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The 1950s Science Fiction Podcast S3 E4

Tom Corbet Space Cadet.

By Edward GermanPublished about a year ago 8 min read

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Hello, and once again, welcome to The 1950s Science Fiction Podcast. A Podcast on sci-fi movies, radio dramas, TV series, and books produced during the decade the 1950s. Whether you are a subscriber, returning lister, or a new listener, I hope my presentations are informative and enjoyable. Now on the show.

Today's topic is one of the first sci-fi TV series aired in the 50s, Tom Corbet Space Cadet. The show ran on all three major TV networks and the defunct Dumont network. The TV series broadcasted from 1950 to 1955; it was also a radio drama and a comic series. The show's producers sold Tom Corbet merchandise, such as school lunch boxes and toy rockets. The major sponsors were Kellolg's cereal and other various lesser know companies. The show, designed for a juvenile audience, could be enjoyed by adult viewers. The series demonstrated fine acting from the cast members following excellent scripts.

I had previously discussed Tom Corbet in a guest segment for the StarPodLog podcast, show #20. I talked about the highlights of an article first published in Starlog Magazine in 1980, and it was a first-person account from the actor who played Tom Corbet, Frankie Tomas. The actor reminisces about his selection for the role at the end of the series. My segment can be heard at the 1 hour and 29-minute mark on the show. To listen simply go to, I will provide a link to my show notes page.

The Setting.

Tom Corbet Space Cadet is set some 400 years into the future, and space travel has become commonplace. Humans have colonized other planets in the solar system, and the moons around them, and created space stations in between planets. The Star Guard was created to protect the spaceways and to assist others in case of danger. Tom and his two friends Astro and Rodger are cadets in the Star Guard academy. The series follows them during different adventures that either take place in outer space or on a planet or a space station. While traveling in outer space, Corbet and his fellow cadets are issued a Star Guard rocketship called the Polaris. The Polaris can dock at a space station or land on another planet.

Tom Corbet TV series.

The TV series was produced by Joesph Greene, who first wrote a comic strip entitled Space Cadets but never published. The series was also partially inspired by the Robert Hillline novel Space Cadet published in 1948. The producers got permission to use the Space Cadet title from Hillline, and the TV series went into production in 1950. The episodes ran from 15 to 30 minutes in length. The first show was aired on October 2, 1950, on the CBS Television network. The following year it was broadcasted on ABC and then to other networks during the first half of the 1950s. The reason for all the changes in TV networks was due the ratings. During the early 50s, the TV industry in the US was booming, some networks would have more affiliated stations one year, and a rival would have more the following year. Therefore the producers would go with the network with the most potential viewers. The growth of the TV industry in the 50s was not unlike the growth of the internet in the 21 century.

The TV series stared Frankie Tomas as Tom Corbet, Astro was played by Al Markum, and Rodger was played by Jam Merlin. All three were cadets enrolled in the space academy of the star guard. In each episode, they would engage in three musketeers-like adventure stories but set in outer space during the future. The show was broadcasted live, however, it was recorded by using the Kinescope processes. This method was used to record programs before the invention of videotape. It involved the use of a TV monitor and a motion picture camera synced together to record the image.

Some surviving episodes of the Tom Corbet Space Caket series can be found on YouTube and are in watchable condition. I have watched two episodes already and, I will have an episode of the show on my vocal media page. Unfoutualy I am not able to provide an excerpt from the show on the podcast, I am not able to download it from the site as of yet.

The episode I watched and embedded on my vocal media page is called Outpost of Danger. It was broadcasted on September 26, 1953, by the DuMount TV network. The story is about how Tom and his fellow cadets resolve a crisis in a colony infected by a deadly disease once thought extinct. There they must help the colony intact while in quarantine and prevent the assistant administrator for the colony from taking command. The assistant wants to evacuate, while his superior says to stay and wait for supplies.

Radio Drama.

By Jonathan Velasquez on Unsplash

At the same time the TV series was produced, a radio drama version of the show was broadcast on ABC radio. The radio series was based on episodes of the TV show and ran from January to June 1952. There were some radio scripts produced before the TV series that never aired. After the success of the TV series, a companion radio drama was approved.

I have found some of the Radio episodes on the Internet Archive website. I have downloaded and listened to one episode. The episode is part one of a two-part story, part one would air on Tuesdays while part two was aired on Thursdays. I listened to part one of the story Trail in Space. The radio play is about how Tom's fellow cadet, Astro, is experiencing some problems traveling in space. He undergoes some medical exams, and it is not favorable for him.

I will play the intro of this episode in the podcast track, while you can find the complete episode in the Internet archive.

Tom Corbet novels and comics.

The Tom Corbet series had a series of TV tie-in comics and juvenile novels. The comics were published by Dell publishing from 1952 to 1954. The first issues were stories intended to get feedback from the fans; if successful, the comic would become a TV script later on. After tissue number four, Dell published stand-alone stories for the comic book series, separate from the TV series. Once the popularity started to diminish, Dell stopped printing the comic. If you are interested in reading a Tom Corbet comic book, you can find some issues online in the internet archive.

There were eight juvenile novels published by Grosset & Dunlap and written by various authors. The novels were published between 1952 and 1956. The first was called Stand by for Mars, the story tells how Tom met his friends at the Space Academy on the Planet Mars. I have not read this novel however, I have listened to a podcast that presented a reading of two chapters in the book. I would like to recommend The Gentleman SpaceMan’s Atomic Hideout podcast hosted by Brad Grochowski. In each of his podcast episodes, he reads from a short story or book chapter originally published in the mid-twenty century in either novel or digest format. You can follow him on Twitter @VoiceOfBradVO and learn more at his website Home - The Voice of Brad I have embedded the podcast episode Stand by for Mars, Chapter one, on my vocal media page. The podcast is available where ever you listen or download your podcast.

Stand By For Mars! - CHAPTER 1

A TOM CORBETT Space Cadet Adventure

We'll be exploring this novel a few chapters at a time, interspersed throughout each series. We return for our second visit to this story, with chapter two.

Stand by for Mars! is the first of eight novels written between 1952 and 1956. It features a young Tom Corbett who is trying to fulfill his dream of becoming a Space Cadet on his way to joining the Solar Guard. But interpersonal conflicts stand in his way.

Written by Carry Rockwell

Narrated by Brad Grochowski

Originally published in 1952 by GROSSET & DUNLAP

My thoughts.

The Tom Corbet series is very imaginative and set the trail for other TV series in the future. It produced excellent stories along with good drama that made for great entertainment. This was at the time when television was a new medium and just finding its way. The show may be campy in its style but, it was a product of its time, and I think the stories still hold up by today's standards. The show is still good family entertainment as well, the various stories and plots only use mild violence. One scene that stands out with me the most is when Tom says to a fugitive outlaw that you are responsible for putting himself in prison and not me, Tom Corbet of the Star Guard. I thought that line was spot on, educating the young audience that you are responsible for your actions.


Well, that is all I have for now, I hope that you have enjoyed listening to this episode of the podcast. I hope to be back as soon as possible for another discussion on 50s sci-fi. I want to thank all those who have listened, subscribed, and downloaded my podcast. Also, you can follow me or subscribe to my link tree, profile handle eg/1985. Here, you will find links to social media and the podcast.


About the Creator

Edward German

A long-time sci-fi fan who loves the internet. I am also writing on subjects other than sci-fi.

you can follow me on "X" @EdwardGerman3 Listen to my podcast The 1950s Science Fiction Podcast on Spotify for Podcasters.

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