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Robots at the South FL Science Museum

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The following appeared December 17, 2006 in the

Actor Bob May to appear with B-9 replica

Daily News Staff Writer

   Bob May lets out a chuckle from his home in California's San Fernando Valley.

   An East Coast reporter has just told the actor he had a toy replica of the Lost in Space robot as a child — but his mom sold it at a garage sale.

   The toy, in good condition, could bring a nice chunk of change today on eBay.

   "You blew it," May laughs.

   May has a more than passing interest in B9, the robot that was young Will Robinson's companion and Dr. Zachary Smith's comedic foil on "Lost in Space." The campy, mid-1960s sci-fi series revolved around the Robinson family's life marooned on a planet in a far-flung galaxy and their efforts, often ruined by Smith, to find their way back to Earth.

   May never distanced himself from the most famous character he's inhabited. He and series star June Lockhart are set to appear at the MegaCon comic book and sci-fi convention in Orlando in mid-February, he said.

   May also is scheduled to appear all day today (12/16/06) and most of Sunday at the South Florida Science Museum in West Palm Beach with replicas of the B9 robot and Robby the Robot, star of the 1956 sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet. The museum's exhibit, "Robotics," opens today and will run through early September.

   During the show's run, May climbed inside the robot shell week after week, enduring the heat, the strain of moving in the heavy costume and, yes, Smith's acerbic, often alliterative put-downs.

   With a stiff — make that metallic — upper lip, May shrugged off being called a "bumbling bucket of bolts," a "hopeless heap of tainted tin" and other insults.

   Although his face was never seen and his lines were dubbed over by Dick Tufeld, May enjoyed nearly every minute of the experience.

   "I'm the only actor who had his Jacuzzi and sauna built into one," May said of the confining robot outfit, which weighed more than 100 pounds.

   Producer Irwin Allen, of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" fame, ordered a system for pulling the robot around after May was injured the first week trying to propel it by foot.

   "It weighed 350 pounds with me in it. I got cut up pretty bad," May said. "So they bolted the legs together and pulled it with cables."

   Jonathan Harris, who portrayed the fey, diabolical Dr. Smith, came up with the insults his character hurled at the robot in each episode, May said.

   "He had a pad and a pencil next to his bed and he'd wake up in the morning and write them down. I never knew from one day to the next what he was going to call me," May said, laughing again.

   Decades after the three-year run of Lost in Space, May has fond memories of the colorful, far-fetched show and is proud of the part he played in its success.

   "I'm in the history of TV, which is phenomenal," May said.

   He also gets a kick out of his large collection of Lost in Space memorabilia, much it donated by fans.

   He notes with glee that he still has his toy robot — in the original packaging. His mother kept it for him long after the show ended.

   Go ahead, Bob.

   Rub it in.

("Robby the Robot" and the B9 "Lost in Space" Robot replicas are both owned by's founder Richard Newman).

Visit or call 832-1988 for more details.

    For more information about our robots, visit

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