Lost in Space star Mark Goddard hated being a Hollywood bachelor

"This idea of Hollywood being a bachelor's paradise is for the birds."

Before Mark Goddard joined the cast of Lost in Space to play Maj. Don West in 1965, he got his start in Hollywood not by nailing an audition, but by writing a letter.

The story goes that within two weeks of arriving in Hollywood, Goddard found out that Marlon Brando was shooting One-Eyed Jacks on a certain lot, and he did everything he could think of to try to meet Mr. Mumbles.

Goddard remembered telling every story he could think of to studio security to try and get inside. When that failed, he looked into who else was shooting on the lot.

He discovered that one of his favorite directors, Joseph Anthony, was filming a movie called Korea, and he decided to shoot his shot. He wrote Anthony a letter asking for a part in Korea.

Anthony was intrigued by Goddard’s nerve and called him in to meet for lunch, after which Anthony liked Goddard enough that he recommended Goddard to producer Aaron Spelling to fill a recurring role on Johnny Ringo.

The Johnny Ringo part put Goddard’s name at the top of casting lists, and soon he had his pick of series leads from several promising shows.

Ultimately, he decided to join the cast of The Detectives, and that’s when he found out that celebrity is not exactly all that it’s cracked up to be.

Because Goddard wasn’t a known name to audiences, he got advice to drum up publicity by going on a date with another celebrity. Randomly, his first date was arranged with Sandra Dee, and he never forgot how awkward it felt to pick her up in a black limousine having never met her before.

Outside the limo, gawkers clamored, shouting, "Who’s that with her?"

Goddard hated feeling like he was using Sandra to gain more fame.

"I felt like a parasite," Goddard told The Sunday News in 1961. "I’ve never seen Sandra since."

That didn’t stop his dating woes, though, as his PR reps set him up with different dates to go with him to magazine shoots or other attention-generating events. "I had a different date each time," Goddard said. "It was pretty terrible."

"Hollywood is no place for a bachelor," Goddard insisted.

Luckily, in 1960, he finally met a woman he liked dating so much that he married her within a year!

And she just happened to be one of those press agents helping him to get his name out.

Goddard met Marcia Rogers, a press agent previously linked up with Burt Reynolds, while she was interviewing him for a magazine.

The Detroit Free Press reported in 1960: "At first, both thought 'business' was the cause of their frequent evening meetings. Then both got the idea, and they decided to set Jan. 15 as the wedding date."

Once Goddard met Marcia, whose father happened to be the head of one of Hollywood’s top PR firms, he was perfectly content to be a rising star in Hollywood. He loved being free from the torture of single life.

While Goddard hated pretending to date young starlets, what he did like about this point in his career was that the shooting schedule for The Detectives made him available to do plenty of guest spots on hit shows to get his name out there in the way he preferred – acknowledgement of his acting skills.

In the early Sixties, before Lost in Space, he appeared on hit shows like Perry Mason, The Rifleman, Gunsmoke and The Beverly Hillbillies.

After joining Lost in Space, Goddard became a household name, forever known as Maj. Don West.

On Lost in Space, initially, his character seems poised for a romance that never fully sparks. It’s funny to know how frustrated the actor felt when he was put in a similar position as a young upcoming star.

"This idea of Hollywood being a bachelor’s paradise is for the birds," Goddard said. "I can only speak for myself, of course."

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25 Comments

same 12 months ago
Met Mark a few yrs ago at Big Apple Comic Con very nice person to talk to.
Jpw1957 13 months ago
Worked with Mark at a private school in Middleboro Ma, great guy!
BuckeyeBeth7 Jpw1957 12 months ago
I’m not sure if I had him for a teacher if I would gotten straight A’s from being riveted to everything he said or if I would have barely passed from being so infatuated that I was being taught by my childhood crush Don West that I couldn’t concentrate on anything 🤣.

