Before Mark Goddard joined the cast of Lost in Space in 1965, where he played Maj. Don West, he kickstarted his Hollywood career with an unconventional approach – writing a letter. The tale goes that within a mere two weeks of arriving in Hollywood, Goddard discovered that Marlon Brando was shooting One-Eyed Jacks on a particular film lot. Determined to meet the legendary actor, he exhausted every possible method to gain entry, regaling studio security with various stories. When his attempts failed, he pivoted and researched other productions on the lot. That's when he stumbled upon one of his favorite directors, Joseph Anthony, filming a movie named Korea. Taking a risk, he penned a letter to Anthony, expressing his desire for a part in Korea. The audacious move grabbed Anthony's attention, leading to a lunch meeting where Anthony, impressed by Goddard, eventually recommended him to producer Aaron Spelling for a recurring role on Johnny Ringo. This breakthrough propelled Goddard's name to the top of casting lists, opening up a wealth of opportunities for him to select from numerous promising series leads. Eventually, he joined the cast of The Detectives, an experience that unveiled the harsh reality behind fame.
As Goddard was not yet a household name, he was advised to generate publicity by dating a fellow celebrity. Ironically, his first arranged date was the luminous Sandra Dee. Nervously, he picked her up in a sleek black limousine, feeling like a parasite taking advantage of her fame. Onlookers outside the limo clamored, wondering, "Who's that with her?" Goddard abhorred exploiting Sandra for personal gain and admitted, "I've never seen Sandra since." Nevertheless, his PR representatives continued setting him up with different dates for magazine shoots and other attention-grabbing events, a practice which he found terribly disheartening. Goddard famously declared, "Hollywood is no place for a bachelor."
Thankfully, in 1960, his dating woes came to an end when he met the woman of his dreams, whom he married within a year. Interestingly, she happened to be one of the press agents helping him garner publicity. During an interview for a magazine, Goddard crossed paths with Marcia Rogers, a press agent who had previously worked with Burt Reynolds. Both initially believed their frequent evening meetings were purely business-related, but they soon realized their connection went beyond work. They set their wedding date for January 15, solidifying their love. Goddard reveled in their relationship, finding solace in the fact that he was no longer engulfed in the torment of single life.
Although Goddard despised the facade of dating starlets, he relished this point in his career. The schedule for The Detectives allowed him to make numerous guest appearances on popular shows, which showcased his acting abilities and helped boost his reputation. In the early 1960s, even before Lost in Space, Goddard graced hit shows like Perry Mason, The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, and The Beverly Hillbillies.
Joining the cast of Lost in Space skyrocketed Goddard to fame, with his portrayal of Maj. Don West making him a household name. Ironically, his character's on-screen romance never truly ignited, providing a humorous parallel to Goddard's own frustrations as a young and aspiring actor. Reflecting on his experiences, he candidly remarked, "This idea of Hollywood being a bachelor's paradise is for the birds. I can only speak for myself, of course."
In conclusion, Mark Goddard's unorthodox journey into Hollywood proved successful through his sheer determination. From writing a letter to meeting renowned directors and eventually landing a recurring role, he navigated the complexities and challenges of fame. His career in the entertainment industry may have had its ups and downs, but Goddard's unwavering commitment to his craft ultimately led to his breakthrough role on Lost in Space.