It was announced that a legend died today. His name: Bob May.
Many never knew his face, but that’s not why he was a legend. As a matter of fact, it was his contribution behind the scenes that made him the beloved performer that we all knew him to be.
Bob May made his mark in the world of science fiction in 1965 when he donned the famous Robot suit in the classic sci-fi series Lost In Space. His commitment to the character was felt on set amongst his colleagues. He had been known to stay in the Robot suit for hours at a time, suffering it with a smile. Many who worked with Bob, a notorious smoker, fondly recall how there were times between shots when the the Robot suit started spouting smoke from the cracks. “I simply got the part because I was the only one who could fit in the suit,” Bob always would say with humorous enthusiasm. So fond was he of the role that in time he considered that Robot suit “a home away from home.”
I write this with immense personal woe because aside from his endeavors, Bob also became a beloved staple on the convention circuit. For a long time, wherever there was a sci-fi convention there was Bob May. He was the first person I met at my first con in 2002. As my buds and I stood and waited for the doors to open, there Bob was, stepping outside to see what kind of people were there. Next thing I knew, he was striking up a conversation with my friends and me. He was extremely learned, fun spirited, and endearing, and after the con opened I made it a point to get his autograph. Though I went to that con to meet Kevin Smith, Bob May became my first great convention memory. From that point on, any con I went to that he happened to be at, I was always quick to approach him again and again. The last time I spoke to him was at Gallifrey One 2008 where we both stood out in the smoking area, I in my drunk Tenth Doctor costume, he in his civvies as we talked about all the things we love about acting, science fiction, and life as a whole.
It was in meeting him that I realized that it wasn’t really the voice that made that Robot the beloved icon he was; it was the man who put all of himself into that Robot, both literally and figuratively.
Wherever he is, I hope he knows that he will indeed be missed.