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Carl Sagan
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William Schallert
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SCHALLERT, WILLIAM
(1922– ). American actor.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in films, uncredited: Mighty Joe Young (Ernest B. SCHOEDSACK 1949); Invasion U.S.A. (Alfred E. Green 1952); Tobor the Great (Lee Sholem 1954); Them! (Gordon Douglas 1954); The Monolith Monsters (John Sherwood 1957); Gremlins ( Joe DANTE 1984).

Acted in films: The Man from Planet X (Edgar G. ULMER 1951); Captive Women (Stuart Gilmore 1952); Port Sinister (Harold Daniels 1953); Gog (Herbert L. Strock 1954); The Incredible Shrinking Man (Jack ARNOLD 1957); The Story of Mankind (Irwin ALLEN 1957); Macbeth (tv movie) (Paul Almond 1961); The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (Robert Butler 1969); Colossus: The Forbin Project (Joseph SARGENT 1969); Escape (tv movie) (John Llewellyn Moxey 1971); The Strongest Man in the World (Vincent McEvetty 1975); Hangar 18 (James L. Conway 1980); The Twilight Zone—The Movie (Dante, John LANDIS, George MILLER, and Steven SPIELBERG 1983); Amazons (tv movie) Paul Michael Glaser 1984); Innerspace (Dante 1987); Matinee (Dante 1993); Harvey (tv movie) (George Schaefer 1996); The Second Civil War (tv movie) (Dante 1997); Bag of Bones (tv movie) (Mick Garris 2011).

Acted in television episodes: "The Hidden Reflector" (1951), "Lost in the Snow-Cap Region of Mars" (1952), episodes of Space Patrol; "Enemies of the Universe," "Atomic Peril," "Cosmic Vengeance" (1955), episodes of Commando Cody, Sky Marshal of the Universe; "A Visit from Dr. Pliny" (1955), episode of Science Fiction Theatre; "Epilogue" (1959), "Tidalwave" (1960), episodes of One Step Beyond; "A Handful of Hours" (1960), episode of Men into Space; "Mr. Bevis" (1960), episode of The Twilight Zone; "Dialogues with Death" (1961), episode of Thriller; "Bad Actor" (1962), episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents; "The Train" (1967), episode of Mission Impossible; "The Trouble with Tribbles" (1967), episode of Star Trek; "The Night of the Bubbling Death" (1967), "The Night of the Gruesome Games" (1968), "The Night of the Winged Terror" (two-part episode) (1969), episodes of The Wild, Wild West; "A Man Called Smart" (three-part episode) (1967), "Return of the Ancient Mariner," "With Love and Twitches" (1968), "Witness for the Execution" (1970), episodes of Get Smart; "Samantha's Curious Cravings" (1969), episode of Bewitched; "The Clones" (1969), episode of Land of the Giants; "The Praying Mantis Kills" (1973), episode of Kung Fu; "Eyewitness to Murder" (1974), episode of The Six Million Dollar Man; "Claws" (1976), episode of The Bionic Woman; The Nancy Drew Mysteries (tv series) (1977-1978); The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (tv series) (1978); "The Stableboy's Christmas" (1978), episode of This Is the Life; The Legends of the Super-Heroes (tv series) (1979); "Call Me Responsible" (1984), episode of The Duck Factory; "Shadow Play" (1986), episode of Twilight Zone; "Man's Best Friend" (two-part episode) (1987), episode of Highway to Heaven; "So Help Me God" (1989), episode of Quantum Leap; "Sanctuary" (1993), "Trials and Tribble-ations" (1996), episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; "The Source" (1994), episode of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman; "I Never Promised You Charoses, Martin" (1994), "Second Time Around" (1996), episodes of Dream On; "Sparks Fly Out," "Cold Ground" (2008), "She's Not There" (2011), episodes of True Blood; "Will the Real Fred Rovick Please Stand Up? (2010), episode of Medium.

Provided voice for animation: The Smurfs (tv series) (1981-1990); "The Ogre's Bride" (1986), episode of Wildfire; David and Goliath (short) (Ray Patterson 1986); Sparky's Magic Piano (short) (Lee Mishkin 1987); 'Tis the Season to Be Smurfy (tv movie) (Patterson 1987); "Rumpelstiltzkin" (1990), episode of Timeless Tales from Hallmark; "Power Erupts" (1992), episode of Dinosaurs; "The Two Gills" (1992), episode of Fish Police; "The Plaque" (1998), episode of Jumanji; "The Day the Earth Got Really Screwed Up" (1998), episode of The Angry Beavers; "The River Rising" (2002), episode of The Zeta Project; "Big Appetite in Little Tokyo" (2003), "Farmed and Dangerous" (2005), episodes of What's New, Scooby Doo?; The Bard's Tale (video game) (Dennis Michael Miller 2004); Lincoln's Eyes (short) (Charles Otte 2005); Green Lantern: First Flight (video) (Lauren Montgomery 2009).

