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11 Far Out Facts About Lost in Space

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By CBS Television (eBay itemphoto frontphoto back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The seminal sci-fi series Lost In Space, which aired between 1965 and 1968, was a cultural touchstone for children of the ’60s and ’70s. The series started with a serious premise: The Robinson family—father John, mother Maureen, daughters Judy and Penny, and son Will—along with Major Don West and their talking Robot, set out on a five-and-a-half year space flight to a planet near Alpha Centauri to seek out the possibility of human colonization there as Earth had become overpopulated and was being stripped of its resources. But when the nefarious Dr. Zachary Smith, who became an accidental stowaway, sabotaged their trip for an unnamed organization, they were set adrift in the cosmos, unsure of where they were or how to get back home.

As the show progressed, particularly when it made the jump to color in its second season, episodes became more camp. Despite the outlandishness of some plots, the show endeared itself to millions of people for its portrayal of strong family bonds in the face of adversity and the witty banter between Dr. Smith and the Robot. In honor of Lost In Space’s 50th anniversary and its recent Blu-ray upgrade (and with rumors swirling about a possible reboot), we’re digging into the history of the iconic series.

1. THE ORIGINAL UNAIRED PILOT SET A DARKER TONE. IT ALSO COST $600,000.

The original pilot “No Place To Hide”—which cost $600,000, or $4.5 million in today's dollars—was a more straight up sci-fi tale that did not include either Dr. Smith or the Robot in the cast. The Space Family Robinson saga—inspired by a comic book with that title from Gold Key Comics that began in 1962—started with their 1997 mission going awry thanks to a meteor shower, and the Jupiter 2 crash landing on a seemingly barren planet with harsh weather conditions and inhabited by dangerous cyclops giants. It was pretty impressive for the day and hinted at a more intense show than the one that ultimately aired. We still love the series, but this episode—unseen until early last decade—promised many more dramatic possibilities.

2. THE JUPITER 2 COST MORE THAN THE ENTERPRISE.

The cost of the Robinson family's Jupiter 2 spacecraft was $350,000 ($2.6 million today), more than the Enterprise on Star Trek, which began airing when Lost In Space started its second season. Of course, a major difference is that the Jupiter 2 was a smaller ship, so we saw every chamber in it, whereas the Enterprise was a larger wessel (as Pavel Chekov would say) with many unseen nooks and crannies. It was all about scale.

3. LOST IN SPACE AND STAR TREK WERE COMPETITORS FOR TWO SEASONS.

For the 1966-1967 and 1967-1968 television seasons, the two shows were primetime competitors. Lost In Space had an audience that skewed younger. Even though Star Trek has become an iconic franchise famed across the globe, spawning five live action shows and a dozen movies, the original series was not a major success and struggled during its three seasons on the air, although by the early '70s it had gained momentum in syndication. By contrast, Lost In Space—which had a 1973 animated series and a 2003 live action revival both killed off (although the former had its lone pilot air as part of The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie series)—allegedly ranked higher throughout its three-year run. Ultimately neither show broke the top 30 shows overall for any year that they aired.

4. JONATHAN HARRIS WAS THE MAIN PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR CAMPING UP DR. SMITH (YOU BUBBLE-HEADED BOOBY).

Partway through the first season, the producers were allegedly feeling lukewarm toward Dr. Smith’s antagonistic role and gave Harris license to play with his character. The actor then proceeded to gradually ramp up the camp and improvised many of his numerous insults directed at the Robot. As goofy as many of their exchanges were, Dr. Smith and the Robot’s Laurel and Hardy routine became a crowd pleaser.

5. BILL MUMY LATER BECAME INVOLVED WITH THE STAR TREK FRANCHISE.

Despite being on a competing show, Mumy (who played young Will Robinson) always liked Star Trek and even lived down the street from William Shatner when both shows were on the air. Three decades later, in 1998, Mumy got the chance to play a human character on an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Back in 1990, he co-wrote three Star Trek comic book issues published by DC Comics. Mumy’s sci-fi affiliations do not end there: He played Lennier for all five seasons of Babylon 5 in the 1990s. The Twilight Zone fans also know him as the child with godlike powers who terrorizes his family in the 1961 episode "It's A Good Life." He appeared in the 1983 movie's recreation of that episode as well.

