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Robert Culp: A Television Favorite for 50 Years

Actor Robert Culp passed away Wednesday at the age of 79. His agent Hilland Elkins spoke to TV Guide and told them that his client collapsed or tripped outside his home in Hollywood, and later had a heart attack and died on arrival to the hospital despite heroic measures from the paramedics.

Culp has been a television favorite for 50 years: starting with the Western series Trackdown (1957-59), which then spawned off Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958-61) with Steve McQueen.

But to his fans, he’s best known as secret agent Kelly Robinson in NBC’s I Spy from 1965-68. The series was groundbreaking for having Bill Cosby as the first-ever African-American in a lead dramatic role as Alexander Scott, earning him three Emmys. Culp and Cosby went on to become friends in real life: reuniting for a 1987 episode of The Cosby Show and 1994’s I Spy Returns.

Culp is also known as hardbolied crime-busting federal agent Bill Maxwell on The Greatest American Hero from 1981-83 on ABC. Like Trackdown and I Spy, the actor also wrote and directed on the show that includes “Lilacs, Mr. Maxwell,” in which Maxwell falls in love with Dixie Carter’s character, who works for the other side seeking the key to his success rate. Episodes of The Greatest American Hero can be found online on Hulu; all three seasons can be purchase on Amazon.com.

The actor’s other high-profile role was 1969’s sexy comedy Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.

Married five times, Culp is survived by wife Candice Falkner, three sons and two daughters — four from a previous marriage.

Garrett Godwin is an entertainment journalist, who writes for NewsBlaze about television and people in the entertainment industry, from his home state of Michigan. Contact Garrett by writing to NewsBlaze.