Space Patrol

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Overview | Significance | Background | Plot | Cast | Connections | Resources | Episodes | Notes

Overview

Space Patrol, 1950-1955, was an OTR science fiction adventure / space opera series. Episodes followed the 30th-century adventures of Commander Buzz Corry of the United Planets Space Patrol and his sidekick, Cadet Happy, as they faced, each week, diabolical interplanetary villains and their schemes.

Significance

Begun as a television program for children and quickly adapted for radio, the cross marketing of promotional items connected the series narrative into the daily lives of many listeners. Space Patrol is considered by OTR fans and collectors as one of the more enjoyable series of the medium.

Background

High adventure in the wild, vast reaches of space!
Missions of daring in the name of interplanetary justice!
Travel into the future with Buzz Corey, commander-in-chief of the Space Patrol!

Space Patrol was created by William "Mike" Moser (1915-1953), a World War II Naval aviator, who wanted a television program as exciting for children as Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon where for him.

KECA-TV, Los Angeles, California, bought Moser's idea, and began broadcasting daily fifteen-minute television episodes on 8 March 1950 in the Los Angeles area. The radio version of Space Patrol quickly followed. While targeted to young adults, the series was also enjoyed by adult listeners who remembered the space opera genre popularized in the 1930s, science fiction's infancy. Fans and collectors of Old Time Radio (OTR) value Space Patrol as one of the more enjoyable radio shows of the era.

The radio show probably began on 1 August 1950, with two shows per week until 8 January 1951. After a break, the series resumed on 18 August 1951, sponsored by Ralston, and aired once a week, on Saturdays. Nestlés Chocolate sponsored Space Patrol from 1954 until its last episode on 19 March 1955. Prior to October 1952, no transcriptions (recordings) are identified, so earlier episodes were probably delivered live. [1]

Using the same actors as the television series, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) radio network broadcast weekly episodes, 4 October 1952-19 March 1955.

Space Patrol was an overnight success, and almost as quickly became a multimedia franchise. In addition to the television and radio versions, a two-issue comic book, Space Patrol, was published by Ziff-Davis in summer and November 1952.

Two record albums, part of the Space Patrol Adventures series, provided two prequels, each produced and directed by Helen Moser and Lou Spence following Moser's death in 1953. The first was "Buzz Corry Becomes Commander-in-Chief" (Decca (K-135-1) 10", 78rpm, November 1954). The second was "Cadet Happy Joins Commander Corry" (Decca (K-135-2) 10", 78rpm, November 1954). This was reissued by Festival Records (Australia, DCI 012) as part of the children's series.
***(Columbia Gramaphone (Australia) Pty. Ltd, No. 1 of a series, KO1015, 78 rpm)

Toys and merchandise offered by sponsors were tied into the series during commercial breaks, and even worked into the live action adventures. For example, sponsor Ralston Cereals offered Space-A-Phones, Space Binoculars, and Magic Space Pictures, a Project-O-Scope, a Space Patrol microscope kit, "swell space coins," a mono-view outer space helmet, a cosmic rocket launcher, a "super scary, super spooky man from Mars totem head," a Space Patrol periscope, and a rocket ship cockpit model. A contest was offered to win Commander Corry's space ship by naming "Planet X." A Space Patrol club was started. Listeners felt directly connected, even as direct participants in the episodes through these tie-ins.

Plot

In the 30th Century, intergalactic shipping and traffic lanes are policed by the United Planets Space Patrol. Episodes follow the adventures of Space Patrol Commander-in-Chief Edward "Buzz" Corry and his aide, Cadet Happy, as they contend with interplanetary villains and their diabolical schemes. Corry, Happy, and others travel about the universe aboard their spaceship, Terra V, and use ray guns, Space-O-Phones, and atomolights in their efforts to keep the peace.

Cast

Commander-in-Chief Edward "Buzz" Corry (Ed Kemmer)
Cadet Happy (Lyn Osborne, most memorable line: "Smokin' rockets!")
Carol Carlisle, daughter of Secretary General of the United Planets (Virginia Hewitt (Virginia Hewitt)
Major Robbie Robertson (Ken Mayer)
Tonga; Assistant Security Chief (Nina Bara)
Prince Baccarratti (Bela Kovacs)
Dr. Malingro (Norman Jolley)
Mr. Proteus (Marvin Miller)
Dr. Van Meter (Rudolph Anders)
The Secretary General of the United Planets (Paul Cavanagh)
Commander Kit Corry (Glenn Denning)
Writer (Lou Huston)
Producer/director (Larry Robertson)
Announcer, and later, the voice of the robot on Lost in Space (Dick Tufeld)

Connections

Beyond the first appearance of technology like universal translators, matter duplicators, space telescopes, and star drive spaceships . . . concepts like hyperspace, black holes, and cloaking devices . . . and plot points like being trapped in a trash chute aboard a space ship and risking ejection into space, there are interesting connections between Space Patrol and other radio dramas.

Carleton Young played General Narda in two 1954 episodes. Young went on to star in The Whisperer radio crime series.

John Larch (1914-2005), who had a semi-regular role as Captain Smith, filled the lead role of Captain Rocky Starr in the Captain Starr of Space radio series.

Resources

Space Patrol radio logs at Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs website
Plot summaries and credits at Radio Gold Index website
Episodes at Old Time Radio Researchers Library website
Episodes at Internet Archive
Episodes at OTR.Network website
Episodes at the Old Time Radio Downloads website
Space Patrol website maintained by The Crimson Collector
Space Patrol on the Radio, part of the Space Heroes on the Radio website

Episodes

Totals

Total episodes: 149
Surviving episodes: 96
NOTE: Thirty-minute weekly episodes. Episode numbers jump from 52 to 105 and then continue to 181, possibly to match previous series (Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs).

Timeline

4 October 1952-19 March 1955
American Broadcasting Company (ABC)
NOTE: Prior to October 1952, no transcriptions (recordings) are identified, so earlier episodes were probably delivered live.

Inventory

Information and description for each episode of the series. Learn more.

Exemplary Episodes

The first of two prequels, and the first and last surviving episodes.

  • Episode 00a

    Buzz Corry Becomes Commander-in-Chief
    Episode 00a, November 1954
    The story of how Buzz Corry became Commander-in-Chief of the Space Patrol. The first of two prequels produced following Mike Moser's death in 1953 by his widow, Helen Moser, and Lou Spence.

  • Episode 4

    The Hole in Empty Space
    Episode 4, 25 October 1952
    Commander Corry, Cadet Happy, and Professor Jelka must stop a "cyclopex" from destroying the Solar System.

  • Episode 181

    The Fugitive from Telarma
    Episode 181, 19 March 1955
    The epidemic from the Telarma system has struck on Terra, started by Brokoff, an alien criminal. Commander Corry and Cadet Happy are down with the dangerous sickness.

Notes

[1] Bassior, Jean-Noel, "On the Beam: Lou Huston and the Radio Shows," in Space Patrol: Missions of Daring in the Name of Early Television. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005, 218.