6. THE ROBOT AND ROBBY THE ROBOT ARE RELATED.

If you noticed any similarities between the Robot on Lost In Space and Robby the Robot from the 1956 sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet, then you probably will not be surprised to learn that they were both designed by Robert Kinoshita. Indeed, Robby the Robot made a guest turn on the Lost In Space episodes "War of the Robots" (1966, as the Robotoid) and "Condemned of Space" (1967, as a robot prison guard). Kinoshita passed away last year at the age of 100. Evidently he was as durable as his creations.

7. GUY WILLIAMS RETIRED FROM ACTING AFTER LOST IN SPACE.

The man who was famed for playing Zorro on TV between 1957 and 1961 and Dr. John Robinson from 1965 to 1968 decided to retire from the spotlight at the young age of 44 following the cancellation of Lost In Space. He later moved to Argentina, where he was reportedly beloved and where he lived until his death in 1989.

8. JOHN WILLIAMS COMPOSED THE MAIN THEME. TWICE.

While he only contributed music to four of the series’ 83 episodes, famed movie composer John Williams (credited as Johnny Williams) did create the theme that was popular for the first two seasons, then created a more vibrant fanfare for the third and final season as the show focused on more outlandish scenarios. Interestingly, the unaired original pilot reused Bernard Herrmann’s music from the 1951 sci-fi classic The Day The Earth Stood Still, and nine episodes of the show reused Herrmann scores. La La Land Records recently issued a 12-CD set of music from the entire series. Part of the show’s charm did lay in its exciting, original soundtrack work, which featured many memorable themes from a variety of composers (some taken from other sources).

9. THE SHOW'S CREATOR IRWIN ALLEN WAS NOT A POSITIVE INFLUENCE ON SET.

According to some cast members, Allen took things a little too seriously, and did not endear himself to people on the production. He had a reputation for being difficult to work with, even if many of his film and TV endeavors were highly successful.

10. THE TEPID MOVIE REMAKE ENDED TITANIC’S #1 STREAK AT THE BOX OFFICE.

The critically panned 1998 movie remake, which was rightly derided for being too dark and lacking the warmth of the original, distinguished itself in two ways: It ended Titanic’s 15-week streak as the #1 movie in America. (Ultimately we know which film people remember best.) It also received a Golden Raspberry nomination for Worst Remake or Sequel.

11. JUNE LOCKHART WAS RECENTLY HONORED BY NASA.

In the unaired Lost In Space pilot, we were told that Maureen Robinson had a PhD in biochemistry. When the pilot we all know aired, she was essentially the mother figure/supportive housewife for the show. Had her scientific knowledge been played up more, she could have figured more strongly into some of the plots. But nearly five decades later, in 2013, her alter ego, actress June Lockhart, became the third celebrity and only the first actress to receive NASA's Exceptional Public Achievement Award for "inspiring the public on space exploration." She called it "the highest honor of my life.” Perhaps the producers should have stuck with their original trajectory for Maureen.

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11 Popular Quotes Commonly Misattributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald
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F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a lot of famous lines, from musings on failure in Tender is the Night to “so we beat on, boats against the current” from The Great Gatsby. Yet even with a seemingly never-ending well of words and beautiful quotations, many popular idioms and phrases are wrongly attributed to the famous Jazz Age author, who was born on this day in 1896. Here are 11 popular phrases that are often misattributed to Fitzgerald. (You may need to update your Pinterest boards.)

1. “WRITE DRUNK, EDIT SOBER.”

This quote is often attributed to either Fitzgerald or his contemporary, Ernest Hemingway, who died in 1961. There is no evidence in the collected works of either writer to support that attribution; the idea was first associated with Fitzgerald in a 1996 Associated Press story, and later in Stephen Fry’s memoir More Fool Me. In actuality, humorist Peter De Vries coined an early version of the phrase in a 1964 novel titled Reuben, Reuben.

2. “FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: IT’S NEVER TOO LATE OR, IN MY CASE, TOO EARLY TO BE WHOEVER YOU WANT TO BE.”

It’s easy to see where the mistake could be made regarding this quote: Fitzgerald wrote the short story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” in 1922 for Collier's Magazine, and it was adapted into a movie of the same name, directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, in 2008. Eric Roth wrote the screenplay, in which that quotation appears.

3. “OUR LIVES ARE DEFINED BY OPPORTUNITIES, EVEN THE ONES WE MISS.”

This is a similar case to the previous quotation; this quote is attributed to Benjamin Button’s character in the film adaptation. It’s found in the script, but not in the original short story.

4. “YOU’LL UNDERSTAND WHY STORMS ARE NAMED AFTER PEOPLE.”

