L.A.con IV: Press Release #11, May 12, 2006
May 12, 2006L.A.con IV
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.
Frank Thomas, Jr. died sometime during the night of Thursday, May 11th, of respiratory failure while recovering from a stroke.
In keeping with our theme of Space Cadets, L.A.con IV could have done no better than to select the Special Guest we did. He has a special association with the science fiction field. He's one of a handful of talented individuals who brought science fiction into millions of homes in the 1950s through the then new marvel of television.
Frank Thomas was Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. Not just on the show. He was the one and only Tom Corbett.
Frank M. Thomas, Jr. was the son of two actors, Frank Thomas and Mona Bruns, both of whom had quite respectable careers on stage and in films and television. Ironically enough, the mother of Tom Corbett appeared as the mother of the Video Ranger (and his brother Hal) on "Captain Video". In addition to his parents, his aunt and uncle were also actors.
So it was only natural for Frankie, as he was known, to fall into the family business, working as an actor on radio and stage in New York. He started out on stage in "Carrie Nation", working with a young Jimmy Stewart. After a few other small roles, he appeared in "Wednesday's Child", in the longest role ever written for a child performer to this day. Selected as one of the Ten Best Plays of the Year, the rights to it were picked up by RKO Pictures, which brought Frankie to Hollywood to recreate his starring role. His mother and father also each appeared in the film.
From then on, Frankie bounced back and forth between Los Angeles and New York. Movies were here. Theater and radio (and, eventually, the early days of television) were there. And Frankie did a lot of all of them. Plays like "Remember the Day" on Broadway. Radio programs like "Stella Dallas". And movie after movie.
Over the course of his career, Frankie Thomas appeared in 35 movies, working with the likes of Spencer Tracy, Ginger Rogers, Mickey Rooney, Ann Sheridan, Ray Milland, and Ronald Reagan. His films include "A Dog of Flanders", "Tim Tyler's Luck" (as Tim Tyler), "Boys Town", and "The Major and the Minor". And a series of Nancy Drew movies in which he co-starred with Bonita Granville.
During World War II, he volunteered for service and spent five years in the Navy. Returning to New York after his tour of duty, he found himself working steadily in radio, doing over 1500 shows. As dramatic radio fell before television, Frankie switched channels and moved into the world of television. Liking actors with a background in live theater - after all, television of the time was live and anything could happen -- he did guest appearances on all the shows of the period including "Studio One" and the first five-days-a-week soap opera "A Woman to Remember". It was his stage work and his experience in a daily show that Frankie believed helped him get the lead in "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet" in 1950.
Not long after the end of the "Tom Corbett" series, Frankie left the world of acting.
After that he took up teaching bridge, something he called "a good way for a former actor to find an audience". He became president of the American Bridge Teachers' Association, editor and publisher of "The Quarterly" bridge magazine, and associate editor of "Popular Bridge" magazine. And he also joined the ranks of professional writers. Surprisingly perhaps, his writings weren't in the universe of science fiction. Under the name of Frank Thomas, he wrote a dozen Sherlock Holmes novels, including "Sherlock Holmes and the Sacred Sword", "Sherlock Holmes and the Golden Bird", "Sherlock Holmes and the Masquerade Murders" and, combining two of his passions, "Sherlock Holmes, Bridge Detective".
But, of course, he'll most be remembered for bringing "Blast Off!" into the English language on "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet".
Frankie Thomas will continue to be L.A.con IV's Special Guest and he and his place in the science fiction universe will be remembered and celebrated during the convention.
L.A.con IV, the 64th World Science Fiction Convention, will be held August 23-27, 2006, in Anaheim, California. Our Guests of Honor are Connie Willis (author), James Gurney (artist), Howard DeVore (fan), and Frankie Thomas (special). See us on the internet at www.laconiv.org.
Worldcon, World Science Fiction Convention, Hugos, and Hugo Awards are service marks of the World Science Fiction Society, an unincorporated literary association.
L.A.con IV, attn: _______________________ dept.
c/o S.C.I.F.I., Inc.
P. O. Box 8442
Van Nuys CA 91409
The 64th World Science Fiction Convention, known as L.A.con IV, will take place in Anaheim, California from Wednesday, 23 August through Sunday, 27 August, 2006. More information about L.A.con IV, including current membership rates, is available from its web site (http://www.laconiv.org/) or by writing to contact us.
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