Space Patrol: Missions of Daring in the Name of Early Television
by Jean-Noel Bassior
McFarland Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780786419111
Date: 15 May 2005 List Price $49.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK /
Book Description: The classic television series Space Patrol was a stellar success for ABC from 1950 to 1955. As a pioneer in the hair-raising world of live television, the show had a huge fan base of both children and adults. The magic hinged on the cast: Commander Buzz Corry, Cadet Happy, Carol, Major Robertson and Tonga—five 30th-century personalities whose lives entwined with soap opera strength as they undertook "missions of daring in the name of interplanetary justice." A personal appearance by the cast at a Los Angeles department store drew 30,000 fans. But TV viewers had no idea that the actors and crew faced dramatic as well as galactic peril. In the course of producing an action-packed show live before the nation, with special effects in their infancy, what could go wrong usually did. Ed Kemmer, a real-life World War II fighter pilot shot down and captured by Nazis, who later starred as Commander Corry, learned to improvise for nervous, tongue-tied guest actors and to lean casually against scenery about to fall.
This book recounts stories of early television and the risk-taking ABC crew who invented equipment and ingenious special effects that laid the groundwork for TV today. It tells of the personal heroics of Kemmer and other cast members, both on- and off-screen. Included are interviews with Kemmer, as well as TV writer Norman Jolley (who penned many classic series, including Wagon Train); director Dick Darley; radio writer Lou Huston; and veteran announcers Jack Narz and Dick Tufeld. (Tufeld once announced the Grammy Awards from a men's restroom—the tile walls and floor provided a great reverberating acoustic venue). The book also profiles William "Mike" Moser, the show's creator, and provides details about how the early shows came together and the events in the first year that took Space Patrol from a local station to the network. Many details are given about the adventure that was putting on a live television show along with live commercials. Stories from fans demonstrate how Space Patrol gave them ideals and values they still hold today. The book explores changes in television that led to the demise of action-adventure shows that featured strong role models and tells how Kemmer, who portrayed the heroic Buzz Corry, came to terms with his impact on countless young lives. (Fifty years later, he was still receiving letters from grateful fans.) Included are episode guides covering the 210 half-hour network TV shows, as well as the radio shows, and memorabilia collectors can feast on the galaxy's most complete guide to Space Patrol premiums.