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Johnny Jupiter

Entry updated 4 April 2017. Tagged: TV.

US tv series (1953-1954). Kagran and Stone Associates for DuMont Television Network/ABC Television Network. Created by Martin Stone. Produced by Stone, Jerome Coopersmith. Directors included Frank Bunetta, Ben Gradus and Howard Magwood. Writers included Coopersmith, William Kendall Clarke and Sam Rockingham. Cast includes Cliff Hall, Wright King, Gilbert Mack, Pat Peardon and Vaughn Taylor. Voice actors: Coopersmith, Carl Harms and Gil Mack. Puppeteers: Harms, Gene London (as Phil London). 32 25-minute episodes. Black and white.

In the first version of this juvenile Television series, shown on DuMont Television from 1 March 1953 to 13 June 1953, Ernest P Duckweather (Taylor) is a janitor in a television studio who while fiddling with a receiver accidentally establishes Vidphone-like Communication with the titular native of Jupiter (Coopersmith) and his colleague B-12 (Harms). The series' Humour and mild Satire derive from Duckweather's explanation of Earthly customs to the puzzled, Robot-like Jovians, all hand puppets.

The second run, shown on ABC-TV from 5 September 1953 to 29 May 1954, rebooted the concept: Duckweather (King) is now a young employee in a small-town US television repair shop, where Johnny and fellow-Jovians B-12, Major Domo and Reject the Robot (all hand puppets voiced by Mack) would help our hero to deal with various sitcom problems, often involving his cantankerous boss Horatio Frisby (Hall) and/or Katherine Frisby (Peardon), daughter of Horatio and Duckweather's romantic interest. Johnny would sometimes despatch the bumbling Reject to Earth to help out when matters became more serious. When visiting Earth, Reject was played by London in a robot costume.

Only a few of the DuMont episodes are believed to have survived; several produced for ABC-TV still exist. The DuMont Network operated from 1946 to 1956 but could not compete with the its better-funded rivals. ABC-TV bought the television archives from DuMont; they eventually destroyed almost all of them in the 1970s by dumping them in New York's East River to free warehouse space. As a result of this shortsighted vandalism, only about 350 segments out of over 20,000 such from various DuMont productions are thought to survive. [GSt/DRL]


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