Robert Culp Dies at 79; Was Best Known for Starring Opposite Bill Cosby on the Groundbreaking TV Show ‘I Spy’

Mar 24, 2010  •  Post A Comment

robertculp.jpgSuave, sophisticated Robert Culp, best known for playing suave, sophisticated Kelly Robinson in the groundbreaking TV show ‘I Spy," has died at age 79. He died after a fall on a walk Wednesday morning, according to myriad media reports.

"I Spy," which ran on NBC from 1965 to 1968, was a landmark TV series because it was the first time an African American–Bill Cosby–had landed a regular starring role in a weekly TV primetime drama.

In the show Cosby’s character, Alexander Scott, was paired with Culp’s Robinson as spies posing as tennis players who traveled the world.

Said Cosby, upon hearing of the death of his friend Culp: "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. 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”s comments were reported by the Associated Press.

EW’s TV Critic Ken Tucker wrote on Wednesday, "Culp in his prime had twinkling eyes, a sly smile, and a rapid, crisp way of delivering a line: he seemed to be a hyper-articulate wiseguy, a charming devil, whether he was playing tennis-pro Kelly Robinson…or simply himself on a talk- or game-show."

Tucker continued, "Culp’s TV career started in the late ’50s with the taut Western ‘Trackdown.’ He gave many memorable performances as his television career took off in the ’60s, including a starring role in a classic Outer Limits episode, ‘Demon With A Glass Hand,’ written by Harlan Ellison.

Culp was also a writer and director.

Tucker also recommends the film "Hickey & Boggs," which Culp directed from a script by Walter Hill. It stars Culp and Cosby. It’s available right now on iTunes to rent for $2.99. 


  1. Robert Culp was the star.

  2. I will forever regret not seeing Culp a few years ago speak at the George Eastman House here in Rochester, NY where he presented “Hickey & Boggs.” I feel fortunate to have grown up with “I Spy” reruns and “The Greatest American Hero.”

  3. We grew up watching “I Spy”. Robert Culp
    was memorable. Him and Cosby were great together.

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