Space Patrol (1950 TV series)

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For other uses, see Space Patrol (disambiguation).
Space Patrol
The television cast photo for the Space Patrol. From front right to left: Ed Kemmer - Commander Buzz Corry, Lyn Osborn - Cadet Happy, Ken Meyer - Major Robertson. Back: Nina Bara - Tonga and Virginia Hewitt - Carol Carlisle. They are seated inside the studio set for the show’s spacecraft cockpit of the Terra V.
Format Science Fiction Series
Created by Mike Moser
Written by Norman Jolley
(radio) Lou Huston
Directed by Dik Darley
Starring Ed Kemmer
Lynn Osborn
Ken Mayer
Virginia Hewitt
Nina Bara
Bela Kovacs
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 5.5
No. of episodes 210 30 min. television shows
900 15 min. television shows
129 radio shows
Production
Producer(s) Mike Moser
Dik Darley
Running time 30 - 30 minutes (weekly)
Production company(s) Mike Moser Productions, Inc.
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original run March 9, 1950 (1950-03-09) – February 26, 1955 (1955-02-26)
External links
Space Patrol Home Page

Space Patrol is a science fiction adventure series that was originally aimed at juvenile audiences of the early 1950s via television, radio, and comic books.[1] However, it soon developed a sizable adult audience such that by 1954, the program consistently ranked in the top 10 shows broadcast on a Saturday.[2]

Broadcasting background[edit]

The Space Patrol television show began broadcasting March 9, 1950, starting as a daily 15-minute show on a local Los Angeles station. However, on December 30, 1950, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) added the show as a new half-hour program to its Saturday schedule. It became an overnight sensation such that the new weekly show broadcast and the 15-minute shows continued daily on a local basis, and was seen via kinescope in other cities.[3] A 1953 30-minute episode was the subject of the first U.S. experimental 3D television broadcast on April 29 in Los Angeles on ABC affiliate KECA-TV.[4][5]

The series also made history by being the first regular live West Coast morning network program beamed to the East Coast.[6] In modern times, there is a tendency to take national broadcast events for granted, but at the time, it took an intricate network of cable and relay stations to accomplish this enormous task.[7]

The ABC television Space Patrol broadcasts became one of the nation's first mass media phenomena, such that it was quickly moved to an ABC radio series of the same name. The radio program was popular and ran from September 18, 1950 until March 19, 1955 producing approximately 129 thirty-minute episodes.[8]

The televised Space Patrol aired continuously until July 2, 1954; after a short break, it reappeared on September 4, 1954, before finally disappearing from the air on February 26, 1955. 210 half-hour shows and close to 900 15-minute shows were made over Space Patrol's 5-year run. In addition, around 129 thirty-minute radio shows were produced.[9][10][11]

Premise[edit]

The stories followed the 30th-century adventures of Commander-in-Chief Buzz Corry (Ed Kemmer) of the United Planets Space Patrol and his young sidekick Cadet Happy (Lyn Osborn), as they faced nefarious interplanetary villains with diabolical schemes. Not surprisingly for the time, some of these villains had Russian- or German-sounding accents. Cmdr. Corry and his allies were aided by such nifty sci-fi gadgets as ray guns, "miniature space-o-phones" and "atomolights." Most episodes carried such pulp-magazine titles as "Revolt of the Space Rats" and "The Menace of Planet X." Originally, the Space Patrol's purpose was that of "clearing the space lanes" but gradually evolved into an intergalactic space police and military force charged with keeping the peace. Later day comparisons between the much earlier 1950s Space Patrol and the later years' Star Trek film and television series are inevitable.

A trading card representative of the early days of radio and television where Space Patrol merchandise was offered for 25¢ and a box-top. Art by Warren Chaney.
Large crowds surround the Space Patrol Ralston Rocket as it is delivered to the home of the television program's Name the Planet Contest winner. The "Rocket" had been on tour for months.

