The Thunder Child

Science Fiction and Fantasy
Web Magazine and Sourcebooks

Vol #1, Issue #4
"Stand By For Mars!"
April 2006

Con-tact: Science Fiction Convention Previews and Reports

Cadet's Log: 2006 Williamsburg Film Festival - THURSDAY continued
by Caroline Miniscule

Dickie Jones spoke about how he got the role of the voice of Pinnochio. He worked on the film, off and on, for two and a half years - in between doing other movies. Moderator Mitch Weisberg asked him why the actors who gave voice to the characters did not receive on-screen credit (although according to Jones this was rectified when the film was re-re-released.) Jones made a comment about Peggy Lee getting money for royalties for the Disney film, The Lady and the Tramp, (after suing Disney) not from the Screen Actors Guild but from ASCAP, the Guild of Musicians.
Ben Cooper, Jimmy Lydon, Dickie Jones, Mitch Weiberg

"Eighteen months I was on it," said Jones. "I started out at 11 and finished up at about 12 and a half. At that time no one realized it was going to be the epic it has turned out to be. But the quality thatís in that...if you look at ...Walt Disneyís first full-length feature, Snow White, and compare it with Pinocchio...itís like looking at a drawing in a newspaper compared to real life. Each frame was hand drawn, and all the paints were mixed for that one cell. They donít do that anymore, itís all computerized now."

Then Jones commented that the song in Pinocchio, "When You Wish Upon A Star," won an Academy Award. "It wasnít something about a pimp going down to Harlem." [reference to the 2006 Best Song Academy Award given to a rap song] [Appreciative clapping and comments.]

Ben Cooper chimed in ironically, "See how far we have come." And then he told a story about Walt Disney himself which was quite touching.

"Iíll tell you a quick story about Walt Disney. I never met him. But I was doing a pilot film over in Greece in 1966. [Premiere, "The Freebooters."] We worked in Athens for a couple of weeks and then on the island of Crete for three and a half weeks.

We stayed in Heraklion....but we worked an hour and a half drive up in the mountains in a little village named Hanya, way up high. I think itís all condos now and resort area. But at that time it was little huts built one on top of the other like steps going up, and each person would step out of their little hut on the roof of the one below them and that was their patio or deck.

And we shot quite a lot there with Fritz Weaver, Jim Stacy, Bo Swenson, and myself, and the weather was getting colder and colder and we were getting closer to Christmas and wondering if we would get home in time to be with our families. And one day the weather was drizzly... not quite raining, but cloudy and very wet air, and we were cold, and we were shooting in the village of Hanya, and something eerie caused us all to just stop working and look around, and all of these people...Now they had about two water taps and about three or four light bulbs in the whole little town, and those were in the little cafes...and maybe three or four little electrical outlets.

And we looked up and these people were coming out of the huts, and way up high and all around us, all dressed in black, and they were coming toward us, and it was like an Alfred Hitchcock movie, itís like theyíre gonna eat us. And they were all coming, so we just stopped, because we didnít know what was happening. And we just stood there.

And they came and they lined up and they started coming to each one of us, and the women were crying, some of the men were crying, and they would take our hand and kiss our hands and giving us a hug.

The word...Iím getting goosebumps just telling you this...the word had come through the radio that Walt Disney had died.

That little village did not have a movie theater. These people had to take a mechanized plow hooked to a little flatbed and ride that down to the town of Heraklion to see a movie. But they knew who Walt Disney was. And they went back home and put on their best Sunday go-to-meeting clothes and came down to [chokes up] pay their respects to Walt Disney. And we started crying. And here we were all standing around bawling like babies, and these dear, sweet people could not speak English, we could not speak....I could speak a little Greek but not hardly anything at all, and they were hugging us, and it was an hour and a half out of our work day. We couldnít go back to work right away.

It was just one of the most moving experiences I ever had, and I got to tell his daughter about it. And she cried.

Iíll tell ya, thatís how far-reaching movies were. I donít think they would be that respectful towards some of the motion picture producers of today. But thatís what Walt Disney meant to people. It was an amazing moment."


