Tom Corbett, Space Cadet
|Tom Corbett, Space Cadet|
Frankie Thomas as Tom Corbett.
|Genre(s)||Science fiction novel|
|Publisher||Grosset & Dunlap|
Tom Corbett is the main character in a series of Tom Corbett — Space Cadet stories that were depicted in television, radio, books, comic books, comic strips, coloring books, punch-out books and View-Master reels in the 1950s. The stories followed the adventures of Tom Corbett, Astro and Roger Manning, cadets at the Space Academy as they train to become members of the elite Solar Guard. The action takes place at the Academy in classrooms and bunkrooms, aboard their training ship the rocket cruiser Polaris, and on alien worlds, both within our solar system and in orbit around nearby stars.
Joseph Lawrence Greene of Grosset & Dunlap developed Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, inspired by the Robert A. Heinlein novel Space Cadet (1948) but based on his own prior work. Greene had submitted a radio script for "Tom Ranger" and the "Space Cadets" on January 16, 1946, but it remained unperformed when Heinlein's novel was published. Greene then reworked his radio script into a script for a daily newspaper adventure strip, which was never produced.
TV is the medium where Tom Corbett first appeared. The stories initially closely followed the scripts written for the unpublished newspaper comic strip Tom Ranger, Space Cadet, by Joseph Greene from 1949. Tom Corbett is one of the few TV series to appear on all four networks of the time, along with The Arthur Murray Party, Down You Go, Pantomime Quiz, and The Original Amateur Hour:
- CBS from October 2 to December 1950
- ABC from January 1951 to September 1952
- NBC from July to September 1951
- DuMont from August 1953 to May 1954
- NBC again from December 1954 to June 1955, with the final broadcast on June 25, 1955.
- Tom Corbett -- Frankie Thomas, Jr.
- Astro -- Al Markim
- Roger Manning -- Jan Merlin
- Captain Steve Strong -- Edward Bryce
- Dr. Joan Dale -- Margaret Garland
- Commander Arkwright -- Carter Blake
- Cadet Alfie Higgins -- John Fiedler
- Cadet Eric Rattison -- Frank Sutton
- Cadet T. J. Thistle -- Jack Grimes
- Michael Harvey played Captain Strong for the first six episodes of the CBS series; Pat Ferris played Dr. Dale for two episodes of the DuMont series
- Technical Advisor -- Willy Ley
- Writers: Albert Aley, Stu Byrnes, Frankie Thomas, Jr., Ray Morse, Jack Weinstock, Willy Gilbert, Alfred Bester & others.
1952 - 1956 published by Grosset & Dunlap. Written under the pseudonym Carey Rockwell, with Willy Ley as technical advisor.
- Stand By For Mars (1952)
- Danger in Deep Space (1953)
- On the Trail of the Space Pirates (1953)
- The Space Pioneers (1953)
- The Revolt on Venus (1954)
- Treachery in Outer Space (1954)
- Sabotage in Space (1955)
- The Robot Rocket (1956)
The text of the above books is available from Project Gutenberg by searching for "Tom Corbett."
In 1953 a slim children's book titled Tom Corbett's Wonder Book of Space (or Tom Corbett: A Trip to the Moon) was written by Marcia Martin and published by Wonder Books.
Comic strip 
The Tom Corbett — Space Cadet comic strip, drawn in Milton Caniff style by Ray Bailey, ran Sunday and daily in American newspapers, from September 9, 1951 to September 6, 1953. Paul S. Newman scripted through February 8, 1953.
Comic books 
The original Tom Corbett series was published by Dell Comics beginning in their 4-Color series. The 4-Color series was used to try out new story lines on the public to obtain feedback. If successful the series would be spun off to form its own title. Tom Corbett won his own title after three tryout issues. As the popularity of the television series waned, Dell stopped producing the comic book and the series was then taken up and produced by Prize Comics. There were a small number of Tom Corbett comic books in Manga style published in the 1990s by Eternity Comics, but these are universally rejected as non-canonical by Tom Corbett fans.
