of Watching
Voyage to the
of the


Mark situated in Seaview's control room courtesy computer manipulation.
Mark Phillips

     As a writer, my own research on Voyage turned up interesting but occasionally disheartening information.  I always thought Voyage regularly reached the top 20 ratings every week but that wasn't the case.  The ratings leaders on TV in the 1960s were shows like Bewitched, Red Skelton and Beverly Hillbillies.  Still, some Voyage episodes during the first season did crack the top ten.  The two highest rated episodes ever were Village of Guilt and No Way Out.

TV Guide, June 1965 featuring interview with Richard Basehart.           Back then, a TV show had to maintain a baseline 16 rating for renewal and a 26 share.  Voyage's first year on Monday nights averaged a 21.5 rating, and 33 share, finishing # 33 out of 100 shows for 1964-1965.  Year two, now on Sundays, averaged a 17.1 rating and a 30 share, finishing 69th for the year.  Year three kept that small but loyal audience, with a 16.7 rating, a 30 share, and placing 63rd.  The fourth year began fairly well in the ratings but it fatigued by spring 1968, ending its season with a 14.6 rating and 25 share. 

     I was also disappointed, after buying a complete set of 1960s TV Guides from a woman in California, to find out there had been only one cover story on Voyage, from June 1965.

     I learned other tid-bits about the show.  Irwin Allen had fought to have year one filmed in color but the network refused.  However, to the network's credit, the N.Y. executives actually stood up and applauded after the screening of Voyage's pilot film in 1963, something virtually unheard of.  Many people felt Allen wouldn't be able to pull off a series like Voyage and the pilot convinced everyone that Allen was the man to do it.

     Richard Basehart once provided his voice as a reciter of Shakespeare for Penny Robinson's reel to reel recordings in the Lost in Space episode "The Derelict" and Basehart's fourteen year old son, Jack, appeared as crewman Jackson in the Voyage episode "Sealed Orders."

     Novelist Jacqueline "Valley of the Dolls" Susann was a big Voyage fan and she had her picture taken with Basehart and David Hedison in the control room.  Years later, Mel Gibson, Drew Carey and Tim Allen would recall Voyage as one of their favorite shows.  On The Tonite Show in 1996, as David Duchovny splashed around in a swimming pool, he was accompanied by the original Paul Sawtell music theme for Voyage.

     Casting-wise, I discovered Irwin Allen always wanted David Hedison for Captain Crane but actor Dewey Martin was his second choice.  Richard Basehart was first choice as Admiral Nelson but James Whitmore was also considered.  Jock Gaynor turned down the role of Chip Morton, but he appeared as a guest star in two later episodes.  When Henry Kulky, the first Chief, died in 1965, James Doohan (Scotty of Star Trek) was offered the role of the Chief but he already had a commitment to Star Trek's second pilot.  Harvey Lembeck was considered for the role, but Terry Becker proved to be the perfect Chief.  Walter Koenig (Chekov on Star Trek) was one of the actors tested for Riley, while Susan Flannery came close to being signed as a recurring female character during year two.

Yes, folks--it's Dewey Martin (from Daneil Boone).
Dewey Martin as
Lee Crane?

     I also learned the real names of the recurring background crewmen on Seaview.  Crewman Ray was Ray Didsbury , Phil was Phil Barry, Scott was Scott McFadden, Ron was Ron Stein, Marc was Marco Lopez and Burnside was the late Bill Burnside.  Legendary stuntman Paul Stader appeared in many episodes and had dialog as Smitty in "The Mermaid."

     For completists, there were 110 episodes produced from 1964-1968.  During its run, three diving bells were lost, four mini-subs destroyed and six flying subs blown up.  A total of 103 crewmen lost their lives (including the 25 Seaview specialists aboard the ill-fated submarine Polidor in "Fear Makers").

     When I did more research on Voyage in the early 1990s, almost everyone connected with the series had fond memories of working on the show.  Vic Lundin, The Lobster Man, recalled that Irwin Allen insisted Lobster Man be presented as a dignified and well-bred crustacean.  "This is no ordinary Lobster man," Allen said.  "I want people to know he has attended the finest underwater schools."  Lundin accommodated Allen by giving the alien a classy accent.     You just can't get aways from Lobsterman.

     The late John Anderson, the scientist in Cradle of the Deep, got a laugh when I told him that, as a kid, I thought his character was played by Danny Kaye.  "Good heavens, Danny Kaye?" he said.  "I've always been mistaken for John Carradine!  I enjoyed doing Voyage.  Richard Basehart was one of my closest friends and a wonderful actor.  The only problem was working with the silly blob in that episode.  We all had a hard time keeping a straight face.  I looked at it and said, "What a piece of crap you are!  But I guess you're the best blob they could come up with, so let's get on with it."

