Charles William "Bill" Mumy, Jr. (born February 1, 1954), is an American actor, musician, pitchman, instrumentalist, voice-over artist, musician and a figure in the science-fiction community. He is perhaps best known for his work as a child actor in film and television throughout the 1960s, then credited as Billy Mumy.
The red-headed Mumy came to prominence in the 1960s as a child actor, most notably as Will Robinson, the youngest of the three children of Professor John and Dr. Maureen Robinson (played by Guy Williams and June Lockhart, respectively) and friend of the nefarious and pompous Dr. Zachary Smith (played by Jonathan Harris), in the 1960s CBS sci-fi television series Lost in Space.
He later appeared as a lonely teenager, Sterling North, in the 1969 Disney film, Rascal, with Steve Forrest. He was cast as Teft in the 1971 film Bless the Beasts and Children. In the 1990s, he had the role of Lennier in the syndicated sci-fi TV series Babylon 5, and he also served as narrator of A&E Network's Emmy Award-winning series, Biography. He is notable for his musical career, as a solo artist and as half of the duo Barnes & Barnes.
Early life and career
Mumy was born in San Gabriel, the son of the former Muriel Gertrude Gould and Charles William Mumy, Sr., a cattle rancher. He began his professional career at the age of six, and has worked on more than four hundred television episodes, eighteen motion pictures, various commercials, and scores of voice over work, as well as working as a musician, songwriter, recording artist and writer.
Among Mumy's earliest television roles was as 6-year-old Willy in the 1960 episode "Donald's Friend" of the NBC family drama television series, National Velvet, starring Lori Martin as an aspiring thoroughbred rider.
Mumy is remembered as a player in CBS's original Twilight Zone (1959 to 1964). In the episode "It's a Good Life" (November 1961), he plays a child who terrorizes his town with psychic powers (a role he later reprised along with his daughter Liliana Mumy, in the It's Still a Good Life episode of the second revival series; he also had a cameo in the remake of "It's a Good Life" in the 3rd segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie). Mumy also played the character of young Pip, a boy who enjoyed playing with his father but was always ignored, in the episode "In Praise of Pip" (September 1963), and the character of Billy Bayles, a boy who talks to his dead grandmother through a toy telephone, in the episode "Long Distance Call" (March 1961). He also wrote the story for the episode Found and Lost in the second revival of The Twilight Zone.
In 1961, Billy was cast on CBS's Alfred Hitchcock Presents television series in "The Door Without a Key." The same episode features John Larch, the actor who played his father on the Twilight Zone's episode of "It's a Good Life." The same year, he starred as little Jackie in the episode Bang! You're Dead, which also featured actress Marta Kristen, who played his sister Judy on Lost in Space.
Mumy was cast as Mark Murdock in the 1962 episode "Keep an Eye on Santa Claus" of the ABC drama series, Going My Way, starring Gene Kelly as a Roman Catholic priest in New York City and loosely based on the 1944 Bing Crosby film of the same name. His fellow guest stars in the segment were Cloris Leachman, Steve Brodie, and Frank McHugh.
In 1963, at the age of eight, young Mumy appeared in Jack Palance's ABC circus drama The Greatest Show on Earth, loosely based on a former Charlton Heston film. He was further cast in 1963 as Miles, a parentless boy, in the Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Shifty Shoebox." He portrayed Freddy in the 1963 episode, "End of an Image," on the NBC modern western series, Empire, starring Richard Egan as rancher Jim Redigo.
In 1964, he was cast as Richard Kimble's nephew in ABC's The Fugitive in the 15th episode entitled "Home Is The Hunted"; as Barry in the NBC medical drama The Eleventh Hour, episode "Sunday Father"; as himself three times in the ABC sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet; in the Disney film For the Love of Willadena; and as a troubled orphan taken home with Darrin and Samantha Stephens in ABC's fantasy sitcom, Bewitched episode "A Vision of Sugarplums" (December 1964).
Mumy was reportedly the first choice to portray the role of Eddie Munster in the 1964 CBS situation comedy The Munsters, but his parents objected because of the extensive make-up. The role instead went to Butch Patrick. Mumy did appear in one episode as a friend of Eddie's. In 1965, he guest starred on an episode of NBC's I Dream of Jeannie "Whatever Became Of Baby Custer?" as a neighborhood kid, who witnesses Jeannie's magic.
In 1973, he played a musician friend of Cliff DeYoung in the TV movie Sunshine, and later reprised the role in Sunshine Christmas and in the TV series Sunshine.
In 1974, he played Nick Butler in the pilot episode of NBC's The Rockford Files.
He is perhaps best known for his role as Will Robinson on the CBS science fiction television series Lost in Space (1965–1968), as well as for his role as ambassadorial aide Lennier in the syndicated series Babylon 5 (1994–1998). Mumy has garnered praise from the science fiction fandom for his portrayal of these two characters.
In 1996, he was a writer and co-creator of the show Space Cases, a Nickelodeon television show with themes similar to Lost in Space.
He played a Starfleet member in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Siege of AR-558" (November 1998). To his delight (since, as Lennier, he always appeared onscreen in prosthetic makeup), he played a human character who assists Ezri Dax in turning cloaked Dominion mines against an army of Jem'Hadar.
Recent acting performances can be seen in a 2006 episode of Crossing Jordan and the Sci Fi original film A.I. Assault.
Unlike many child actors, Mumy entered the profession at his own insistence, and his parents took pains to make sure he matured properly in his job. His father, who was a cattle rancher, carefully invested his son's income, and thereby avoided problems encountered by other child actors of his period.
Mumy is enjoying a career as a solo artist, his most recent album, Illuminations, came out in 2013.
He currently lives in Hollywood Hills, California, with his wife, Eileen, and their two child-actor children, Seth and Liliana.