Dell Comics 
February 1952 - September–November 1954
- Titan Sabotage Dell 4-Color #378
- Space Pirates Dell 4-Color #400
- Colonist of Space Colony Io Dell 4-Color #421
- Lost Race of Asorians Tom Corbett #4
- The Smugglers of the Moon Tom Corbett #5
- Blue Men of Tara Tom Corbett #6
- The Space Traitor Tom Corbett #7
- Spaceship Graveyard Tom Corbett #8
- The World of Deep Waters Tom Corbett #9
- Asteroid Treasure Hunt Tom Corbett #10
- The Forbidden Forest Tom Corbett #11
- Slavers of Space March of Comics #102
Prize Comics 
May 1955 - October 1955
- Prize TC Vol.2 #1
- The Spaceship of Doom
- Octopus Tree
- The Spaceways of Peril
- Prize TC Vol.2 #2
- The Outlaws of Uranus
- The Invaders
- Wolf Planet
- Prize TC Vol.2 #3
- Dangerous Cargo
- The Drifter
- The Craters of Mercury
Eternity Comics 
- Tom Corbett, Space Cadet
- Tom Corbett, Space Cadet - Book Two
- The Original Tom Corbett, Space Cadet
Bluewater Productions 
Bluewater Productions has partnered with the radio drama company The Colonial Radio Theatre on the Air to produce a dramatic audio version of their Tom Corbett titles.
The cast for the radio program was the same as for the television series. The show ran from January 1, 1952 - June 26, 1952, initially in 15-minute segments three times a week and then as a half-hour show twice a week. A radio version produced in Australia used local actors.
There was also a musical recording in 1951 called "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, Song and March" and other songs ("Tom Corbett Space Cadet At Space Academy," "Rescue In Space" and Tom Corbett Space Cadet Song and March”). These were performed by the Space Cadet Marching Band and released on Golden Sound Records.
Other media 
There was a Tom Corbett — Space Cadet View-Master packet containing three reels. Its three-dimensional photographs were brilliantly colored but were taken of sculptures of the characters and models of the spacecraft and props. The story was of finding on the moon a miniature pyramid made by unknown aliens, which led to a clue on Mars, and finally to fighting interplanetary crooks in the asteroid belt.
There were also several coloring books; a punch-out book; a costume for kids; a lunch box; a pocketwatch; a Space Academy playset with plastic figures; a set of rubber molds for making plaster-of-Paris figures, furniture and vehicles, made by Marx toys; a Little Golden Book; and a Little Golden Record of the Space Academy song ("From the rocket fields of the academy/ to the far flung stars of outer space,/ we are space cadets training to be/ ready for dangers we may face"). Two other records presented Space Cadet adventures, starring the original TV/radio cast: "Tom Corbett Space Cadet at Space Academy," and "Rescue in Space: Tom Corbett, Space Cadet."
On the back of boxes of Kellogg's Pep Cereal were cardboard cutouts of a space cadet cap, gauntlets and a ray gun, and the company made a direct tie-in with the product Kellogg's Pep: The Solar Cereal.
The show was the subject of a parody, "Lawrence Fechtenberger, Interstellar Officer Candidate," a serial that made several appearances on programs of Bob and Ray.
A DVD with 4 episodes of the TV show is available on Amazon.com.
- "The roots of Tom Corbett in SPACE CADET was confirmed by the Heinlein's in 1977 and by other written sources since that time. When a comparison of the Tom Corbett series published by Grosset & Dunlap (now out of print) and Mr. Heinlein's SPACE CADET, the simila rities become apparent." Robert Heinlein's Influence on Tom Corbett
- Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. Radio-TV Mirror. October 1951. pp. 52–53. Retrieved 29 January 2012. (PDF)
- Preview of Tom Corbett: Space Cadet #1 (2009) by Bluewater Productions
- "Tom Corbett Space Cadet: Toys", Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, The Ohio State University Libraries.
- "Tom Corbett Space Cadet Song and March", item on Etsy.com. Songs and records were (c) Rockhill Radio Inc. Made in the USA by The Sandpiper Press, distributed by Simon & Schuster.
- David Weinstein, The Forgotten Network: DuMont and the Birth of American Television (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004) ISBN 1-59213-245-6
- Alex McNeil, Total Television, Fourth edition (New York: Penguin Books, 1980) ISBN 0-14-024916-8
- Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows, Third edition (New York: Ballantine Books, 1964) ISBN 0-345-31864-1
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Tom Corbett, Space Cadet|
- Tom Corbett, Space Cadet at the Internet Movie Database
- The Solar Guard Website
- Listen to episodes of the Tom Corbett, Space Cadet radio program
- Frankie Thomas Tribute at The Thunder Child web magazine
- "The Original Space Cadet," by Frank Kuznik, Air and Space, April-May 1995
- Details and Cover Gallery of the Dell Tom Corbet series
- Illustrations from the 1950s book series
- The Solar Guard: The Tom Corbett Page (information about the books)
- Works by Carey Rockwell at Project Gutenberg