The show played directly to children but attracted a sizable adult audience. Many episodes merchandised various toys and mail-order premiums tied into the series during their commercial breaks. Many of the ads for corporate sponsor Ralston-Purina's Chex cereals used the show's space opera motif in their pitches. A unique feature of the TV and radio adventures was that the premium of the month was often worked intricately into the action of the live adventures. This permitted young viewers to feel that they were participating in the radio or televised adventures.[12][13] Space Patrol's most remembered premium was a "Name the Planet" Contest wherein the winner was awarded the program's Terra IV Space Ship.[14] The ship was in the form of a giant trailer in the shape of the series space craft. One of the many commercial Name the Planet commercials may be viewed at Name the Planet Commercial.

Perhaps the cleverest outcome of the program's advertising was their sponsorship of a Space Patrol club, in which viewers could become members. Continuing merchandise and program tie-ins perpetuated the connection producing such a sizable following that many of the nation's magazines chronicled the phenomenon.[15][16]

Many, but not all, of the 30-minute TV episodes are currently available in various video formats.

Was 1953's big promotion for Space Patrol TV Series.

The Radio Series[edit]

The success of the TV show spawned an almost instant radio version, which ran from 4 October 1952 to 19 March 1955 producing approximately 129 episodes.[17] The same cast of actors performed on both shows. The writers, scripts, adventures and director had some crossover between the radio and TV incarnations however; the radio broadcasts were not limited by the studio sets and became more expansive in scope and story than the television versions.[18] Although there was seldom any deliberate crossing-over of storylines, some of the television villains regularly appeared on the radio (notably Prince Bacarratti), and during the 'Planet X' story both the TV and radio versions explored the rogue planet's invasion of the Space Patrol universe.

While the radio series lacked the adult sophistication of sci-fi shows such as the later day X Minus One, it was enjoyed as a Golden Age space opera popularized in the 1930s, the days of science fiction's infancy, by pioneering magazine editor Hugo Gernsback and it is prized by "Old Time Radio" collectors today as one of radio's most enjoyable and fascinating adventures. Unfortunately only around 117 of the original broadcasts survive. 97 are on the OTR site [19] and a few others on torrent sites.

Production[edit]

An early 1950 appearance of the Space Patrol cast. After moving to ABC, costumes and sets were rapidly upgraded. From left: Virginia Hewitt - Carol Carlisle, Nina Bara - Tonga, Norman Jolly - Agent X, Glen Dixon - Gruel, Ken Mayer - Major Robertson, Ed Kemmer - Commander Buzz Corry, and Lyn Osborn - Cadet Happy.

Space Patrol was the first West Coast morning network program broadcast to the East Coast via a massive network of cable and electronic interchanges. The program was televised from the original soundstage where the Lon Chaney motion picture, Phantom of the Opera had been filmed.[20] As such, the "Phantom Stage" was one of the largest TV stages in Hollywood and made a great home for Space Patrol. While other televised science fiction programs such as Captain Video and Tom Corbett, Space Cadet had continually dwindling sets, Space Patrol sets grew larger and larger.[21] The Studio had catwalks high above the stage that were utilized for many of the scenes, especially those requiring large castle-like sets. Likewise, cast members could be suspended in "space" outside their spacecraft without the problems of studio cramping.

Space Patrol's creator was William "Mike" Moser, a United States Naval Aviator World War II veteran. In frequent interviews such as one given to Time Magazine in March 1952, Moser stated that he developed the series idea while flying across the Pacific. He was determined to create a children's television program that was as exciting to them as Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon had been to him during his youth.[22] Moser took his idea to KECA-TV, a local Los Angeles ABC station. They bought the concept and Space Patrol began airing in March 1950.[23]

Glen Denning was originally cast in the lead as Commander-in-Chief Kit Corry and comedian Lyn Osborn as the youthful sidekick Cadet Happy. Denning had continual problems remembering lines and delivering them and was replaced.[24] War hero Ed Kemmer, a graduate of the Pasadena Playhouse, soon replaced him. Osborn, like Kemmer, studied at the Playhouse and had introduced Kemmer to Mike Moser. Kemmer's seriousness and military bearing brought a maturity to the role that helped to increase the popularity of the series.[25]