There is no evidence that Fitzgerald penned this line in any of his known works. In this Pinterest pin, it is attributed to his novel The Beautiful and Damned. However, nothing like that appears in the book; additionally, according to the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Association, although there were a few storms named after saints, and an Australian meteorologist was giving storms names in the 19th century, the practice didn’t become widespread until after 1941. Fitzgerald died in 1940.

5. “A SENTIMENTAL PERSON THINKS THINGS WILL LAST. A ROMANTIC PERSON HAS A DESPERATE CONFIDENCE THAT THEY WON’T.”

This exact quote does not appear in Fitzgerald’s work—though a version of it does, in his 1920 novel This Side of Paradise:

“No, I’m romantic—a sentimental person thinks things will last—a romantic person hopes against hope that they won’t. Sentiment is emotional.” The incorrect version is widely circulated and requoted.

6. “IT’S A FUNNY THING ABOUT COMING HOME. NOTHING CHANGES. EVERYTHING LOOKS THE SAME, FEELS THE SAME, EVEN SMELLS THE SAME. YOU REALIZE WHAT’S CHANGED IS YOU.”

This quote also appears in the 2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button script, but not in the original short story.

7. “GREAT BOOKS WRITE THEMSELVES; ONLY BAD BOOKS HAVE TO BE WRITTEN.”

There is no evidence of this quote in any of Fitzgerald’s writings; it mostly seems to circulate on websites like qotd.org, quotefancy.com and azquotes.com with no clarification as to where it originated.

8. “SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL, BUT NOT LIKE THOSE GIRLS IN THE MAGAZINES. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR THE WAY SHE THOUGHT. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR THE SPARKLE IN HER EYES WHEN SHE TALKED ABOUT SOMETHING SHE LOVED. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR HER ABILITY TO MAKE OTHER PEOPLE SMILE, EVEN IF SHE WAS SAD. NO, SHE WASN’T BEAUTIFUL FOR SOMETHING AS TEMPORARY AS HER LOOKS. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL, DEEP DOWN TO HER SOUL.”

This quote may have originated in a memoir/advice book published in 2011 by Natalie Newman titled Butterflies and Bullshit, where it appears in its entirety. It was attributed to Fitzgerald in a January 2015 Thought Catalog article, and was quoted as written by an unknown source in Hello, Beauty Full: Seeing Yourself as God Sees You by Elisa Morgan, published in September 2015. However, there’s no evidence that Fitzgerald said or wrote anything like it.

9. “AND IN THE END, WE WERE ALL JUST HUMANS, DRUNK ON THE IDEA THAT LOVE, ONLY LOVE, COULD HEAL OUR BROKENNESS.”

Christopher Poindexter, the successful Instagram poet, wrote this as part of a cycle of poems called “the blooming of madness” in 2013. After a Twitter account called @SirJayGatsby tweeted the phrase with no attribution, it went viral as being attributed to Fitzgerald. Poindexter has addressed its origin on several occasions.

10. “YOU NEED CHAOS IN YOUR SOUL TO GIVE BIRTH TO A DANCING STAR.”

This poetic phrase is actually derived from the work of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who died in 1900, just four years after Fitzgerald was born in 1896. In his book Thus Spake ZarathustraNietzsche wrote the phrase, “One must have chaos within to enable one to give birth to a dancing star.” Over time, it’s been truncated and modernized into the currently popular version, which was included in the 2009 book You Majored in What?: Designing Your Path from College to Career by Katharine Brooks.

11. “FOR THE GIRLS WITH MESSY HAIR AND THIRSTY HEARTS.”

This quote is the dedication in Jodi Lynn Anderson’s book Tiger Lily, a reimagining of the classic story of Peter Pan. While it is often attributed to Anderson, many Tumblr pages and online posts cite Fitzgerald as its author.

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13 Smart Facts About The Big Bang Theory
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CBS Entertainment

The Big Bang Theory, which has held the title of television's most popular comedy for several years now, and will return for its 11th season on Monday, September 25th. In the meantime, geek out with these facts about the long-running cerebral comedy on the 10th anniversary of its premiere.

1. THE SHOW WASN’T PITCHED IN A TRADITIONAL WAY.

Instead of writing up a premise—which includes outlines of the characters and the long-term vision for the show—and pitching it to CBS, co-creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady revealed at PaleyFest in 2009 that for their pitch, they wrote a complete script, hired actors, and, as Lorre explained, “put on a show” for CBS president Les Moonves. Lorre found the experience to be “crazy,” but it obviously worked.

