Author: Mark Goddard

Publisher: IUniverse Pub.

ISBN: 13: 978-0-595-51742-8 (pbk) ISBN: 13: 978-0-595-62013-5 (ebk)

Click Here To Purchase To Space and Back: A Memoir

For Boomers, actor Mark Goddard remains best known as pilot Don West in the comic 1960s Sci-Fi hit, Lost in Space,  as revealed in his light, gentle memoir. Goddard admits the part of West hadn’t been a role the would-be “next James Dean” had wanted. But, as with many an actor associated with one famous part, Goddard’s time “Lost in Space” would become the moment that everything in his life before had seemingly led up to, everything thereafter attempts to find a new direction. Hence the title of his book, To Space and Back.

In this comparitively short autobiography, Goddard recounts a rather ordinary Catholic childhood in New York where he got the acting bug in his late teens. After some minor stage work on the East Coast, he went to Hollywood and hit the big-time within months of arrival. Getting cast for a bit part on The Rifleman resulted in three changes in his life: first, the former Chuck Goddard became Mark so not to be confused with series star, Chuck Connors. Second, Goddard learned not to lie about his resume, especially when riding horses is involved. Last, this appearance led to his starring in another Western, Johnny Ringo, an Aaron Spelling production that led to Goddard working in another series, The Detectives.

During this section of the book, Goddard shares behind-the-scenes stories as with his nearly losing the Johnny Ringo part due to the draft. As a young star, he got intended publicity when the studio arranged dates for him with the likes of Connie Stevens and Sandra Dee. He also earned unintended PR when he was arrested in Boston for appearing at an event in his Johnny Ringo cowboy gear, especially his Colt .45. But most of the paragraphs in this section of the book are accounts of a marriage he essentially stumbled into and later stumbled out of.

Then came Lost in Space, and fans are likely to be entertained by Goddard’s memories of the on-set hijinx and practical jokes the cast pulled on each other. Some readers may be disappointed by just how hit-and-run the chapter is.  Goddard doesn’t say much about his fellow cast members and clearly felt the show became a Dr. Smith/ Robbie the Robot series with everyone else secondary characters.    Lost in Space hadn’t been a series he had wanted to be in and felt no sense of loss—other than financial—when it was over.

Still, the final third of the book is a portrait of a man seeking a new purpose in life and how long it took.   He became an agent, a writer, collected unemployment, returned to the stage in New York, worked in two soap operas (One Life To Live, General Hospital), and finally a return to college. What he’s doing professionally now isn’t precisely clear, although he claims to be a happy man at full peace with himself.

To Space and Back is a book for fans and those interested in TV history. It’s a mix of the humorous and the poignant. There are stories of Buddy Hackett, Peter Fonda, and NFL great Jim Brown,  but Goddard’s life also included a murdered friend and an aborted kidnapping of his daughter. It’s a perfect souvenir should you attend one of the many conventions where Mark Goddard appears, as in this year’s Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention. That’s the primary audience, not reference shelves nor libraries.

  Click Here To Purchase To Space and Back: A Memoir

Listen to Wes Britton’s audio interview with author Mark Goddard for the “Dave White Presents” radio program posted HERE