Dr. Smith Made it Back to Earth; or Never Fear, Smith was Here…in Louisville

jonathan-harris-20.jpgTen years ago or so a co-worker claimed that he had once seen Dr. Smith in Middletown, a suburban area east of Louisville, Ky. Yes, that Dr. Smith: actor Jonathan Harris of TV’s ’60s sci-fi cheese classic, Lost in Space. Having watched this show religiously in my impressionable youth, this claim was regarded by me with admiration and wonder probably way out of proportion to its importance in the grand scheme of things. “Yeah,” said my co-worker, “He was shopping at Kroger.” Well, that gave it some credibility. There is a Kroger in Middletown. I asked him what the good doctor was buying at the grocery. My colleague did not know.

popelick-goatman-20.jpgSmith sightings became something of an unconfirmed local legend—sort of like the Pope Lick Monster—to the point that the city’s main news rag, The Courier-Journal stepped in to settle the mystery. I believe the TV columnist at the time, possibly David Inman, responded to a letter-writer claiming to have seen Harris in Middletown. It was true, Inman wrote. Harris sometimes visited his nephew in Middletown back in the ’80s. The visitations ceased when the nephew moved from the area at some unknown point.

Unfortunately, Smith and the Pope Lick Goatman never encountered one another. Imagine the effeminate yelp the old doc would have howled at that one.

Alas—and “oh, the pain” to us all—the good doctor departed this earthly realm in 2002. But his good buddy the robot is still going strong. He visited Wild and Woolly Video in Louisville a couple of years ago.

Oddly, I never got a glimpse of these spacey visitors to my hometown. Yet, I’ve seen a silver UFO and a guy who looked a helluva lot like Elvis.

(P.S. – No more Gravy Bread postings until mid-next week as I will likely have no computer access till after the holiday. Everyone have a great one!)

-EG

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6 Responses to Dr. Smith Made it Back to Earth; or Never Fear, Smith was Here…in Louisville

  1. Matt says:

    Fun Dr. Smith story…

    I was at a convention back in 2000 or so, and J.Harris was signing autographs…I found a GREAT color picture of Dr. Smith surrounded by Monsters, and waited in line for his autograph. A dad and his 3 year old were in front of me. When they went up, the dad put his 3 year old up on the table, he saw Harris (who was pretty damned creepy in his old age), and started howling-crying LOUD!!!! The father apologized, got his autograph, and as he walked away, I heard Harris say in his perfect Dr. Smith voice “Little Shit!!!” I laughed myself silly!!!

  2. gravybread says:

    Matt,
    Thanks for the great anecdote. It keeps it ‘real’. I can just imagine what that must have sounded like: Harris cursing the kid in that theatrical voice. -EG

  3. Meg says:

    I had a Dr. Smith sighting in 1981! I was a college student and I worked at Bennigan’s Restaurant in the Dupont Circle as a hostess. I seated “Dr.Smith” one Sunday afternoon. He wanted the round table in the corner that sat six, yet he sat alone, with his back to the corner, facing the restaurant. One of the waiters, confirmed to me that yes it was him and said that he came to Louisville to visit a son occasionally…but nephew makes more sense.
    I was a Lost in Space viewer. I still do the robot response in my head when I go on a date and the guy says or does something creepy…..”Warning, Warning Will Robinson!!”

  4. DKN says:

    Poor Doctor Smith. From criminal mastermind to pathetic sniveling wuss in just two seasons!

  5. JOHN VOGT says:

    During the early to mid 1970’s Dr Smith was observed purchasing an old fashioned egg poacher in the Mall of St Matthews at the department store originally known as Kaufman’s. At the time, the store was called LS Ayres. He had grown his grey hair pretty long at the time. This was in the Housewares dept upstairs in the southwest corner of the building.

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