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Kelly & Scotty armed for action - I SPY
Scotty & Kelly armed for action

TRIVIA NOTE:  Born August 16, 1930 in Oakland, California, Robert Culp, 6' 2", attended college on the West Coast. Pursuing a career in acting, Culp moved to New York, studied with the Herbert Berghof Studios and debuted on Broadway at the age of 21 in the play "He Who Gets Slapped".

Culp made his TV debut in 1953 on the "Death of Socrates" episode of the CBS documentary series YOU ARE THERE. In 1957, Culp began a two-year run as Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman on the 1870s western drama TRACKDOWN/CBS/1957-59.

In 1965, he landed the role of espionage agent Kelly Robinson on I SPY/NBC/1965-68. On the series, Bill Cosby as Alexander Scott refers to Kelly as “Hoby.” This is an insiders reference to the Culp's earlier role as Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman on the western series Trackdown.

Years after Culp's gig as a hip federal agent on the espionage drama I SPY he appeared in the role of grumpy FBI agent Bill Maxwell on the science fiction series THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO/CBS/1980-82. The character Bill Maxwell was inspired by Culp's own Uncle Harry who earlier inspired a character on episode No. 70 of the series I SPY.

In 1972, Robert Culp and his former costar Bill Cosby reunited in the feature film Hickory and Boggs, about two private eyes searching for a missing girl (Culp directed the film) and then in 1994, they once again reprised their roles at Kelly Robinson and Alexander "Scotty Scott for the reunion TV Movie I Spy Returns. This time around, their kids were the spies.

Culp's other memorable roles included the 1964 Harlan Ellison written episode "Demon with a Glass Hand" on the sci-fi series THE OUTER LIMITS/ABC/1983-65; swinger Bob Sanders in Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice (1969), and the President of the United States in the film The Pelican Brief (1993). Culp also appeared on numerous installments of the TV series COLUMBO aired as part of the NBC/ABC MYSTERY MOVIES (1971, 72, 73 and 1990).

Throughout his career, Culp has also showcased his talents as a writer and director. He had written scripts for CAIN'S HUNDRED, RIFLEMAN, and TRACKDOWN and later wrote scripts for seven of the I SPY episodes one of which won an Emmy. He later directed episodes for THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO.

In 1999, Culp appeared on the sitcom COSBY/CBS/1996-2000 as Kelly Robinson on the episode "My Spy" when the retired Hilton Lucas (Cosby) falls a sleep watching an "I Spy" marathon on TV and dreams he is the partner of secret agent Kelly Robinson.

As of the 2002, Culp appeared in the recurring role as Warren Whalen, the father of Deborah Whalen Barone on the sitcom EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND.

In 2003, Culp appeared on THE DEAD ZONE episode "The Man Who Never Was" as Jeffrey Grissom, a retired U.S. government spy kept under house arrest due to valuable knowledge in his head. In true Culp fashion, his character escapes his captors.

Cast of the movie 'I SPY'
Eddie Murphy & Owen Wilson

In 2002, a movie remake series entitled I Spy starred Owen Wilson as Alexander Scott who recruits professional boxer Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy) to help him recover a US government jet called the Switchblade, a sophisticated prototype stealth fighter. Fans of the original series will note that the names of the black and white characters have been reversed and their cover story as tennis players has been replaced with a boxing theme.

The I SPY series spawned a number of collectables including paperback books and comics. In the paperback books written by John Tiger, Robinson and Scott work for the Central Intelligence Agency instead of "The Department." and collectively, go by the code name "Domino" Domino reported to Donald Mars (a.k.a. "Colonel Kent and "Harry Borton"), a middle-aged CIA controller whose office was located via a secret passage through the underground parking garage of the Hotel Pershing in Washington DC.

In the novel (I Spy #1) Kelly & Scotty composed an irreverent "Sub-Scout" oath that read: "Trust nobody. Be sly and mean. Be ruthless. Always shoot first -- especially old ladies crossing the street."

'I Spy' Dell Comic Book

'I Spy' Novel by John Tiger

"I SPY" Dell
Comic Book

"I Spy" novel
by John Tiger

I SPY/NBC/1965-68

Robert Culp as Kelly Robinson
Bill Cosby as Alexander Scott "Scotty"
Antoinette Bower as Shelby Clavell
Sheldon Leonard as Sorgi
Frances Nuyen as Sam-than McLean
Alan Oppenheimer as Colonel Benkovsky
Harold Stone as Zarkas
Kenneth Tobey as Russ Conway
George Newbern as Bennett Robinson
Salli Richardson as Nicole Scott


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