From videos I’ve seen of him he seems like a pretty cool guy and a great teacher.
JHP 25 months ago
I can see his point - I never had any luck there in Hollywood also :)

But its a common sense view on a place that is supposed to me a on-land Love Boat
Kenner 25 months ago
Either good acting or real life, he always came across a a kind of jerk to me.
Shatner1 25 months ago
Just watched the original unaired pilot for LIS. What a missed opportunity~~~ It was Dr. West not Major West. He was Prof. Robinson's assistant. He did the research to pick out Alpha Centauri and he was destined to hook up with Judy! No Dr. Smith--no robot--A ostrich like bird as a pet for Will. Penny was the genius with a 147 IQ. It began 4 yrs into the journey--3 and 1/2 yrs in flight 6mos on the planet. This show could have lasted more the 3 yrs with this set up.
BuckeyeBeth7 Shatner1 12 months ago
Where did you find the unaired pilot? Is it on YouTube?
JayHarvanek 25 months ago
Wasn’t he on a soap opera after Lost in Space?
same JayHarvanek 12 months ago
Yes he played Ted Clayton Tina's faux father on OLTL on ABCTV.
WordsmithWorks 25 months ago
See and be seen. The entertainment industry hasn't changed. Never will.
Moody 25 months ago
There are times when I wish I were still a bachelor. This isn't one of them though.
LoveMETV22 25 months ago
Didn't realize Mark Goddard appeared in many of MeTV's current programs:
The Rifleman, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gunsmoke, Perry Mason, The Fugitive, Adam-12, Barnaby Jones.
Maybe some other appearances on MeTV + or other Weigel sister networks?
Michael 25 months ago
Actors are just people working at their jobs. Some are good, someare bad, they all want a good flow of work. Some will be picky about the roles they take, others may support themselves with voice work. Myfriend Cindy does a lot of live theatre, and voice work for videogames. Cree Summer seems to have stoooed acting a long time ago, but still lots of credits for voicing cartoons.

But early on, Hollywood wanted peripheral stuff to promote their movies. So stars and gossip, it didn't just happen. See the bit about the date with Sandra Dee. It creates an illusion that actors must get into movies for the fame. I suppose some do. Mary Ellen Walton in early episodes would read movie nagazines and imagine herself as a star.
LoveMETV22 Michael 25 months ago
Yes it does seem early on or how this story portrayed it that visibility was an important pat of an actors career. It seems it was more a Hollywood wish list, not the actor/actresses wish. A good actor/actress has their own accomplishments to their credit. No amount of visibility takes the place of talent (Just opinion).
JHP Michael 25 months ago
agreed!
15inchBlackandWhite 25 months ago
Ironically Robert Goddard was an early space pioneer who developed the first liquid fueled rocket. So far as I know the two of them are not related.
IMDB says they are distant cousins.
Cool. I had a distant cousin who played in the NFL. Never met him.
Andybandit 25 months ago
He is a good looking guy, even though I don't know who he is or ever saw LIS.
MrsPhilHarris 25 months ago
I would have thought he could have been a bigger star with his looks. Btw his marriage to Marcia ended in 1968 so he was a bachelor in Hollywood once more.


Quite likely sunk by having "Lost in Space" be the property that made him a known face and name. It would have been very difficult after that for audiences - and, more importantly, casting directors - to see him as anyone other than "Don West"
You could be right.
JHP CaptainDunsel 25 months ago
Like Max Baer Jr (a.k.a Jethro)
LoveMETV22 25 months ago
Loved the Story. Never realized Goddard had that view about Hollywood. I'm guessing he (Goddard) got to meet Marlon Brando. Jonathan Harris sure did as he appeared with Brando in A Flag is Born (1946) on Broadway.
Pacificsun 25 months ago
Great article, love the angle! I never thought this actor was obscure. As soon as he was featured in LIS, he (IMO) became memorable and distinctive. I'll look for him now in Perry Mason. But they should've featured him much more in LIS. Doing so might've given the series a bit more credibility!
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