The Astronaut

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The Astronaut
Genre Drama
Written by Harve Bennett
Robert Biheller
Gerald Di Pego
Charles Kuenstle
Directed by Robert Michael Lewis
Starring Jackie Cooper
Monte Markham
Music by Gil Melle
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Harve Bennett
Location(s) Universal Studios - 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, California
Cinematography Alric Edens
Editor(s) Les Green
John Kaufman
Running time 73 minutes
Production company(s) Universal Television
Distributor ABC
Original network ABC
Original release
  • January 8, 1972 (1972-01-08)

The Astronaut is a 1972 science fiction film starring Jackie Cooper and Monte Markham. This made-for-television film follows a man who has been hired to impersonate an astronaut who died during the first manned mission to Mars.


Television coverage of Brice Randolph, the first astronaut on the surface of Mars, is interrupted, indicating the signal has been lost. Shortly afterward, Eddie Reese is recruited, and shown what happened after the TV signal was interrupted: Brice reported something penetrating his EVA suit, and soon expiring. The other astronaut lifted off alone. NASA (who fear their project will be canceled) needs to keep it secret until they have answers about what exactly happened.

Reese is surgically altered, and begins learning his role as Brice. At the arrival of the spacecraft back on Earth, the splashdown site is altered so that the press is unaware of Reese being brought to join the returning space crew, and Reese, maintaining the cover, is now having to act his role with the dead man's wife Gail. Uneasy about being intimate with another man's wife, Reese unwittingly betrays himself to her, and her suspicions are raised.

Eventually, NASA determines what happened on Mars, and is ready to let Reese out of the masquerade, but Reese and Gail are willing to carry on as if he is Brice Randolph. Reese then hears from a boy, who asked for an autograph, that the Soviets have just launched their own mission to land on Mars.


Actor Role
Jackie Cooper Kurt Anderson
Monte Markham Eddie Reese
Col. Brice Randolph
Richard Anderson Dr. Wylie
Robert Lansing John Phillips
Susan Clark Gail Randolph
John Lupton Don Masters
Walter Brooke Tom Everett
James Sikking Astronaut Higgins
Paul Kent Carl Samuels

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