1964 and 1965, Mumy starred in two memorable Christmas episodes with a
sci-fi fantasy flavor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Will 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.
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?!?!
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'.