Lydon starts the panel early. He mentions his directing work on The Six Million Dollar Man


Dickie Jones speaks of his career


The stars accept questions from the audience

I left this panel a few minutes early in order to get to the "Guest Star Theater" in time for the Tom Corbett episodes, and was quite surprised when I arrived to see that the Nancy Drew film was still running. It turned out that Frankie had shown up at the beginning of this movie to give his talk..so I had missed him!

But my disappointment was tempered by the excellent entertainment on hand (not to mentiont the fact that I'd be able to see Frankie the next day in the radio play performance and in the autograph session), as members of the Solar Guard and any other Festival guests were treated to several episodes of Space Patrol. Two were quite relevent, because a mockup of the Rocket Ship Cockpit used in the episodes was on display at the Solar Guard table in the dealers room.

(Descriptions of the plots from Solar Guard website):

SPACE PATROL - Theft of the Rocket Cockpit (X-RC)- # 192 - Oct. 23, 1954. Buzz and Happy are transported back to 1950s Nevada, on an A- bomb test site just as a bomb is about to be tested.

SPACE PATROL - Danger Radiation - # 194 - Nov. 6, 1954. The story continues (with a one episode laps), as the evil Garth Stanger and his henchman (contaminated by a bomb blast in the previous, missing, episode) look for a cure for their radiation sickness in the 1950s.

SPACE PATROL - Space Patrol Periscope # 186 - Sept. 11, 1954. Buzz and Happy are trapped by Monza, an invisible alien who uses a "pain whip" to keep his subjects in line.

SPACE PATROL - The Defeat of Monza - # 188 - Sept. 25, 1954. Continues the Manza storyline (with a one episode lapse) as Buzz allies himself with a human looking alien group to overcome the Manza.


Mommas, let your kids grow up to be astronauts.

Astronaut Steve Robinson carried his Tom Corbett lunchbox (made in 1954) with him on every voyage.


Cadet Happy does a commercial for the Rocket Cockpit. It was the cockpit from the episode, drawn in 2-dimension on a large piece of cardboard


Cadet Mike Turco spent 200 manhours making a 3-dimensional model of the cockpit, with overhead lights that worked, dials that twisted, and levers that moved up and down.

At 7 pm, James Best and Peggy Stewart gave a panel. James Best, perhaps most well known as Deputy Roscoe Coltrane from The Dukes of Hazzard, has hundreds of TV guest shots to his credit (including a few memorable Twilight Zone episodes, and is also a painter and musician. Peggy Stewart was a Western star. They had starred in a 30 minute film (which Best also produced and filmed with his new Best Friends film company) and this film was shown, to great acclaim according to people commenting about it the next day.

At 9 pm the Solar Guard showed more 1950s science fiction TV episodes. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend either event.

However, here are the episodes shown according to the Solar Guard website:

Matinee at the Bijou - Remember the Saturday afternoon at the movies, with Coming attractions (1950's SF of course), a chapter in a movie serial, a main movie and an extra added attraction.

1-Coming Attractions of 1950's SF movies. Favorite supporting SF actor of the 1950's William Schallert appears.

2- Chapter 1 of Captain Video Master of the Stratosphere: Columbia movie serial starring Judd Holden and Larry Stewart. Captain Video and the Video Rangers battle the evil Vultura on the planet Atoma.

3-DESTINATION SPACE- A TV pilot for CBS-TV from the late 1950's. The pilot is a spin off from the classic CONQUEST OF SPACE based on the book of the same name by Chesley Bonestell and Willy Ley. Both the pilot and the movie are produced by Paramount and have great Chesley Bonestell space vehicles. Instead of going to Mars in the CONQUEST OF SPACE , DESTINATION SPACE is attempting the first trip to the moon. An interesting bridge movie between the big screen to the little screen. Stars Harry Townes as Benedict.

4- MEN INTO SPACE - Hand Full of Hours. Episode # 16 -1/20/1960 - Dangers of the moon and some sacrifices made for it's exploration. William Schallert appears as an important scientist.

I went home, but was greatly looking forward to Friday - with the performance of the Tom Corbett radio play by Jan Merlin and Frankie Thomas and other Festival guests, and later that night, Mala Powers and Beverly Garland on a panel together.

Please continue to Friday coverage.

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