Denounced by industry colleagues for their cavalier “re-writing” of the I Spy scripts on set, but beloved by many of the show's fans for exactly the same act, Robert Culp and Bill Cosby were by the show's producers - not necessarily affectionately - known as Frick and Frack.
The mutual admiration, support and encouragement of the actors who played the characters Kelly Robinson and Alexander Scott, truly did mirror the symbiotic relationship of their screen counterparts.
ROBERT CULP (born 1930)
Robert Culp is a master craftsman among Hollywood actors. His range - from an engaging sense of fun and satire to the playing of complex roles where an audience can literally feel the pain inside his head - have made him impossible to stereotype.
His ability to draw his audience into a character, deeper and deeper, and then (even within the constraints of a script), suddenly surprise them with an unexpected twist, has enabled him to create powerful characters from only shards of material.
Indeed he has the gift and technical skill of giving every part distinctiveness. However, complexity and psychological drama are his forte, and for this reason, many of his admirers will claim that the actor, no matter how brilliant, cannot match the talent of the writer.
His subtle, multi-layered scripts, unlike so much of television which has the sustenance of the proverbial Chinese meal, can go on unfolding in the mind, not just for hours, but months, and even years. That fact puts him in a league with the Golden Era of television dramatists.
It is quite possible that without his intervention at the onset of the “I Spy” partnership, all might have gone awry, and we would have nothing of the series. His formidable SO LONG PATRICK HENRY (see AND A FEW MORE QUOTES) virtually saved the day when the series' future hung in the balance. It's strong, punchy dialogue grabbed even the nervous network executives.
But despite its specialness, “I Spy” is only a tiny segment in Robert Culp's fifty-year acting and writing career. This has ranged from the Broadway stage, through early television (monuments like ARCHITECTS OF FEAR and DEMON WITH A GLASS HAND) to blockbuster hit BOB AND CAROL AND TED AND ALICE and 80's series THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO.
Some of his recent (1999-2000) credits include WANTED, NEWSBREAK, RUNNING MATES, HUNGER, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, FAREWELL MY LOVE, DARK SUMMER, and THE DR. EVIL STORY.
But for “I Spy” aficionados, he is the beating heart of the series. Nothing less.
Robert Culp Interview 1 (1982)
Robert Culp Interview 2 (1982)
Questions for Robert Culp
From S. J. Dibai's House of I Spy, "The Culp Quiz"
And be sure to check out the
page for some interesting Internet sites about Robert Culp!
BILL COSBY (born 1937)
In living rooms on a regular basis for nearly four decades, Bill Cosby doesn't seem to need a biography. He is as familiar as a favorite chair.
Grace, charm & natural wit. Maybe you could add gentle determination. That's the magic formula which has netted him so many Mosts, Biggests and Firsts. He holds records in a plethora of areas - concert performances, book sales, comedy disks sold, television ratings - that it is no wonder he has been acknowledged as one of the most influential performers of the last century.
All on a grand scale? Maybe like an individual buying CBS? No. All on an intimate scale. That is the real measure of his success - that people relate to him so personally. And every bit of it graced with quality .
Storytelling is one of the world's most ancient arts, and Bill Cosby is proof that when done to perfection, it can move mountains. Take, for instance, his breakthrough into series television. His storytelling was so enchanting that producers just assumed him to be a natural actor.
Actually, he was. He felt hampered by technical details in the beginning, but not long before he first wet his toe, he was swimming for gold medals. The difference between his AFFAIR AT T'SIEN CHA and SO LONG PATRICK HENRY performances is a testimony to, and example of, the excellence which has marked Bill Cosby's entire life.
His ability to be a quick study came in as a definite asset when, in the midst of a performing career veering in all directions, he decided to return to college. A doctorate in education is the result. But this field has not just been a focus of personal endeavor. It has been a centerpiece of his enormous philanthropy and a major pursuit for him as an entertainer.
However, it is that capacity for intimacy and friendship which most endears him to us. The jokes have raised our spirits, but the man has touched our hearts.
Read Bill Cosby's acceptance speech for his first acting Emmy in 1966
And be sure to check out the
page for some interesting Internet sites about Bill Cosby!