 The very silent (in this episode) Zale Parry.
Zale Parry in "The Amphibians."

     Zale Parry was cast as amphibian diver Angie Maxxon in "The Amphibians," because she was a real-life diver.  She praised Voyage as being on the cutting edge of science in her episode.  "The story was very up-to-date by presenting people with mechanical gills that oxygenated the breathing medium for underwater swimmers. I enjoyed doing the show.  It was a very friendly and courteous cast and crew. The makeup of our mechanical gills were circular screens of bezel, attached to our throats by an adhesive.  The only thing I didn't like about the show was they made my character mute!"

     Don Harron played the young Navy officer from "Doomsday" considered one of the best episodes (written by the late William Read Woodfield).  "There was something classically tragic about doing an episode about nuclear war," Harron said.  "The reason they cast me was because I always had a worried look on my face.  That frown worked well for me on Voyage.  James Goldstone, our director, was wonderful.  He had the enthusiasm of a teenager."    

Don Harron turned in a brilliant performance in Doomsday
Don Harron in "Doomsday."

     I've also been fortunate enough to have interviewed most of the regular cast of Voyage.  The only one who declined was Robert Dowdell (Chip), who said that he remembered little of the show and didn't care to discuss his acting career.  Nigel McKeaned, who played Kelly the sonarman during the first year, couldn't believe I wanted to talk with him.  "All I did was sit down at my sonar post and yell, There's a monster dead ahead," he recalled.  "It didn't bother me, I knew I was going to get out of acting anyway.  But it was a fun experience, with wonderful actors."

Someday, I'll make you laugh out loud!
A young Leslie Neilson.

        I asked an industry friend of mine in Vancouver to query Leslie Nielsen about any memories he had of working on Voyage as Captain Wayne Adams, the crazed engineer who used Seaview to incite a giant manta ray in "The Creature."  Nielsen sat back in his limousine seat and laughed.  "Wasn't I playing some crazy guy chasing a big fish? Yeah, great fun!" That's all he remembered but you take what you can get.  

     The writers of Voyage were also helpful.  When I wrote a three-part article for Starlog in 1992 on Voyage, my goal was to contact every single living Voyage writer.  I was successful in gaining interviews with almost everyone.  I couldn't locate Arthur Browne Jr (Flaming Ice) until years later, and while he didn't particularly like his episode, he loved the series.  Another writer granted me an interview but asked that I not publish his name or his quotes (even though his interview was hardly libelous or inflammatory).  I abided by that request and it's remained in my files.

     That left Harlan Ellison.  Irwin Allen had taken an immediate liking to Ellison back in 1964 and wanted him to join his stable of writers.  Ellison viewed the pilot film with the other writers, and immediately wrote a script," The Price of Doom."  The episode was filmed after many re-writes, but Ellison, after screening the segment, used his pseudonym, Cordwainer Bird, on the credits.  James Goldstone who directed it, recalled, "I considered myself a friend of Harlan's at the time and I thought the episode turned out very well, with strong performances."  I had hoped to get more information from Ellison about his experience but he politely declined, enclosing a hand-written note, "Sorry, I'm not interested in commenting on this."


Me? Have a temper? Why, certainly not!
  A younger Harlan Ellison.  

     In the last decade, the fans have certainly commented on their appreciation for Voyage.  So have the critics.  Nicholas Aist of TV Guide noted, "Voyage had a dramatic tension that Seaquest never achieved."  The late film critic Leslie Halliwell praised Voyage as, "Among the best produced shows of its type, with agreeably zany storylines."  Entertainment Weekly recently noted, "It was a mesmerizing show of the 1960s."

     There have also been magazine articles, CDs of Voyage's music, cable reruns, cast appearances at conventions and now talk of DVD releases and a new series.  Those lucky fans who kept their Voyage toys and memorabilia can fetch a pretty penny by selling them on Ebay.  Hey, Clay, my old friend!  Are you reading this?  Dig out that old board game and bon voyage!

Mark Phillips is a Canadian writer whose articles have appeared in issues of Starlog, Cinefantastique, Filmfax and TV Zone.

His Voyage related articles for STARLOG include:

* The Writers of Voyage (issues 181, 182 and 183)
* Allan Hunt (Riley) interview:  (issue 196)
* Sutton Roley (director):  218
* James Goldstone (director): Starlog Platinum # 3
* Del Monroe (Kowalski) interview: Starlog Yearbook 16.

His book Science Fiction Television Series (McFarland) has a chapter on
Voyage, including interviews with David Hedison, Terry Becker, Mark Slade
and many of the guest stars.
Book link:

and he has written an extensive online history of Irwin Allen's Lost in
Space series:
New Line Cinema article:
(Once there, click Alpha Control for index - The History of Lost in Space)

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