Sunday, June 4, 2023

Judd Holdren: Commando Cody the Sky Marshal of the Universe 2.0


His name was Judd Clifton Holdren and we both shared the same birthday month and day, but Judd's was 31-years earlier than the year I was born. I first met, saw, him on-screen at a 10 AM children's show on a Saturday morning, at the La Brea movie theater, 857 S. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, when I was five-years old. 

Judd Holden portrayed "Larry Martin" in the 1952 "Cliff-Hanger", "Zombies of the Stratosphere" fighting Martian invaders including an actor named Leonard Nimoy.

Above, Judd Holden wearing the "Republic Pictures" rocket man suit. My article on the series of films with that suit, "Republic Pictures: THE ROCKET MAN CLIFF HANGERS", will be found at:

However, I am getting ahead of the story of Judd Holden.

Judd Clifton Holdren was born near Villisca, Iowa, a small farming community on October 16, 1915.  He was the fifth of ten children, but I could not locate their names or his parents. At the time of his birth, the town's population was listed as 2,039, but by the year of his death, the population had been reduced to 1,402.

Judd never finished High School and left for a acting career at the Omaha Community Playhouse, in Omaha, Nebraska.

With the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States entering the Second World War, at some point, Judd Holdren enlisted in the United States Coast Guard and served on the USS General H. B. Freeman (AP-143). 

I could not find out exactly when Judd Holdren enlisted, but the USS General H.B. Freeman, named for "Medal of Honor" awardee, Civil War General Henry Blanchard Freeman, wasn't launched until December 11, 1944, wasn't commissioned until April 26, 1945, and given to the United States Navy. Her shakedown cruise was as a Military Sea Transport Ship taking 3,400 troops to Calcutta, India, leaving San Pedro, California, on June 1, 1945, and manned by the United States Coast Guard and not the United States Navy. At some point in his Coast Guard career, Judd Holden rose to the rank of Commander. 

I researched several websites and book referenced biographies and they all seem to be contain the exact same wording. Not one of these mentions, that at some points in his life, according to his grave marker, Commander Holdren served not only in the Coast Guard during the Second World War, but the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. A mystery I could not solve, unless his grave marker, at the Valhalla Memorial Park, in North Hollywood, California, is completely in error, because those additional mentioned wars do not seem to match-up with the years of his film career.

After the Second World War ended, Judd Holdren came to Hollywood and started working as a male model.

NOVEMBER 8, 1949 TO NOVEMBER 12, 1950

Judd Holdren started out in motion pictures with uncredited roles, translation, his name wasn't on the actual feature film, because of a role that was only either a walk-on or in the background. 

Judd Holdren's first motion picture role was as a "Politician" in the "Academy Award Winning" "All the King's Men", that had originally premiered in New York City on November 8, 1949.

On November 17, 1949, for his second on-screen appearance, Judd Holdren had full-credit with sixth-billing as "Jack Steele", in the twenty-six-minute western musical short starring Tex Williams, "Coyote Canyon". 

On February 8, 1950, Donald O'Connor and Patricia Medina starred in "Francis", about a talking mule with the uncredited voice provided by Chill Wills. Judd Holdren portrayed the "First Ambulance Man". 

Next, Judd Holdren was given an uncredited, but speaking role portraying "Reporter #3". The motion picture was the science fiction cult classic, "Rocketship X-M", premiering in New York City on May 26, 1950.

Below, Reporter Judd Holdren interviews Lloyd Bridges portraying "Colonel Floyd Graham".

For those who might be interested, my article, ROCKETSHIP X-M, EXPEDITION MOON (1950): Anatomy of a Cult Science Fiction Classic", can be read at:

 A forgotten role in a forgotten low-budget film-noir and Judd Holdren was in another Tex Williams musical western short, "Western Courage", released on August 31, 1950, Holdren, center below, portrayed "Dan Farley".

Televisions "The Magnavox Theater", November 24, 1950, had Judd Holdren portraying an uncredited guard, in French author Alexander Dumas', "The Three Musketeers", starring Robert Clarke portraying "D'Artagnan". Two more uncredited roles finished 1950 and 1951 began with:

PURPLE HEART DIARY released on November 12, 1951

The movie starred singer and actress Francis Langford, appearing as herself. During the Second World War, Langford toured with Bob Hope, sang to the troops on the "American armed-forces radio network", and became known as the "GI Nightingale". She also wrote a column for the William Randolph Hearst chain of newspapers and that column is what the screenplay was based upon.

Judd Holdren portrayed "Army Lieutenant Mike McCormick".

The Thin Plot:

 During the Second World War a singing tour consisting of, Francis Lanford, nightclub comedian Ben Lessy appearing as himself, and jazz guitarist Tony Romano appearing as himself are meeting the GI'sThe three get involved with a severely wounded soldier, Judd Holdren, who is in love with an army nurse, "Lieutenant Cathy Dietrich", portrayed by actress Aline Towne.

Television to "Cliff-Hanger/Serial":

 Between June 27, 1949 and April 1, 1955, children of my generation, that were permitted to watch television, watched on the long forgotten "DuMont Television Network", a science fiction program that first started out with a running time of twenty-four-minutes and would be reduced to fifteen-minutes, entitled, "Captain Video and his Video Rangers". 


Above, Al Hodge portrayed "Captain Video", holding his electric gun. Below, Hodge with Don Hastings, portraying the primary "Video Ranger", of the series.

Because the majority of all the episodes were destroyed because of disintegrating kinescopes, it is estimated that they totaled 1,537, based upon available information.

