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R.I.P. Rex Reason, star of 'This Island Earth'

The actor also portrayed a reporter on two television series, and appeared in episodes of 'Perry Mason' and 'Wagon Train.'

Rex Reason's most famous screen moment might be a movie within a movie. In E.T., the lovable alien is playing couch potato in Elliott's house when he catches This Island Earth on television. Reason's character, a scientist and jet pilot, proclaims, "They're pulling us up!" It was Spielberg's nod to the type of sci-fi that he and his peer grew up absorbing. Shot in bright Technicolor, This Island Earth was a technical marvel at the time, but over the ensuing six decades has become a cult B-movie, one of the choice examples of flying saucer fiction in cinema.

It would be Reason's biggest movie role. Born with the fantastic actor name Rex Reason, the actor was at one point asked by Universal Pictures to change it to Bart Roberts. Thankfully, it did not stick.

MeTV viewers might recognize Reason as one of Perry Mason's defendants. In "The Case of the Ancient Romeo" from 1962, Reason's character is a Shakespearean thespian accused of murder. Prior to that, Reason had his own spotlight in leading television roles. He starred as the titular Man Without A Gun in the syndicated western about a justice-seeking journalist. He again portrayed a reporter on The Roaring 20's. Both were quality series that have grown obscure over time.

His final screen role would be on another MeTV series, Wagon Train. Afterward, the tall actor with a deep voice quit the business to become a real estate broker. He died last Thursday of bladder cancer in his home in California.

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