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Tom Swift film attempt of 1966-69 and a few others before and after

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  • James Keeline
    In 1995 I made a presentation to the Popular Culture Association that included what I knew then about the various projects to put Tom Swift on film or
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 20, 2012
      In 1995 I made a presentation to the Popular Culture Association that included what I knew then about the various projects to put Tom Swift on film or television.  You can see that illustrated paper here:  http://keeline.com/articles/PCA1995-Tom_Swift_Silver_Screen.pdf
      At both the 2009 and 2010 Tom Swift conventions I spoke a bit about these projects and updated them with the information I had learned since then.  I don't have a copy of those remarks handy however.

      Barry M. Kirk went to USC film school and was able to buy an option on several Syndicate properties in the 1950s.  One of the projects he worked on then was the effort to make a Tom Swift Jr. television show.  Apparently one pilot film was filmed, "The Solar Sub," but they could not find a sponsor or network to take it up at the time so it was shelved.  No one has seen it.

      Although he let the rights for other properties slip away, he retained the rights for Tom Swift and got Twentieth Century-Fox interested in December 1965.  Two drafts of a screenplay were made by two pairs of writers.  Although Kirk wanted to be a producer for the project, he did not stay with it based on decisions made by 20th Century-Fox.  The producer of the project was initially going to be Saul David and was later Frank McCarthy.  Gene Kelly, the dancer-actor, was to be the director.  Dale Hennessy, who created the incredible painting of the airship in flight, was the art director.  Some newspaper articles of the period suggested that Burt Ward (Robin of the 1966 Batman TV program) was going to be cast as Tom Swift.  Instead, however, Michael Crawford (later Phantom of the Opera) was to play the role as part of a three picture deal.

      No film was ever shot but the project did have two full-scale airships ("Aeroships") built in preparation for filming.  If the 150 x 33 ft gas bags were filled with 100,000 cu. ft. of helium they would be about neutrally buoyant.  To move them about a twin-rotor helicopter (perhaps a CH-46 Chinook) would be used to lift and direct the Aeroship using two 200 ft. cables.  The idea was to film with one over locations in Europe while the other one was trucked to the next location.

      Many of the parts for the Aeroship were reused or sold elsewhere when Fox was getting rid of many of its props and backlot property in the early 1970s.  However, the ones we got are parts of the 20 ft passenger cabins, the two wicker cockpits, five steering wheels, a heavy pile of shredded canvas, and a box full of blueprint drawings.  We displayed the better condition cockpit, artwork, and smaller versions of the drawings at TS100.

      There are several reasons why the project died.  One was that Fox could only do one or two roadshow releases per year and they wanted to do Hello, Dolly! and pulled Kirk to direct that.  Apparently Kirk and McCarthy could not get their schedules in sync for the project.  Also, there was a wind storm that damaged one of the Aeroships.  It was to be repaired and stored for future use.  Fox dropped the project by 1970.

      Kirk took his option for Tom Swift to Levy-Gardner-Laven and they drafted two scripts, "Tom Swift and the Great Kidnapping" and "Tom Swift and the Sunstorm Satellite."  To my knowledge, none made it any farther than this in 1973.

      In 1977 Glen Larson, the television producer with many hits of the 1970s, prepared a script called "TS, I Love You:  The Further Adventures of Tom Swift."  Thanks to fellow Tom Swift collector Neil Morrison, I learned of the eBay auction that offered this and purchased it.  It is not mentioned anywhere else online that I am aware.  I don't know if this story got any further than the script-writing phase.  Larson produced the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew television series of the 1970s.

      In 1983 Paramount produced a Tom Swift/Linda Craig Mystery Hour pilot that was aired in July.  It wasn't very Tom Swift but it is the only project that was actually completed.  It did not lead to a series, obviously.

      Currently an outfit in NY has the option on Tom Swift but there have been no press releases on it in quite some time so they may have lost the option or are just sitting on it.  If they'd like some help, I'd be willing to talk with them :)

      James D. Keeline


      * Tom Swift Guide to Life
      * Tom Swift Ked's Book Reprints * 2012 Edward Stratemeyer Calendar *

      From: "eandre1@..." <eandre1@...>
      To: Tom-Swift@yahoogroups.com
      Cc: Teslaedson1@...
      Sent: Friday, January 20, 2012 2:56 PM
      Subject: Re: [Tom-Swift] Science-minded toys for science-minded boys and girls (was Re: T

      GREAT MEMORIES KEELINE!Used to be able to buy formulas, plans (in gthe mlate n60s) On making bombs, fireworks etc. Course i never did this! One simple plan was making Tri Nitrogen Iodie an unstable explosive(No I wont say how its done just look it up on Wikipedia LOL!) Exploding crystals Even a feather nwouild set them off! Now, got the 'TOM SWIFT GUIDFE TO LIFE" BY YOU AND YOUR WIFE,KIM! Great! Like the Tom Swuft Rocket ship cover and the many illustrations ikn book! Also, the last chapter on Tom SwiftiesBonus Chapter Aws ""Iam late said Tom watchenly! LOL!"Your nvited to a big blast at our house,Tom siad eplosively " etc! LOL! Great!Wish the 1969 picture had been filmed on Tom SWift His Airship the Eagle see you have props from same! Wasn't it George Pals idea for a T.S.Movie?Remeber "Brungarians areoften sneaky ,treacherous people" Take care will enjoy reading Tom Swifts Guide to Life" Dr. Edson Andre' Johnson

    • Charlie Campbell
      For those interested, the script for Tom Swift and his Sunstorm Satellite, and The Fuel Kicker (one of the scripts for the 1950 s TV show) can be found in
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 20, 2012
        For those interested, the script for Tom Swift and his Sunstorm
        Satellite, and "The Fuel Kicker" (one of the scripts for the 1950's
        TV show) can be found in the files section.

        Charlie Campbell
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