Variety reports that actor Don Marshall, a mainstay of ’60s and ’70s TV, has died. Working since 1962, Marshall’s dozens of credits include Little House On The Prairie, Star Trek, Bewitched, and, most notably, a starring role on the sci-fi drama Land Of The Giants, from Lost In Space creator Irwin Allen.
Marshall appeared on the series as pilot Dan Erickson, helping Gary Conway and the rest of their crew battle giant hands and other lovingly crafted special effects, as they fought for a survival in a mysterious giant-sized world. More importantly, the role made Marshall one of the first leading African Americans on sci-fi TV, a distinction he shared with Nichelle Nichols, with whom he appeared in a number of roles. Years later, Marshall would tell StarTrek.com, “There weren’t that many jobs, guest starring jobs, for African-Americans or any minorities, really. I was very grateful to get the opportunities I got, and it made me work very hard on each part, to make sure that whatever I was doing was right and that the characters I played were very strong people. I tried to bring out the best in the person I played.”
Marshall also worked with Nichols on “The Galileo Seven,” an episode of the original Star Trek series. The actor played Lt. Boma, an astrophysicist who butts heads with Leonard Nimoy’s Spock. Marshall was quick with praise for both Gene Roddenberry—“He didn’t see color. He saw situation and he had a vision, more so than most people” —and Nimoy, who supported him in disagreements with the episode’s director.
Marshall continued to work until 1992, usually in one-shot guest star roles; he also appeared in the shlock classic The Thing With Two Heads, as a surgeon recruited to assist the two-headed man played by Ray Milland and Rosey Grier. He later became a regular on the convention circuit, and would often discuss his plans to try to get a film version of Land Of The Giants off the ground. Marshall’s death was reported by fellow one-time Star Trek cast member BarBara Luna, via Facebook. The actor was 80 years old.