Commander In Chief
My name is Marty Baumann. I write and edit The Astounding
B Monster webzine. I cant express how saddened I am by Ed Kemmers
passing. Ive interviewed a number of celebrities over the years. Ed is one
of a very few who became a friend. In hindsight, cynical critics have maintained
that the movie and television heroes of the post-war years were possessed of virtues
no human could aspire to in reality. Ed did. He was generous, courteous, sensitive,
brave and modest. War hero, husband, father, actor, singer, painter. Buzz Corry
never escaped from a Nazi prison camp or delivered a baby in the back seat of
a speeding police cruiser. Ed did. So, let the critics debate whether or not our
role models should accurately reflect reality, happy in our knowledge that Ed
Kemmer made reality better.
attended several shows with Ed. It was heartening to see men and women in their
fifties, wide-eyed and tongue-tied upon meeting Commander Buzz Corry. Ed steadfastly
refused to charge for autographs, sometimes to the consternation of the celebrities
at adjacent tables who were asking $10, $15 and $20 a pop. His giving nature was
reflected in the way he casually shared so many personal memories. Just when you
thought you knew all there was to know about the man, he'd delight you with another
anecdote or accomplishment previously suppressed by his inherent modesty. For
instance, he was an accomplished singer. He and his brother formed a musical trio,
and to the best of Ed's knowledge, they were the first to record the classic song,
"You Are My Sunshine." When he moved east following "Space Patrol,"
he took all of the show's miniatures -- rockets and space base -- with him, but
they vanished from the train car en route. He had no idea what became of them.
Just recently I mentioned to him that I'd seen the "Combat" episode
that featured he and Warren Stevens as suspected Nazi infiltrators. This sparked
a long reminiscence; Stevens, like Ed, was a pilot. Stevens had access to a light
plane and, after "Combat" filming was concluded, Ed recalled, "we
flew north out of L.A. and had a great Sunday breakfast at an airport he was familiar
with. He was a good pilot and we enjoyed a good day's flying." Ed recalled
many details of the programs he appeared on, but often had trouble remembering
names. Struggling to recall William Shatner during one of our conversations, Ed
said, "Oh, you know, the fellow with the wig." He meant nothing derogatory.
Ed was without guile, a gentleman in every regard.
When "Space Patrol"
was at the zenith of its popularity, Ed, Lyn Osborn and a vocal chorus recorded
the show's theme song and the rousing "Up Ship and Away." Ed transferred
the 78-rpm disk to cassette and sent it to me. It's an exhilarating piece of nostalgia
with Ed, his voice brimming with confidence, belting out the song's infectious,
optimistic refrain: "Close ports, fire jets, up ship and away! We'll take
it slow and only go a million miles today."