For those of my readers interested in the early television science fiction shows, my article is 
"Boldly Going Before Kirk and Spock: 1950's TV Science Fiction", to be explored at:

CAPTAIN VIDEO: MASTER OF THE STRATOSPHERE Chapter One: "Journey into Space", premiered on December 27, 1951

"Columbia Pictures" head, owner, and co-founder, Harry "King" Cohn, assigned producer Sam Katzman, to turn the popular television series "Captain Video and His Video Rangers" into a typical "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" his studio was turning out at the time. The final serial had a running time of 287-minutes divided into 15-thrilling-chapters.

For those unfamiliar with the name, Sam Katzman, among his "Cliff-Hanger/Serials" are the first on-screen appearance of "Superman", and the second of "Batman and Robin". Among his later movies is Ray Harryhausen's, 1956, "Earth vs the Flying Saucers", and one of his in-training directors was named William Castle. My article, 
"Superman' Meets 'The Giant Claw' to the Tunes of 'Bill Haley and the Comets': Executive Producer Sam Katzman", can be found at:

As with most "Cliff-Hanger/Serials", there were two directors. The first was Spencer Gordon Bennet, who started directing in 1921. Among his "Cliff-Hanger/Serials" are 1943's, "G-Men vs The Black Dragon", 1945's, "The Purple Monster Strikes", 1949's, "Batman and Robin", and 1950's, "Atom Man vs Superman".

The second director was Wallace Grissell, who started directing in 1944, after being a film editor since 1942. His "Cliff-Hanger/Serials" included 1944's, "The Tiger Woman", 1944's, "Zorro's Black Whip", and 1945's, "Manhunt of Mystery Island". All three with co-writer Spencer Gordon Bennet.

 Credit for the original television series story went to writer George H. Plympton, who started by writing shorts in 1912 and wrote many "B" WesternsHis credited "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" screenplays include 1936's, 'Flash Gordon", 1939's, "The Phantom Creeps", 1940's, "The Green Hornet", and 1942's, "Captain Midnight". 

 As with most "Cliff-Hanger/Serials" there was a team of screenplay writers. For "Captain Video", they were:

Royal K. Cole, started writing in 1934, and switched to " Cliff-Hanger/Serials" like 1944's, "Captain America", 1945's, "The Purple Monster Strikes", and 1949's, "King of the Rocket Men".

Sherman L. Lowe, started writing in 1930. Lowe's "Cliff-Hanger/Serials" included 1939's, "Flying G-Men", 1940's, "The Green Hornet Strikes Again", and 1943's, "The Phantom".

Joseph F. Poland, started writing in 1913. Among his "Cliff-Hanger/Serials" are 1939's, "Mandrake the Magician", 1940's, "Mysterious Doctor Satan", and 1941's, "The Adventures of Captain Marvel".

The Four Main Characters:

Judd Holdren 
portrayed "Captain Video". Judd Holdren would drop to six-billing following this "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" in the motion picture, 1952's, "Gold Fever".

Larry Stewart portrayed "The Ranger". Stewart started on-screen acting in 1943, this was his eleventh of twenty-one roles through 1986. In 1973, Larry Stewart switched to television directing and his twenty-sixth and final directing assignment was in 1991, on the Canadian television version of "Lassie".

Above left, is Larry Stewart, with Judd Holdren.

George Eldredge portrayed the evil scientist, "Dr. Tobor". His first on-screen appearance was in 1936 and four of his uncredited roles were in 1941's, "They Died with Their Boots On", 1942's, "The Ghost of Frankenstein", 1942's, "Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon" and 1943's, "The Strange Death of Adolph Hitler".


Gene Roth portrayed the evil "Vultura" of the planet "Atoma". Roth started on-screen appearances in 1943 by portraying a "Nazi Agent" in the "Cliff-Hanger/Serial", "Adventures of the Flying Cadets", and followed the same year with the movie, "The Strange Death of Adolph Hitler". In three of Roth's next nine films, he portrayed "Nazi's"! He also appeared in 1946's, "The Bandit of Sherwood Forest", and three unrelated "Cliff-Hanger/Serials", 1947, "Jesse James Rides Again", 1948's, "Adventures of Frank and Jesse James", and 1949's, "The James Brothers of Missouri".

It should be noted that the above poster indicates that there are:

Tinted Sequences by CINECOLOR

In the original release, to help the audience from confusing the two outer space planets, that were both filmed at Bronson Canyon and Vasquez Rocks. When "Captain Video" was on the planet "Atoma", the scenes were tinted pink.

When "Captain Video" was on the planet "Theros", the sequences were tinted green.

Many a science fiction film was shot at Bronson Canyon and many westerns were shot at Vazquez Rocks. For those of my readers who might be interested, my article, "VASQUEZ ROCKS: The Most Important Pile of Rocks in Motion Picture History", can be climbed at:

 The Thread-Bare Basic 1950's/TV Style Science Fiction Plot:

"Captain Video" is the head of a futuristic crime-fighting group known as "The Video Rangers". His main sidekick is just referred to as "Ranger". No other names for either character is ever mentioned during the entire "Cliff-Hanger/Serial", which is like on the television series.

Within the frame work of the screenplay are strange unnaturally caused natural disasters, as in many such serials going back to 1936's, "Flash Gordon", this time caused by "Dr. Tobor". Who is working for "Vultura", tyrant master of the planet "Atoma". 

From his "Secret Headquarters" hidden within a "Secret Mountain", comes "Captain Video", fighting for truth, and justice.

