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, Outré, 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 …
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.”