|Photo of the Video Ranger (actor Don Hastings) with Captain Video holding a scientific weapon (Al Hodge).|
In the 1970s reportedly hundreds of rare TV recordings from the legendary DuMont Network (1946 - 1956) were tossed into New York City's East River. Among the hundreds of classic programs destroyed were episodes of "Captain Video and His Video Rangers" which premiered 70 years ago (June 27, 1949) as American TV's first science-fiction series and became a huge hit with kid and adult audiences in the Golden Age of Television.
The series featured the adventures of the titular hero who led multiple Video Rangers and his junior companion The Video Ranger who operated from a secret mountain base in the future, and fought evil on Earth and across the universe. Richard Coogan (1914 - 2014) was the first Captain Video. After 17 months he was replaced by Al Hodge (1912 - 1979) who stayed with the series until its end in 1955. There was only one Junior Ranger, actor Don Hastings (1934 - ) who later became a major daytime television actor.
The program was filmed live 5 to 6 days a week and any recorded episodes would have been kine-scoped. Innovative in its storylines while limited on a budget, it is unfortunate that only 24 episodes out of a possible 1,700+ (or 1.4% percent) are known to exist. It is this writer's hope that more may surface one day. Here is a research summary of what has survived from this historic series, and what could still be out there.
Episodes available to the public.
5 complete episodes have been circulating for years among collectors and they are all available for download from the Internet Archive.
"Captain Video" episodes on the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/search.php?query=%22captain%20video%22&and=mediatype%3A%22movies%22
4 of these episodes were released on a DVD from Alpha Video, with their logo placed in the opening credits.
UCLA Television/Film Archives
24 episodes (including the 5 released ones), all that are believed to exist are held at the UCLA Film/Television Archives and can be seen by appointment only. Hopefully one day they will be released as part of a digital collection or a DVD/ Blu-Ray set.
Ad Views Digital Collection
Duke University in Durham, North Carolina at has least six Post Cereals commercials as part of its massive AdViews digital collections. These Captain Video ads were a part of the D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles advertising agency archives which are held in the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History at the Duke University Libraries.
They can be viewed from this page as numbers 60 - 65 (they are also available from the AdViews collection at archive.org
60. Post-Tens Cereal Packs, 1950s (dmbb17801) Captain Video. Silent midway through
61. Post-Tens Cereal Packs, 1950s (dmbb17802) Captain Video.
62. Post-Tens Cereal Packs, 1950s (dmbb17803) Captain Video.
63. Post-Tens Cereal Packs, 1950s (dmbb17804) Captain Video.
64. Post-Tens Cereal Packs, 1950s (dmbb17805) Captain Video.
65. Post-Tens Cereal Packs, 1950s (dmbb17806) Captain Video.
These ads were downloaded and uploaded to YouTube in various channels. In acknowledging these rare commercials it is hoped that other "Captain Video" advertisements may exist in another advertisement archival collection.
Al Hodge's personal collection???
A possible myth that I picked up from at least one printed text years ago was that a few episodes of Captain Video were in the possession of Al Hodge's hotel room residence at the time of his passing in 1979. This is doubtful because in a 1972 interview on radio's What Ever Happened To...? with Richard Lamparski, Hodge was asked if he was aware of surviving episodes of Captain Video and he said no. However, if he did have copies at the time of his death, what became of those films?
Personal collections of other cast and crew???
In the same radio interview it was mentioned that a copy was believed to be held in an unnamed Ohio university's collection and more episodes may have existed in the possession of a former makeup artist. It would be great if either story could be confirmed even after 40 years.