It should be noted that there is no female character as are in most other "Cliff-Hangers/Serials" to be rescued.

End of thread-bare plot for this "Columbia Pictures Cliff-Hanger".

Three Interesting Points:

The above robot is wearing a cowboy hat and with others was in the 1935, "Cliff-Hanger/Serial", "The Phantom Empire". That has the survivors of the lost continent of "Mu", living under Gene Autry's "Melody Ranch". Actually, before that appearance, the cowboy robots were created for a dance sequence in a Broadway musical.

Below, like with having "Superman" fly in the 1948 "Cliff-Hanger/Serial", it was "Columbia Pictures" contracted animators that made all the space craft in "Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere" fly in outer space.

 Below, is "Captain Video's" space ship that the above animated still is supposed to be.

Below, is the uncredited Tristram Coffin portraying "Professor Anton Dean" in Chapters 4,5, and 11. Coffin co-starred in Bela Lugosi's, 1942, "The Corpse Vanishes", starred in "Republic Pictures", 1949 "Cliff-Hanger/Serial", "King of the Rocket Men", and was in writer Curt Siodmak's, 1955, "Creature with the Atom Brain".

Below are some of the "Lobby Cards":

 Next, Judd Holdren was reduced to six-billing in:

LADY IN THE IRON MASK released on July 4, 1952

This was actually a very good variation upon French author Alexander Dumas' "The Man in the Iron Mask", replacing a twin brother for "King Louis XIV" of France, with twin sisters, "Princess Anne" and "Princess Louise", both roles portrayed by Patricia Medina. 

What's interesting is that Louis Hayward starred in 1939's, "The Man in the Iron Mask", directed by James Whale, portraying the twin brothersIn this feature film, Louis Hayward portrayed "D'Artagnan". 

Above left to right, Judd Holdren portraying "Aramis", Steve Brodie portraying "Athos", Alan Hale, Jr. portraying "Porthos", his father portrayed the role in 1939, Louis Hayward portraying "D'Artagnan", Patricia Medina portraying "Princess Anne", and a unidentified actress.

Back on January 9, 1952, "Republic Pictures" released the "Cliff-Hanger/Serial", "Radar Men From the Moon", starring George Wallace portraying "Commando Cody". 

"Commando Cody" fought the ruler of the moon, "Retik", portrayed by Roy Barcroft, the future owner of the "Triple 'R" ranch in Walt Disney's "Spin and Marty", on the original "Mickey Mouse Club", who wants to conquer the Earth. 

This was "Republic Pictures" return of the "Rocket Man Suit" first worn by Tristram Coffin in 1949's, "King of the Rocket Men". "Radar Men From the Moon" was a major money maker and a third "Rocket Man" "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" was planned with "Commando Cody". 

However, that "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" was never made as planned.

ZOMBIES OF THE STRATOSPHERE Chapter One: "The Zombie Vanguard", premiered on July 16, 1952

The planned and already written sequel to "Radar Men From the Moon", by Ronald Davidson, was dropped, and he made changes to that screenplay's character names and some of the plot elements. The story behind those changes will be in the next title I look at. 

Davidson was also the only writer on 1952's, "Radar Men From the Moon". His other works included co-writing 1940's, "Mysterious Doctor Satan", 1941's, "Adventures of Captain Marvel", and 1944's, "Captain America". and 1950's, "Flying Disc Man from Mars".

Fred C. Bannon was assigned to direct the newly named, "Zombies of the Stratosphere" and he had been the director for both "King of the Rocket Men", and "Radar Men From the Moon". Bannon had also directed both 1950's "Cliff-Hanger/Serials", "The Invisible Monster", and "Flying Disc Man from Mars".

The Five Leads Plus One:

Judd Holdren portrayed the now renamed "Commando Cody" as "Larry Martin".

Aline Towne portrayed the now renamed "Sue Davis", as "Joan Gilbert" in "Radar Men From the Moon". As previously mentioned, Towne was in 1951's, "Purple Heart Diary". She had co-starred with Richard Webb, televisions "Captain Midnight", 1954-1956, and Lane Bradford, in 1950's, "The Invisible Monster". 

Above, Aline Towne from the condensed colorized version of the 167-minute, "Zombies of the Stratosphere", released as the 70-minute1958, "Satan's Satellites"

Wilson Wood portrayed the renamed "Ted Richards" as "Bob Wilson". In "Radar Men From the Moon", the character was portrayed by William Bakewell. However, Wilson Wood did portray another character "Hank" in that other "Cliff-Hanger/Serial".

Lane Bradford portrayed the Martian leader, "Marex". Bradford had just been seen in the Tim Holt, 1952 western, "Desert Passage", and followed this "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" with a Johnny Mack Brown western, 1952's, "Dead Man's Trail".

Stanley Waxman 
portrayed "Dr. Harding". He would have just appeared in 1952's, "Hoodlum Empire", starring Brian Donlevy, Claire Trever, and Forest Tucker, but his scenes were deleted. He next appeared in "The Bhandara Story", on televisions "Dangerous Assignment", a weekly series that also starred Brian Donlevy.

Above, Lane Bradford and Stanley Waxman.

Leonard Nimoy 
was eighth-billed as the Martian "Narab". This was Leonard Nimoy's fifth on-screen appearance. His fourth role was the uncredited, "Cadet Football Player #52", in 1952's, "Francis Goes to West Point", starring "Francis the Talking Mule". Four roles after this "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" found Leonard Nimoy as the uncredited, "Army Sergeant in Information Center", in the 1954, science fiction classic, "THEM!".

