Not Robert Culp!

Robert Culp, who died yesterday at 79, was one of my favorite minor actors. I was already a fan thanks to his distinctive delivery as Bill Maxwell in The Greatest American Hero when I discovered reruns of I Spy in college, and just in time too. I had soured on the juvenile humor and the self-parody in most of the James Bond films and was looking for someone new to teach me how to be cool. Culp’s Kelly Robinson was just the one.

I could go on and on, but the blogosphere is already full of encomiums about his wit, wisdom, and talent. I do want to mention, though, that among his many other achievements and memorable performances, he has the distinction of having given the best reading of the line “Oh shit!” in film history.

In Turk 182!, he plays fictional New York City mayor John Tyler, who is touting his “Polish the Big Apple” program for eliminating graffiti. Timothy Hutton plays a kid with a private grievance against the mayor that he takes public by defacing city property in increasingly daring and entertaining ways. Here’s what happens when the mayor tries to unveil one of his administration’s new “graffiti-proof” subway trains.

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