24 March 2010

Evening Vent, 24 March 2010

Rest in Peace, Agent Maxwell! 

    I have a "job interview" Friday, but it's not a real job. It's an insurance job, and it has no salary, only commission. I'm going through with the interview, but I've never had a knack for selling anything.
   Robert Culp passed away 24 March 2010. Young people may know him for his recurring role on the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond or perhaps for his voice-over work in animation and videogames. (Robert Culp portrayed the voice of the villainous Dr. Wallace Breen in Half-life 2 and Half-life 2: Episode One.) Most people my age will likely remember him as FBI Agent Bill Maxwell from The Greatest American Hero. Folks a bit older will remember him as Bill Cosby's cohort in I, Spy. The senior citizens will recall his iconic performances on three of the most iconic Outer Limits episodes ever made, particularly the Harlan Ellison-penned "Demon with the Glass Hand". For me, I'll remember him as Bill Maxwell, one of the coolest supporting characters ever to grace a TV series. Culp's performance as Bill Maxwell managed to convey the hard edges of a patriotic Federal agent while still displaying good-naturedness and vulnerability. And, dear to my martial heart, Culp was utterly convincing when wielding Agent Maxwell's M1911A1 .45 ACP automatic or the totally awesome Devel-modified Smith & Wesson Model 39 9MM.
    He guest-starred in television frequently, appearing on many mystery and detective series (like Columbo) during the 70s. During the heyday of the "Movie of the Week" on network TV, he gave a scorching performance as a suburban doctor who's pushed just a teensy bit too far by some rich delinquent punks living in his neighboorhood. Outrage, unfortunately not on DVD, wasn't exactly Straw Dogs, but it was the network equivalent, and Robert Culp played the role of Dr. Jim Kiler for all it was worth. And that was Robert Culp, never doing anything by half.

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