Above, Leonard Nimoy and Lane Bradford.

 Three Minor Roles:

There are no Zombies in "Zombies of the Stratosphere", only three Martians. One is rarely seen, and that is "Elah, the Pilot of the Martian Space Ship", portrayed by Robert Garabedian". Who makes runs to "Marex's" secret island base, which is also never shown.

Conversely, there is "Dick, the pilot of Larry Martin's rocket ship", portrayed by Gayle Kellogg. "Dick" must be living and sleeping on the rocket ship, because he is never seen out of it. Then, there is the one "Security Guard for the rocket ship", portrayed by Jack Shea, only seen in "Chapter 2: Battle of the Rockets". 

The Plan to Move the Earth for Mars:

Apparently left over from the original "Commando Cody" screenplay, "Larry Martin" is supposed to be the leader of an "Inter-Planetary Patrol", but that is never made clear and he never goes off the Earth. His personal radar system does pick-up a rocket ship entering the Earth's atmosphere.

Above, Aline Towne is working the radar system, Judd Holdren is speaking to "Mr. Steele", portrayed by Craig Kelly, who apparently represents a government agency that "Larry Martin" works for, and standing behind him, is Wilson Wood.

 "Marex" and "Narb" are brought to Earth in his rocket ship and "Marex" meets with "Dr. Harding", who seems to be a criminal scientist with two henchmen, "Roth", portrayed by John Crawford, and "Shane", portrayed by Ray Boyle. "Roth" is able to get his own henchmen to assist on "Dr. Harding's" projects.

 "Marex" explains that the ecology on Mars is changing making the planet unlivable. He has been sent to Earth to explode a hydrogen bomb to move Earth out of its orbit and Martian scientists, at the same moment, will explode a similar hydrogen bomb to move their planet into Earth's original orbit around the sun.

Above, "Marex" explains to "Dr. Harding" and "Roth" what he needs to obtain to build his hydrogen bomb.

"Marex" and "Narab" are assembling the hydrogen bomb in a abandoned mine shaft. That is only enterable through another deeply flooded shaft and dropping down a hidden ladder by the use of a hidden switch. Both Martians can breathe under water and are able to go back and forth with equipment for the bomb's assembly at this precise location for the blast.

There are the usual "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" endings to each of the first eleven chapters. Examples: "Bob" handcuffed a top of a speeding train and "Larry" racing in a First World War tank to save him, "Larry" in a speed boat chasing "Roth" and "Shane", shot and faints, as the speed boat heads toward the water drop of a major dam, "Sue's" feet tied to a heavy ship's anchor, as she's pulled to the bottom of a lake, and a gas bomb exploding inside "Larry's" space ship.

 When "Larry Martin" flies in his rocket suit -----

--- a lot of the scenes are stock footage going back to 1949's, "King of the Rocket Men", and were used in 1952's, "Radar Men From the Moon", provided by the forgotten special effects team of brothers Howard and Theodore Lydecker. Who made "B" cowboy actor Tom Tyler fly in 1941's, "The Adventures of Captain Marvel". 


The brothers first work was for the "Cliff-Hanger/Serial", 1935's, "The Phantom Empire", and some of their other features were Ray "Crash" Corrigan's, 1936, "Undersea Kingdom", 1940's, "Mysterious Doctor Satan", 1944's, "Captain America", 1945's, overlooked motion picture,"The Vampire's Ghost", 1945's, "The Purple Monster Strikes", 1946's, "The Crimson Ghost", and 1948's, "Wake of the Red Witch". Along with "Zorro" and "Dick Tracy" "Cliff-Hanger/Serials" and many straight "B" westerns.

To rob a bank and attempt to take out "Larry Martin", "Marex" uses a robot which was created by the Lydecker Brother's for 1936's, "Undersea Kingdom", and used again in 1940', "Mysterious Doctor Satan". Which contains the bank robbery stock footage used in "Zombies of the Stratosphere". 

After the robot first attacks and fails to get "Larry Martin", it is sent to "Martin's" office laboratory and is stopped. Next, taking control of the robot, "Larry" uses it to kill "Roth" and "Shane".

To the young viewers of my generation the rocket suit created by Howard and Theodore Lydecker's was "Cool", but their space ships first seen in 1952's, "Radar Men From the Moon" were even "Cooler"!

Above, "Larry Martin's" rocket is taking off and below "Larry" and his pilot "Dick" are flying it.

Below the Martian rocket ship landing in Vasquez Rocks. There were the Lydecker models flying and landing and full-size mock-ups for the actors to enter and exit.

Above, of course, Martian invaders are green, we all knew that in 1952 until producer George Pal's, 1953, "War of the Worlds". 

At the climax in "Chapter 12: Tomb of the Traitors" ----

--- "Larry" and "Bob" kill "Roth" and "Shane" with the robot I described above. "Dr. Harding" decides to give himself up and is killed by "Marex". The bomb is set to explode and the three Martians leave, but are met by "Larry Martin" and his rocket ship. 

As the battle takes place, the Martian ship is hit, and crashes back on land.

Using his rocket suit, "Larry" goes to the crash site, finds "Narab" the only one still alive. "Narab" tells "Larry" about the bomb and dies. 

"Larry Martin" flies to the mineshaft, enters, removes his rocket suit, goes into the flooded shaft, finds the switch that lowers the ladder, and at the last minute disarms the hydrogen bomb saving the Earth.