Both the 30-minute and 15-minute programs were performed and broadcast live. If a line was flubbed or an accident happened, the actors recovered as quickly as possible and soldiered on. The pressure of memorizing lines for a new live 15-minute show every day was onerous enough, but became even more burdensome when the 30-minute weekly show was added. The actors' tasks were increasingly difficult because they faced the complexity of coordinating their on-camera movements with intricate special effects,[26] which also had to be created live and in real-time. For example, pistols that shot invisible rays necessitated pre-positioning small electrically wired explosive charges on the surface they were supposed to strike. An actor would aim the prop ray gun at that location and squeeze the trigger, whereupon a special effects worker off-scene would throw the detonation switch.

The cover of TV-Radio Life Magazine (January 19, 1953) depicts the stars of the ABC television sci-fi series Space Patrol

A practical videotape system was not available until after Space Patrol's run, so for distribution to distant stations the image on a small, bright TV monitor was filmed using a motion picture camera with a specially modified and synchronized shutter mechanism, creating kinescope recordings on 16 mm or 35 mm film. Most of the Saturday half-hour TV broadcasts survived in this form and so are still available today. The 15-minutes-every-weekday version of the program was at first seen mainly in the Los Angeles broadcast area, but was later also seen nationwide by syndication via kinescope films.[27][28]

Cast[edit]

Regular Series Cast

  • Ed Kemmer ... Commander-in-Chief Edward "Buzz" Corry: Corry was the senior officer of the Space Patrol whose assigned task including clearing the space lanes and maintaining peace in the galaxy. As the series continued, his mission expanded to exploring the outer regions of intergalactic space and time.
  • Lyn Osborn ... Cadet Happy Osborn: was a graduate of the Space Patrol's Space Academy who was given an initial training assignment as cadet and aide to Commander Corry.
  • Virginia Hewitt ... Carol Carlisle: was the daughter of the Secretary General of the United States who works in both an administrative and scientific capacity at the United Planets' Headquarters.
  • Ken Mayer ... Maj. Robbie Robertson: the Security Chief of the Space Patrol and friend and fellow adventurer with Commander Corry.
  • Nina Bara ... Tonga: had been a villain in earlier episodes known as The Lany of Diamonds. She was converted from the "dark side" and became the Chief Assistant to Major Robertson and a valuable ally of the Space Patrol.
  • Bela Kovacs ... Prince Baccarratti and other villains and characters appearing in the series. However, it was his portrayal as Bacarratti or the "black falcon" for which he is probably best remembered. He was also Associate Producer for 16 episodes.
  • Norman Jolley ... Agent X: one of the original reoccurring arch villains in the series. Jolley was also the "chief writer" for the show and served double duty.
  • Marvin Miller ... Mr. Proteus: a popular reoccurring villain who could assume many disguises making him extremely difficult to capture.
  • Paul Cavanagh ... The Secretary General of the United Planets: was the chief executive for the government of the United Planets. Commander Corry reported directly to him.
  • Glen Denning ... Commander Kit Corry: replaced by Ed Kemmer very early in the series. Kit was Buzz's older brother and original Commander-in-Chief" of the Space Patrol.

