Lost in Space’ star Marta Kristen recalls the moment she heard the ‘60s series was ending: ‘No one really knew why’
The actress starred as Judy Robinson in the hit sci-fi show
Marta Kristen is enjoying a trip back to the future.
Nearly 60 years ago, audiences were introduced to the Robinson family in the campy sci-fi series “Lost in Space,” which aired from 1965 until 1968. For the first time since the show ended, the actress, along with co-stars Bill Mumy and Angela Cartwright, have been reunited with their costumes to commemorate Heritage Auctions’ “Monsters & Friends: Featuring the Kevin Burns Collection.” The sale kicks off on Thursday.
The news came shortly after Cartwright, 69, and Mumy, 67, teamed up to release a new book titled “Lost (and Found) in Space2: Blast Off Into the Expanded Edition.” The pictorial memoir features over 925 photos and more than 600 newly found images hand-selected by the TV siblings.
Marta Kristen poses with her costume from season 1 of ‘Lost in Space’ at the “Auction Reception and Preview: Monsters & Friends: Featuring the Kevin Burns Collection” at Heritage Auctions, Beverly Hills on October 26, 2021 in Beverly Hills, California.
Kristen, 76, spoke to about how she got the role of Judy Robinson, what her cast-mates were really like, and how she coped with the show’s ending.
Marta Kristen: Well, I originally came here from Norway to Michigan where my parents taught and took a sabbatical. But James Harris, the producer of “Lolita,” actually discovered me at a restaurant. He wanted me to play the lead role at 15 and my parents said, “No, absolutely no way.”
I guess he thought I had something that would resonate on screen because he got me an agent. And through that agency, I started working in almost every television show during that time. When it came time to cast Judy Robinson, [creator] Irwin Allen said “I want that girl!” *laughs*I met with him, but I wasn’t so sure if I wanted to do the show originally. I did quite a bit of thinking – two weeks actually.
(L-R) Angela Cartwright, Bill Mumy, and Marta Kristen. Netflix
How did you cope when the show ended?
Kristen: Oh, I remember that moment vividly. I was at my house and I received a phone call. I learned it was canceled. I was speechless. No one really knew why. Later on, we found out that it was possibly Irwin’s battle with CBS at the time. He wasn’t giving the scripts that CBS demanded. And they wanted six of them, apparently, or something like that.
I think everyone has a different version of the story. But at that time, Irwin just had so many projects. And I guess he just thought it wasn’t worth the fight. So it was canceled. And it was unusual because we were doing very well in the ratings. We had a very large fan base even then. But it was an expensive show.
Marta Kristen and Mark Goddard.
How surprising has been for you to know that “Lost in Space” continues to have such a large following?
Kristen: For me, it’s been more surprising to see younger people finding and embracing the show. With CGI and the rise of all this new technology, our show looks so simple *laughs*. But I think people connect with it because it’s a story about family… When people watch it, it reminds them of a simpler time, even though it was a very complicated and changing time. But it’s a moment in time in our history of television. And it’s lovely to look back.
In addition to “Lolita,” is it true that you were originally tested for a role in “The Sound of Music”? That would have paired you with Angela Cartwright.
Kristen: I was tested for it, but I was told that I was too sexy for it. I never saw myself as that. I always thought of myself as a Norwegian Midwesterner *laughs*.
Marta Kristen arrives in the Los Angeles premiere of Netflix’s ‘Lost In Space’ Season 1 held at The Cinerama Dome on April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles, California. (
It’s been reported that you felt your character Judy Robinson was underused at times. If you were allowed to rewrite your character, what would you have done differently?
Kristen: I think I would have had the wonderful Judy Robinson walking around and quoting Shakespeare, which is what I did as a young child actually *laughs*. I wanted to be on stage. I don’t know where it came from, but I was reading Shakespeare as a child. I was excited about “Macbeth.” So I wanted to build on that.
Also, I felt like my character’s relationship with Major West [Mark Goddard] could have been more than what it was. I think it could have been more important within the small family. We were just emerging from the ‘50s, the cute little housewife with her apron and high heels. It was beginning to radically change in the United States. So I would have liked to somehow address that more.