2. IT TOOK TWO PILOTS FOR THE SHOW TO GET PICKED UP TO SERIES.

The show filmed two different pilots, because CBS didn't like the first one but felt the show had potential. The first pilot began with a different theme song and featured Sheldon, Leonard, and two female characters, including a different actress playing what would become the Penny role. Chuck Lorre thought the initial pilot “sucked” but is open to having the unaired pilot included as part of a DVD.

3. JIM PARSONS THOUGHT HE WAS AUDITIONING FOR A GAME SHOW.

Amy and Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory.
CBS Entertainment

When Jim Parsons’s agent called and said Chuck Lorre wanted him to audition for a pilot, Parsons misunderstood. “I did not know Chuck Lorre at the time,” Parsons told David Letterman in 2014. “I thought he was talking about Chuck Woolery. I thought, why are they so excited about it? We should see what the man has to offer before we’re like, ‘It’s a new Chuck Woolery pilot!'"

4. ED ROBERTSON OF THE BARENAKED LADIES HESITATED TO WRITE THE THEME SONG.

As the story goes, Lorre and Prady went to a Barenaked Ladies concert and were impressed that lead singer Ed Robertson sang a song on cosmological theory, so they tapped him to write the series' theme song, called “The History of Everything." In 2013, Robertson told CBS News that he’d previously written some songs for TV and films only to have his work rejected, so he was initially reluctant to take on the project.

“I was like, look, how many other people have you asked to write this? I’m at my cottage, I got a couple of weeks off right now and if you’ve asked Counting Crows and Jack Johnson and all these other people to write it, then I kinda don’t want to waste my time on it,” Robertson told them. Lorre and Prady told Robertson he was their only choice, so Robertson agreed to come on board. The first version was 32 seconds long but Robertson had to trim it down to 15 seconds. The original version was also acoustic, which Lorre loved, but Robertson insisted that his bandmates be on the track, and Lorre loved that one even more.

5. SHELDON PROBABLY DOESN’T HAVE ASPERGER’S.

Because of Sheldon’s anti-social nature, viewers have often assumed that Sheldon has Asperger's syndrome. But Prady has stated that, "We write the character as the character. A lot of people see various things in him and make the connections. Our feeling is that Sheldon's mother never got a diagnosis, so we don't have one.”

Parsons himself isn’t totally sure, though. “Asperger’s came up as a question within the first few episodes. I got asked about it by a reporter, and I had heard of it, but I didn’t know what it was, specifically,” he told Adweek in 2014. “So I asked the writers—I said, ‘They’re asking me if Sheldon has Asperger’s’ and they were like, ‘No.’ And I said, ‘OK.’ And I went back and I said, ‘No.’ And then I read some about it and I went, OK, well, if the writers say he doesn’t, then he doesn’t, but he certainly shares some qualities with those who do. I like the way it’s handled ... This is who this person is; he’s just another human.”

6. KUNAL NAYYAR GOT HIRED BECAUSE HE WAS “CHARMING."

CBS Entertainment

In reminiscing about the early days, Prady explained to Buzzy Mag how Raj came to be: “When we were casting for that part, we were casting for an international member of the ensemble, [because] if you go into the science department at a university, it’s not [just] Americans,” Prady said. “It’s one of the most international kinds of communities. So we saw foreign-born people. And so we saw people who were Korean and Korean-American and Latino. And then Kunal came in and it was like Jim [Parsons]—it was just Person Number Eight on a day of Twenty-Seven people, and he was charming.”

7. AMY FARRAH FOWLER WAS MADE A NEUROSCIENTIST ON PURPOSE.

Mayim Bialik, who in real life has a PhD in neuroscience, told Variety how Amy Farrah Fowler’s profession came to be. “They didn’t have a profession for my character when I came on in the finale of season three,” she says. “In season four, Bill Prady said they’d make her what I am so I could fix things (in the script) if they were wrong. It’s neat to know what things mean. But most of the time, I don’t have to use it.”

8. ASTROPARTICLE PHYSICIST/SCIENCE CONSULTANT DAVID SALTZBERG ONCE GOT A JOKE ON THE AIR.

The Big Bang Theory has had David Saltzberg on retainer since the beginning of the series. Every week he attends the tapings and offers up corrections and ensures the white boards used in the scenes are accurate. During episode nine of the first season, Saltzberg wrote a joke for Sheldon, who has a fight with another scientist. Penny asks Sheldon about the misunderstanding and Sheldon replies, “A little misunderstanding? Galileo and the Pope had a little misunderstanding!”

