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L Entries
Elsa Lanchester
Martin Landau
Robert Lansing
Glen A. Larson
Jack Larson
Christopher Lee
Mark Lenard
John Lennon
John Lithgow
June Lockhart
Robert Longo
Peter Lorre
Eugene Lourie
George Lucas
Bela Lugosi
William Lundigan
 
LANSING, ROBERT
(Robert H. Brown 1928–1994). American actor.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in: The 4D Man (Irvin YEAWORTH, Jr. 1959); "Cage of Air" (1960), episode of Moment of Fear; "The Voice" (1960), episode of One Step Beyond; "The Fatal Impulse" (1960), episode of Thriller; "The Burning Court" (1960), episode of The Dow Hour of Great Mysteries; "The Long Morrow" (1964), episode of The Twilight Zone; "Assignment: Earth" (1968), episode of Star Trek; "The Beckoning Fair One" (1968), episode of Journey into the Unknown; "The Dumbest Kid in School" (1970), episode of The Flying Nun; Wild in the Sky (William T. Naud 1972); The Astronaut (tv movie) (Robert M. Lewis 1972); "The Lake," "Seeing Is Believing" (1973), episodes of The Evil Touch; Empire of the Ants (Bert I. GORDON 1977); Curse of the Black Widow (tv movie) (Dan CURTIS 1977); Scalpel [False Face] (John Grissmer 1978); S*H*E (tv movie) (Robert Lewis 1979); Island Claws [Night of the Claw] (Herman Caredenas 1982); Automan (tv movie) (Lee Katzin 1983); Automan (tv series) (1983-84); The Nest (Terence H. Winkless 1987); "Full Disclosure" (1988), episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents; "The Vampire Hunter" (1988), episode of Monsters; Bionic Showdown (tv movie) (Alan J. Levi 1989); Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (tv series) (1992-94).
 
Robert Lansing was an unsettling, forbidding presence in his early films; as if uneasy with and resentful of the need to perform before the camera, he excelled in playing uneasy, resentful men. Thus, he was perfectly cast in The 4D Man as the scientist denied credit for his work who uses a newfound power to pass through solid objects to become a murderous avenger; his icy expression and intense staring eyes served to make him genuinely menacing.

Given this obvious talent for playing criminals and monsters, one finds it hard to understand why he was regarded in the 1960s as an ideal hero for television series. Leading men in science fiction film are often allowed (or asked) to appear cold and unemotional, but they must manage to convey that there is a warm, caring person beneath their facades (like Michael RENNIE or Leonard NIMOY); Lansing seemed cold on both the inside and outside. Thus, when he appeared in The Twilight Zone episode, "The Long Morrow," as an astronaut about to undergo cryonic suspension during a long space voyage, he was not quite convincing in his willingness to forego the process for his one true love; Lansing came across as someone who would enjoy being cold. So it was that after one season of starring in Twelve O'Clock High (1964-65), the intensely unlikable Lansing suffered the unprecedented humiliation of being removed from a popular series, replaced by the more accessible Paul Burke; as a consolation prize, he was cast in another, short-lived series, the lame spy drama The Man Who Never Was (1966). Then, Gene RODDENBERRY, oblivious as usual to the necessary qualities of leading men, for some reason imagined he would be the perfect hero for his projected second television series, Assignment: Earth, whose pilot was an episode of Star Trek with that title. Like other Roddenberry pilots, it is cleverly developed, has a good supporting cast (young Teri Garr), and is doomed by its leaden and unsympathetic star.

After he stoically soldiered on into the 1970s, enduring an episode of The Flying Nun and the soapy television movie The Astronaut, a turning point of sorts came when he appeared in Bert I. GORDON's laughably awful Empire of the Ants. Now apparently reconciled to his inability to appeal to audiences, Lansing revelled in the opportunity to portray a grouchy, uncooperative boat captain, grimacing at the huge insects as if they were just another nuisance disrupting his orderly life. In a film with no other noteworthy performances, his straightforward irascibility was strangely affecting—only in a Gordon film could the frigid Lansing seem like the only human being in the cast. This led the way to Lansing's second career in television, playing cantankerous old cops and providing surly support to the lightweight Desi Arnaz, Jr. (in Automan) and the enigmatic David Carradine (in Kung Fu: The Legend Continues). To hell with them, he now seemed to say, and to hell with my acting career too for that matter. Oddly enough, this was what finally made him endearing.

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