Williamsburg Film Festival

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Pictures and comments from the cadets. Click on the picture for full view.

Hey, Cadets!

I shall remember this festival with great love and gratitude. You came, you saw, and you conquered two old cadets attempting to revive an old radio and TV show..and what fun that was!

Most of all, there was that incredible moment of seeing Frankie Thomas march into the large room in his original uniform, ready to fight off another bad guy on a far planet. It didn't matter if the uniform colors had faded and changed, northat he had white hair and a few wrinkles..he wasthere... Tom Corbett! Space Cadet!!!

I was happy to have some of you participating in it by filling in roles.. I don't think Astro could have been done better... my wife blossomed into an actress... Captain Strong grew a beard and mustache and Southern accent... it was magnificent... even to the soundman delivering a soap opera theme instead of our Cadet music by hitting the wrong button.

Oh, the march music was there... but we had to ignore what took its place without falling downlaughing. You'll never know how truly historical and hysterical the event was.

The re-creation had it all... despite the inadvertent error of having a soap opera theme instead of our own cadet march for one of the early bridges, there was wise guy Roger sounding off, Cadet Chuck Lassen, as Astro, being methodical, and Larry Floyd as Captain Strong leading the way..the "heavy", Gene Blottner, being nasty and deadly, while his concerned daughter, my wife Barbara debuting her first role, and good old Tom, making his sly joke about Roger at the end..all three cadets having survived one more adventure.

I don't know if we shall ever do such a thing again. In 1993 we did it in Newark, and we still had the entire original cast and director. The years take their toll, so we just had Frankie and myself available for Virginia..and we both cherish you fans remembering us, those who were able to attend, and those who could not.

We're all home now...we'll be looking over the shots we took with our cameras... and long as we have breath, we'll brag about bringing Tom Corbett to life once more.

I had dinner with Frank last night..he was rested and well and the same guy I've been buddies with for over a half century..he'd wish you "Spaceman's Luck!"... we had a great time.

Many thanks to you all... Frankie and I treasure the time we spent with you.

Bless all of you. Stay well and be happy. As Roger Manning would advise,

"Don't blow your jets!"

Jan Merlin..
March, 2002..Williamsburg Film Festival

"I was one of the early birds, arriving at the Williamsburg Film Festival on Wednesday at about 5 PM, after getting lost only twice on the drive up from Space Academy South in Atlanta. (Don't put your faith in motor club routings, Cadets!) Cadets Ed and Rae Pippin arrived shortly thereafter and we went out for a great BBQ dinner - Ed knows the area very well, as he grew up there, so he was a most effective guide.

My biggest thrills of the event were:

1.) Seeing Frankie Thomas in his ORIGINAL "Tom Corbett" uniform from the television show, which debuted in 1950! When he walked into the room for the interview panel, it was a wonderful flashback, and he drew a standing ovation. It still fits him well and he looks great in it. I had a chance to get a good, close look at the details of the metal studs, the embroidered patch, and all, and finally had my long-time curiosity satisfied as to what it looked like. It's the only one surviving from the show today, and quite an interesting and valuable artifact from the early days of live television.

2.) Standing on stage with Jan Merlin and Frankie Thomas, and playing the role of "Astro" in the re creation of a 1952 "Tom Corbett" radio show! What a sensation it was, to hear those voices so familiar to me from my childhood. Frank and Jan sound just like they used to, and it was just an uncanny experience to be interacting with them in front of a large and friendly audience. I rehearsed the part a bit, at home, by listening to an old recording of the episode, and reading along with my copy of the script. It paid off, as hearing how Al Markim read his lines as "Astro" was a quick course in character acting for me. My favorite part was reading "Astro's" commercial, urging the cadets to send in for their pair of "Space Goggles" from Kellogg's Pep- the Build-up Wheat Cereal. It got a good laugh from the audience. Thanks to Bill Sasser and the Festival Committee for making videotapes of the event available- I urge all Cadets to buy a copy, and join me in my "half-hour of fame"! Plus, you'll also get to enjoy the in-depth interview of Jan and Frankie, and see the REAL "Tom Corbett" in his original uniform. Priceless!

I spent a lot of time hounding Frank and Jan at the autograph table. Jan had told me, "We'll sign whatever you bring", so I loaded up my car with tons of "Tom Corbett" memorabilia- comic books, lunch boxes, thermos bottles, binoculars, and books more recently published by both of them. I brought my stuff to the autograph table in multiple small batches over two days, as there were a lot of people always in line, and I didn't want to monopolize Frank and Jan's time. They were most gracious in posing for photos for all the fans, and engaged in pleasant conversation with everyone. Jan's wife, Barbara, and Frank's daughter, Julie, were also there to greet the fans. Their table was by far the most popular one at the event, and I believe they sold a lot of books and photos.

