LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jonathan Harris, the flamboyantly fussy actor who portrayed the dastardly, cowardly antagonist Dr. Zachary Smith on the 1960's sci-fi show "Lost in Space," has died. He was 87.
Harris died Sunday from a blood clot in his heart while receiving therapy at an Encino-area hospital for a chronic back problem, family spokesman Kevin J. Burns said Monday.
Born Jonathan Charasuchin in the Bronx 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, Harris would confess: "'Oh no, my dear, just affected,'" said 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."
"Lost in Space," which ran on CBS from 1965 to 1968, was a sci-fi 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, Dr. Smith, was a saboteur who caused the Robinson family's ship, Jupiter II, to fly off course - but he also found himself trapped with them in the craft.
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Cute not withstanding, it's nice to know that the war on drugs is being prosecuted so successfully that the police are now free to ignore professional dealers and can concentrate on entrapping average citizens.