Just As I Thought

The pain, the pain

Jonathan Harris, 87, the actor who portrayed the dastardly, cowardly antagonist Dr. Zachary Smith on the 1960s sci-fi show “Lost in Space,” died Nov. 3 in Los Angeles. “Lost in Space,” which ran on CBS-TV from 1965 to 1968, was a takeoff on the “Swiss Family Robinson” story in which the castaway clan was trapped amid the uncharted fathoms of space instead of on a deserted island. Harris’ character was a saboteur who caused the family’s ship, Jupiter II, to fly off course — but he also found himself trapped with them in the craft.

Born Jonathan Charasuchin in New York to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents, Harris adopted the stage persona of a classically trained British actor with his grandiloquent accent, crisp enunciation and professorial manner. When people would ask him if he was from England, he would confess: “Oh no, my dear, just affected,” said Kevin Burns, a longtime friend and director of the 1998 documentary “Lost in Space Forever.” Harris also worked with Pixar Animation Studios in recent years, supplying the voice of Manny the preying-mantis magician in “A Bug’s Life” and the elderly doll repairman in “Toy Story 2.”

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