Friday, February 11, 2011

Spotlight on Flip Mark


In April, 2003 I was contacted by Mark Phillips on behalf of TV Zone magazine in the UK, who had scored an interview with none other than Flip Mark himself (real name: Phillip Mark Goldberg), for an article titled “Sci-Fi Kids of Yesteryear” and wanted to know the skinny on “The Special One.”

Mark — Phillips, not Flip, nor “Phillip Mark” — is of course the co-author, with Frank Garcia, of Science Fiction Television Series: Episode Guides, Histories and Casts and Credits for 62 Prime Time Shows, 1959-1989 (previously cited on this blargh), and the man responsible for compiling the data seen in the Outer Limits Press Box entry of January 15th.

In 2009, Mark (Phillips, not … never mind) and Frank Garcia also compiled a followup volume for McFarland, Science Fiction Television Series: Histories, Casts and Credits for 58 Prime Time Shows, 1990-2004.  Like Frank, Mark hails from the frozen northland (Canada) and has been a contributor or correspondent for Starlog, OutrĂ©, Filmfax, Cinefantastique, and so on — hundreds of interviews and articles.  For example:

In TV Zone #159-160 (Oct-Nov 1990) he published an interview with Vic Perrin, Outer Limits’ Control Voice; in #217 (July 1995), John Anderson (the Ebonite Interrogator from “Nightmare”); in #218 (Aug 1995), Joe Stefano (“Writing for the New Outer Limits”); in Starlog Platinum #3 (May 1994), a piece on James Goldstone (“James Goldstone Charts a Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea); in Filmfax #93 (Feb 2003) a piece on “Moonstone” and “Soldier” player Tom O’Connor (“Tim O’Connor Was Dr. Huer on Buck Rogers).

Hey, wait a minute … you don’t suppose … that “Phillip Mark” and “Mark Phillips” could be the same person, do you?  Are we really talking to Kenny Benjamin?

Meanwhile, here’s Flip … whoever he is …
— DJS


Mark was an established performer, having had done leading guest shots on My Favorite Martian, Mister Ed and The Andy Griffith Show and then later on The Fugitive and The Big Valley. "I wasn’t a star but I was well known and had a good reputation as an actor,” said Mark.  “My agent called my parents and said there was a part on Outer Limits they wanted me to read for. I was excited to be part of a show that I was already a fan of. With Outer Limits, it was a case of wondering what kind of a creature you were going to be acting with. For example, they created real gills on Richard Ney's chest. That was a neat makeup job and the gills really moved. I worked later with MacDonald Carey on the daytime show Days of Our Lives."

Flip Mark in the “Taps for a Dead War” episode of The Fugitive.
"It was a good part and to have billing with someone like MacDonald Carey made me proud," relates Mark. "I don't know if I would consider it a classic but it was a good show. I'm flattered by the interest in it today. It's a nice sense of accomplishment."

"My best memory was doing the sequence where Zeno has Kenny walk back and forth through a wall. There was a black sheet behind me with certain lighting on the set and all I knew was that my character was supposed to appear and disappear. The technicians were like, ‘Hey, we have people walking through walls all the time on this show. You need to walk here and turn here …’ and I was like, 'Wow, I'm looking forward to seeing how this will look on TV…'"

"Those effects are nothing compared to what they do with computers today. You think, 'How did audiences ever buy that?' And in the scene where I use the climate machine to take all the xenon gas out of the air, I will never know what those things were that were floating around in the air. They looked like pillow feathers swirling around. Would those effects work today? I don't think so!"

Flip Mark with Angela Cartwright
When the episode ran short for time, it was extended by producer Joe Stefano’s addition of the prologue, and by retarding Zeno’s stairway fall with slo-mo. "That was a fun! No one told us it would be in slow motion," says Mark. "I think part of Outer Limits' charm is not necessarily the stories and certainly not the SFX but the appeal of going back to another time in your life, and go 'Hey,  I remember being in the living room in 1964 with my family, waiting for that episode to air.' There's also an interest in seeing how they produced these shows before computer effects. Back then, there had to be certain technical requirements on the set so that it would work. In some ways, that's more amazing than having a computer do it all for you."
Circa 1960, as part of the cast of Guestward Ho!
Mark later went on to do work on The Carol Burnett Show and The Red Skelton Show in the early 1970s, but he had come to a crossroads. "I knew that I wasn't going to make that transition from successful child actor to adult actor and so school suddenly became very important. Those 17 years I worked as an actor was a phenomenal experience. I met a lot of amazing people and had experiences you could never replicate in life."

