to the Bottom
of the Sea
Monroe, otherwise know to Voyage fans as
Kowalski, was, in fact, born just
a stone's throw from the home of the fictitious Nelson Institute of Marine
Research--yep--in not-so-fictitious Santa Barbara, California. It was during a stint in the
armed services that Monroe became interested in acting. After being released from
the army he headed back home to the West Coast and enrolled in the
Pasadena Playhouse where he appeared in numerous
At the time he was hired to play Kowski in the Voyage movie, Monroe was an enthusiastic young actor appearing in his first major film. He was no doubt awed by some of the legends he found himself working alongside of, namely, Walter Pidgeon, Peter Lorre, Joan Fontaine and a young but hot pre-Jeannie Barbara Eden. In addition, he was surrounded by fabulous character actors like John Litel (Admiral Crawford), Howard McNear (Congressman Parker), and Regis Toomey (Dr. Jameson) among others.
|Prior to the shooting of a key scene with Voyage's main stars, Monroe, preoccupied with rehearsing his lines so as to make a big impression, took an unexpected and totally accidental plunge into the water. As he later noted in Tim Colliver's Seaview, The Making of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, "I don't know how it happened. I was so nervous about the scene and so engrossed in rehearsing my lines - and the most embarrassingthing was they had to rush me back to the dispensary to make sure I hadn't gotten algae in my eyes and ears and that I wouldn't get sick."
|Colliver relates that, as they were escorting Monroe from the set, he could see Pidgeon, Fontaine, Robert Sterling and Peter Lorre shaking their heads and trying to stifle grins. This incident did not prevent Irwin Allen from calling the young actor back to recreate his character (now named Kowalski) when Voyage made the transition to television. As a matter of fact, he was the only cast member to appear in both the film and the full run of the TV series, although Mark Slade appeared in the feature as young Jimmy Smith and occasionally in year one of the series as crewman Malone.
After Voyage's cancellation, Allen offered Monroe the role
of Inspector Kobick in Land of the Giants, but he turned it
down. He did go on to appear in other series such as Swat, Mod Squad, Emergency,
Lancer, Wonder Woman and The Dukes of Hazard. His most recent appearance
was in the 2001 release, Speedway. This film, featuring Daryl Hannah among others, was
actually shot in 1999.
|As Seaview churned northwest,
Kowalski stared out the view ports into the pitch-black darkness beyond,
and his thoughts turned inward.
A thousand feet of black dense water above, and many times that below. We have no right to be here. None of us do. But we eat it up, flirting with a thousand tons of ocean over our heads. People are strange. Would Pat, Henderson, Riley, or any of the others be surprised at what goes on inside my head. For that matter, would I be surprised at what goes on inside theirs?
It was only the dubious miracle of their technology and their impetuous spirit that allowed the crew to function deep down. Most of the men put off the knowledge of just where they were and what the water would do to them if it ever found a way in through Seaview's herculite hull. They quarantined those thoughts in a remote compartment of their minds so they would not have to deal with them on a daily basis.
| You could know
intellectually where you were and what you were doing prowling around the
bottom of the sea, but it was good to keep that knowledge out of your
heart, lest the weight of raw fear crush that heart.
Every now and then, Kowalski forced himself to let that knowledge out of its mental bottle to confront it. It was an occasional test of his own strenth and that of his belief in himself, his crewmates and God. Through some pact of faith, they still had the courage to venture into this realm, and God seemed still willing to let them get away with it.
----Excepted from The Nemesis Syndrome