“ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS” STAR PAUL MANTEE DEAD
Fan fave PAUL MANTEE who starred in SF classic “Robinson Crusoe on Mars” and “Cagney & Lacey” has departed the green hills of Earth at age 82.
The Malibu Times reported the sad news that Mantee, a longtime resident of Malibu beach community, who also wrote columns for the local paper departed this mortal veil Nov. 7.
In Ib Melchior's & Byron Haskin’s classic SF 1964 retelling of Defoe’s tale of survival “Robinson Crusoe on Mars”, Mantee is top billed, as Red Planet shipwreck survivor Cmdr. Christopher "Kit" Draper who played opposite not only Mona the Monkey but future Batman Adam West as well.
Mentee’s characterization of the lone survivor imbedded its imprint into the minds of space-minded boomers as his struggle for survival on a desolate angry world transcended both imagination and the “no exit” desolation of philosopher Jean Paul Sartre’s most existential dramas.
Later, Mantee played the health inspector on a 1994 episode of Seinfeld, "The Pie;" had a recurring role as Commander Clayton on Hunter, starring Fred Dryer; and also reunited with Adam West in a Batman ep as Cornell, a Catwoman henchman who disguised himself as the Cowled Crusader in order to frame The Bat in a classic 1967 two-parter where Catwoman (Julie Newmar) wreaked havoc on a college campus.
Mantee joined the landmark femme cops show Cagney & Lacey starring Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless. Mantee essayed Det. Al Corassa in the middle of S-5 and played the detective for more than 50 episodes by show’s end May 1988.
Among his many film roles, Mantee starred as secret agent Dick Dagger in A Man Called Dagger (1968) and appeared in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969); The Greatest (1977), starring Muhammad Ali; The Great Santini (1979); Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993); and Apollo 13 (1995).
He also met a notable finale as the erstwhile baddie in the Charles Bronson actioner “Breakout”. His death by propeller is still argued over by fans whether the stunt was achieved by a cut-a-way dummy ala “Ben Hur” or a paper mache standin that seemed to shred at the cutting edges of a 3 prop plane
A native of San Francisco, Mantee served a stint in the Navy, and then followed his dreams to Hollywood to pursue a full-time thesping career.
Mantee guested eight times on Mannix and menaced the good guys on Dragnet, Hawaiian Eye, The Untouchables,77 Sunset Strip, The Fugitive, I Spy, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The F.B.I., Mission: Impossible,The Streets of San Francisco, Ironside, Barnaby Jones, Quincy M.E., The A-Team, L.A. Law, The Fall Guy, T.J. Hooker and Murder, She Wrote.
Interestingly enough, the versatile Mantee also penned several novels.
His first, 1991's Pasta Master: In Search of the Perfect Ravoli, is about a screenwriter battling writer's block who tries to re-create from scratch his Italian grandmother's perfect ravioli.
Better to try and suck oxygen from a rock – as he did on Mars.
Paul is survived by his wife Suzy.
Adios, amigo. Regards to Friday – and Mona.