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The Space Forum
Forum # 3
June 25,1997
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The Space Forum is open for cadets to exchange ideas and information. Send in your questions, thoughts or opinions to the Academy for others to read and comment on.

This edition will initiate a discussion topic on an aspect of Space Opera that may be of interest to others. The discussion topic will be at the beginning of each forum and will hopefully serve to encourage others to participate in a dialog on the topic of the moment or any other topic they wish to discuss. Ideas for future topics are welcome. If you do not wish to have your e-mail included in the Space Forum, please advise the Academy if all or part of your e-mail is confidential.

Discussion Topic #1:

Did the early space heroes of the pre-sputnik days inspire the exploration of space by the United States?

The question is prompted by Stuart Schneider's introduction to his excellent space toy reference book- Collecting the Space Race.  In his article "The Dream of Space" he defines the scope of the book:

He then asks the question Mr Schneider proposes that the proliferation of the toys and related items made adults aware of the possibilities of space flight.  This interest was translated as "pressure" to politicans who promised to fulfill the dreams of space flight by funding space research.

This is a heady thought for what has been dismissed as juvenile fare for so long.  However, the idea of fantasy shaping reality may not be far from wrong.  The first evidence is from the Space Opera website.  I have received e-mail from many professionals in the hard science and aerospace industry who fondly remember the early shows and the related memorabilia from the shows.    The statement that they were "greatly" influenced by the challenge of those early shows can be found in the majority of the correspondence.

Another evidence may be the people who worked on these early shows.  Many of the leading "Space Scientists" of the early 1950's were consultants to the shows.  Men such as Willy Ley and others who participated in the Collier's Space Forum.  Many of the ideas, spacecraft designs and research found their way into the shows and the space culture of the 1950's.

One would have to say that the interest generated by the children for their favorite space show MUST have had some influence on their parents opinion about space flight.  After all they had to listen to the children's stories about their favorite heroes and BUY the latest "space" product.

The question is still... was this enough of an influence on the "parents" of the children or was it a delayed influence that appears in the late 1950's or early 1960's from the "children" of the early space program.  I have always felt that the space race began not in 1957 with sputnik or with President Kennedy's Space Speech but on Friday morning October 12, 1951 at the Hayden Planetarium's First Annual Symposium on Space Travel.  This was the roots of Collier's Space Symposium that appeared in the magazine during the early to mid 1950's.

I know the early shows sparked an interest in me and I know it has in others.  Did these early shows shape the space race or reflect it?   Your comments and observations on this topic are welcomed.  E-mail the Academy.

Past question answered:

From Al Multon 4/97

Geoffrey Tolle Answered:  Thanks Geoffrey for the research. Onward to this month's letters:

 Joe Ross - TC Lunch box
It's nice to see interest in Tom Corbett again. Maybe the time is right for a revival. I noticed Tom Corbett, Space Cadet lunch boxes for sale in a local bookstore recently (probably a repro of an original lunchbox).

 [Your note reminded me that I had seen an ad in Dale Ames April 97 issue of Galaxy Patrol newsletter for reproductions of the Lone Ranger, Howdy Doody and Tom Corbett lunch boxes. I pulled out Dale's letter and there it was:

Arrow Catch Productions
1029 Vernon Way
El Cajon, Ca 92020
for $19.95 + $4.00 for shipping.

If you order a lunch box tell them you hear about it from the Tom Corbett Web Site and Dale Ame's Galaxy Patrol. I ordered the TC lunch box and rec'd it in about three weeks. I was pleased. If you don't have the original this is the next best item. See the LINKS page for Dale's address and ordering information for his newsletter.

BTW, there was also an early-50s TV version of Flash Gordon, filmed in West Berlin and Marseilles, which some of us remember fondly. There was an article about it in Filmfax a year or two ago, and there are are some videos around, too.

[I saw the Filmfax article but can not locate it now, anyone remember which issue? The video I have was issued by Kids Klassics and states it is in public domain. I have seen others, but do not know who or when they were issued.]

 Al Javel - Story idea - Tom Corbett in a Star Trek Universe
Simply put, can whoever is in charge of these things make the Tom Corbett continuity be a part of the Star Trek continuity? Oh, sure, some TC fans would be aghast, not willing to sully the show's purity with that flashier, living-color upstart/juggernaut, but it would make for some new and entertaining stories, and we would have some more of Tom. A few novels or comics, or a TV episode or a movie is all that it would take. I've already worked out some of the details: if the year is 2350 or thereabouts, it puts TC about 50 years after the Captain Kirk stuff, and about 10 years before the Captain Picard stuff. Sure, there is Starfleet and Starfleet Academy, but there also is the Solar Guard and Space Academy, with roughly the same relationship that the Navy and the Coast Guard hold today: the former outfit handles the faraway assignments, and the latter outfit handles the duties closer to home. Of course they have slightly different equipment, and the uniforms are definitely different, but that comes from using different procurement procedures and personnel. So, we can have a 10 year older Tom run into Jean-Luc, or a 10 year younger Jean-Luc run into Tom. Realizing that there is (usually) nothing new under the sun, and that I do not keep current on all of science fiction, it may be so that someone out there has already done this type of story. If so, tell me where it is. If not, toss some ideas this way and we'll be happy to come up with a story outline. So, whaddya think?(Other than "this guy needs to get a life")

