by Joe Sarno
Space Academy Newsletter # 2, 3 & 4
October 1978 to February 1979
High adventure in the wild, vast reaches of space. Missions of daring in the name of interplanetary justice. Travel into the future with Buzz Corry, Commander-in-Chief of the......
Photo courtesy of Beth Flood (Lyn Osborn's Sister)
Commander Buzz Corry. . .Ed Kemmer
Cadet Happy. . . Lyn Osborn
Major Robertson. . . Ken Mayer
Carol Carlisle . . . Virginia Hewitt
Tonga. . . Nina Bara
Brought to you by .. Ralston Purina
Director ..Dik Darley
Production Assistant .. Larry Robertson
Art Director.. Herbert O. Phillips
Settings Design .. Al Goodman
Technical Director .. Irwin Stanton
Introduction Created and produced by Mike Moser, the first SPACE PATROL program premiered on KECA-TV**, in Los Angeles on March 13, 1950**. SPACE PATROL was the first televised Space Exploration show, eclipsing TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET by six and a- half months. The first Saturday half-hour SPACE PATROL program was broadcast on December 30, 1950, and since all of the half hour shows where later to be released for re-syndication, it is this date that is commonly thought to be the first broadcast date of the show.
Before its demise on February 26, 1955, over one thousand separate programs would be aired, more than any other Science Fiction or Space oriented program. As such it was probably the longest lived science fiction show ever presented on TV,
SPACE PATROL first started as a 15 minuted daily show with continued stories. Kinescopes of these shows where usually broadcast outside the L.A. area about a week or two after the original presentation date. This continued true with the Saturday program as well until June 1952, when a national hookup allowed the program to be broadcast live from coast to coast.
Strangely enough, soon after the Saturday program began to be aired the daily shows where dropped from national syndication due to the cost of film and transporting kinescopes to other parts of the country on a day to day basis. The daily program continued to be broadcast throughout the West Coast area however, for at least three years after its coast to coast syndication hadterminated.
We have not as yet been able to ascertain the dates of the first and last Radio presentation of SPACE PATROL. We do know that there where 210 Saturday half-hour shows, and close to 200 radio programs. There had to be over 900 fifteen minute presentation as well. This means that for a period of almost four years the SPACE PATROL crew presented, live, over television and radio, an amazing seven shows a week.
The show ran consecutively, without a break, from March 13, 1950 until July 2, 1954. When a vacation was scheduled for a member of the show he was simply written out for a couple of weeks.
Norman Jolley wrote most of the television shows during the entire run of the program. Various writers handled the radio show, with Norman Jolley as script supervisor. Dik Darley was director for most of the early programs, with E. Carlton Winckler as Production Manager; Herbert 0. Phillips as art director, with sets designed by Al Goodman.
In later years Bela Kovacs, who debuted on the show as the evil Prince Bacarrati, became associate Producer of the show. Mike Moser was the creator and producer of the show until his untimely death in a traffic accident in 1954.
The death of Mike Moser was the catalyst which brought about the final demise of the program. It may also have been part of the reason the show took a two month break in the summer of 1954.
ABC tried to buy the rights to the show from Mike Moser's widow, but she would not relinquish them. For this reason ABC dropped the show despite the fact that SPACE PATROL had two sponsors for the show that had already renewed their options 'til the end of the 1955 season.
After February 1955 the show continued in syndication by the Mack Agency, with the series being rebroadcast in some area's as late as 1969.
The first Commander Corry, as documented in Nina Bara's book, had a penchant for forgetting his lines, and was soon dropped in favor of Ed Kemmer. The roll of Commander Corry's brother, Kit Corry was played by Glen Denning in the first months of the show. Ken Mayer acted in the part but only as the radiophone voice of Kit Corry, before becoming the full fledged Major Robertson.
During the early TV years of SPACE PATROL it was not extraordinary for actors to play multiple parts on the show, or to have them appear over and over again as various villains. Since, in the early years of the show, Bela Kovacs maintained his Prince Bacarrati role only for the daily programs, it was not unusual for him to play a variety of villains on the Saturday programs. And through the years various actors appeared in numerous parts including, Stanford Jolley, who would be a villain one week, a hapless old miner the next, and a brilliant scientist the next. While Marvin Miller was almost always a villain. Writer Norman Jolley was also employed to act in some of the early shows, and later on some actors that would eventually make it big in show biz appeared on the show including Lee Van Cleef and Gene Barry.
While the quality and quantity of actors was somewhat suspect, and did not aid in the continuity of the shows, the program did have improving production values through the years. Costumes where well designed, and the sets where sometimes spacious and well designed. Shows off times would have jungle scenes, complete with mountains to climb, and rivers to cross, and these where obviously indoor sets.
As the show progressed, the costumes and interior sets where improved, and eventually minatures where added, including a nice setting of the city of Terra, with rockets landing and taking off. This eventually was used on the opening and closing credits, along with specially Compossed theme music.
In the first year of the show Commander Corry rode around in a ship called "Battle Cruiser 100". On February 17, 1951 the "Terra IV" was introduced. A few years later the "Terra IV" was replaced by the "Terra V."
In retrospect, the show was not always imaginative as it could have been. The plots where typical TV fare of the day, and the science was oft times far from accurate. But it was much like the others shows, and it was all we had. And it was particularly blessed by a splendid cast of leading characters
** NOTE: Since Joe published this article in 1978, new information has been received about the date and place of the first broadcast. Thanks to Tom Mason (an engineer working at KECA-TV during Space Patrol) the station is correctly ID'd KECA-TV. Beth Flood has shared a letter from her brother Lyn, giving a date of March 9th, 1950 as the first broadcast. Thank you Tom and Beth for helping to fill in the holes. Cadet Ed
Television Logs For Saturday Shows
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Article © 1999 by Joe Sarno
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