R.I.P. Don Matherson 1930-2014

Written by Paul Mount Thursday, 10 July 2014

TV News

Don Matheson, one of the stars of ABC’s classic 1960s Irwin Allen science-fiction adventure series Land of the Giants, passed away on June 29th at the Los Angeles home of his actress/musician daughter Michelle. 

Land of the Giants launched in September 1968 and was the most lavish and spectacular of Irwin Allen’s high concept science-fiction shows from the 1960s. Despite its continued success throughout its second season, the show’s cost - estimated at $250,000 per episode - was felt to be prohibitive and the series was cancelled at the end of its second year. Don Matheson played snappy businessman Mark Wilson, one of the crew and passengers of the sub-orbital space liner Spindrift which passed through a wormhole and crash-landed on a planet whose inhabitants were forty times larger than the human castaways. Across fifty-one colourful episodes the Spindrift refugees battled to find a way back to Earth whilst staying one step ahead of the giants who were determined to capture and study the “little people”. As Mark Wilson Don Matheson constantly found himself in conflict with the Spindrift’s pilot Steve Burton (Gary Conway) and the show inevitably saw the cast clambering over outsized props, hanging from giant pins or, memorably, dodging a giant papier-mache hand.

Don Matheson, who married and later divorced his Giants co-star Deanna Lund (debutante Valerie Scott in the series), was a prodigious jazz drummer whose other TV appearances included The Waltons and Dynasty and roles of American primetime soap Falcon Crest and legendary daytime drama General Hospital. Prior to Land of the Giants he appeared in episodes of Voyage To the Bottom of the Sea and Lost In Space, two or Irwin Allen’s other 1960s series.

Don Matheson, who did not remarry after his divorce from Deanna Lund, was 84 and had been suffering with lung cancer.

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