1 9 4 9 – 1 9 5 5 (USA)
Fighting for law and order, Captain Video operated from a “private mountain hideaway, sometime in the 21st or 22nd century” with secret agents at all points of the globe.
Captain Video – “The Guardian of the Safety of the World” – worked for the Solar Council of the Interplanetary Alliance. Possessing scientific secrets and scientific weapons, he asked no quarter and gave none to the forces of evil.
He invented futuristic weapons to battle his nemeses, Nargola, Mook the Moon Man, Kul of Eos, Heng Foo Seng and Dr Clysmok.
The weapons had names like Discatron, Radio Scillograph, Isotopic Radiation Curtain, Astra-Viewer and the Cosmic Ray Vibrator that countered the evil Trisonic Compensator (owned by evil Dr Pauli).
The initial prop budget was $25 per show and many items were made from off-the-shelf automobile parts.
Captain Video was portrayed by Richard Coogan until 1950 when he relinquished the role to Al Hodge, who had been the voice of radio’s The Green Hornet.
Hodge turned the series into a major success, but at the expense of his own career. When the show eventually left the air, he had become so identified with the role of the Captain that he was unable to find other parts.
He continued to work as a voice-over performer for documentaries, foreign film dubbing and cartoons. But he never again achieved the success or attention he had enjoyed as Captain Video. He died an alcoholic, alone and forgotten, in 1979. At the time of his death, he was living on his $63-a-week Social Security payment.
Captain Video was accompanied and assisted in his space travel by a Video Ranger played by Don Hastings, who went on to make his mark in daytime soap operas.
A number of actors who later became famous appeared in the series. Ernest Borgnine played the evil Nargola, and future The Odd Couple stars Tony Randall and Jack Klugman were both cast as neer-do-wells.
Broadcast live with filmed sequences, Captain Video And His Video Rangers originated from a studio in Manhattan’s Wanamaker Department Store.
Production was subsequently moved uptown to the new Dumont Studios on East 67th Street.
Old Western films were shown via the Captain’s “Remote Tele-Carrier” and the cowboys were billed as the Captain’s cohorts in his battle against interplanetary injustice, but they were only there as an inexpensive way to fill up airtime.
In 1953, the series was cut back to once a week and retitled The Secret Files of Captain Video.
After the series was cancelled in 1955, Hodge returned as the host of Captain Video’s Cartoons, a weekly animated cartoon series shown in syndication.
The programme serialised 51 stories of derring-do and adventure, heavily interspersed with advertisements starring uniformed Video Rangers endorsing products such as Sugar Crisp breakfast cereal and PowerHouse candy bars.
Would-be Junior Video Rangers could send off for a Captain Video picture ring by collecting wrappers from “Swell tasting long-lasting PowerHouse candy bars” (and adding “10 cents in coin”) and sending them to PowerHouse at Box 95, New York 46, NY.
A third Captain, Judd Holdren, appeared in a 15-episode movie serial released in 1951.
Richard Coogan (1949-1950)
Al Hodge (1951-1955)