With the death of Lloyd Bochner at the age of 81, the registry of Toobworld citizenry has lost the creator of many great TV characters from the last fifty years.
From the New York Times obituary by Monica Potts:
In his most memorable television role, Mr. Bochner starred as Michael Chambers in the famous 1962 "Twilight Zone" episode "To Serve Man." Chambers and his assistant are decoding experts in charge of translating a book given to Earth by visiting extraterrestrials. The assistant learns that it is a cookbook, but is too late to save Mr. Bochner's character from boarding a spaceship and heading toward becoming an alien meal. He parodied the episode's climactic scene in "The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear."
My personal favorite role of Mr. Bochner's was that of Zachariah Skull, the mad, mishapen puppeteer in an episode of 'The Wild Wild West'. For me, it stands as the very best example of "steampunk" in the TV Universe.
I also enjoyed his role in an episode of 'Ironside', in which he played a corrupt Scotland Yard inspector who was given a second chance in life.
It seems almost a shame that of all the work he did in TV Land, it's his role as Cecil Colby on 'Dynasty' that is being used as the memory tug in most headlines about his passing. Something about that just doesn't feel right.
But tell somebody "It's a cookbook!" and right away they know who you are talking about.
It's hard to believe that there will ever be another actor who could convey such suave urbanity no matter if the character was good or evil. I think he hearkened back to the great character actors of the 40s; a type we most likely will never see again. (I look at his image as Commander Leiter from two episodes of 'Battlestar Galactica, and it puts me in mind of a sci-fi version of Conrad Veidt in 'Casablanca'.)
Science fiction, Westerns, medical dramas, murder mysteries, - Mr. Bochner was at home in all genres and the volume of work he left behind proves it. Just trying to make a copy of his list of credits from the IMDb.com proved to be too much information for one file; I needed to make three in the end!
So here's a tip of the hat and thanks to a great actor who will be missed. With the legacy of roles he left us, Lloyd Bochner really did serve Man.
[A compilation of his many roles in Toobworld will follow in a separate posting.]