Bill Mumy will forever be remembered as the eerie blond-haired boy from the classic Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life.” In this 1961 entry, Mumy played Anthony – a boy who could control reality with his mind, often with terrifying results. His chilling performance as a child who could wish people “into the cornfield” made Anthony one of the most iconic characters in Twilight Zone history.
But many fans who grew up watching Mumy on this legendary anthology series have wondered – what path did his career take after such an impactful early role? Did he stay in the realm of science fiction and horror, or did he leave acting behind? Now in his late 60s, where has life taken Bill Mumy since his infamous portrayal of Anthony over 60 years ago?
Our story, of course, begins with Bill’s birth in San Gabriel, California on the first day of February in 1954, beginning his acting career only three years later in commercials and advertisements. Only a couple of years later and he would hit the ground running, acting in television and movies starting at the young age of five, starring in one-off episodes of crime dramas, sitcoms, and anthology shows of the time. He would almost land the role of Eddie in The Munsters before his parents turned down the role for him due to the makeup commitment.
Entering The Twilight Zone
His first two successful showings would come from three anthology shows presented by popular male entertainers, two of which would be remembered as terrible people and one who would be remembered as a pioneer of science fiction as a tool for justice.
His first was from a role in General Electric theater, a Ronald Reagan-hosted show sponsored by General Electric. Reagan would notably be financed by General Electric later on during his presidency to cripple entire generations to come. The other was Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Look, Hitchcock was a great storyteller, but holy hot damn the psychological damage this man did to some of his actors is not pretty. Coincidentally, Ronald Reagan is still dead and everything he tried to destroy is still going. Happy Pride Month!
Bill would find his true success in the same year as the previous two, with a central role in the second season of the popular sci-fi serial The Twilight Zone, hosted by Rod Serling. His first appearance would be as a lonely child receiving calls from his recently deceased grandmother. His best-known episode though, was called It’s A Good Life and starred Bill as a child with psychic powers and a really, really bad attitude when he didn’t get what he wanted. The episode is regarded as one of the best of the series, giving the classic Twilight Zone terror along with a thought-provoking end about humanity.
Twilight Zone to Outer Space
Bill would complete the Twilight Zone trifecta in the first episode of season five, In Praise of Pip. The Twilight Zone can be distilled into three essential concepts: Horror, horror/sci-fi with social commentary, and straight-up heart-wrenchers. This is the last of those, with a father finding out the devastating news of his sons’ death in Vietnam before being granted twenty minutes with the ten-year-old version of his son, Pip. Bill Mumy would play the younger Pip, bringing most viewers just one of many tears the series shed over the years.
In between various guest spots on everything from The Munsters to Bewitched, Bill landed a lead role in the new sci-fi adventure serial, Lost in Space as the precocious kid of the crew, Will Robinson.
While Lost in Space would finish in 1968 and Bill would go on to slow his career down slightly in the seventies, that doesn’t mean he stopped being creative. He formed a band in the meantime, landing some very, very strange hits starting in 1980 as Barnes and Barnes.
He would also return for John Landis’ personal murder simulator, The Twilight Zone: The Movie in 1983 in the segment based on It’s a Good Life, also coming back in the 2003 revival playing his same character but older with his real-life daughter playing his child with similar abilities forty years later.
Bill went all out after that, dabbling in everything from music to short stories to comic book runs, as well as making appearances on some of the absolute weirdest shows conceived in the nineties, including Ren and Stimpy and The Weird Al Show, while also landing a starring role in Babylon 5, the long running competitor of Star Trek’s 90’s re-emergence. He would play Lennier throughout the entire five-season run of the show, ending in 1998. He would notably also co-create the short-lived Nickelodeon show Space Cases, starring Power Rangers actor Walter Jones among other child stars.
Since 2000 he’s taken things at a much lighter pace, no doubt preferring the ease and money from commercial voiceovers and the occasional voice role he still takes on for popular shows like Ben 10, What’s New, Scooby Doo, and Transformers as well as cult favorite Bravest Warriors from Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward. Bill did make a recent return to live action with a small part in Netflix’s Lost in Space remake as a doctor before three episodes in the no-budget fan series Space Command.
What is Bill Mumy Doing Now?
In recent years, Mumy has continued to work steadily, often in sci-fi roles that nod to his early success. In 2018, he appeared in Netflix’s Lost in Space remake as Dr. Zachary Smith. He also voiced Lennier again in the upcoming Babylon 5 revival in 2023.
Some other notable recent credits include recurring roles on the sci-fi comedy Space Command from 2020-2022 and guest spots on shows like Agents of Project Blue Book and The Loud House. Mumy has also done extensive voice acting for animated series such as Bravest Warriors.
Not that he can be blamed for slowing down, with a marriage to Eileen Mumy happening in 1986, with the two welcoming two children into the world over the next seven years. Throughout all of the time since he’s kept himself busy outside of acting by playing music with Barnes & Barnes, as well as a band called Seduction of the Innocent along with Twin Peaks icon and good friend Miguel Ferrer before his passing. The two would also notably collaborate on a graphic novel for Marvel and their own series, Comet Man. Today he lives quietly with his wife, appearing at the occasional con for Lost in Space fans or lending his voice to everything from true story documentaries to kids’ television.