Actor Donald Woods, stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen's, 1953's, "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms", starred in a one season 1952, television series, "Craig Kennedy, Criminologist". Immediately after the release of "Zombies of the Stratosphere", Judd Holdren appeared in Wood's Episode Twenty-five, "Tall, Dark and Dead".

On September 25, 1952, Judd Holdren appeared in "Special Edition", an episode of televisions "The Lone Ranger", starring John Hart and not Clayton Moore. Three months later, on December 25th, Holdren appeared again with John Hart in an episode entitled, "Best Laid Plans". 


"Republic Pictures" vs "The Motion Picture Unions" the Story of:


Back story:

"Republic Studios" wanted to enter the early 1950's youth television market, see my article "Boldly Going Before Kirk and Spock". Parents planted their children in front of shows like "Time for Beany", "Howdy Doody", "Annie Oakley", "My Friend Flicka", and youth aimed science fiction. Sponsors such as "Kellogg" and "Quaker Oats" cereals, "Ovaltine" malted milk, and "Challenge Diary" products were getting the kids to ask their parents to buy them, even if they didn't like some of them. Not to forget all the merchandise items, like a "Captain Midnight Decoder Ring", or a genuine "Space Patrol Cap Gun/Ray Gun". In short, there was a lot of money for "Republic Pictures" to make from a potential kids science fiction television show.

Initially around March 1952, writer Ronald Davidson's "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" screenplay, see "Zombies of the Stratoshere", was still planned as a sequel to "Radar Men From the Moon", but around that month he was told it had been placed on hold. Followed immediately by 

A decision to start production on what would be a television syndicated prequel to 1952's, "Radar Men From the Moon"Franklin Adreon was assigned to the project. Adreon had been the associate producer for 1952's, "Radar Men From the Moon"

The television series was planned for twelve episodes, but without a "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" style ending. Each episode was to be a complete story with a running time of twenty-five-minutes to allow for the five-minutes of commercials permitted by the Federal Communications Commission at the time. 

The idea was to initially tell how both the characters of "Joan Gilbert", portrayed by Aline Towne, and "Ted Richards", now portrayed by William Schallert, and not William Blakewell from "Radar Men From the Moon", first meet "Commando Cody", portrayed now by Judd Holdren, and become his team.

At the time Fred C. Bannon was assigned to direct. The initial writer was Barry Shipman, 1940's, "Flash Gordon Conquerors the Universe" and "B" western movies and television programs. 

Above left to right, Judd Holdren portraying "Commando Cody", Craig Kelly portraying "Mr. Henderson", William Schallert portraying "Ted Richards", and Aline Towne portraying "Joan Gilbert", in the three filmed episodes.

Judd Holdren's "Commando Cody" had a "Lone Ranger" look compared to George D. Wallace's original character.

Added to the cast was the villain of the series, "The Ruler", portrayed by Gregory Gaye, he started on-screen acting in the John Barrymore 1928, Czarist Russia, "Tempest". Gaye was in the cast of director William Wyler's, 1936, version of author Sinclair Lewis' "Dodsworth", starring Walter Huston, 1939's, "Ninotchka", starring Greta Garbo, director Michael Curtiz's, 1942, "Casablanca", and Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce's, 1945, "Pursuit to Algiers".

However, Bannon and Shipman found themselves working on only the first three episodes of "Commando Cody: Sky Marshall of the Universe", "Enemies of the Universe", "Atomic Peril", and "Cosmic Vengeance". The official explanation was that there were production difficulties and the planned television series was placed on hold. 

What now took place was the go-ahead for what was released as "Zombies of the Stratosphere", between April 14, 1952 and May 1, 1952, making it the second fastest "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" ever made by "Republic Pictures". 

Immediately after completion of the "Cliff Hanger/Serial", the television show resumed projection.

Three changes took place, the first change came because William Schallert had previous commitments. Making him unavailable to portray "Ted Richards", and both William Blakewell and Wilson Wood, also had commitments making them unavailable for the role. 

The answer was to write the character out of the last six programs and create a new one. Enter actor Richard Crane portraying "Dick Preston". In 1951, he had starred in the "Columbia Pictures" "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" version of French author Jules Verne's "The Mysterious Island", he also starred in that studios 1953, "Cliff-Hanger/Serial", "The Great Adventures of Captain Kidd", and recently co-starred in 1953's, "The Neanderthal Man". My article, 
"Richard Crane: 'Rocky Jones, Space Ranger' and 'The Alligator People", may be read at:

The second change was in the writer and for the final six episodes, Ronald Davidson took over the position. He would now write, "Nightmare Typhoon", "War of the Space Giants", "Destroyers of the Sun", "Robot Monster from Mars", "The Hydrogen Hurricane", "Solar Sky Raiders", "S.O.S. Ice Age", "Lost in Outer Space", and "Captives of the Zero Hour".

The final change was the director, or I should say directors. Producer Franklin Adreon directed "War of the Space Giants", "Robot Monster from Mars", and "S.O.S. Ice Age". While Harry Keller, who would direct Sandra Dee in 1961's, "Tammy Tell Me True" and 1963's, "Tammy and the Doctor", directed ""Nightmare Typhoon", "Destroyers of the Sun", "The Hydrogen Hurricane", "Solar Sky Raiders", "Lost in Outer Space", and "Captives of the Zero Hour".

Does This Sound Familiar and Formula?

Dangerous changes in the weather of unnatural origin is ravaging the entire planet. Masked super-scientist "Commando Cody" is approached by the United States Government to find and stop the source of the storms. They will be traced to an alien known simply as "The Ruler". Can "Cody" and his team stop him?