 
Though I had always been aware of William Schallert—what television viewer could possibly be unaware of the omnipresent William Schallert?—I never expected to enshrine him in this volume. Surely, even if there were a few genre items in his filmography, there could be nothing interesting to say about his relentlessly bland, paternal presence, suitable solely for forgettable pablum like The Patty Duke Show and Walt DISNEY comedies. The turning point came when I finally had the opportunity to watch the elusive The Man from Planet X and was stunned by his performance as a sleazy, sinister scientist determined to exploit the alien visitor for his own ends. For once, Schallert seemed like an actor who just might deserve some attention.

But Schallert knew, even at the start of his career, that his frail, faintly professorial appearance ensured that he would forever be cast as Rosencrantz or Guildenstern, never Hamlet. With powerful connections to exploit—his father was a major drama critic for The Los Angeles Times—Schallert could get his foot in the door, but he would generally be given small parts that required little talent, providing him with only the mild challenge of going through the motions in a manner slightly better than the hundreds of other actors who could have handled the part. If you actually gave him something to do, however, he might seize the opportunity with surprising ferocity. Thus, if The Man from Planet X would serve as the strong opening of your William Schallert film festival, its smashing conclusion would be Matinee, where director Joe DANTE's film-within-a-film Mant (and a film vastly more entertaining than the one that surrounds it) allowed Schallert to go deliriously over the top as a crazed doctor slowly turning into an ant.

What other Schallert performances might merit a second look? While he did appear in several major science fiction films of the 1950s, his roles were often so small that he was left uncredited, and the only time he was onscreen long enough to make an impression would be The Incredible Shrinking Man, where he is characteristically ineffectual as the physician trying to minister to his inexorably diminishing patient (anticipating a long string of later performances in which he would be described as a "Doctor"). As he did more and more work in television, he made the rounds of the era's series of genre interest, where his noteworthy roles included a fragile scientist who should never have been allowed to go to the Moon in the Men into Space episode "A Handful of Hours" and a policeman in the unwatchable, purportedly comic "Mr. Bevis" episode of The Twilight Zone. In the 1960s, he garnered his greatest fame as the hapless father on The Patty Duke Show while fidgeting his way through more guest appearances on television shows, effortlessly adjusting his style as he ranged from inane comedies (Get Smart and Bewitched) to serious dramas (Mission: Impossible). As another routine assignment, he provided an archetypal Schallert performance as a myopic, meddlesome bureaucrat in the classic Star Trek episode "The Trouble with Tribbles," surely his best remembered genre performance, reprised through stock footage in the 1996 sequel "Trials and Tribble-ations" (though he was also invited to play a different role, as a musician, in another Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode).

In the 1970s, having proven with Patty Duke how well he could play a father easily manipulated by a strong-willed daughter, he was a natural choice to play Carson Drew in the 1970s Nancy Drew series. Now established as a television icon, Schallert also added such series as Land of the Giants, Kung Fu, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman to his résumé, along with some occasional returns to films, where his performances included two turns as the befuddled Professor Quigley dealing with boy genius Kurt RUSSELL in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and The Strongest Man in the World, a CIA Director who cannot cope with a runaway computer in Colossus: The Forbin Project, and a professor involved in the discovery of a UFO in Hangar 18. The year 1979 also brought another career highlight, the two-part series The Legends of the Super-Heroes, where Schallert upstaged better-known colleagues as the over-the-hill hero Retired Man.  Oddly, even as he usually remained a subordinate figure on the set, he was elected in the same year as the head of the Screen Actors Guild, indicating that his solid professionalism and strong work ethic had earned him the respect of his peers, if not casting directors and the general public.

Reaching the age of retirement in the 1980s did nothing to slow Schallert down, as he carried on like the Energizer Bunny, mixing a few film roles—he was a special favorite of Joe DANTE—with more guest performances on television, while sometimes returning to the stage and launching a new career as a voice for animated films; my previous effort to chronicle his career missed numerous roles, and even as he approaches the age of ninety he is still quite active, appearing three times in the series True Blood and taking on a major role in the television movie Bag of Bones. And when he was recently being interviewed about his Star Trek performances, Schallert opportunistically employed the occasion to advertise his services, concluding his remarks by saying, "But I'm available if anybody wants me." Let us hope that directors like Dante continue to employ this remarkable and perpetually available performer, who can be both competently inconspicuous and memorably conspicuous on the screen.

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