"Space Cadet" Actor Dies at 85
Frankie Thomas, 85, Actor in 50's TV, Is Dead
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: May 18, 2006
LOS ANGELES, May 17 (AP) — Frankie Thomas, who starred in the 1950's children's television show "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet," died here on Thursday. He was 85.
The cause was respiratory failure, said his stepdaughter, Julie Alexander.
Mr. Thomas began acting on Broadway in the early 1930's and soon went to Hollywood, where he appeared in films including "A Dog of Flanders," "Boys Town" and "The Major and the Minor," as well as four Nancy Drew movies.
In 1950 he beat out actors including Jack Lemmon to win the title role of Tom Corbett, a Space Academy cadet in training to become a member of the elite Solar Guard, 400 years in the future.
"Frankie looked like the all-American boy," said Jan Merlin, who played the wisecracking cadet Roger Manning on the show. "Everyone in the room knew immediately this was the guy we were going to get."
The show was broadcast on CBS, ABC, NBC and the DuMont network.
Mr. Thomas quit acting when the series ended in 1955 and over the years worked as a television and radio writer, bridge instructor and author of mystery novels, including "Sherlock Holmes and the Masquerade Murders."
He is survived by his stepdaughter and a stepson, James Aicholtz. At his request, Mr. Thomas was buried Tuesday in his "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet" costume.