Among the tools at "Commando Cody's" disposal are his rocket flying suit and a space ship he has designed to take the battle to "The Ruler" in outer space. As his investigation proceeds, "Cody" traces "The Ruler" to his home planet of Venus.

However, the final showdown takes place on Mercury. When "Commando Cody" with the help of the persecuted Mercurians and the "Queen of Mercury", portrayed by Joanne Jordan, defeat "The Ruler" and his soldiers.

The Problem with the Motion Picture Unions:

"Republic Pictures" used Union production crews as they had in the past to film their television series. Unfortunately, the Unions and the motion picture studios had yet to make an agreement between what was motion picture filming and what was television filming. 

 Even though "Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe" did not have a "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" ending to each of the twelve-episodes. The overall feature was considered in arbitration as a typical "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" and "Republic Pictures" was forced to release the production on February 12, 1953 to movie theaters as a weekly "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" without the "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" endings.

Finally, on July 16th to October 8, 1955, two-years after the original theatrical release, the "National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC)" started running "Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe" as a syndicated weekly series. 

A "Cliff-Hanger/Serial", or a Television Show?

Because each chapter of "Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe" DOES NOT END with a typical "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" ending. Many lists of "Cliff-Hanger/Serials" do not list it as such. While many lists of 1950's television programs do not list it either, because it is considered by their compilers as a "Cliff-Hanger/Serial". Hence, the confusion over when it came out. 

I saw both versions, the theatrical at the La Brea movie theater in 1953, and on our big twenty-four inch black and white television set in our living room in 1955.

Above, Gloria Pall portraying "The Moon Girl" with Gregory Gray portraying "The Ruler". Below, Joanne Jordan portraying "The Queen of Mercury".

Judd Holdren made his third-appearance on televisions "The Lone Ranger", in "The Durango Kid". Followed by his fourth and final appearance on "The Lone Ranger", in the episode entitled, "Death in the Forest", June 4, 1953.

THE LOST PLANET: CONQUEROR OF SPACE Chapter One: "Mystery of the Guided Missile", premiered on June 4, 1953

Do not confuse this "Columbia Pictures", "Cliff-Hanger/Serial's" title with "Republic Pictures", 1951's, "Lost Planet Airmen". Although that happens all the time. 

 "Lost Planet Airmen" was "Republic Pictures", 65-minute condensed version of 1949's, 167-minute, "King of the Rocket Men". Which of course, is not about a "Lost Planet", but the evil "Dr. Vulcan", portrayed by I. Stanford Jolly, wanting to rule the Earth, and being stopped by scientist "Jeff King", portrayed by Tristram Coffin. 

Known more as just "The Lost Planet", and the source of the confusion, this "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" was produced by Sam Katzman for "Colombia Pictures" and was directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet. Who had just directed 1953's, "Savage Mutiny", one of Johnny Weissmueller's "Jungle Jim" movie series. He followed this "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" with another entry in the "Jungle Jim" series, "Killer Ape".

There were two writers on the screenplay, the first was George H. Plympton, he had just co-written the "Cliff-Hanger/Serial", 1952, "Son of Geronimo: Apache Avenger". Plympton would follow this production with the 1953, "Cliff-Hanger/Serial", "The Adventures of Captain Kidd". 

 The second writer was Arthur Hoerl, he had written a 1952, one-hour-and-twenty-two-minute fantasy, "Ellis in Freedomland". Which in reality was a commercial for "Westinghouse Appliances" starring their spokeswoman, Betty Furness. Hoerl joined Bennet to co-write 1953's, "The Adventures of Captain Kidd".

 This was meant as a sequel to "Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere".  However, "Captain Video" is not in it, or even one "Video Ranger". Although the "Video Ranger" clothing are seen on the "Electronic Slaves" created by the villain. In short, "Columbia Pictures" did the same as "Republic Pictures" with 1952's, "Zombies of the Stratosphere".

According to writer Tom Weaver, in his 2004, "Michael Fox InterviewIt Came From Horrorwood: Interviews With Moviemakers In The Science Fiction And Horror Tradition." 

Fox told Weaver that screenplay writer George H. Plymton created lines for the actors to say that he thought they couldn't say. Such as:

The atom propulse set up a radiation wall which cut off the neutron detonator impulse!


The Five Main Roles:

Judd Holden did not portray "Captain Video", but now, "Newspaper Reporter Rex Barrow". Holdren followed this "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" with a appearance on the anthology television series, "Cavalcade of America", December 22, 1953, in the episode, "One Nation Indivisible".

Vivian Mason portrayed "Ella Dorn". Mason's second on-screen role was as "Ming's Gong Girl" in "Chapters 1-4", of 1940's, "Flash Gordon Conquerors the Universe". Of Vivian Mason's first 33-roles, twenty-nine are uncredited. She followed this "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" with the uncredited role of "Miss Ryan - Secretary", in stop-motion-animator Ray Harryhausen's, 1953, "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms".

 Above, Vivian Mason and Judd Holdren in a publicity still.

Michael Fox portrayed "Dr. Earnest Grood". For soap-opera fans, Fox portrayed "Saul Feinberg", from 1989-1996, on "The Bold and the Beautiful". Back in 1952, Michael Fox, in his second on-screen appearance, was fourth-billed in the Kirk Alyn "Cliff-Hanger/Serial", "Blackhawk: Fearless Champion of Freedom". While in 1953, he was in producer Ivan Tors, "The Magnetic Monster", and appeared in Torrs other two films of his trilogy, 1954's, "Riders to the Stars", and 1954's, 3-D, "GOG". Michael Fox was also in the cast of stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen's "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms". 

