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Tom Corbett, Space Cadet

1 9 5 0 – 1 9 5 2 (USA)

Tom Corbett was conceived by CBS in late 1950 – based on the novel Space Cadet by Robert A. Heinlein – to cash in on the enormous popularity of DuMont’s Captain Video and His Video Rangers.

The two shows were not directly competitive – in fact, Tom Corbett (6:45 – 7:00 PM) led into Captain Video (7:00-7:30 PM) three nights a week – and they differed in substantial ways.

Tom Corbett had a much larger budget and more realistic special effects, such as blastoffs, weightlessness etc, all done live through various video techniques.

And the emphasis was less on futuristic hardware (though there was plenty) and more on the adventures of the young cast.

Tom Corbett, curly-headed teenage cadet at the Space Academy, four centuries hence, was a figure with whom youngsters could identify.

With him in training to become Solar Guards were wisecracking Cadet Roger Manning (“So what happens now, space heroes?” “Aw, go blow your jets!”) and the quieter Astro, a Venusian (planetary boundaries were rather less important in the 24th century).

Every week they blasted off in the spaceship Polaris to new adventures somewhere in space, usually against natural forces rather than the space villains who populated Captain Video.

After three months on CBS, Tom Corbett moved to ABC for a run of nearly two years. The series was also heard on ABC radio during 1952, with the same cast as the TV version.

The Tom Corbett cast also made personal appearances to promote merchandise connected with the show.

Late in 1952, the series moved to Saturday daytime, where it continued, off and on, until the summer of 1955.

Tom Corbett
Frankie Thomas
Captain Steve Strong
Michael Harvey (1)
Edward Bryce (2)
Dr Joan Dale 
Margaret Garland
Roger Manning
Jan Merlin
Astro the Venusian
Al Markim