Bill Mumy is an Actor, Musician, Composer, Writer, Producer. He is also one half of the quirky novelty rock duo, Barnes and Barnes (best known for the quirky song Fish Heads). As a child, he starred as one of the most frightening characters ever in an episode of the Twilight Zone (It’s a Good Life). He’s active with sci-fi fandom, and has worked (and continues to work) with some of the most creative and successful people in the entertainment business – film, comics, television and music.
He was recently informed by the Academy that he may no longer eligible to vote for the Oscars, a position he has had for over 40 years. His response is below:
To Whom it May Concern,
I started working as an actor at the age of five in 1959. I made my debut in a major studio feature film when I was six. I worked prolifically in both features and television and was accepted into the prestigious voting ranks of the actors branch of the Academy in 1975.
Some of the producers, directors and fellow actors I’ve had the privilege of working for and with include: Walt Disney, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Jimmy Stewart, Shirley Jones, Gene Kelly, Rod Serling, Lucille Ball, Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Stanley Kramer, John Cassavetes, Judy Garland, Martha Coolidge, Jack Palance, Burt Lancaster, Jack Klugman, Ed Wynn, Brigitte Bardot, Cloris Leachman, Claude Reins, Franklin Shafner, Irwin Allen… The list goes on and on and on. My point is: I learned my trade from Masters and I strongly feel that I’m still qualified to view films and share my opinions on them via an Academy ballot.
Sadly, the Academy no longer feels that is true.
I’ve continued to work as an actor onscreen and as a voice over artist, but it’s been increasingly difficult finding A-level representation. Many agencies have told me they feel my having been a child star so long ago is more of a detriment than a benefit. I simply haven’t been interested in working in films I’ve felt had weak scripts or were of an exploitative, negative nature. Nor do I choose to audition for bit parts or work for basically no money.
Like so many other Academy members who have a long history in the film industry, you are now punishing me for a lack of consistent employment, when it is beyond my own ability to cast myself or even find representation who can get me into the meetings and auditions these days for quality roles and films in the first place.
I have careers in music and writing and I chose to stay home for several years when my two children, who have both worked as actors in major studio feature films, were young. I don’t see why that should now render my vote unworthy.
I’m deeply saddened and disappointed by the actions the Academy has taken, without any discussion first amongst the members, to capitulate to a handful of whiners who threaten to “boycott” by not dressing up, walk the red carpet and sit in the audience because they feel the actors branch didn’t do our jobs of nominating candidates for Oscars this year to their personal satisfaction.
The nomination process is not racist. Surely you realize that members of the Academy don’t get together in clandestine meetings to discuss who they’re going to nominate or not nominate. Personally, I was shocked that neither Michael Caine or Harvey Keitel received a nomination for their excellent work in “Youth”, but I certainly don’t consider it a deliberate slight because they’re senior citizen Caucasians.
Academy awards are not about the television broadcast, the dresses, jewelry or the paparazzi and publicity regardless of how much the public and industry folks enjoy that part of it. They are about recognizing outstanding achievements in film making over a years time, regardless of age, gender or color of skin.
Now, I, like so many others, have been relegated to a lesser status by the current administration of the Academy. Booted down to a level where our opinions no longer matter, insulted by the organization that once considered us exceptional. Some, punished for enjoying semi-retirement after working, like myself, for well over half a century. It’s ageism pure and simple.
In the name of progress?
About the Author:
You may know Bill as Will Robinson (Lost in Space) Lennier (Babylon 5), Anthony Fremont who sent you to the cornfield (Twilight Zone) and much more (over 400 tv shows). Bill is a prolific voice over artist. Bill started working as an actor when he was five. He is a recording artist and has 11 solo CDs that can be found on Amazon and Itunes & GRA.
With Peter David he co-created, wrote and produced Space Cases, a live action sci-fi adventure comedy series on Nickelodeon and syndicated in over sixty countries. The series ran for two seasons, 1996 -97, and was nominated for a Cable Ace Award for best children’s series.
Bill wrote the Lost In Space comic book series for Innovation, and many other comic books for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Epic, Renegade Press and others.
Bill’s official website: www.billmumy.com