Cast with Recurring Roles

Space Patrol hired many actors who later became well known in their own right. The included such personalities as Ray Bolger, Gene Barry, Bill Baldwin, Lee Van Cleef, I. Stanford Jolley, Carlton Young and Ed Nelson.[29][30] The following cast members are some of those actors who appeared in multiple episodes:

  • Ben Welden ... Johnson / ... (9 episodes, 1952–1954)
  • Joel Smith ... Android / ... (8 episodes, 1952–1955)
  • Tom McKee ... Ahyo / ... (7 episodes, 1953–1954)
  • Lawrence Dobkin ... Marco / ... (7 episodes, 1953–1955)
  • Morgan Shaan ... Axel / ... (6 episodes, 1953–1954)
  • Fred Howard ... Andrews / ... (6 episodes, 1951–1953)
  • Richard Karlan ... Captain Dagger / ... (5 episodes, 1953–1954)
  • Valerie Bales ... Yula / ... (4 episodes, 1955)
  • Bill Baldwin ... Barti / ... (4 episodes, 1951–1954)
  • Jack Reitzen ... Keller / ... (4 episodes, 1951–1953)
  • Lee Van Cleef ... Herrick / ... (4 episodes, 1952–1953)
  • Charles Horvath ... Corporal / ... (4 episodes, 1952–1955)
  • Robert Carson ... Governor Willis / ... (4 episodes, 1952–1953)
  • Charles Victor ... Dr. Jerry Taylor / ... (4 episodes, 1953–1955)
  • William Justine ... Benjamin / ... (4 episodes, 1953–1954)
  • Robert Shayne ... Groata (3 episodes, 1954)
  • Joel Marston ... Bill Redrow / ... (3 episodes, 1952–1954)
  • Norbert Schiller ... Bit / ... (3 episodes, 1953–1955)
  • I. Stanford Jolley ... Dr. Lambert / ... (3 episodes, 1953–1954)
  • Oliver Blake ... Ezekial Martin (3 episodes, 1954)
  • Dorothy Ford ... Queen Riva (3 episodes, 1954)
  • Henry Corden ... Brooks / ... (3 episodes, 1951–1953)
  • Jack Brown ... Josiah / ... (3 episodes, 1954)
  • Gail Bonney ... Goodwife Martin (3 episodes, 1954)
  • Peter Mamakos ... Herrick / ... (3 episodes, 1951–1952)
  • Ward Wood ... Farlon / ... (3 episodes, 1951–1952)
  • John Alderson ... Bolen / ... (3 episodes, 1952–1953)
  • Frederic Berest ... Bender / ... (3 episodes, 1952–1953)
  • Stephen Chase ... Sloan / ... (3 episodes, 1952–1953)
  • Leo V. Matranga ... Freddie / ... (3 episodes, 1952)
  • William Boyett ... Guard / ... (3 episodes, 1953)
  • Joe Cranston ... Guard / ... (3 episodes, 1953)
  • Gabriel Curtiz ... Dr. Gruber / ... (3 episodes, 1953)
  • Anne Dore ... Letha (3 episodes, 1953)
  • Frances Farwell ... Calva (3 episodes, 1954)
  • Hannes Lutz ... Doctor Kurt (3 episodes, 1954)
  • Gloria Pall ... Zamba (3 episodes, 1954)
  • Kurt Katch ... Arachna (3 episodes, 1955)
  • Carleton Young ... Gen. Narda (2 episodes, 1954)
  • Alvy Moore ... Ferris Macklin / ... (2 episodes, 1951–1952)
  • Lisa Howard ... Lisa / ... (2 episodes, 1951)
  • Keith Larsen ... Bradford / ... (2 episodes, 1952)
  • Paul Guilfoyle ... Brunner / ... (2 episodes, 1952–1953)
  • George Pembroke ... Carl Marsden / ... (2 episodes, 1952–1953)
  • Jerry O'Sullivan ... Hefler / ... (2 episodes, 1952)
  • Bert Holland ... The General (2 episodes, 1955)
  • John Larch ... Korwin / ... (2 episodes, 1953–1954)
  • Pierce Lyden ... Chaney / ... (2 episodes, 1951–1955)
  • Jerry Sheldon ... Bit / ... (2 episodes, 1951–1955)
  • William E. Green ... Pop Stanton / ... (2 episodes, 1951–1953)
  • Richard Bartlett ... Harris / ... (2 episodes, 1951–1952)
  • Maurice Hill ... Capt. Hayward / ... (2 episodes, 1951–1952)
  • William Schallert ... Craig / ... (2 episodes, 1951–1952)
  • Jean Howell ... Nurse / ... (2 episodes, 1952–1954)
  • Jan Arvan ... Kruse / ... (2 episodes, 1952–1953)
  • Phil Chambers ... Forman / ... (2 episodes, 1952–1953)
  • Thomas Browne Henry ... Holliday / ... (2 episodes, 1952–1953)
  • Bruce Payne ... Breckrenridge / ... (2 episodes, 1952–1953)
  • Dan Seymour ... Kovel / ... (2 episodes, 1952–1953)
  • Roland Varno ... Doc / ... (2 episodes, 1952–1953)
  • George Douglas ... Bit / ... (2 episodes, 1953–1955)
  • Marshall Bradford ... Perry / ... (2 episodes, 1953)
  • Michael Colgan ... Fredericks / ... (2 episodes, 1953)
  • Gene Roth ... Cole / ... (2 episodes, 1953)
  • Ed Nelson ... Guard (2 episodes, 1954–1955)
  • Ed Hinton ... Tyler (2 episodes, 1954)
  • Jack Lynn ... Guard (2 episodes, 1954)
  • Lloyd Taylor ... Bookstore Clerk / ... (2 episodes, 1954)
  • Richard Devon ... Molak (4 episodes, 1950)

