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Williamsburg Film Festival 2007
"Stand By For Mars!"

Con-tact: Science Fiction Convention Previews and Reports
The Williamsburg Film Festival (March 7-10, 2007)

I attended the 11th annual Williamsburg Film Festival this last week and had a great time. The festival has a western theme, but all of the guest actors have so many years in the business that they've acted in some science fiction (indeed, fans of Richard Anderson were treated to the cult sci-fi film The Curse of the Faceless Man), and the Solar Guard holds its reunion here as well.

I was pleased that the festival's coordinators had honored the late Frankie Thomas (Tom Corbett, Space Cadet) with his photo on the back page of the program, and that Cadet Ed had taken out a half-page banner inside wishing him Spaceman's Luck from the Solar Guard.


Wednesday was a day for out-of-town festival attendees to arrive, and dealers to set up in the Dealer's Room, with their stock of memorabilia and movies. The guests themselves would not be available until Thursday, when the Festival officially began.

I came for a half hour, to pick up my media passes, and then scoped out the dealer's room. Most of the dealers come to the Williamsburg Film Festival every year, with a vast wealth of material. I went around from dealer to dealer of DVDs, making lists of items I'd pick up as the days went on.

I came across a copy of the Buster Crabbe autobiography (written with the help of Karl Whitezel), which the dealer was offering for cover price, so I snapped that up immediately.

Richard Anderson
Audrey Dalton
Margia Dean
Ed Faulkner
James Hampton
David Huddleston
Heather Lowe
Andrew Prine
Neil Summers
I Attended:

Movie with cast member
James Hampton
Ed Faulkner
Heather Lowe and Andrew Prine
Audrey Dalton and Margia Dalton

Heather Lowe
Margia Dean
Neil Summers
Ed Faulkner and James Hampton
Richard Anderson and David Huddleston

Richard Anderson
Audrey Dalton
David Huddleston

Another dealer, who had masses and masses of vintage comic books, TV Guides, and other material unfortunately out of my price range, had among other items a Tom Corbett book for sale (not one of the series of eight written for teens - which had been my first introduction to Tom Corbett, but one written for young children.) I also spoke briefly with Martin Grams, Jr. While he was there in his guise as a seller of DVDs of public domain movies and TV shows, I was more interested in his work as the author of more than a half-dozen guides to various Old Time Radio shows.

After a few more minutes prowling the aisles for any more possible bargains, I headed out, only to meet Cadet Ed (head of the Solar Guard reunion) and his wife Rae at the door. We spoke briefly, then I let him go to finish his set-up of the Solar Guard table, as I'd be spending more time with the Solar Guard in the next three days.

Thursday - Friday - Saturday

All guest stars, and some of the entertainers, were available in the Dealers Room at periodic times throughout the three days to sign autographs and talk with fans. I made the rounds, along with Cadet Ed and his wife, to get all the autographing out of the way so that I could concentrate on the panels and after-movie-talks still to come.

The Guest stars
Richard Anderson and action figure
Audrey Dalton

Richard Anderson guest-starred on many Western TV shows and in a few movies. His most famous character is Oscar Goldman from The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, and as Kolchak's The Night Strangler.

Audrey Dalton appeared in many TV shows and many movies, including Westerns such as The Bounty Killer, horror such as Mr. Sardonicus, and in the cult sci-fi film The Monster That Challenged the World.

Margia Dean appeared in The Baron of Arizona with Vincent Price, FBI Girl, and The Last of the Desperadoes. She was also the wife of the metamorphosizing astronaut in The Quatermass Experiment who went memorably mad.

Ed Faulkner guest-starred as a villain in many an episode of Have Gun, Will Travel, Rawhide and Bonanza. He also appeared in several John Wayne films including Hellfighters and The Green Berets. He retired from acting in the 1970s to pursue a career in the marine transport business.

Margia Dean and her husband Felipe
Ed Faulkner

James Hampton has guest-starred on many TV shows and in many movies. His first starring movie role was in Hawmps, and he is perhaps most famous as Bugler Duggan from F-Troop. His science fiction movies included roles in The Cat From Outer Space and Condorman.

Andrew Prine's long career has included dozen of guest-appearances in Westerns and crime dramas, as well as science fiction classics Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

James Hampton and his wife Mary
Andrew Prine

David Huddleston guest-starred on quite a few drama series during the 1970s and 80s. Had the starring role in the movie Santa Claus in 1985 and several memorable movie roles such as in Blazing Saddles.

Heather Lowe guest-starred in a smattering of TV shows during the late 1970s and early 1980s, including Three's Company, Knots Landing and Greatest American Hero. She then became a producer, with Avenging Angel with Tom Berenger as her first offering. She is the President of Oxford Group Productions, and their latest production, the science fiction comedy Mega Con in Aberdeen, will be making its debut at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

David Huddleston and his wife
Heather Lowe chats with Dick Huddleston

Acclaimed stuntman and sometime actor Neil Summers was also present at the Festival, and gave two well-received presentations, however I somehow missed him in the autograph/dealer's room.