[ Your story ideas sound very interesting.  Geoffrey Tolle is working along similar lines and I even took a stab at a TC short story, so I don't see why you don't give your idea a try.

I'm a traditionalist and see your idea as an "alternate universe"  where the 50's time line, science etc breaks into the Star Trek time line of "more" advanced  science, history etc.  More than anything, I would like to see the "innocence" of the TC time period remain intact and not "modernized".  The revival of the Tom Corbett comic book in the 1990 Eternity version of "Tom Corbett" is an example of a good idea -  - Tom Corbett - -  updated in a manner that changes the whole concept of the original - - Bad Idea - -.  When time and energy allows,  a page about the Eternity version of "Tom Corbett" will be added with Geoffrey Tolle's assessment of the effort. You don't want to miss it.

The idea of the Space Academy being an older branch of the Starfleet Academy  may work if you can get the transistors vs vacuum tube technology resolved. An "accident" in the fabric of time may bring the alternate universe idea into play.  Sounds like a good challenge.

As far as "whoever is in charge of these things " I don't think it really matters right now. Anything to get the Tom Corbett  series going again shouldn't be a problem for anyone.]

Bill Bainbridge - TC & Nina Bara memories, NSF questionnaire & TC marching song

Congratulations on your Space Academy website!  It's very exciting. I still have my original Space Academy certificate, dating from the early 1950s.  I was also a Space Patroller and a Video Ranger. In the 1980s I acquired some copies of Tom Corbett, Space Patrol, and Captain Video programs.  One of the times I was visiting Jet  Propulsion Laboratory I stopped to see Nina Bara who lived near JPL.   She had played Tonga in Space Patrol.  We watched an episode together, and earlier she had sent me her privately-produced books about Space Patrol.

I suppose I have never lost the childhood feeling that Space Academy should be REAL.  Over the years I have published two books about the space program, and one about science fiction.  Currently I work at  National Science Foundation, and one of the great excitements in recent months was actually seeing fragments of the Martian meteorite  believed to contain evidence of life, and to hear Dick Zare talk about his chemical analysis of it
[One of my failures in the early 70's was to meet Tonga when I had a chance. I would love to hear more about your meeting. I would also love to see those Mars Rocks !!! ]

My professional website is at:

My new web pages are up and working at:

The "qf" part of that stands for question factory.  I'm trying out the web as a medium for questionnaire surveys and for teaching about them.  The question factory is going to be a fun place where people can participate in making new surveys, responding to the questions, and seeing the results.  Right now I have 10 brief open-ended surveys, 5 radio button surveys, and results of 5 earlier surveys I did by more conventional means.

Some of the surveys will have to do with spaceflight.  One of the radio button surveys and two of the result reports do, now.  The survey is a questionnaire about extraterrestrial beings.  A report is about a survey filled out by a real group of people who planned to stage a simulated Martian colony here on earth.  And another one of the result reports concerns my study of "Goals in Space."

I expect to have a new radio button survey up in about a week, about people's reactions to the opportunity to be on the first human expedition to Mars. Earlier, a few hundred people wrote down their reactions, and I am putting those into a survey that asks whether the person would react this way or that way.  So maybe you and some of your friends would enjoy checking The Question Factory out from time to time, for the space surveys or for any of the others you might want to answer.

I think your Space Academy is great, and I really like your idea of collecting information and people's memories of the future that used to be.  Maybe you can remember the following better than I do, or know something more accurate about it:

The opening theme music of Tom Corbett was probably some traditional march, but I don't know which one. Years after the show went off the air, I was watching a TV news story about British politics, when a Labor Party band marched by, playing that tune!  Maybe that's a clue. Around 1952 or so, there was a small-size 78 rpm record of the theme, but with words added.  I may have distorted them, in my memory, but here is my best recollection of one stanza:

Spaceman's luck!  Best wishes, Bill Bainbridge
[Thanks for jogging the memory. Several fans have remembered the song. Check out the Space Record where both the March and Pledge can be found]

Centaur42 - TC sighting
First, let me say that you have a GREAT web page. [Thank you]  I've been looking for some time for information about TC.

