April 6, 2010

The Adventures of Superboy 1961 TV Pilot

Earths Mightiest invites everyone to take a trip back in time and check out the full 1961 TV pilot "The Adventures of Superboy", starring Johnny Rockwell as the Teen of Steel. In addition, Rockwell was interviewed about playing the part.

The proposed half hour series, which had had 13 story outlines written for it, was designed to take the place of the George Reeves Adventures of Superman series, which had come to an end.

In an interview with author Chuck Harter, Rockwell reflected, "When Superboy was casting, I was on the lot working on a pilot called Time Out for Ginger. As soon as I heard about the part being available, I went over and found out where the office was on a break. I walked in and [producer] Whitney Ellsworth was playing gin rummy with the head of the studio. I told him, 'You don't have to look any further. I can fly.' I was also a very good gin player at the time, so I said I would play the winner. Whit won, so I started playing him and began winning. At that point I more or less knew I had the job. I did have to read a few lines, but I think I got the job because I was a good gin player.

"The Superboy costume was grey and brown," he added. "Initially I didn't know why that was, but I was told that the costume photographed better that way because the pilot was going to be shot in black and white. There were two costumes made. They were both returned to Whit after filming and I don't know what happened to them. The boots were suede. The total shooting time was three to four days, with the flying scenes done the following week. When we were on location and I was about to go through the cabin wall, the crew wanted to make sure I was going through the right one, because they only built one fake wall.

"When we were on location in Santa Monica. there was a crowd of children around asking for autographs. Some of the little kids asked me, 'How do you fly? We want to see you fly!' I didn't know what to say, so I asked Whit what to do. He said that George Reeves used to say to the kids, 'If you touch me in the right spot, I'll fly.' I laughed and went over and said the same thing to the kids. Shortly thereafter, security roped off the streets so we could continue shooting.

"In order to do the flying scenes, they had me in a studio suspended by wires. They made a torso cast that fit under my costume and I held my legs up myself. There was no support. The backgrounds were added later in a video production studio. During the shooting, they would tell me, 'You're flying. Now look down,' etc. After seeing the finished pilot, everyone thought that the show was going to be sold. I was told, 'You're going to be working a lot, so you'd better get some rest. But [then] I was told that Kellogs didn't want the series sold - there was a conflict with them still having Adventures of Superman on the air. I was disappointed. The pilot could have been done better, but I still think the kids would have liked it."

Click Here to Watch the Pilot Episode.

1 comment:

VoyagerG said...

That's such a disappointment. I saw the pilot, it had some promise, maybe it could have been just a little more exciting, but I'm sure given a chance it would have caught on. They should have filmed it in color. Still, it's cool to know that the 90's Superboy had a predecessor in 1961.