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Robert Culp parlayed his appearance and demeanor into a series of clean-cut character roles, often (though not always) with a humorous, mildly sarcastic edge. He was perhaps best known for three accomplishments: his turn as a Southern California documentary filmmaker who decides, along with his wife (Natalie Wood) to suddenly go counterculture with an "open marriage" in Paul Mazursky's Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969); his iconic three-season role as an undercover agent in the espionage-themed series I_Spy (1965-8); and his three-season run as Bill Maxwell on Stephen Cannell's superhero spoof series The Greatest American Hero (1981-3).

Born in Oakland, California in 1930, Culp attended several West Coast colleges while training for a dramatic career. At 21, he made his Broadway debut in +He Who Gets Slapped. Within six years, he was starring in his own Friday night CBS Western, Trackdown (1957-9) as Hoby Gilman, an 1870s era Texas Ranger. During the two-year run of this program, Culp began writing scripts, a habit he'd carry over to other series, notably The Rifleman and Gunsmoke.

These all represented fine and noble accomplishments for a young actor, I Spy delivered a far greater impact to the young actor's career: it made Culp (along with his co-star, Bill_Cosby) a bona fide celebrity. The men co-starred in the NBC adventure yarn as, respectively, Kelly Robinson and Alexander Scott, undercover agents involved in globetrotting missions for the U.S. government. Both actors brought to the program a sharp yet subtle sense of humor that (coupled with its exotic locations) made it one of the major discoveries of the 1965-6 prime-time line-up. During the second of I_Spy's three seasons, Culp made his directorial debut by helming episodes of Spy; he went on to direct installments of several other TV programs. The success of Bob & Carol at the tail end of the 1960s proved that Culp could hold his own as a movie star, and he later directed and co-starred in 1972 theatrical feature Hickey and Boggs, which reunited him with Cosby, albeit to much lesser acclaim.

Despite the networks fenced much more rivalry in the "I Spy" years in terms of plugging opposite network shows, Dick Cavett made it a point to have Culp as a guest more than once and (OMG back then) play a clip of I Spy. It showed in Spy's rating and same-network Carson would follow suit.

Unfortunately, as the years rolled on, Culp proved susceptible to the lure of parts in B-pictures, such as Sky Riders (1976), Flood! (1976) and Hot Rod (1979), though he delivered a fine portrayal in television's critically-acclaimed Roots: The Next Generations (1979). Culp rebounded further with the semicomic role of CIA chief Maxwell on American Hero, but many now-infamous behind-the-scenes issues (and external issues, such as the shooting of Ronald Reagan) beleaguered that program and ended its run after only three seasons. In the years that followed, Culp vacillated between exploitation roles, in tripe such as Big Bad Mama 2 and Silent Night, Deadly Night 3, and more respectable, mainstream guest turns in television series including The Cosby Show and Murder, She Wrote. He enjoyed one of his most prestigious assignments with a supporting role in the big screen John Grisham-Alan Pakula thriller The Parallax View (1993), opposite Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts.

In the years that followed, Culp's on-camera presence grew less and less frequent, though he did make a cameo in the 1996 Leslie Nielsen laugher Spy Hard. Television continued to provide some of Culp's finest work: he rejoined old friend Cosby for a 1994 I_Spy TV-movie reunion and made guest appearances in such series as Lonesome Dove, Law & Order and The Dead Zone.

Following a period of semi-retirement, Culp died suddenly and rather arbitrarily, when he sustained a head injury during a fall outside of his Hollywood home in March 2010. He was 79 years old. Hal Erickson, Rovi

Bill Cosbywas born on July 12, 1937 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Navy, and later dropped out of college to become a stand-up comedian. Cosby's first acting assignment, in the espionage series I Spy (1965-1968), made him the first black actor to star in a dramatic role on network television. Cosby's most successful work, The Cosby Show, appeared on NBC from 1984 to 1992 While at Temple Cosby took a job as a bartender in a neighborhood café. The bar had hired a comedian who often did not show up for his act. Cosby filled in, entertaining the crowd with jokes and humorous stories. His reputation as a funny bartender spread throughout the city. Cosby soon got offers to do stand-up comedy in other clubs.

Cosby's humor always focuses on stories about his family, everyday occurrences, boyhood experiences, and commonly held beliefs. He does not do racial humor. He told Newsweek, "I'm trying to reach all the people." Cosby was soon making people laugh in large, well-known nightspots all over the country. He reached a point where his career as a comedian showed more promise than his prospects as a student, so he left Temple in 1962 American comedian Allan Sherman (1924–1973) was one of Cosby's biggest fans, as well as his producer. When Sherman filled in for Johnny Carson as guest host of The Tonight Show in 1963, he asked Cosby to be his guest. The Tonight Show producers were skeptical about having an African American comic on the show, but Sherman insisted and Cosby was a big hit. Sheldon Leonard, producer of mid-1960s hits including The Danny Thomas Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and The Andy Griffith Show, saw The Tonight Show the night Cosby was on. He signed Cosby to play opposite Robert Culp on a new dramatic series. I Spy was an immediate success. Cosby also plugged I Spy on the ABC Dick Cavett Show as well as the Merv Griffin syndie. It was also the first prime-time television program to star an African American. Cosby won the Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series in 1967, 1968, and 1969.

Cosby's second prime-time series, The Bill Cosby Show, began in 1969, just one year after I Spy went off the air. It was number one in its first season. However, ratings steadily dropped over the next two years, and the show was canceled in the spring of 1971. Cosby produced Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids as a special in 1971. The show debuted in 1972 as a regular series on Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). The Saturday afternoon cartoon featured a group of kids living and learning together in an urban (city) area much like the poor section of Philadelphia where Cosby grew up. So that his audience would learn good behavior and solid values, Cosby employed a panel of educators to act as advisers. He also appeared in each episode to discuss its message. The program won a variety of awards, and audience estimates numbered about six million. By 1984 Cosby had become disappointed with what he saw on television and came up with his own idea for a sitcom (a comedy series). The networks were doubtful, as his last two attempts at prime time were failures. Cosby gave the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) a segment featuring himself as Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable discussing sex with his two teenage daughters. His idea was to have the characters be a happy, middle-class family dealing with everyday problems and incidents. Cosby would play a doctor, who was married to a lawyer. The Cosby Show aired in September 1984 and was an immediate success. It finished the season as the third most watched prime-time television show and was number one for the next four seasons. The show was sold directly to local television stations in October 1988. Cosby, which debuted in the fall of 1996, was the most recent Cosby television show. It was cancelled after four seasons.

Cosby has been his own manager and producer and has written several books, including the best-selling Fatherhood, published in 1986. He also has done a number of television commercials. Cosby and his wife, Camille, have been married since 1964 and have four daughters. A son, Ennis, was tragically killed in 1997 at age twenty-seven. Cosby was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1992. In 1998 he was honored with a Kennedy Center Award for lifetime achievement in the performing arts.

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