Dr. Loveless


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Dr. Loveless

(pop culture)
Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless was a little man with big plans. As seen in the James Bond–in–the–Old West, “steampunk”-fiction forerunner television series The Wild Wild West (1965–1970), the puckish Dr. Loveless, charismatically played by dwarf actor Michael Dunn, was a diminutive mastermind (with an extraordinary singing voice!) often prone to childlike temper tantrums. Regarding civilization as woefully cruel and immoral, he struck out against society with bizarre schemes that, ironically, sometimes employed violence to achieve his goals. Premiering in the series' third episode, “The Night the Wizard Shook the Earth” (original airdate: October 1, 1965), Loveless was clearly a scientific genius, having conceived nineteenth-century versions of the automobile, the radio, and the airplane. Surrounded by an unusual “family” including the mute giant Voltaire (played by Richard Kiel, best known as Bond villain Jaws) and fellow crooner Antoinette (actress Phoebe Dorin, with whom Dunn performed in a musical stage act), Loveless believed himself the rightful owner of Southern California. He threatened the United States government with a high-powered explosive in an attempt to reclaim his territory and re-create it into a peaceful sanctuary for society's blameless citizens, its children, before being stopped by U.S. Secret Service agents James West and Artemus Gordon. The psychotic genius Loveless was featured in an additional nine episodes (Voltaire appeared in a total of three and Antoinette in six; the magician Count Manzeppi, played by Victor Buono, aka King Tut from TV's 1966–1968 Batman, was Wild Wild West's only other recurring major villain, seen twice in season two), continuing his efforts to acquire Southern California and, in later episodes, purge the planet of evil. Loveless' inventions included a shrinking powder, a steam-powered robot, a hallucinogen that induced murderous rages, and sound vibrations that transported victims into alternate realities depicted in oil paintings. The villain's son, Dr. Miguelito Loveless, Jr., played by Paul Williams (later the voice of the Penguin on Batman: The Animated Series, 1992–1995), continued the “family business” by building cyborgs and an atomic bomb in The Wild Wild West Revisited (1979), a CBS reunion movie; Dunn had since passed away, and the junior Loveless attributed his father's demise to an ulcer caused by his stressful defeats by James West. Director Barry Sonnenfeld's campy big-budget movie Wild Wild West (1999) was a reboot of the TV series, with Will Smith as West and Kevin Kline as Gordon. Kenneth Branagh was cast as Dr. Arliss Loveless, a disgruntled Southern super-scientist avenging the recently defeated Confederacy by attacking the United States with, among other weapons, a smoke-spewing, giant mechanical spider. The film included the misguided attempt to make this Loveless “short” by revealing him to be a double amputee. Dr. Loveless merchandising includes Rittenhouse Archives' trading cards spotlighting the TV series, and a movie-related action figure bearing Branagh's likeness.