Robert Culp

  1. James Drury, Ride The High Country (UK: Guns in the Afternoon), 1962.      A big TV star back then, Culp rejected the 26-day shoot of Sam Peckinpah’s initial triumph the magical, final shoot-‘em-up-up for zillionaires Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott. This is why Culp is still remembered only for I Spy, 1965-1968. Drury was soon a big TV star, himself, as The Virginian, 1962-1971, and was called on again by Sam in 1968…  but not free to head up The Wild Bunch.  The I Spy TV star Drury then became such a busy TV star, himself, as The Virginian, he could not join The Wild Bunch.
  2. Robert Vaughn, The Man From UNCLE, TV, 1964-1968.      Or Solo, at the time, of the pilot based on the musings of 007-creator Ian Fleming and producer Norman Felton – causing a problem with the Bond-makers as one of Goldfinger’s partners was a certain Mr Solo. Like Fleming and Bond, Felton was influenced  by Hitchock and North By Northwest and wanted his own “Cary Grant type.” One Robert beat the other and Culp won his breakthrough a year later in  TV’s I Spy.
  3. Omar Sharif, Funny Girl, 1967.  The Jewish Barbra Streisand preferred an Arab screen lover (on and off-screen) to any of  the short list for her gambling man Nick Arnstein:  Marlon Brando,  Sean Connery, Cary Grant, Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, Frank Sinatra.  Plus three TV stars, Robert Culp, James Garner, David Janssen  that she would have chewed up and spat out. She was an expert in cutting her co-stars’ roles to ribbons.  Asked whether she’d been difficult to work with, director William Wyler said:  “No, not too hard, considering it was the first movie she ever directed”!
  4. Ernest Borgnine, The Wild Bunch, 1968. 
  5. Rod Taylor, Darker Than Amber, 1969.      A franchise that never happened… Once offered James Bond, Taylor was a better choice than the  star for John D MacDonald’s “knight errant,” Travis McGee, “I was so convinced it would be utterly rotten,” wrote MacDonald, “that I was pleased to find it only semi-rotten.” Jane Russell deserved a better finale. Leonardo DiCaprio tried to reboot McGee in 2009.
  6. Martin Landau, Space: 1999, TV, 1975-1978.     The married UK -creator-producer team of  Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, did not always agree.  For their first non-puppetry space series, Sylvia wanted the leads to be Culp and Katharine Ross. They compromised with a real couple for Moonbase Alpha –  the Mission: Impossible  stars Landau and Barbara Bain… more trouble than they were worth, forever interfering with casting and scripts to avoid their shine being tarnished by others.  Sylvia never felt Landau was leading-man material.
  7. Jim Gaffigan, Three Kings, 1999.       George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube headed the post- Gulf War vets out to steal gold. The plot had already been stolen from Clint Eastwod’s Kelly’s Heroes – made some 30 years before and already ripped off by Jean-Paul Belmondo’s Les Morfalous in 1983.



 Birth year: 1930Death year: 2010Other name: Casting Calls:  7