The actor Robert Culp helped to advance civil rights and animal rights. The co-star of the 1960s TV series “I Spy,” died Wednesday morning after he fell near his Hollywood home. The actor was 79 years old.
When executive producer Sheldon Leonard cast the lighthearted series about two spies masquerading as tennis pros, he found a capable, handsome leading man in Robert Culp. Leonard’s decision to offer the co-starring role to Bill Cosby changed the dynamics of prime time.
TV’s first white-black buddy pairing helped “I Spy” enjoy a solid three-season run on NBC from 1965 to 1968. Culp’s other big- and small-screen credits include the spouse-swapping comedy “Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice” and a recurring role on the sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
More recently, Robert Culp spoke up – and even sued the city of Los Angeles – on behalf of the elephants in the L.A. Zoo. He and other activists maintained that no enclosure was enough to accommodate the largest land mammals, and that the zoo’s planned elephant habitat was inadequate and should be scrapped.