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Johnny Jupiter

1 9 5 3 – 1 9 5 4 (USA)
62 x 30 minute episodes

Ernest P. Duckweather (Wright King) is a bumbling $15-a-week clerk at the small-town Frisby General Store. He is also an amateur inventor, who accidentally discovers interplanetary television and contacts the people of Jupiter.

When Ernest wants to contact Johnny Jupiter, he turns several dials on a large television and says, “Duckweather on Earth, calling the planet Jupiter.” Ernest can then see and speak to Johnny and vice versa.

Ernest is forever asking the super-civilised Jupiterians for advice and help with problems. Sometimes their advice is fine; other times it is a trifle impractical.

Jupiterians, for example, rule that all love affairs must begin with the “morning test” – a boy and a girl are allowed to breakfast together each morning for five years. If they still want to marry at the end of that time, they’re welcome to.

If Ernest requires extraordinary help, Johnny sends Reject the Robot – a pathetic and dishevelled soul built from spare parts – down to Earth. To accomplish this, Johnny touches a puppet version of Reject and says, “Super Jelly Bean Power”. Reject is then sent through space and appears to Ernest – although he is the only one who can see him.

The head robot on Jupiter is the opinionated Major Domo, who likes happy endings, conservative politics and single-breasted steel jackets and dislikes intellectuals, highbrow music and books of more than 300 pages.

Earthly characters include Ernest’s pompous, social-climbing boss, Horatio Frisby (Cliff Hall), Frisby’s daughter, Katherine (Pat Peardon) who loves Ernest but has a hard time believing he is in contact with another planet, rival storeowner Gregory Latham (Florenz Ames), and Mrs Millicent Clandish (Reta Shaw), a wealthy widow.

Debuting in March 1953, Vaughn Taylor originally portrayed Ernest P Duckweather as a hapless janitor at a TV station (but still speaking with the folk of Jupiter via interplanetary television).

The change of actor and story set-up took place halfway through 1953 when this mix of live-action and hand puppets switched from a live broadcast on the DuMont Television Network to film (on the ABC network) and gained a national sponsor (M&M candies).

Ernest P. Duckweather
Vaughn Taylor (1)
Wright King (2)
Gilbert Mack (voice)
Johnny Jupiter
Gilbert Mack (voice)
Major Domo
Gilbert Mack (voice)
Horatio Frisby
Cliff Hall
Katherine Frisby
Pat Peardon
Reject the Robot 
Gilbert Mack (voice)
Gene London (robot suit)
Mrs Millicent Clandish
Reta Shaw
Gregory Latham
Florenz Ames