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Actor Robert Culp dies after falling at his Hollywood home

March 24, 2010 |  2:02 pm

Culp Actor Robert Culp, best known for his role as an international tennis star and globe-trotting secret agent in the hit 1960s television series "I Spy," died Wednesday morning after a fall at his Hollywood home, authorities said.

The 79-year-old actor was rushed to Queen of Angels hospital shortly after 11 a.m. after hitting his head while taking a walk outside his home in the 1800 block of El Cerrito Place, said LAPD Lt. Bob Binder. He was found by a jogger who called 911, and paramedics, patrol officers and detectives responded to the scene.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later. A preliminary investigation found "that his death is accidental and there appears to be no sign of foul play," Binder said. An autopsy by the Los Angeles County Coroner's office is pending.

Culp broke into Hollywood in the late 1950s but catapulted to fame playing Kelly Robinson in the hourlong 1965-68 espionage series "I Spy," which was shot in exotic locales around the world.

Besides its popularity, the show also broke the color barrier for dramatic television series as the first noncomedy series to star an African American actor, Bill Cosby.

Off screen, Culp has been active in civic causes, most recently in his efforts to oppose construction of an elephant exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo. 

In 2007, the actor joined with real estate agent Aaron Leider in filing a lawsuit against zoo director John Lewis and the city to stop construction of a $42-million elephant exhibit and bar the zoo from keeping elephants there, accusing authorities at the facility of withholding medical care from the animals and keeping them cramped in small places.

Last year, after temporarily halting construction on the elephant exhibit amid a fierce debate, the City Council voted to go ahead with the project as planned.

A full obituary is coming shortly from The Times.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Robert Culp in the action-adventure television series "I Spy."

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