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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • SUMMER IN ITALY, 1951

Space Cadets: 1952

Space Cadets: 1952

From 1952 comes this conflation of two popular genres in the children's TV show "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet." Photo by Charlotte Brooks for the Look magazine assignment "Cowboys and Meteors." View full size.

 

I loved them all!

In 1952 I was an avid watcher of ALL of the above! And I was totally undiscriminating. For film buffs, Tom Corbett was played by Frankie Thomas, who also played Nancy Drew's nerdy boyfriend Ted in the Nancy Drew films.
There seems to be a refugee from the Hopalong Cassidy show in the midst. I was a total Hoppy fan, as well, of course. I had Hoppy pants, a Hoppy jacket, and I may have had a Hoppy hat at one time, but I don't think it lasted very long. I would love to own a complete Hoppy outfit right now.

What production values?

Those of "Space Patrol" and "Space Cadet" were crude indeed, but they looked like Speilberg in comparison to Captain Video where just about all props were cardboard mock ups, guys walking on the hull of a space ship with their suits unzipped, some kind of weapon the good Captain had just invented to battle bad guys got knocked over, cardboard, the Video Ranger just up rights it and they are off to battle the evil doers. The Dumont Network was indeed a shoestring network with high hopes and no money, that's why they folded.

The big blooper

I don't want to hog the comment board, but I remember seeing a TV show years ago full of bloopers from old, mostly live TV shows and I believe there was one scene from this show in which the blingy nailheads or metal studs from an astronaut's spacesuit lavish wrist cuffs somehow got tightly wedged in and entangled with the studs on his collar, locking his wrist to his throat. He was trying to use the communicator on the dashboard but could not release his arm off his neck area. It was hilarious but maybe you had to actually see it to understand, as it was definitely a sight gag type of thing.

Stylin'

Zolatone -
Used in automobile trunks, gas station restrooms,
and spaceships.

Back in my day...

We didn't need no fancy universal translator, a science officer, or starfield viewer to go into space. All we needed was two dials of some kind, three knobs, and a switch. And let me tell you, there were days when we didn't even need the switch.

Kids today...hah!

Yes, But ....

My friends and I were big Tom Corbett fans, maybe because its production values, though ludicrous by most standards, far surpassed those of its main competitor, "Captain Video" (the walls of whose space ship shook every time somebody moved). Of course, it helped that the principal characters -- Tom himself (All-American Good Guy), Roger Manning (a bit arrogant and self-entitled, but in the end reliable), and Astro (a somewhat naïve Venutian) -- had a bit more depth than most juvenile protagonists. As to the three rug rats depicted ... must be the floor director's kids, because they bear no resemblance to the actors who played the actual Space Cadets.

Not Space Patrol quality, but OK

Watched this series in parallel with "Space Patrol" which was produced in a slightly more spacious studio in LA. Even as a kid I was struck by the difference in production values. Space Patrol was clearly the superior product in terms of set quality, which is not to say those sets were actually even good, they were just better by comparison. And the scripts on Space Patrol seemed much more forward looking, whereas Tom Corbet scripts generally quoted WWII era values.

But the real bottom line for a healthy young lad was the preponderance of space-miniskirts on Space Patrol, often seen ascending and descending conveniently placed ladders. Tom Corbet couldn't hold up a candle to that.

Episodes can be found

On YouTube. I do not remember this show as a young one!

Awful Awful TV Show

I was a kid and thought it was the worst show ever.

A guy would be lost in space drifting in his space suit and you could see the floor he was standing on.

NYC Channel 5, the Dumont Network, the low budget station.

Channels 9 and 11 came later with reruns of bad shows, but even they avoided Tom Corbett.

Channel 13 was wrestling.

Mostly I played outside.

Commander Arkwright

That must be Commander Arkwright with the mike, showing the kids how to work a drive-up window in the world of the future.

Captain's log Star Date 1952

"Scotty rigged up an old barber chair on a wooden dolly with caster wheels for me to sit in. I have to be careful when I sit down so I don't roll off the bridge."

Future Frack Cadet

Did this same Tom Corbett eventually become the governor of Pennsylvania? It would explain a lot.

Another meaning

There was a time in the 60's and beyond, when "space cadet" meant something totally different than an astrophysical occupation. Cleaning out my mom's home of 53 years, we found an old blue metal lunch box from my baby brother's school years which was a Tom Corbett depiction of this TV hero. There was a built-in ID card on one side which said "This lunch belongs to ---- " with my brother's name followed by the words "Space Cadet" permanently painted upon it. It cracked us all up because he was not one, he was very self-disciplined as he had attended a U.S. Military Academy instead. He will be 66 yrs. old in July and will be so happy that I shared this with ya'all, (but I will always be older than him).

Ladder kid

Betcha that kid fell off the ladder.

 
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