Veteran TV actor Don Matheson, who starred in ‘60s cult sci-fi series “Land of The Giants”, passed away last week after a 10-month battle with lung cancer, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Matheson died in his sleep at the Los Angeles home of his daughter, actress/musician Michele Matheson, who reported his passing to media sources today. Matheson was 84.
Originally from Dearborn, MI, Matheson served in the Korean War –- earning a Bronze Star –- and briefly served as a police officer, working a narcotics beat in Detroit, before embarking on an acting career.
Known for his athleticism and willingness to do his own stunts, Matheson was frequently cast as a tough guy throughout his decades-long TV career.
Though his TV resume included roles on “Falcoln Crest”, “General Hospital”, “Dynasty”, “McHale's Navy”, “The Waltons", "Eight Is Enough", “7th Heaven”, and more –- the versatile actor is probably best remembered for his role as hotheaded businessman Mark Wilson on “Land of the Giants”.
The Irwin Allen-produced series aired for two seasons on ABC, spanning September 1968 to March 1970 –- replacing another Allen series, “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”, on Sunday nights.
The hourlong sci-fi drama, set in a futuristic 1983, chronicled the adventures of the survivors of the downed spaceship Spindrift, which had crashed on the way to London. Matheson was cast as one of the “little people” who had survived the crash — only to reckon with a planet full of hostile giants.
With numerous crane shots and other special effects, the series was one of the most expensive ever made up to that point, costing a reported $250,000 an episode. John Williams, who would later compose the score to "Star Wars", composed and arranged the series’ theme song.
After the cancellation of “Land of The Giants”, Matheson would go on to marry his co-star, Deanna Lund. The two were wed in 1970, but divorced later that decade.
While Matheson never remarried, their daughter Michelle reported that the two remained extremely close.
"They talked several times a day, laughed and drove each other nuts and lived across the street from one another or within a couple blocks for the last 35 years," she said.
In addition to ex-wife Deanna and daughter Michele, Matheson is survived by his son-in-law, Jason, grandchildren Jack and Jolene, and stepchildren Randy and Kim.