World of Westfahl | Encyclopedia Introduction | All Entries | Acknowledgements
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

M Entries
Patrick Macnee
Antonio Margheriti
Chris Marker
Hugh Marlowe
William Marshall
Arlene Martel
Ross Martin
Richard Matheson
Sir Paul McCartney
Roddy McDowall
Leo McKern
Lee Meriwether
Ricardo Montalban
Agnes Moorhead
Billy Mumy
Eddie Murphy
 
MUMY, BILLY
(1954– ). American actor and writer.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in: The Wizard of Baghdad (George Sherman 1960); "Long Distance Call," "It's a Good Life" (1961), "In Praise of Pip" (1963), episodes of The Twilight Zone; "Bang! You're Dead" (1961), "House Guest" (1962), episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents; "Treasure in the Haunted House" (1964), episode of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color; "A Vision of Sugar Plums" (1964), "Junior Executive" (1965), episodes of Bewitched; "Whatever Became of Baby Custer?" (1965), episode of I Dream of Jeannie; "Come Back, Little Googie" (1965), episode of The Munsters; Lost in Space (tv series) (1965–1968); Wild in the Streets (Barry Shear 1968); Twilight Zone—The Movie (Joe DANTE, John LANDIS, George MILLER, and Steven SPIELBERG 1984); "Bang! You're Dead" (1985), episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents; "Goodnight, Central City" (1990), episode of The Flash; "A Change of Heart" (two-part episode) (1991), "Obituary for a Super Hero" (1992), episodes of Superboy; Dr. Demento 10th Anniversary Collection (video) (and provided song for) (Bradley Friedman 1991); Captain America (Albert Pyun 1991); "Switcheroo (II)" (1994), episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast; Babylon 5 (tv series) (1994–1998); Three Wishes (Martha Coolidge 1995); The Fantasy Worlds of Irwin Allen (documentary) (and co-wrote with Brian Anthony, Joe Bullman, Kevin Burns, Mike Clark, and Louise Gallop-Roholt) (Burns 1995); "Back to School" (1997), episode of The Weird Al Show; Lost in Space Forever (documentary) (and co-wrote with Brian Anthony and Burns) (Burns 1998); "The Siege of AR-558" (1998), episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; "It's Still a Good Life" (2003), episode of Twilight Zone.

Co-created with Peter David: Space Cases (with Peter David) (and co-wrote theme song) (tv series) (1996–1997).

Co-wrote with Peter David: "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," "Who Goes Where?," "A Day in the Life" (and appeared in), "Sping at Heart," "Nowhere Man," "Desperately Seeking Suzee," "Prisoner of Luff" (story with Ted Jessup and David; script Magda Liolis), "The Impossible Dream," "Break On Through to the Other Side," "On the Road to Find Out," "New Places, New Faces," "Long Distance Calls," "King of the Hill," "Both Sides Now" (1996), "Runaway" (story with Rich Kolker, uncredited) (1996), "Friend in Need" (1997), episodes of Space Cases.

Provided voice for animation: Mattel's Funday Funnies (tv series) (1961–1963); Fish Heads (short) (and co-wrote, as Art Barnes, with Robert Haimer and Bill Paxton, and provided music for) (Paxton 1982); "The Terrible Trio" (1992), episode of Batman: The Animated Series; "Witch One" (1994), episode of The Animaniacs; "Blazing Entrails" (1994), episode of Ren and Stimpy; Underground Adventure (video) (Stephen J. Anderson, Bert Ring, and Rhoydon Shishido 1997); The Monkey Prince (video) (Anderson, Ring, and Shishido 1997); "Tag Team," "A Zoo Out There" (2000), episodes of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command; "Toy Scary Boo" (2003), episode of What's New, Scooby Doo?

Hosted or narrated: The Universe and I (documentary series) (1988); Apollo 13: The Untold Story (documentary) (1992); Inside Space (documentary series) (1992–1993); The Mars Series (documentary series) (1995); Attack of the 50-Foot Monster Mania (tv documentary) (1999); "The Munsters," "Batman," "Charlie's Angels" (2002), "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (2003), episodes of Biography.

Provided music for: Adventures in Wonderland (tv series) (1991–1993).

 
I once told a friend that Billy Mumy would be the ideal guest at a science fiction convention—not so much because of the magnitude of his achievements, but because of their variety. Indeed, to someone examining his credits, Mumy might seem like an imaginary character invented by James Michener to serve as the centerpiece of a fictionalized history of science fiction television, conveniently on the scene to observe and participate in all of its significant developments. No matter what realm of the science fiction mediascape researchers visit, they will always find Mumy's footprints there.

