From 1955 to 1957, Science Fiction Theatre, a semi-documentary anthology series, explored the “what ifs” of modern science with a heavy emphasis on fiction. Each drama was based on science fact dealing with such subjects as time travelers, UFOs, mental telepathy, robots, psychokinesis, man’s first orbital flight into space and even the possibility of thawing frozen prehistoric animals from blocks of ice. Hollywood luminaries made guest appearances. Beverly Garland, Howard Duff, Basil Rathbone, Vincent Price, Edmund Gwenn, Gene Lockhart, William Lundigan, Gene Barry and many others. The host of the program was Truman Bradley who presented commentary and science experiments (ala Mr. Wizard) to emphasize the premise of that week’s science fiction story.
This 530 page book documents the entire series with behind-the-scenes production details, memories from cast and crew, a highly detailed episode guide revealing talent fees for every actor who appeared on the program, props used repeatedly in multiple episodes, fake science props, dates of production and much more! The kind of detail you cannot find elsewhere (even on the internet). The most intriguing part of this book are the 150 plus behind-the-scenes photographs that have never been published until now!
DID YOU KNOW?
* Many of the plots for this series originated from magazine articles published in Scientific American. “Conversation With An Ape,” for example, was based on Robert A. Butler’s article, “Curiosity in Monkeys,” originally published in the February 1954 issue of Scientific American.
* Artwork used for the opening title credits of the motion-picture, Gog (1954), can be seen hanging on the walls in many episodes including “Living Crystal.”
* The element Tritanium, referenced in “A Visit from Dr. Pliny,” is a fictional ore. It would later be referenced in episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
* One of the un-credited electricians for the series was Dixie Dunbar, a former child star of the 1930s who retired from acting for a career on stage, perhaps best known for her legs in the now-famous television commercials that featured a dancing giant Old Gold cigarette box.
* The sheriff’s car seen in “Bullet Proof” was also used in many episodes of the television series, Highway Patrol.
“Despite the combination of top talent and stories that, if not always superlative, were invariably appealing, modern-day science fiction fans and TV scholars have largely ignored the series. Fortunately, a new book, Science Fiction Theatre: A History of the Television Program, 1955-57, penned by sci-fi scholar Martin Grams, Jr. and published by Bear Manor Media, should rectify that oversight.”
— Jeff Berkwits, Jan. 2012 issue of The Sci-Fi Channel Magazine
“We all should know by now what to expect: ‘The bar’ has again been raised for books of this type. It looks 100 percent thorough, with a show history, episode-by-episode coverage, all kinds of weird insider info that can only be gleaned from Daily Production Reports and other behind-the-scenes paperwork (shooting sites, uncredited crew members, etc.), tons of photos, many posed and/or behind-the-scenes, EVERYthing — right down to the salaries of every performer next to their character names in every castlist (!!!!!). Up front, there’s even some coverage of SFT producer Ivan Tors’ sci-fi movies of that period (MAGNETIC MONSTER, GOG, etc.). If you enjoy reading about series like this, it’s everything you ever wanted, plus a ton of stuff you didn’t realize you wanted but you do. And it’s official, Martin Grams has now written more books than I’ve read. Congratulations on knocking another one out of the park, M.G.!”
— Author Tom Weaver
“Science Fiction Theatre, a largely forgotten syndicated half-hour anthology show that ran for two seasons, is now the subject of an impressively researched book.”
— David Bushman, Curator for Television at The Paley Center for Media
“Over the years I have heard fans of the television series tell me that during the 1950s, while all the dumb kids went home to watch The Adventures of Superman, the smart kids tuned to a different channel to watch Science Fiction Theatre. I grew up with the program thanks to reruns on the SyFy Channel, but was later lucky enough to record them off a local PBS station. I loved the series. The best part about writing this book was working with two experts in the field, Patrick Lucanio and Jim Cox, both of whom contributed a chapter for the book, documenting Frederic Ziv, the father of syndication, and Truman Bradley, the host of the series.”
— Martin Grams, September 2011