing space explorer in their backyards, Billy Mumy was playing space explorer on a multi-million dollar television production. During 'Lost In Space's excellent first season, producer Irwin Allen did something he'd never done before and would never do again on any of his other TV series - film a Christmas themed episode.

Debuting in 1965, Lost In Space was able to capture the imagination like no other sci-fi series before - superior special effects, coupled with an A-list cast and strong first episodes made LIS many a baby boomer's favorite show.

There had never been anything quite like it on television before, and Billy Mumy went from just another ensemble member to the main star of the show in just a few weeks. His natural style made him easy for kids to identify with and made the increasingy silly plots almost believable.

Return From Outer Space found the Robinson family in a predicament they would find all too common over the next three years - sinister stowaway Dr. Smith has depleted their resources for some momentary pleasure, endangering the food supply of the entire party.

TVPartyWill and the Robot find an alien machine that transports the boy back to Earth so he can get another bottle of food preservative. But he's hampered in his efforts by the townfolk, who think he's just making up wild stories and trying to steal chemicals from the General Store.

The weird thing is, it's supposed to be Earth 1999 that Will returns to, but it looks more like Earth 1949, with old fashioned buses, general stores and wall mounted, hand-crank telephones.

And if Will was part of the first family blasted into and lost in space, don't you think SOMEONE might remember what he looked like just two years later and cut him some slack?!?!

In 1981, I interviewed Billy Mumy when he was a member of the satirical new-wave rock group Barnes and Barnes - he was a genuine person that obviously survived the '60s kid star jinx. He still has a healthy career as an actor and recently starred in the sci-fi series 'Babylon 5'.

 

Billy

 

Mumy

Billy Mumy also starred in a TV movie called 'A Sunshine Christmas' in 1977, based on the short-lived series 'Sunshine' (1975) he co-starred in.

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