Robert Culp was the iconic star of t.v.’s I SPY(which broke racial barriers) and Paul Mazursky’s classic BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE (which broke sexual barriers). He was a great actor, writer, producer and director, most notably of 1972’s HICKEY AND BOGGS. It was a hard-boiled L.A. cop movie written by Walter Hill and co-starring Culp’s I Spy Partner Bill Cosby. It’s damn good. Not available on video but it was recently restored. If you ever get a chance to see it at a rep house, check it out. It’s also shown quite frequently on MGM HD.
More importantly, Bob Culp was a good man. A friend to my brother, he invited us to the Playboy Mansion for movie night a few years ago. We had dinner with Bob, Chuck McCann, Elliott Silverstein (director of CAT BALLOU among others) and Mr. Ralphs, head of the supermarket chain. We watched Otto Preminger’s 1949 noir WHIRLPOOL with Hef and his girlfriends. We talked about movies. I spent some time with Bob and his then-wife Candace at their house. We had dinner. We talked about movies. We talked about his friends and my heroes: Steve McQueen, Sam Peckinpah, Warren Oates. He talked a lot about TERRY AND THE PIRATES, Milt Caniff’s famous comic strip. Bob owned the rights and had hoped to turn it into a feature film. He had commissioned several scripts and still hoped to make it into a film until his tragic death today, at the age of 79. Bob died alone after he fell on the sidewalk outside his house taking a walk. It is unclear whether he had a heart attack and fell or vice/versa.
Robert Culp is immortal on television and film everywhere. And I will always treasure my brief time with him. So he did not die alone, but surrounded by fans, family and friends.