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Spencer Milligan, Who Played Rick Marshall in NBC's Land of the Lost TV Show, Dies at 86

Milligan was memorialized by his Land of the Lost co-stars Wesley Eure and Kathy Coleman.

By Josh Weiss
Holly Marshall (Kathy Coleman), Will Marshall (Wesley Eure), and Park Ranger Rick Marshall (Spencer Milligan) wear life jackets in Land of the Lost.

Spencer James Milligan, the actor who famously played inter-dimensional patriarch Rick Marshall in NBC's Land of the Lost television show between 1974 and 1976, has died at the age of 86.

According to an obituary posted by the Wisconsin-based Huehns Funeral Home & Crematory (the memorial was reported by Deadline earlier this week), Milligan passed away on April 18. No cause of death was given. The actor's Land of the Lost co-stars Wesley Eure (Will Marshall), and Kathy Coleman (Holly Marshall) paid homage to their TV dad in a tearful video posted to Facebook.

Land of the Lost Actor Spencer Milligan Remembered by Co-Stars

"I'm a little speechless," said Coleman in the video. "He was a true father to us all. Thank God we got to see him one last time in Milwaukee and spend some really beautiful moments with him. He was a great man and I really truly mean that. He was a really good man through and through and he will be missed. But we will forever hold great, fun memories of him and I will refuse to cry. I will just remember all the wonderful things that he meant to me. I will miss him, though, very much ... We loved you Spencer and we will continue to love you and cherish you and all the memories. We're so lucky to have had you in our lives."

"You have to understand, Sid and Marty didn't just cast our TV family, they cast our real family," added Eure, referring to Land of the Lost creators Sid and Marty Krofft. "He was like a dad — we were all best friends, including Phil Paley, who played Chaka. Anyway, we just want to ... I don't know. What do you say when you've lost somebody you love?"

The duo closed out their message by quoting another Land of the Lost character, the Sleestak known as Enik (Walker Edmiston): "Ganactic," which apparently translates into "Good Health, Good Life, and Go in Peace."

Who Was Spencer Milligan?

Park Ranger Rick Marshall (Spencer Milligan) wears an animal pelt in Land of the Lost.

Born on September 10, 1937 in Oak Park, Illinois, Milligan enjoyed entertaining others from an early age, often performing magic tricks for his grade school peers. Following an honorable discharge from the Army in 1966, Milligan began his acting career in earnest, relocating to California and relying on the skills he'd picked up from the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, the Joan Darling Actors Workshop in Los Angeles, and the Lee Strasberg Senior Workshop in New York.

Throughout the '70s and '80s, he landed both guest and recurring roles on such shows as Gunsmoke, The Bionic Woman, The Dukes of Hazzard, Police Squad!, Quincy M.E., and General Hospital.

His most famous character, by far, was that of Rick Marshall on Land of the Lost. Hailing from the iconic Kroffts, the show centered around the Marshall family — Rick, Will, and Holly — who must fight for survival after they are unexpectedly transported to a primordial world inhabited by dinosaurs and a humanoid race of lizard people known as Sleestaks. It ran on NBC for a total of 43 episodes and has become something of a cult favorite among the kids who grew up watching. "It’s a part of television history," Milligan noted in 2018. "There’s just something about it."

The series, of course, eventually served as the basis for the 2009 comedy film of the same name co-starring Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Anna Friel, Jorma Taccone, and Leonard Nimoy.

Milligan is survived by his wife, Kerry Milligan, and three godchildren: Andee Solis, Hilary Williams, and Spencer Williams — all of whom referred to him as "Kunk." Those looking to honor the actor's memory are asked to make a donation to the Entertainment Community Fund (formerly known as the Actor's Fund).

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