For most actors, scoring a memorable role means becoming a famous face, but things were trickier for Bob May, whose famous role hid him inside an unwieldy robot costume. Best known for playing The Robot on the TV series Lost in Space, May played the beloved droid while donning a large prop suit designed by Robert Kinoshita, who also created Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot.
May grew up in New York, the grandson of a vaudevillian. He got his own start in show business at just two years old, when his granddad cast him in a comedy review, and the tyke was hooked. Once he was fully grown, May edged his way into the industry by doing other actors' dirty work as a stuntman. His charm and charisma eventually began to land him more squarely in front of the camera, and he found work as an actor on TV shows like The Time Tunnel and McHale's Navy. May then snagged the role of The Robot on Lost in Space, supposedly just because he fit the constrictive suit. It was a difficult task, but May was said to have enjoyed it, staying inside even between takes to avoid the drawn out process of getting in and out, and often smoking from his cozy inner chamber, causing the 'bot to comically billow plumes of smoke from its hinges. After Lost in Space ended in 1968, May became a fixture at sci-fi conventions and fan gatherings. He lived in California with his wife Judith until his death in 2009 at the age of 69.