November 2, 2018 would have been Ray Walston’s 104th birthday; since he died 17 years ago, the whole “baking a cake” option is kind of out, but he was an icon of geek culture.
Although Walston was a Broadway star, to many fans he was best known for playing Uncle Martin on My Favorite Martian. Other SF, fantasy, and horror roles include Boothby, the groundskeeper at Starfleet Academy, in Star Trek: Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager. Like Rubeus Hagrid, the groundskeeper at Hogwarts, Boothby was a friendly, sympathetic adult male role model to the students who wasn’t an instructor; Picard, Janeway, and other Starfleet officers remembered him with fondness and respect. He played Roderick Zale, a villain of the week on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He created on Broadway and then reprised in film, the role of the demonic Mr. Applegate in Damn Yankees. in The Stand, he played Glen Bateman. He was Kore in Galaxy of Terror1, and was Bert in the SF comedy, Space Case.
Ray Walston was born November 2, 1914 in New Orleans, Louisiana,
He passed away on January 1, 2001 in Beverly Hills, California.
After My Favorite Martian was cancelled, he played supporting roles in dozens of television series. He reunited with MFM co-star Bill Bixby in The Incredible Hulk. He was Ned on Eerie, Indiana, Professor Gordon on Superboy, and Jay Star in Friday the 13th: the Series, and had a recurring role as Judge Henry Bone in Picket Fence. He had over 150 roles on TV and on film, and was also experienced and well respected in legitimate theater, and even had a good singing voice, which he occasionally got to show off, as in his appearance against Robin Williams’ Popeye as his father Poopdeck Pappy, in the live action movie Popeye.
Today would have been his 104th birthday. For many of us, My Favorite Martian with its gruff extraterrestrial and biscuit shaped silver spaceship was one of our first introductions to science fiction. Thanks, Ray. You made some real history back there.
1 Krypton Radio founder and station manager Gene Turnbow designed and built science fiction practical props and costume pieces for “Galaxy of Terror” and got to hang out with Ray Walston on the set.