Having made my way to the rear of the room after methodically getting autographs, I saw that actor - and now painter - James Best - was busy working away in the rear corner! There was no announcement that he'd be there. He lives relatively close by and just wanted to come and display and sell his artwork. (And also perhaps to have a chat with Richard Anderson during Anderson's panel, as described on Friday's page.)

I watched him work for a few minutes, and admired some of his paintings. According to some people he's most famous for his role in The Dukes of Hazzard. Science fiction fans will beg to differ -- his star shines bright for three memorable Twilight Zone episodes: "Jess-Belle," "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank," and "The Grave," not to mention The Killer Shrews!

Check out Mr. Best's artwork at

James Best working on a new canvas

The Solar Guard Reunion
Fans of 1950s science fiction TV series such as Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, Space Patrol, Captain Video, etc. have been holding a Reunion at the Williamsburg Film Festival for the last several years. Last year was a special one -- Frankie Thomas and Jan Merlin attended the festival and performed in a performance of a Tom Corbett radio enactment written by Jan, "Project Enigma." (Read about the 2006 Solar Guard Reunion.)

This year twelve cadets showed up over the course of the three days, and were treated to several hours of classic SF TV, showing off several crystal clear episodes of Space Patrol that had recently been found. Cadet Mike Turco returned with his X-RC cockpit reproduction - complete with movable knobs and dials and switches that lighted up.

Each year, Cadet Ed comes up with a new premium to give to Solar Guard members. This year it was trading cards - featuring Rocky Jones, Buzz Corry, Cadet Happy, Tom Corbett, Roger Manning and Captain Video.

James Hampton film: Mackintosh and T.J.
Mackintosh and T.J. (1975), a modern-day Western, was Roy Rogers' last film. A bitter sweet drama with Rogers as a drifter who befriends a young boy and becomes embroiled with a love-lorn wife and her abusive husband. Hampton had an unusual role for him - a villain, and enjoyed playing against type.

Afterwards, Mr. Hampton spoke for a few minutes about the film. He shared an anecdote about Roy Rogers - in the penultimate scene where he is holding Rogers under the creek water, they did that in a real creek, and Hampton suspected that Rogers picked up some kind of bug from that water because, although he lived for several more years, he was never quite as healthy as he'd been prior to that.

[Child actor Clay O'Brien, by the way, soon after retired from acting to go back to his first love, being a rodeo cowboy, and holds the record of seven Team Roping championships.]

James Hampton after the showing of Mackintosh and T.J.

Panel: Andrew Prine and Heather Lowe

Andrew Prine and Heather Lowe
Actor Andrew Prine and his wife, actress/producer Heather Lowe, spoke for an hour with moderator Bill Ruehlmann, and then answered questions from the audience.

Ruehlmann began by asking Heather how she and Prine had met. "Clean it up a little bit," Andy advised her with a smile, to a round of laughter from the audience. Heather told the story of how she'd gone to a dinner party but had to leave early...and how after an exchange of debate and leg-kicks under the table between the person who was supposed to drive her home and Andy who wanted to drive her home, Andy had driven her home. They were married three months later and have been happily married ever since.

Then, Ruehlmann proceeded in chronological order, asking each of them to discuss how they'd gotten started in the business, and carrying on from there.

They each had a wealth of interesting anecdotes to recount about their careers. Heather Lowe told how she moved into producing when she acquired the property of The Avenging Angel (from the novel written by Gary Stewart) about the political intrigue of the Mormons during the 1870s, and how she approached Tom Berenger on the set of Gettysburg (in which her husband was also filming) and asked him to star in the film.

"I had a lot of bad days on horses," said Andy to an answer from Ruehlmann. In Bandolero they shot a scene where he is shot and has to fall off his horse, and then the bandidos are to ride over him - and he's there on the ground while they're riding over him.

They're supposed to ride on either side of him but he "knocked his kneecap sideways and my arm and everything got stomped."

"...I think my life was saved by a stuntman buddy of mine named "Whiz Kid." I was lying there being trampled and he got his horse over me and pulled his horse up on its hind legs and bumped...I can see the other horses bumping off of him..and he held that horse over me...he might have saved my life."


Prine also shared an anecdote, in answer to a question from the audience, about William Shatner, as he'd just made a guest appearance on Shatner's series Boston Legal.

William Shatner and James Spader in Boston Legal
"Boston Legal is just an easy show to do. Very pleasant with Shatner. I just had some scenes with Shatner. He loves to chitchat just like me. And so we barely had time to shoot anything. We felt they were rudely interrupting us every now and then to get a shot. We go back a long way in the biz so we were talking about everybody. All we did was gossip and take money. It was pleasant, it was not confronting in any sense. It was business as usual. And very good business on that show, because it's a very smooth operation. Full of talent."

Ruehlmann pressed him to talk more about Shatner. Prine laughed and complied.

"I like Bill Shatner. Bill Shatner was a confronting character in the past and no one on Star Trek liked him, wouldn't speak to him, because he was apparently a jerk. But it's so many years ago.

