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Jonathan Harris is known by Battlestar Galactica enthusiasts as the actor who provided the voice of Lucifer, the IL-series Cylon from the classic series. He is further recognized in the realm of science fiction as having portrayed Dr. Zachary Smith in Lost in Space.
He was born Jonathan Charasuchin on November 6, 1914 in the Bronx, New York. Son of Jewish emigrés from Russia, Harris first worked in a pharmacy, and later earned a pharmacology degree at Fordham University. Changing careers to pursue acting, he changed his name and learned to speak without a strong Bronx accent.
In 1938, he married Gertrude Bergman, to whom he would remain married for the duration of his life.
Harris first appeared on Broadway with Heart of a City in 1942, and went on to perform over 100 plays.
His first appearance on television was in 1948, which then was a live media, and made his film debut in Botany Bay in 1953.
Harris went back to television, appearing in one of his most recogizable roles on The Third Man as Harry Lime's manservant.
In 1965, he first appeared in the role of Dr. Zachary Smith in Lost in Space, where, originally cast as a one-shot character, he easily stole the show from his castmates. Many of his one-liners he had previously used in the Bill Dana Show were reused in Lost in Space. An example would be his signature line: "Oh, the pain!"
Although occasionally called upon for cameos and guest shots as villains (usually of the Dr. Smith type) Harris spent most of the remainder of his career as a voice actor, appearing in television commercials as well as animated television and features.
Harris reprised his role as Dr. Smith in the one-hour TV special Lost in Space Forever in 1998. However, unlike his costars in the original show he declined to make a cameo appearance in the motion picture version of Lost in Space that was released later that year.
Harris passed away on November 3, 2002 at the age of 88, in Encino, California. He is survived by his wife, Gertrude, and their son, Richard.
Harris is the clearest connection of Battlestar Galactica to Lost in Space, however it should be noted that the daughter of his Lost in Space co-star June Lockhart later came to join the series, when Anne Lockhart joined the cast as Lieutenant Sheba.