Robert Culp, the actor who teamed with Bill Cosby in the racially groundbreaking US TV series I Spy and was Bob in the critically acclaimed sex comedy Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, died on Wednesday after collapsing outside his Hollywood home, his manager said. Culp was 79.
Manager Hillard Elkins said the actor was on a walk when he fell.
He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead just before noon. The actor’s son was told he died of a heart attack, Elkins said, though police were unsure if the fall was medically related.
Los Angeles police Lieutenant Robert Binder said a jogger found Culp, who apparently fell and struck his head.
I Spy greatly advanced the careers of Culp and Cosby and forged a lifelong friendship. Cosby said on Wednesday Culp was like an older brother to him.
“The first born in every family is always dreaming of the older brother or sister he or she doesn’t have, to protect, to be the buffer, provide the wisdom, shoulder the blows and make things right,” Cosby said. “Bob was the answer to my dreams.”
“No matter how many mistakes I made on I Spy, he was always there to teach and protect me,” Cosby said.
I Spy, which aired from 1965 to 1968, was a TV milestone in more ways than one. Its combination of humor and adventure broke new ground, and it was the first integrated TV show to feature a black actor in a starring role.
Culp played Kelly Robinson, a spy whose cover was that of an ace tennis player. Cosby was fellow spy Alexander Scott, whose cover was that of Culp’s trainer. The pair traveled the world in the service of the US government.
Culp, who was born in Oakland, California, and attended university in Washington state and California, earned his first major TV role in the late 1950s Western Trackdown.
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