The obituaries on this page originally appeared in For Your Eyes Only #37, published in 1997.

GREG MORRIS, 62, longest running member of the large cast of Mission: Impossible, died Aug. 27, 1996, at his home in Las Vegas after a long battle with lung cancer and brain cancer. As electronics wizard Barney Collier, Morris was the only star of Mission to last the show’s full seven-year run (co-star Peter Lupus was dropped briefly during the show’s fifth season).

     He was cast in Mission after several years in TV guest shots on The Twilight Zone, Branded, Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, The Fugitive, The Dick Van Dyke Show (as the punch line in the famous “switched babies” episode) and I Spy. In Mission, he was one of the first black actors in a series, following Bill Cosby in I Spy by a year and Nichelle Nichols in Star Trek by nine days. After Mission ended in 1973, he made the usual guest rounds (Mannix, Sanford and Son, The Love Boat) before landing the role of Lt. Dave Nelson on Vegas (1979-81). He played Barney again, acting with son Phil as Barney’s son, in three episodes of the misbegotten 1988 revival of Mission: Impossible.

SHELDON LEONARD, 89, tough talking movie and radio gangster who became one of television’s most successful producers with I Spy and many other series, died Jan. 10 at his home in Beverly Hills. With his sly delivery, Leonard often played Runyonesque rather than realistic hoods in films such as “Guys and Dolls,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “To Have and Have Not” and “Pocketful of Miracles,” as well as roles like the racetrack tout on Jack Benny’s radio show. He acted in television but quickly moved to directing and then producing in partnership with Danny Thomas on the latter’s Make Room for Daddy series. They were responsible for the classic Dick Van Dyke Show and such other hit series as The Real McCoys, The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle USMC.

     Leonard launched I Spy, developed with producers Mort Fine and David Friedkin, in 1965, breaking ground by shooting on location around the world and by casting Bill Cosby—then a hugely popular comedian who had never acted—as the first black lead in a series. Under the tutelage of Leonard and co-star Robert Culp, Cosby went on to fame and fortune, picking up three Emmys for I Spy. Leonard doubled as director on many of I Spy’s overseas locations and even played the villain in a few episodes. The show was an instant hit, but died in its third season after NBC moved it from Wednesday to Monday.

     Leonard’s last production was the TV-movie “I Spy Returns,” filmed in 1993 (see FYEO #31 for his comments on the show). His series following I Spy were less successful: Good Morning World, produced by the Dick Van Dyke team with Goldie Hawn in her first role; Shirley’s World, a plotless wonder starring Shirley MacLaine; the cult James Thurber series My World and Welcome to It; and Big Eddie, which was also Leonard’s last acting job, all lasted only one season.

WALTER GOTELL, 72, European actor best known as the surprisingly cooperative head of the KGB in James Bond films of the Roger Moore era, died May 5 in London from cancer. Often seen in British TV shows of the ’60s and ’70s, his first Bond appearance was in “From Russia With Love,” as Morzeny, the director of SPECTRE’s island training school. He returned 14 years later to play KGB chief General Gogol in “The Spy Who Loved Me.” Gotell’s smooth performance helped to make Gogol so popular he became a recurring character, reappearing in every subsequent Moore picture (“Moonraker, “For Your Eyes Only,” “Octopussy” and “A View to a Kill”) and with new Bond Timothy Dalton in “The Living Daylights.”

MARK LENARD, 68, journeyman actor who became part of the Star Trek mythos by playing Spock’s father, Vulcan Ambassador Sarek, in a single episode of the original series, died of cancer Nov. 22, 1996, at a New York hospital. He appeared in Star Trek’s first season, as the first Romulan seen in the show, before he played Sarek in the second season’s “Journey to Babel,” the only appearance of Spock’s parents. But as Star Trek the canceled TV show became Star Trek: The Unstoppable Entertainment Juggernaut, Lenard and Sarek returned—in an episode of the animated series, in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and in the third, fourth and sixth Trek movies (Lenard also appeared in the first movie, but he played a Klingon in that one).

     He was a militant gorilla in the short-lived TV version of Planet of the Apes, and was very popular as sawmill owner Aaron Stempel, nemesis of the Bolt brothers, in the fondly remembered romantic adventure series Here Come the Brides. He also appeared as villains in episodes of Mission: Impossible, The Wild Wild West, Gunsmoke, Run For Your Life, Hawaii Five-0 and many others. His feature credits include “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” “Hang ‘Em High” and “Annie Hall.”

PAUL LAMBERT, 74, veteran character actor, died April 27 in Santa Monica, Calif. He made his film debut in “Spartacus” and appeared in “Planet of the Apes” and “All the President’s Men,” but he was most familiar as one of the guest-star villains of ’60s television. He appeared in episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Wild Wild West, Hogan’s Heroes, The Big Valley, Gunsmoke and many others. Those roles followed his appearances in dozens of live TV plays in the ’50s. Later credits include his only series role in Executive Suite, and episodes of Night Court and L.A. Law.

GAIL DAVIS, 71, star of the TV western Annie Oakley, died March 15 of cancer at a hospital in Burbank, Calif. A crack shot and a skilled rider, she made dozens of B westerns and rodeo appearances with singing cowboy star Gene Autry before starring as Annie Oakley in the series created for her by Autry and produced by his Flying A company. The show ran in syndication from 1954 to 1957 before losing out to the “adult western” trend of the late ’50s.

KEM DIBBS, 78, the first actor to portray Buck Rogers on television in ABC’s 1950-51 version of the famous comic strip, died March 28 in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The series lasted only nine months and Dibbs was replaced by another actor before the show ended. He went on to appear in Studio One and Playhouse 90, and in such features as “The Ten Commandments,” “Paths of Glory” and “Fate Is the Hunter.”

Kem Dibbs in

the 25th century,

circa 1950.