Even the FOOD was good at the closing banquet! I had been griping about expecting another "$5 rubber chicken dinner for $25" two days before, but was pleasantly surprised to find a delicious meal of western style barbecued pork, chicken, and all the fixin's. The entertainment after dinner was a lot of fun; Jan had a cigarette swatted out of his mouth by a large bullwhip (frightening to watch!) and Frank's daughter, Julie, got to play a part in a little "sing-along" on stage.

But the best part of all was the chance to get together with many old and new friends. As Frankie Thomas said in his brief but memorable address to the banquet audience: "Ladies and Gentlemen, THIS is America!"

Oh, yes, I almost forgot- there were some cowboys there, too....."

Spaceman's Luck,

Greetings Fellow Cadets!

Space Ranger Mike E. here. Talk about a great time, I just can't say enough about our Shore Leave at the Williamsburg Film Festival!! Rangers, Kim, Clyde and I had simply a SUPER TIME with the other Cadets and our Cowboy Pals at Williamsburg! We arrived on Friday and got right into the swing of things! We teamed up with Cadets Ed Pippin and Chuck Lassen and stormed the dealers room. Once there, we joined Grand Cadets Frankie Thomas and Jan and Barbara Merlin. After numerous hugs, kisses and handshakes with our dear Friends, we talked and had a few laughs! Frankie and Jan autographed lots of cool stuff that we had brought and we got an extra treat. We got to meet Frankie's Step-Daughter, Julie, who has been keeping a loving eye on Frankie, due to his short stay in the hospital. Frankie could not have been on better hands!!

This was Ranger Clyde's first visit to Williamsburg, but I'm sure that it will not be his last! Ranger Clyde got to meet, for the first time, Grand Cadets Frankie and Jan and was on Cloud Nine for the rest of the trip!! Ranger Clyde is a guest member of the XV20 Crew, as he is first and foremost a Space Patroller. Well, that is until he went to the Radio reenactment of one of the Tom Corbett Radio Shows put on for all Cadets and Cowpokes to enjoy. And enjoy we all did!! Now Ranger Clyde is a FULL Cadet in the Solar Guard!! Just look for Cadet Laser posts on the Bulletin Board! Cadet Chuck took part in the Radio Show and played the part of Astro. He did a super stellar job!! We could sit back and be taken away to that distant worlds along with the Cadets of the Polaris and join in with their adventure far out in space!! We all wish that the program would not end!!

During the intermission between the question and answer session and the Radio Show, Cadet Ed held the drawing for The Space Cadet Quilt. To my GREAT SURPRISE, I won!! And believe me, the fix was NOT in!!! What a GREAT WORK OF ART!!! Kim and I are THRILLED!!!! This will go in our Rocket Room back at Space Ranger Earth Base #3!! Our thanks to Cadet Rae for making this MASTERPIECE!!!

Also there were Stars who played in the Rocky Jones Space Ranger TV Series, Jimmy Lydon and Donna Martell. Jimmy played Biffin Cardoza from the Planet Hurculan, who became Rocky's co-pilot on the XV3, Silver Moon. Donna played Mowanna, Daughter of a Chieftain on a far away planetoid. As a gift to both Jimmy and Donna, we the Crew of the XV20, Crimson Star, presented them each with a Space Ranger Jacket, Hat and T-shirt. They were thrilled, as thrilled to get them as we were to present them with those goodies!! We hope that both Donna and Jimmy wear those tokens of our affection for many, many years to come!! Thanks to them both for making our childhood so much fun!!

Friday night, Cadet Mike Turco brought his computerized telescope and set it up in the parking lot of The Holiday Inn for the cadets to gaze at Jupiter, Saturn and several other night sky views. The Crew of the XV20 thanks Cadet Mike Turco for sharing the Solar System with us!!

After the Closing Banquet, we all had to say our good-byes. We hugged again and wished each and every one a safe trip home!! With any good Spaceman's Luck, Ranger Kim and I will get back out to California this Fall to visit our Dear Friends again! If so, I'll file another report, with photos so all my Friends at The Academy can join in on the fun.

Till next time, keep your sites on the stars Cadets!
Over and out from the XV20, Crimson Star.

Hi Ed,

I had a great time at the festival. I was glad to have met you and the other cadets. The observing session was turned out OK in spite of the lights. I hope we can do it again.

Regarding the festival, I thought overall it was fun. I 'd prefer more of a Space theme than aWestern one, with continuous films of Tom Corbett, Space Patrol, etc. vs. the westerns, but seeing Frankie Thomas and Jan Merlin was a real treat. I particularly enjoyed speaking with Jan, who is really a nice guy and an interesting conversationalist to say the least. He has some great stories. He is certainly the opposite of all those "heavies" he played for so many years in film and TV!

I also loved the reenactment of the radio program. Frankie and Jan sounded like it was 1953 again. I had a real good time.

Spaceman's Luck,
Mike T.