Born in 1954, Mumy started his career as a child actor just in time to appear on the first major science fiction series, Rod SERLING's The Twilight Zone. He was most conspicuous as the monster-child psychically controlling a town of adults in "It's a Good Life," but his best acting came in another, less-celebrated episode, "In Praise of Pip." With talented tots much in demand, Mumy soon was making guest appearances on numerous television programs, including witless fantasy-comedies like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Munsters, before he landed his first recurring role in Irwin ALLEN's Lost in Space. Revisionist history to the contrary, this quickly became the most popular science fiction series of the 1960s, due primarily to Mumy: as writers realized that the series' projected stars, handsome hunks Guy Williams and Mark Goddard, were vacuous and unappealing, they focused their attention on the more animated Mumy, the pompously villainous Jonathan HARRIS, and the series' stolid Robot (who bore more than a passing resemblance to the immortal ROBBY THE ROBOT). Mumy was the hero of each episode, the Robot his helpful sidekick, and Harris, usually in alliance with some alien in an idiotic rubber suit, their overmatched opponent. Eventually, it all grew repetitive and tiresome, but for most of its three-year run the series garnered much higher ratings than that other, now more esteemed, science fiction series of the 1960s, and the CBS executives who turned down Star Trek to focus on Lost in Space proved to be, in the context of their era, not entirely unwise.

After Lost in Space, there is a sixteen-year gap in Mumy's science fiction credits—appropriately, since there wasn't much happening in science fiction television in the 1970s—but Mumy was far from idle during the time. Maturing into young adulthood, he appeared in the critically acclaimed but unsuccessful series Sunshine (which also generated two tv movies), and he also spent a lot of time composing and performing offbeat music, eventually producing a novelty song, "Fish Heads," that became a staple of Dr. Demento's radio program. He would continue to write and perform music, later contributing some unremarkable music to the Disney Channel's unremarkable children's series, Adventures in Wonderland, but he was drawn back in the 1980s to science fiction (often preferring to call himself Bill Mumy) with opportunities to play an adult in remakes of episodes of The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents that he had starred in as a child. Soon, he was also performing in episodes of Superboy and The Flash and serving as a voice for cartoons like Batman: The Animated Series, The Animaniacs, and Ren and Stimpy. He was becoming, like Forrest J ACKERMAN, someone whose presence on the set was valued because of his past contributions, not his present talents, and this reputation was surely a factor in J. Michael STRACZYNSKI's decision to give him a role in his science fiction series, Babylon 5. It would be nice to say that Mumy quickly came to dominate this series as he had dominated Lost in Space, but it didn't happen; magnetic as a child star, Mumy has consistently been only competent in adult roles, and he stoically remained mostly in the background of Babylon 5 until the series limped to a close.

Seeking new worlds to conquer, Mumy also stepped behind the camera as co-creator and principal co-writer for a Nickelodeon children's series, Space Cases. If nothing else, the series demonstrated Mumy's success in befriending members of the science fiction community, since he persuaded Harlan ELLISON to write and perform the series' opening narration and filled the series with jokey references to science fiction writers, such as characters named Harlan and Bova (after Ben Bova). The series had its own sort of klutzy charm, I suppose, but I found it hard to get interested in it, and Nickelodeon's young viewers evidently felt the same way, since the series came to an abrupt end after two seasons.

Despite this setback, Mumy kept working hard to further diversify his résumé. After turning down several offers to play outré aliens for the Star Trek franchise, he finally accepted a role as a mere human being in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, so that his career finally intersected with the most powerful force in science fiction television. Always available to host or narrate documentaries about science or science fiction, he would sometimes help write them as well (including a tribute to Lost in Space), while continuing to work on animated projects. Indeed, since neither the Internet Movie Database nor Mumy's own website provide a truly comprehensive picture of his activities, one cannot be entirely sure of the full extent of his many ventures. He has most recently garnered attention by starring in a belated sequel to his first major role, "It's Still a Good Life," providing his best adult performance to date as the now-mature domineering psychic troubled by a daughter who has apparently inherited his powers. Mumy's career is not over yet, and neither is the saga of science fiction television; one strongly suspects that when its next chapters are written, Billy Mumy will still be somewhere in the vicinity, just as he always has been.

To contact us about encyclopedia matters, send an email to Gary Westfahl.
If you find any Web site errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to our Webmaster.
Copyright © 1999–2014 Gary Westfahl All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Hosted & Designed By:
SF Site spot art