Dick Tufeld dies at 85; actor who intoned ‘Danger, Will Robinson!’
Dick Tufeld, a longtime radio and TV announcer who intoned “Danger, Will Robinson!” as the voice of the Robot in the 1960s science-fiction TV series “Lost in Space,” has died. He was 85.
Tufeld died Sunday at his home in Studio City while watching the NFL playoffs, his family said. He had heart disease and had been in declining health since sustaining a fall last year.
In “Lost in Space,” producer Irwin Allen’s futuristic retelling of the “Swiss Family Robinson” story that aired on CBS from 1965 to 1968, actor Bob May wore the Robot costume and Tufeld provided the voice.
Besides warning young Will Robinson of impending danger, Tufeld’s Robot uttered other lines that became catchphrases for faithful viewers — including “That does not compute” — and needled the antagonistic Dr. Zachary Smith with barbs like “Dr. Smith is a bubble-headed booby.”
Tufeld was the announcer for Allen’s other TV shows, including “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” and “The Time Tunnel,” and his narration and other voice-over work could be heard on an array of TV programs. He introduced many Walt Disney productions, notably the 1950s TV series “Zorro” and Disney’s long-running prime-time anthology series.
His other TV credits from the ‘50s through the ‘90s included “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends,” “The Fantastic Four,” “The Gallant Men,” “Surfside 6,” “Annie Oakley” and variety shows starring Judy Garland and Julie Andrews.
Richard Norton Tufeld was born Dec. 11, 1926, in Los Angeles to Tanya and Bentley Tufeld and raised in Pasadena. He grew up entranced by the radio fiction of “The Shadow” and “The Green Hornet” and rehearsed his own play-by-play accounts of sporting events.
After studying speech at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., he returned to Los Angeles and began working in radio. Beginning in 1949 he was the announcer for ABC radio’s “The Amazing Mr. Malone” and “Falstaff’s Fables” before becoming the narrator for “Space Patrol,” a science-fiction serial on radio.
“Space Patrol!” Tufeld cried out at the beginning of the show. “High adventure in the wild vast reaches of space ... missions of daring in the name of interplanetary justice. Travel into the future with Buzz Corry ... commander-in-chief of ... the Space Patrol!”
Tufeld also worked as a sports and news announcer for local TV and radio stations and narrated hundreds of commercials.
He returned as the voice of the Robot in the 1998 “Lost in Space” feature film. By 2004 he was still playing the Robot, for an episode of “The Simpsons.”
Tufeld’s wife of 56 years, Adrienne, died in 2004. He is survived by sons Bruce and Craig, daughters Lynn and Melissa, six grandchildren and a brother, Howard “Bud” Tufeld.
Must-read stories from the L.A. Times
Get the day's top news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.