Forest Taylor portrayed "Professor Edmund Dorn". Taylor started acting in 1915, in 1934, he was one of Bela Lugosi's henchmen in "The Mysterious Mr. Wong", and another henchman for Lugosi in the 1939, "Cliff-Hanger/Serial", "The Phantom Creeps". However, his main film roles were uncredited in "B" westerns. On television he had several roles on "The Cisco Kid", "The Gene Autry Show", "Annie Oakley", and "The Roy Rodgers Show". Just prior to this production, Forest Taylor was seen in the Rex Allen, 1953 western, "Iron Mountain Trail", and he followed this "Cliff-Hanger/Serial" with the Hoot Gibson, 1953, "The Marshall's Daughter".

Gene Roth portrayed "Reckov". Roth had just been seen in crime film-noir, 1953's, "Count the Hours!". He followed this production with a comedy musical, 1953's, "The Farmer Takes a Wife".


Ted Thorpe portrayed "Tim Johnson". Thorpe started on-screen acting in 1951, his second on-screen appearance was portraying "Al's Café bar tender" in Chapters 6,7, and 12, of 1952's, "Radar Men From the Moon". This was only his fourth on-screen role of thirty-seven through 1970. 

Another Thread-Bare "Columbia Pictures" Screenplay:

Typical mad-scientist "Dr. Grood" has taken control of "The Lost Planet", Ergro, with the help of dictator "Reckov". A planet that looks like very much like Bronson Canyon. "Grood" is located on Earth and sends out a flying saucer shaped missile that is seen by people in several locations, before it explodes. 

 This will lead reporter "Rex Barrow" and his photographer "Tim Johnson" to the laboratory of "Professor Dorn" for an interview about the phenomena. There they meet the professor's daughter, "Ella", and the four will start investigating further. 

They will be captured by "Dr. Grood", who wants "Professor Dorn's" inventions, hypnotized and teleported to the planet Ergro. There, "Reckov", will electronically turn "Rex", "Tim" and "Ella" into electronic slaves controlled through a special helmet. The professor is forced to help "Dr. Grood".



Of course, "Rex" escapes from electronic control, frees the slaves and they overturn both "Dr. Grood" and "Reckov".

Some of the Lobby Cards:

For the music lovers reading this article;

There was a 1967-1976, Country rock, Western swing, Rockabilly and Blues Band named "COMMANDER CODY AND HIS LOST PLANET AIRMEN". 

Judd Holdren finished 1953 with an appearance as "Henchman Buck", on the western television series, "The Range Rider", starring Jock Mahoney, in the "Saga of Silver Town", the ninth episode of season three. Of interest is that portraying one of the characters was Clayton Moore, being billed as Clay Moore. He would return as "The Lone Ranger", on September 9, 1954.

 One appearance each on "The Loretta Young Show", and the anthology series, "The Ford Television Theatre" followed. 



This television program is part of my above linked article "Boldly Going Before Kirk and Spock". The show starred Richard Crane, below, portraying the title character. 

Judd Holdren had the uncredited role of "Ranger Higgins.


There were four episodes that made-up the story called "Rocky's Odyssey". Which was somewhat based upon the story of "Odysseus (Ulysses)" by the Greek writer Homer. The four were shown between March 23, 1954 and September 26, 1954, but not together with Judd Holdren appearing in his character in each the four.

From the "Rocky Jones Wiki",

 Space Ranger Higgins is a competent Space Ranger. From piloting a space ship for Secretary Drake; acting as Secretary Drake's assistant at Space Affairs Headquarters; or staffing the space station OW9, Ranger Higgins is an invaluable asset to the Space Rangers.


On November 3, 1954, a motion picture drama, "This Is My Love", starring Linda Darnell, Rick Jason, Dan Duryea, and Faith Domergue premiered in Los Angles. With thirteenth-billing in the credited cast was Judd Holdren portraying "Dr. Raines". Along with Holdren in that long-forgotten "RKO Picture" are the names of William Hopper, Jerry Mathers, and Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer. 

Holdren next appeared in "The Big Team Rolls", January 27, 1955, on televisions "Death Valley Days", portraying the story's leading character, "Dana Emerson".

Other than the television run of "Commando Cody: Sky Master of the Universe", starting on NBC, July 16, 1955.

It wasn't until November 17, 1955, with eighth-billing portraying "Constable Moore", and billed as "Jud Holdrin", in "The Assassins", on televisions "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon", that Judd Holdren was seen in any new material since "Death Valley Days".

 Judd Holdren ended 1955 with another "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon" appearance on December 22, 1955, in "The Boy Nobody Wanted", portraying fifth-billed "Jack Darby, alias John Bailey". This time Judd Holdren was billed as "Jud Holdren". 

A note about "Sergeant Preston", in every cast listing the first three-billed cast members are always, Dick Simmons billed as Richard Simmons, portraying "Sgt. Preston", followed by Yukon King portraying "The Dog", and Rex portraying "The Horse".

On October 25, 1956, Judd Holdren portrayed the uncredited role of a "Police Officer" in "The Big Net", on televisions "Dragnet". This was followed with uncredited role of "Ronald Muir", on the television anthology series, "Playhouse 90", "So Soon to Die", January 19, 1957, 

"The Silent Service" was a television show reenacting actual events during the Second World 
War. On April 5, 1957, Judd Holdren was seen as Naval "Lieutenant Commander J. P. Roach", in "The Jack at Tokyo".