But Bill Shatner consciously says - to me and others - that he made a change. He decided to get grateful for his career and his life - in essence, that's what he said. So he's a very different...I never knew him as the other guy. ... But he was just a [delight.]

Ed Faulkner in Elvis Presley's Tickle Me
I had hesitated to ask my own questions of Prine and Lowe because they were science fiction-related and I anticipated having the opportunity later during their film-talks. So after the panel ended I went to the Guest Star Theatre where Tickle Me was just ending.

Ed Faulkner
Then Ed Faulkner said a few words about the movie and answered questions from the audience.

Everyone was more interested in his work with John Wayne than in the movie they'd just seen (myself included, it must be admitted.) Faulkner made six films with Wayne: McLintock! (1963), The Green Berets (1968), Hellfighters (1968), The Undefeated (1969), Chisum (1970) and Rio Lobo (1970).

Faulkner revealed that Wayne loved to play chess, and shared an anecdote which I paraphrase: "Duke asked me to play chess and I said sure, and sat down." He then imitated Wayne (quite well) "You've made your first mistake, pilgrim." "But I haven't touched the pieces yet." "You sat down."

Faulkner had nothing but praise for John Wayne, and explained that he'd been very fortunate in his career to work with such stars.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum and 3/4D Theatre
I went out to a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken to pick up some supper to munch on during the 6 pm to 7 pm SF TV shown by the Solar Guard. On the drive to the KFC I drove past a building I'd never noticed before: Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum and theatre.

"From prehistoric dinosaurs’ eggs to the 3000 year old mummified remains of an Egyptian falcon, From African tribal artifacts to a South American shrunken head, From strands of George Washington’s hair and early American slave records to a golf ball driven on the moon."

I was more interested in the 3D and 4D movies they were showing, Deep Sea and Dino Island II. I'll be going there some time soon to check out the 3D movies with the 4th dimension - wind, water, aromas, etc. Cool!

Solar Guard Video Room
I had time to watch only two shows before I had to head to the panel for Margia Dean and Audrey Dalton. First was an episode of Captain Video and the Video Rangers, featuring the first Captain Video, Richard Coogan (soon to be replaced by Al Hodge.)

Next came "The Throwback," an episode of Science Fiction Theater which guest-starred Ed Kemmer (more famous as Buzz Corry of Space Patrol. Interestingly, Virginia Christine (most famous amongst a certain generation as Mrs. Olson of Folgers Coffee fame) starred as the head scientist in the laboratory in which the episode takes place. That's the thing about science fiction - women were always well represented as scientists or reporters...up until the time when it was necessary for them to become damsels in distress...

Science Fiction Theater

Audrey Dalton and Margia Dean
The 7 pm panel consisted of Audrey Dalton and Margia Dean, hosted by Gene Blottner.

Audrey Dalton and Margia Dean
Audrey Dean was born in Ireland, moved to London to study at RADA, and arrived by herself in America at the age of 18 in 1952. She was part of the Studio System of the time, which she said helped her career enormously.

Margia Dean had the chance to become an actress very young, but elected to marry -- to young, as she states - instead. After five years she divorced her husband and moved to Hollywood to pursue a career.

Each had some interesting antecdotes to share about their careers and lives. Margia Dean was especially interesting as she had actually been in Cuba - staying at Georg Raft's casino - on the night that Fidel Castro took over.

Audrey Dalton's one science fiction movie is The Monster That Challenged the World (1957), and she has seen that many, many times now as she is a guest at science fiction conventions where it is frequently shown.

"People like it," pointed out Audrey. "The idea was that this prehistoric monster has laid an egg that has never hatched, and it hatches in the Imperial Canal in California [...] and suddenly there's this enormous thing and the Navy has to get into it...and lots of stuff that you think, "Did we really do that? But we did. But it was fun."

"It took talent to be convincing," pointed out Margia Dean.

"Yes. Yes." agreed Audrey.

"How about working with Tim Holt and Hans Conried?"

Tim Holt and Audrey Dalton
"Well, Hans Conried was the ultimate professional. He was funny as [well]. He did the scientist thing very well...the accent and the whole thing. Tim Holt -- very much like the person he was, a very quiet, restrained gentleman, very well-educated, and it showed. He played the officer absolutely perfectly. He was very supportive. They all were. It was a fun movie. Those things are. You've got to laugh and giggle yourself because it's so fun. And you are appropriately scared when this thing lunges out of the wall...."

Margia Dean's science fiction film is The Quatermass Experiment, (also called The Creeping Unknown) in which she played the distraught wife of the lone surviving astronaut from a crashed spaceship - who is slowly mutating into something...else.

"That was actually probably the most successful film I was ever in financially [...] Afterwards there was a long series of sequels which I couldn't be in because I had to go stark raving mad in the film. I can modestly say that it takes talent to be halfway convincing when your husband turns into a cactus...or he was a man turning into a cactus. It was fun and exciting.

After the panel ended, I had a choice of going back to the Solar Guard video room to watch more fun shows, or go home. I went home.

Continue to Friday's events.

Thursday - Friday - Saturday

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