Veteran Actor Paul Mantee Dies at 82
The tough guy starred in the sci-fi classic "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" and played Det. Al Corassa on TV's "Cagney & Lacey."
Paul Mantee, a burly, tough-guy actor who starred in the 1964 sci-fi cult classic Robinson Crusoe on Mars and on TV's Cagney & Lacey as Det. Al Corassa, has died. He was 82.
A longtime resident of Malibu who wrote columns for the local newspaper, Mantee played the health inspector on a 1994 episode of Seinfeld, "The Pie;" had a recurring role as Commander Clayton on Hunter, the police drama that starred Fred Dryer; and appeared as Cornell, a henchman for Catwoman who disguises himself as Batman to frame the Caped Crusader for a robbery in a 1967 storyline that saw the villainess go back to college.
Mantee died Nov. 7, The Malibu Times reported.
In Paramount's Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Byron Haskin’s adaptation of the Daniel Defoe novel, Mantee has top billing, playing the shipwrecked Cmdr. Christopher "Kit" Draper opposite a monkey. He and future Batman star Adam West become the first humans on the planet.
Mantee joined Cagney & Lacey as Al Corassa midway through season five and played the detective for more than 50 episodes. The landmark buddy cop show, starring Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless as crack New York City detectives, aired on CBS for seven seasons through May 1988.
Mantee starred as secret agent Dick Dagger in A Man Called Dagger (1968). He also had small roles in such films as They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969); The Greatest (1977), starring Muhammad Ali; The Great Santini (1979); Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993); and Apollo 13 (1995).
A native of San Francisco, Mantee served a stint in the Navy, then came to Hollywood to pursue an acting career. He played a series of heavies on TV -- they would "put me in a big silk suit with a gun that was about the size of a cannon," he once told author Tom Weaver -- before getting the role in Crusoe.
For his first screen appearance, Mantee had played one of the many sailors in the background in Andy Griffith's Onionhead (1958). His film résumé also included such action movies as Blood on the Arrow (1964), An American Dream (1966), That Man Bolt (1973), Breakout (1975), Framed (1975), Day of the Animals (1977) and The Manitou (1978).
Mantee appeared eight times on Mannix and showed up on Dragnet, Hawaiian Eye, The Untouchables, 77 Sunset Strip, The Fugitive, I Spy, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The F.B.I., Mission: Impossible, The Streets of San Francisco, Ironside, Barnaby Jones, Quincy M.E., The A-Team, L.A. Law, The Fall Guy, T.J. Hooker and Murder, She Wrote.
Mantee wrote several novels. His first, 1991's Pasta Master: In Search of the Perfect Ravoli, is about a screenwriter battling writer's block who tries to re-create from scratch his Italian grandmother's perfect ravioli.
Survivors include his wife Suzy.