Above, Judd Holdren is second from the left portraying the uncredited role of "Mr. Peyton", in the 1957 feature film, "Spoilers of the Forest". Standing in the photo's center is star Rod Cameron portraying Boyd Caldwell". To his immediate left is co-star Vera Ralston portraying "Joan Milna". Ralston got her starring acting roles in "Republic Pictures" movies, because she was married to the studio's owner, Herbert J. Yates.

Holdren was next in another forgotten anthology television show, "Panic", in the June 18, 1957, episode entitled "Botulism", starring Marshall Thomson. 

"Columbia Pictures" released on August 2, 1957, a highly fictionalized, that would lead to a lawsuit by family members, biographical motion picture, "Jeanne Eagles", starring Kim Novak as the real-life 1920's stage actress. The motion co-starred Jeff Chandler as the fictional "Sal Satori", and Agnes Moorehead as the fictional "Nellie Neilson".

Look and you'll miss the uncredited Judd Holdren portraying the "Young Actor on Equity Board". The "Young Actor" was 41-years-of-age at the time he appeared in "Jeanne Eagles".

On August 18, 1957, Judd Holdren was seen in another anthology television series, more suited to his true age, called "The Web", in the episode entitled, "The Puppeteer". About the controlling manager/stage director of a small legitimate theatre. Who loves pulling the strings of the actors and crew. His starts to manipulate them to find out who murdered his daughter.  Holdren co-starred with William Bryant, actually the anthologies host and narrator, and John Hudson. This was a summer replacement show and not the original 1950-1954, CBS mystery series.

THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN premiered in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 4, 1957

Above, the United Kingdom, on October 25, 1957, added ten-feet to the height to "Lieutenant Colonel Glenn Manning", portrayed by Glenn Langan, for release there. Why, it must have sounded better to them than his final 60 feet height.

In the rest of the cast, buried under IMDb's heading of "Rest of the cast listed alphabetically" is the name Judd Holdren portraying a character named "Robert Allen". However, IMDb adds that that role for Holdren is unconfirmed, but other cast lists do not add that description. True, unless someone can turn up a still with Judd Holdren in it. It is very hard to confirm his uncredited role, even viewing the motion picture.

For Holdren it was next, the confirmed role of "Eric" in the "Bachelor Father" television series episode, "Uncle Bentley and the Matchmaker", June 8, 1958. 

 Also, in the cast of this John Forsythe and Noreen Corcoran television episode was the name Sally Fraser, portraying "Laurie". She would co-star in the Bert I. Gordon, 1958, sequel to his, "The Amazing Colossal Man", "The War of the Colossal Beast". She also co-starred in Roger Corman's, 1956, "It Conquered the World", and would in Bert I. Gordon's, 1958, "The Earth vs the Spider".

Like the somewhat phantom role of "Robert Allen", Judd Holdren portrayed the uncredited, "The First Officer on the passenger airplane", in a excellent and mostly overlooked science fiction/horror film. Some cast lists do not even mention Judd Holdren's role.

SPACE MASTER X-7 released in June of 1958


For those of my reader that may be interested in this motion picture. My article is, "X-the Unknown', 1956, 'Space Master X-7', 1958, 'First Man in Space', 1959", found at:


In 1938, producer and director Cecil B. DeMille released his story about the pirate "Jean Lafite", portrayed by Fredric March, and "General Andrew Jackson", portrayed by Hugh Sothern and "The Battle of New Orleans" entitled "The Buccaneer". In 1958, actor Anthony Quinn, who had portrayed the role of "Beluche", in the 1938 motion picture, directed the remake of "The Buccaneer", produced by Cecil B. DeMille. In the remake, the role of "Jean Lafitte", was portrayed by Yul Brynner, and "General Andrew Jackson", by Charlton Heston


 To give my reader an idea of the scope of the cast, below with fifty-fifth=billing of the seventy-nine fully credited roles, was Judd Holdren portraying "Major Reed". He is seen out-of-focus between Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner.

Judd Holdren moved from being a participate at "The Battle of New Orleans", to appearing the religious movie, 1958's, "The Power of the Resurrection", with twenty-fifth credit billing as a "Temple Officer". For fans of 1950's science fiction and horror movies. The movie co-starred Morris Ankrum, 1950's, "Rocketship X-M", 1956's "Earth vs the Flying Saucers" and 1957's, "The Giant Claw", portraying "Annas", and Robert Cornthwaite, 1951's, "The Thing from Another World", and 1953's, "War of the Worlds" portraying "Caiaphas".

In an interesting twist to classic 1950's comedy, on January 25, 1959, Judd Holdren portrayed the uncredited role of the "Second Prisoner", in a comedy sketch on "The Jack Benny Show", in a television episode entitled "The Ernie Kovacks Show", featuring comedian Ernie Kovacks as both himself and "Killer Kovacs". 

From this point through 1960, Judd Holdren's roles consisted of appearing on three television shows in very small roles with credit, and three uncredited roles in the motion pictures, 1959's, "The FBI Story", 1960's, "Ice Palace", and 1960's, "The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond".

It was in 1960 that Judd Clifton Holdren, became an Insurance Salesman. He would return to the motion picture screen in the uncredited role, among 119 uncredited roles, as the "2nd Opponent", in 1963's, "Critic's Choice", starring Bob Hope and Lucille Ball.

On March 11, 1963, 58-years-old, Judd Holdren committed suicide by a gunshot wound to the head. I have looked at many biographies of Judd Holdren and attempted to find his obituary. I could not locate anything about the why in his suicide!




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