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Other Media[edit]

This was the official Space Patrol Membership Kit offered as a cereal premium throughout the run of the Space Patrol 1950s television series. It consisted of an official badge, printed photo, map of the united planets, membership card and an official space patrol handbook.

There were at least two records available in the early 1950s, featuring "prequel" situations involving Commander Corry and Cadet Happy, and starring the radio/TV cast, although the 'origin' story for Cadet Happy contradicted both the 15-minute and 30-minute TV show versions.

Columbia Gramaphone (Aust) Pty. Ltd released a 78 record in the 1950s KO1015, 'Space Patrol Adventures' No.1 of a series, "Cadet Happy Joins Commander Corry". Happy wins the Corry Scholarship and is then practically adopted by Commander Corry to train as his aide on the side of right and justice. It is based in the 31st century. Buzz Corry is played by Ed Kemmer, Cadet Happy by Lyn Osborn, Gaff Carter by Roy Engel, and Carol Carlyle by Virginia Hewitt; the narrator is Dick Tufeld, and the Control Tower voice is Norman Jolley.

Comic books and other publications[edit]

Clarence Doore's cover for Space Patrol comic book edition #1

A comic book tie-in, Space Patrol, published by Ziff-Davis in 1952, ran two issues. It featured cover paintings by Norman Saunders and Clarence Doore. Bernard Krigstein illustrated the scripts by Phil Evans. Unlike Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, Space Patrol was never featured in a daily or Sunday newspaper comic strip, nor was there a series of juvenile novels recounting Space Patrol adventures. However, in 2008, Swapsale Magazine produced an online book titled The Original Exploits of the Space Patrol written by Warren Chaney. The book started with Chapter One and continued thereafter with periodic continuing chapters.[31]

Jean-Noel Bassior authored an extensive book in 2005 titled Space Patrol.[32] The book from McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers was well received and created new interest in the television and radio show.[33][34]

There was a three-issue Space Patrol comic series in the early 90s which purported to be of the TV series, but whose writer and artist admitted they had never seen the show. This adaptation suffered greatly because of this.[35]

Recent Space Patrol Activity[edit]

Copy of original 36" x 24" poster titled, Space Patrol. Only ten were produced and these were autographed by Ed Kemmer who portrayed the lead in the series, Buzz Corry, Commander in Chief of the Space Patrol. Construction and art by Warren Chaney.
The Space Patrol's flagship space craft, The Terra Five. Original Art by Warren Chaney.