He took time out to explore the real world, traveling to various sea ports by ship, and that wanderlust led him to becoming a travel agent. He later worked as a flight attendant for major airlines. "Flying really became a passion of mine. I recall standing in a TWA cockpit and thinking, 'If I can't be an actor, I want to fly with the airlines,' and I did." Mark now lives in Arizona and as part of the Phoenix Police Department, he works as a 911 operator. "Its fascinating and hugely rewarding to help people. It may not be as glamorous as acting but it's tremendously satisfying.”

13 comments:

  1. Works as a 911 operator ... or so he WANTS us to believe ... when actually he's still running the Xenon weather changer machine and cranking it overtime this winter. muuuwhhhhHAHA HAAAA. (That spelling may be off, sorry)

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  2. Excellent where-are-they-now piece. I saw FM many times while I watched those very shows. Thanks for this, David.

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  3. Thanks for this illuminating piece, DJS. It's nice to hear the perspective of a kid who worked on the show and was as unabashedly awed by it as we were in our youth.

    Hollywoodaholic--- That's old news. Last I heard, from the captain of a tramp galactic freighter, is that he was supervisor on a shake-'n'-bake atmosphere processor crew, xenoforming on LV 426. Scuttlebutt has it that no one's heard from them in a while...

    Bonus points for the phonetic sinister bray. (There are no incorrect spellings in these gutsy theatrical displays.) I'd have gone with "BUWAH-hah-hah!" At least one of us would have homaged Boris Badanov.

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  4. Until "The Inheritors," this is the only opportunity for a kid of of appropriate viewing age (when OUTER LIMITS was new) to get involved in the OUTER LIMITS universe. "The Special One" grabs bonus points for confining this potentially dire side-track to a single show ... instead of exploding it into a series, which is probably how we'd see the idea today. As a one-off, it's not so heinous; many of the program's participants, at the time, had children of similar vintage, and this was a good way to address the idea that watching OUTER LIMITS was bad for the Youth of America.

    Yes, I may be over-reading it. But when you consider all the factors in play when it comes to getting teleplay "hooks" verbally approved — ie., "alien tutor" = "go for it!" — it's mildly astonishing there weren't more episodes of this flavor.

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  5. DJS --

    The author of the TV Zone Magazine piece you cited was probably frequent Starlog contributor Mark Phillips, our man in Victoria, BC, Canada. Mark is also the archivist responsible for The Outer Limits Press Box compendium that appeared on WACT some weeks ago.

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  6. Thanks, David--interesting stuff, and a good whatever-happened-to piece. Flip Mark seemed to show up everywhere on 60s TV. As I recall he particularly excelled at young wiseass types, with an amusingly dry delivery (flip, if you will).

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  7. NO, THE OTHER MARK ...

    Sure 'nuff, turns out that the author of the TV ZONE piece was none other than Mark Phillips, co-author of the previous mentioned book SCIENCE FICTION TELEVISION SERIES (with Frank Garcia). Here's hoping Mark drops by to share some of his erudition.

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  8. I am just a fan of old movies and tv shows. I saw Big Valley with Flip Mark in a co-starring role. Thought I would look around the internet to see what he is doing now. Found this and it is a nice article. Flip is very lucky that he went straight on to live life with alot ahead of him. Nice to hear!!

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  9. This evening watched the episode of The Fugitive. How cool to find this blog post. I love knowing what happened to people and where they ended up.

    Lee
    Wrote By Rote

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  10. This evening watched the episode of The Fugitive. How cool to find this blog post. I love knowing what happened to people and where they ended up.

    Lee
    Wrote By Rote

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi! I'm the daughter of Philip Goldberg (or Flip Mark, as he was known long before I was around). I found this post when I was Googling my dad, and I thought I'd share a story: In the long-ago days of VHS, my dad and I were standing in the checkout line at the Virgin Megastore and the person in front of us was waiting to purchase the single-episode cassette of "The Special One." My dad tapped the guy on the shoulder and introduced himself as the kid on the cover of the tape. The guy was pretty surprised, to say the least!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer! We'd love to get in touch with you, if you can contact us at jscoleri AT earthlink DOT net

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  12. Flip's a good actor. I'm glad he's made a happy life for himself after his TV career ended.

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