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The Irwin Allen Legacy


When Irwin Allen passed away in 1991, the world lost one of its greatest showmen of the 20th century.

In remembering Irwin and his work, it is worth reflecting on where his work will take us in the future. Will Irwin's work only be remembered by the generations growing up when his shows and movies were first released, or will they continue to bring enjoyment to many generations in the future?

Irwin Allen directing the pilot episode of Land of the Giants
That question can readily be answered within ourselves as it is a considerable compliment that so much of his work is as fondly spoken of 40 or 50 years after it first appeared on cinema and television screens.

Irwin's style and presentation of storylines stands up as well today as it did when it first aired. We can't always say that about a lot of other movies and television productions. How many times have you watched something that you loved as a child 20, 30 or 40 years later, only to reflect now with feelings of "I can't believe I ever liked that?".

Sometimes, the shows you liked as a child still bring back wonderful memories even if re-watching makes you shiver a little when you see the sets wobble or when the special effects look decidedly dodgy.

It may be a sign of the high standards of American television and movie production in the 1960's, but the sets and effects of Irwin Allen's science fiction shows do not appear to have aged at all. The quality is indeed quite exceptional. Even more so when you look at modern computer generated effects, which make the job so much easier and cheaper for contemporary film makers. When Irwin Allen did special effects, he really did "SPECIAL" effects. With a team lead by the outstanding L.B. Abbott, Irwin was able to create imaginative new worlds which match anything you see today.

So where do Irwin Allen's movies and television shows go from here?

The Fantasy Worlds of Irwin Allen DVD
To begin with, producers such as Kevin Burns (The Fantasy Worlds of Irwin Allen) who were inspired by the work of Irwin Allen are pursuing opportunities to bring Irwin's creations to new generations with remakes and new scripts building on the stories first brought to us by Irwin. Not only has Kevin given us The Fantasy Worlds of Irwin Allen, but he has also been instrumental in bringing us the 1998 Lost in Space Movie, both a television and cinema feature for The Poseidon Adventure, the 2002 Time Tunnel pilot, and he is still working on much more.

Unlike theatre, movies and television productions are captured on film for all time (as long as they are taken care of). Fortunately, Irwin's television shows have not suffered like some highly popular BBC shows such as Dr. Who, where some reels were destroyed in the late 60's and early 70's, and episodes were lost forever. All of Irwin's shows exist in some form, as do his movies, though many of the latter have yet to be released in DVD form. And as much of Irwin's television work was shot at 35mm, much of it lends itself readily to high definition (HD) in the future.

Then there is the internet and future forms of communication and entertainment. Irwin's shows are already appearing on Amazon, iTunes, and Hulu (note that at this time, Amazon, iTunes and Hulu videos can only be watched within the US). For those that cannot afford the DVD box sets, these web sites provide a valuable resource for anyone seeking out the occasional episode to watch. As entertainment moves into the 21st Century, it will become more bite-sized and interactive, so any future projects will need to bear this in mind.

Giants Log 1991 Tribute to Irwin Allen
Arguably, the greatest aspect of Irwin Allen's legacy is his fans. Without the voices of his fans around the world over the past 40 years, the television shows (maybe more so than the movies) would have been long forgotten. Fan clubs, newsletters and zines sprang up from the early days and each brought with it an energy that has helped these shows live on year after year. Fans have been inspired by Irwin Allen's form of story telling to become film makers, scientists, artists, firemen and much more. The internet gives fans a new forum to share their passion for these shows. Irwin Allen fans are also some of the most creative you will find. When you browse around this Irwin Allen News Network site, you will see much creativity from fans from all corners of this planet, who have each been inspired by one person, Irwin Allen.

Much of the credit goes to the team of people who worked with Irwin Allen. Sheila Allen, Irwin's wife, has been at the forefront of all the work discussed above as she continues to ensure that Irwin's work will be enjoyed for decades to come. Little known names from behind the scenes have been enormous supporters of the fandom surrounding Irwin's productions. Irwin Allen's right hand man and award winning costume designer, Paul Zastupnevich, met with fans on several occasions and honoured British fans by attending the Voyage 94 convention. The actors and actresses who worked with and for Irwin Allen regularly attend events and conventions around the globe, and act as ambassdors for Irwin Allen's legacy.

The production crews who worked on every stage of the development of each production are the creative force that made them possible. Irwin Allen's projects were enriched by outstanding writers, filming teams, special effects wizards, artists, musicians, administration staff, managers etc. If you read through the credit lists at the end of any of the productions, you will see the same names time and time again.

Irwin Allen was immensely lucky to have many loyal actors working for him such as Steve Marlo, Patrick Culliton, Erik Nelson and Elizabeth Rogers to name a few. Each appeared in many, many of Irwin Allen's shows and movies (often uncredited) and have been unsung heroes that we also want to see remembered. For anyone who worked on any aspect of Irwin Allen's productions, this work is also their legacy, and it is our job to make sure this is not forgotten.

If you have been inspired by the work of Irwin Allen, please do let us know via the Irwin Allen News Network Contact Page. If you would like to help us in our work to ensure that these shows and movies are not lost in the mists of time, we welcome your help with any aspect you are able to contribute to.

Our special thanks go to everyone who is part of Irwin's legacy. Long may it continue.