Actor Ed Kemmer attended many of the important film festivals during the late 90s and early 2000s and discovered a renewed Space Patrol popularity that continued up until the time of his death in 2004.[36][37] The emergence of electronic media during the 1990s permitted a greater interchange of Space Patrol Merchandise that heretofore had been closely held by collectors. This stimulated new interest and in turn, production of new publications and merchandise for Space Patrol fans.[38] A rather extensive book written by Jean Noel Bassior furthered interest in the series as did the production of a new set of Space Patrol trading cards, replicas of the program's space craft, clocks, jackets and other period paraphernalia.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Title card from the episode "The Energy Thief", original air date September 13, 1950
  1. ^ Internet Movie Database: Space Patrol
  2. ^ Bassior, Jean-Noel. Space Patrol – Missions of Daring in the Name of Early Television. Jefferson, North Carolina USA: McFarland & Company, Incorporated, 2005. ISBN 0-7864-1911-3 pp. 238–242
  3. ^ Space Patrol Memories Space Patrol
  4. ^ TV Acres
  5. ^ imdb.com
  6. ^ Space Patrol Memories Space Patrol
  7. ^ Space Patrol Memories Space Patrol
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Jarris, Judy, A Space Patrol Reminiscence
  10. ^ Bassior, Jean-Noel. Space Patrol – Missions of Daring in the Name of Early Television. Jefferson, North Carolina USA: McFarland & Company, Incorporated, 2005. ISBN 0-7864-1911-3 pp. 1–15
  11. ^ Space Patrol History
  12. ^ Bassior, Jean-Noel. Space Patrol – Missions of Daring in the Name of Early Television. Jefferson, North Carolina USA: McFarland & Company, Incorporated, 2005. ISBN 0-7864-1911-3 pp. 238–242
  13. ^ Jarris, Judy, A Space Patrol Reminiscence
  14. ^ Name the Planet Contest
  15. ^ Time Magazine: Interplanetary Cop
  16. ^ Swapsale: Space Patrol at Life Magazine
  17. ^ [2]
  18. ^ Bassior, Jean-Noel. Space Patrol – Missions of Daring in the Name of Early Television. Jefferson, North Carolina USA: McFarland & Company, Incorporated, 2005. ISBN 0-7864-1911-3 pp. 215–225
  19. ^ Space Patrol OTR.Network Library
  20. ^ Space Patrol History
  21. ^ Linke, Francis: Space Patrol Memories by Tonga, Vols. 1-3, Los Angeles 1966, 1976, 1977, self-published. (Ms. Linke was Nina Bara, who portrayed Tonga a regularly appearing character during the early episodes of Space Patrol)
  22. ^ Space Patrol History
  23. ^ The Space Patrol Story
  24. ^ Space Patrol Story
  25. ^ Space Patrol History
  26. ^ Ed Kemmer Interview
  27. ^ Bassior, Jean-Noel. Space Patrol – Missions of Daring in the Name of Early Television. Jefferson, North Carolina USA: McFarland & Company, Incorporated, 2005. ISBN 0-7864-1911-3 pp. 1–3
  28. ^ Ed Kemmer Interview
  29. ^ Bassior, Jean-Noel. Space Patrol – Missions of Daring in the Name of Early Television. Jefferson, North Carolina USA: McFarland & Company, Incorporated, 2005. ISBN 0-7864-1911-3 pp. 312–325
  30. ^ Internet Movie Database: Space Patrol
  31. ^ Chaney, Warren, Mission to Pluto, Swapsale Magazine
  32. ^ Bassior, Jean-Noel. Space Patrol — Missions of Daring in the Name of Early Television. Jefferson, North Carolina USA: McFarland & Company, Incorporated, 2005. ISBN 0-7864-1911-3 pp. 215–225
  33. ^ The Thunder Child
  34. ^ Space Patrol Book
  35. ^ Space Patrol Issue One, Author's Notes
  36. ^ New York Times: Ed Kemmer
  37. ^ Chaney, Warren, Farewell to the Commander, Solar Guard Tribute
  38. ^ Crimson Collector: Space Patrol

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