Second, I don't know if you knew this or want to include it on the page,but-- I saw THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH the other day and sure enough -- in the first 5 min., in the scene when the mom and son leave on the train, the kid's wearing a Tom Corbett Halloween costume. Just thought you might find that interesting.........
[I had forgotten about the segment. Many years ago I taped the TC portion of the movie. If I can find it I'll make some pictures of the actor in the uniform and put them on the web. I did see Frankie Thomas as Cadet Osborne in the wartime movie THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR.

Fred Berney
You're bringing back old memories. I was a big fan of Space Patrol and Space Cadet. I even have the little golden record with the Tom Corbet theme song. I was 13, in 1952. My parents gave me a tape recorder for my birthday that year. I have hundreds of tapes of both radio and television shows.
If you get a chance, jump to my web page and take a look at some Captain Midnight memorabilia that I still own.
Please put me on whatever list you may put together. I'd love to talk with others on these subjects. Fred
Satellite Video Production ( [No problem Fred. Check out Fred's site for some interesting pics. I remember drinking a lot of Ovaltine for the decoder badges. I had the 1956 Capt Midnight decoder at one time. I will never forget running to the mailbox each day looking for the decoder and the feel of the carboard mailer when it did arrive.
As for Capt Midnight, a page dedicated to the heroes of the 1950's is in the works and information, pictures, bio's etc. about Richard Webb would be welcomed. If you have information and would like to see the Good Captain online..drop the Academy a note and let's see what can be put together.]

Rory Coker Golden Age TV Space Heroes
I just discovered your home page devoted to Tom Corbett, Buzz Corry and the other heroes of my youth (circa 1947 - 57). Very nice, although I did note a few errors. About 5 years ago I gave a 90-minute talk to a local student organization of space-travel supporters on ``Space Travel in the Golden Age of Television.'' I showed about 45 minutes of video tapes of each of the shows mentioned below (including a complete 15-minute Tom Corbett), and covered the information given below, illustrated with many slides. The information here is TeX format code that produced the overhead transparancies I showed, and it's pretty easy to read as ordinary text. There is a lot of info here that is difficult to dig out. In fact most ``information'' in ``standard'' reference books about Tom Corbett, Space Patrol and (particularly) Captain Video is absolute nonsense.

Anyway I think you're the one to appreciate what follows: Keep up the good work, e.g., keep blasting on all jets!

Rory Coker [Thanks Rory for the information. You can see the results of Rory's work on the Space Record. A lot of good information that you will not find anywhere else, enjoy.]

Chuck Lassen:
From Chuck's last month's letter: Oh yes- remember Patty McCormack? At the age of 12, I was in love with her. She did the Red Goose Shoes commercials on the Saturday shows. [How about a picture of Patty from that time period? While researching pictures for the Tom Corbett script "The Final Test" I found a picture of Patty as well as information that she stars in the 1956 suspense movie THE BAD SEED. Chuck also proudly displays his space helmet made from the Woman's Day magazine. See his letter below]
peg2a.jpg - 4.1 K Patty McCormack - circa 1955
Chuck Lassen - Same Time period with his space helmet - made from the Aug 1953 magazine article. Good Job Chuck! chuckhd.jpg - 5.7 K
Your reference page lists a Woman's Day magazine from Aug. 1953. I remember going out specifically (by city bus) to buy a copy of that so I could hopefully build a space helmet from the plans in it. I remember a couple of women snickering at me on the bus as they saw me clutching this magazine. Gad, such embarrassment! (Clueless Earthers!) Anyhow, I did build one, a really beastly looking thing. I had a lot of fun with it. [ Yes, and a very good one too!!]

And- did you ever notice that, in the closing credits of Tom Corbett, the name of the actress who played Dr. Joan Dale (Margaret Garland) was never listed? (At least not in any of the videos I have.) In fact, I never knew her name until I found your web site! I guess that was a sign of those days of lesser "political sensitivity".

There may be a mistaken bit of info somewhere on your site where she is referred to as BEVERLY Garland- that's a different actress and the film credits referenced there (if they in fact are Beverly's) were NOT our "Dr. Dale's".

Anyhow, BEVERLY Garland, you may remember as the one who played Steve Douglas' (Fred MacMurray's) second wife on the later episodes of "My Three Sons" tv series. I also have no further info on Margaret Garland. I don't ever recall seeing her in anything but Tom Corbett. [This brings up an interesting point. Anyone know how to contact Margaret Garland? There were many others who played an important part to the series and need to be highlighted. Send in your information to the Academy.]

Are the older Space Forums accessible, or are they gone from the site? I couldn't find them. [Yes, they have been archived and placed in a monthly format.]

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