Description: The first version of Buck Rogers to appear on television debuted on ABC on April 15, 1950 and ran until January 30, 1951. There were a total of 36 black and white episodes in all (allowing for a 2-month summer hiatus). No episodes of the show survive today. Its time slot initially was on Saturdays at 6 p.m., and each episode was 30 minutes. The program was later rescheduled to Tuesday at 7 p.m., where it ran against the popular Texaco Star Theatre hosted by Milton Berle. The show was sponsored by Peter Paul candy bars. The producers were trying to emulate the success of DuMont's Captain Video, but the series probably failed as a result of its minuscule budget. The decision to put the show on a summer hiatus for almost two months also undercut efforts to build an audience. The storyline was very faithful to Philip Francis Nowlan's original novel Armageddon 2419 AD, although in the 1950 TV series, Buck Rogers finds himself in the year 2430. Based in a secret lab in a cave behind Niagara Falls (the city of Niagara was now the capital of the world), Buck battles intergalactic troublemakers. Due to the minuscule budget, most of the episodes took place mainly in the secret lab. There were a number of changes to the cast during the series' short duration. Three actors played Buck Rogers in the series: Earl Hammond (who starred as Buck very briefly), Kem Dibbs (whose last appearance in the role was aired on June 3), and Robert Pastene (whose first appearance in the role was aired on June 10). The show apparently went on summer hiatus from around July 7 until the end of August, probably reappearing on the air again around Labor Day with Robert Pastene still in the lead role. (Kem Dibbs went on to have a long acting career in film and television.) Two actresses portrayed Wilma Deering: Eva Marie Saint and Lou Prentis. Two actors would also play Dr. Huer: Harry Southern and Sanford Bickart. Black Barney Wade was played by Harry Kingston. The series was directed by Babette Henry, written by Gene Wyckoff and produced by Joe Cates and Babette Henry. The series was broadcast live from station WENR-TV, the ABC affiliate in Chicago. There are no known surviving kinescopes of this first Buck Rogers television series. THE BUCK ROGERS SPACE KIT! From Chuck Lassen (November, 2002): I do remember watching the 1950 live BUCK ROGERS TV program, though I remember nothing about the plots. I did watch it and remember looking forward to it every week while it lasted. There was a giveaway punch-out BUCK ROGERS "space kit" tied into the TV series. To get it, you had to go with Mom or Dad to the local Sylvania dealer, and listen to a sales pitch on a new Sylvania TV (with HaloLight!). I remember my good old Dad hauling me down to the local showroom to get my BUCK ROGERS kit, and I had a lot of fun with it subsequently. [SpacEditor's note: No wonder; this kit, to judge from surviving ads, had a number of colorfully-printed cardboard sheets, from which you could punch out and assemble the following wonderful array of items: (1) A "space ranger helmet;" (2) a "disentergrator" [sic], a futuristic pistol which could fire small cardboard disks via rubber band propusion; (3) a "space ranger badge;" (4) a "strato-powered space ship," again using rubber band technology; (5) two "interplanetary space phones," which worked via the usual taut string technology; (6) and a "chronoscopic space compass" to wear on the wrist. All this, just for visiting your Sylvania dealer. One presumes Sylvania was the sponsor of this BUCK ROGERS incarnation, although no explicit evidence of this survives.] THE BUCK ROGERS STUDIO SET! From Nancy L. Robison (July,2000): In 1950, when I was in my early teens, I had the privilege of appearing on television in a [local] weekly series. The set for the show was a malt shop. We actors sat around sipping cotton sodas, singing, dancing, and carrying on sparkling repartee with one another about teenage life.... [Eventually we broadcast from] a huge warehouse that had several sets.... On the set next to us... was BUCK ROGERS, a sci-fi program. Buck had wild adventures with aliens and unexplored territories in outer space.... Anyway, Buck had two rocket ships. One was an open cockpit with no sides, so the camera could see the actors better. The other was a whole ship with doors and sides for long shots. Both were made of cardboard and both sat on [wooden] rockers, like a cradle. Neither model moved without assistance from the stage crew, and many times anyone standing around was drafted to help out in the "flying" [effect] for these ships. When there was a particularly heavy, rough ride through a field of meteorites or some such thing, we, from the other sets, were asked to help with rocking the spaceships. "Stand by," the director would whisper into his microphone off-camera. Then, on cue, we would gather on either side of the ship, step up on a seesaw-type thing, and rock the cradle back and forth--- thus travelling into space with Buck Rogers and his sidekick, Lieutentant Wilma Deering!