Even though Saltzberg teaches at UCLA and publishes papers, he thinks his work on The Big Bang Theory is more impactful. “This has a lot more impact than anything I will ever do,” he told NPR. “It’s hard to fathom, when you think about 20 million viewers on the first showing—and that doesn't include other countries and reruns. I’m happy if a paper I write gets read by a dozen people.”

9. WIL WHEATON GOT THE “EVIL WIL WHEATON” GIG THROUGH TWITTER.

Wil Wheaton and Jim Parsons in a scene from The Big Bang Theory.
Sonja Flemming - © 2012 CBS Broadcasting, Inc

Wil Wheaton, who plays a “delightfully evil version” of himself on the show, tweeted about The Big Bang Theory. Wheaton told Larry King, “I was talking on Twitter about how much I loved the show and how I thought it was really funny.” Executive producer Steven Molaro—who will be taking on the same role in the Young Sheldon prequel, which also premieres Monday night—saw the tweet and told Wheaton to let him know if he wanted to come to a taping. A few days later Wheaton received an email from Bill Prady’s assistant about appearing on the show. “I just thought the email was a joke from one of my friends, so I just ignored it,” Wheaton said.

When Wheaton realized that the email was legit he phoned up Prady, who explained they wanted a nemesis for Sheldon. “It’s always more fun to be the villain,” Wheaton said. Even though the character has evolved into Sheldon’s ally, Wheaton said, “I still call him Evil Wil Wheaton.”

10. CHUCK LORRE THOUGHT THE SHOW AIRING AT 8 P.M. WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE END.

The show aired a handful of episodes in the fall of 2007, but a Writers Guild strike halted production until the following year. When the show returned in March, it had an earlier time slot. During a 2009 Comic-Con panel with the show’s cast and producers, the moderator asked Lorre about how CBS once again changed the time slot, this time from Mondays at 8 p.m. to Mondays at 9:30 p.m. “You guys followed us when they put us on at 8 and that is what kept us alive,” Lorre replied. "We did eight shows before the strike took us out in our first season. When the strike was over, CBS put us on at 8 p.m. and we thought that might be the end of it. You followed us and kept us alive and that was when we got the two-year pickup when we did well at 8.” The show eventually returned to the Mondays at 8 p.m. slot.

11. PARSONS ATTRIBUTES THE SHOW'S SUCCESS TO ITS LACK OF CHARACTER ARCS.

In a 2014 interview with New York Magazine, Parsons gave his theory (if you will) on why The Big Bang Theory attracts more than 20 million viewers per week—a number unheard of since the Friends-era sitcom reign. “There’s not anything to keep up with,” he said. “You don’t go, ‘I didn’t see the first three seasons, and now they’re off with prostitutes, and they no longer work in the Mafia, and I don’t understand what happened.’ People have so many choices on TV now, so no one’s asking for you to marry us. You can enjoy our show without a weekly appointment.”

12. A NEW GENUS OF JELLYFISH IS NAMED BAZINGA.

CBS Entertainment

In 2011, a photographer spotted the unnamed grape-sized rhizostome in Australia’s Brunswick River, snapped a photo of it, and sent the photo to marine biologist Lisa-ann Gershwin. In 2013, she named the jellyfish and published a paper on it for the Queensland Museum. In her findings she called it “a new genus and species of the rhizostome jellyfish, which cannot be placed in any known family or suborder.” She told The Huffington Post that it’s the first time in more than 100 years that a new sub-order of jellyfish had been discovered. For now, it’s the only member of the genus Bazinga, the family Bazingidae, and the sub-order Ptychophorae. Sheldon’s catchphrase also inspired the naming of a new bee species in 2013.

13. THE CAST MEMBERS ARE SOME OF THE WORLD’S HIGHEST PAID TV ACTORS.

In August 2017, Variety released a list of television's highest paid actors, and the main cast members of The Big Bang Theory—Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Simon Helberg, and Kunal Nayyar—came out on top for comedy, earning an average of $900,000 per episode.

BONUS FACT: WE'RE ON THE COFFEE TABLE!

Image credit: Wil Wheaton

In 2010, Wil Wheaton shared this close-up of the coffee table in Sheldon and Leonard's apartment. "I saw a lot of things that could have been on my own coffee table," he wrote, "so I decided to grab a picture."

Here's one from 2014:

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