August 26, 2011: Superboy and Superpup: The Lost Videos

Chuck Harter An interview with, and about, Chuck Harter
by Susan Schnitzer

CHANCE INTRODUCTION

On my second trip to Metropolis, IL for the Superman celebration, I met TV historian Michael J. Hayde who was selling his book FLIGHTS OF FANTASY. I, and my travel companions, purchased his interesting and informative book and began reading and critiquing it on the trip home. As soon as I got home and turned on my computer, I found an email from Neil Cole (editor and creator of "The Superman SuperSite") and found that I had WON a copy of FLIGHTS OF FANTASY (apparently I had entered the site's contest right before I left for Metropolis). Both Michael and I got a chuckle over this. Soon afterwards, I interviewed Michael on his book. It is through Michael J. Hayde that I became acquainted with Chuck Harter (via email, phone and snail mail). Up until this chance introduction, I had heard Chuck's booming baritone voice over commentaries in season one of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN for the episodes THE EVIL THREE and CRIME WAVE. Since then, we have exchanged many controversial and humorous conversations on George Reeves, Superman and other entertainment related topics (also shared with my husband who answered Chuck's calls, on numerous occasions, when I wasn't home).

ABOUT CHUCK HARTER

Chuck Harter is a writer, actor and musician living in Los Angeles. He is also the author of Superman on Broadway, Holiday Press - 2003, which covers the Superman musical from 1966 - 67 and its star Bob Holiday. Chuck then co-produced a documentary on Bob's appearance at the 2003 Superman Celebration in Metropolis in 2003 called it Holiday in Metropolis. His self-published book, 2004, is Johnnie Ray - 1952: The Year of the Atomic Ray which is a chronological scrapbook of the pop singer's breakthrough year of 1952.

Chuck was a big fan of the Monkees when the show came out in the sixties. He had all their records and watched the series faithfully. In 1994, Chuck formed the first Monkees tribute band called The Missing Links in which he portrayed Mike Nesmith. They were a very good band and did a lot of shows around the L.A. area. After about a year, due to unfortunate disagreements and other negative aspects, Chuck left the band...much like what the real Nesmith did. Following, Chuck worked on various TV documentaries, other shows, and pitched a concept of a Monkees Documentary to Delilah Films (who have made many musical productions). They accepted and Chuck wrote the documentary. He also did the interviews with all 4 Monkees while others researched and supervised the edit of the show. The show was broadcast on the Disney Channel in 1996 and received positive reviews. But the real boost was when Chuck asked each of the Monkees how they liked the film and they all expressed their approval. The doc is available on DVD.

Chuck, aka Chuck Winston, is also a musician with 7 self-produced music CDs and is doing a rounds of live shows around the LA area: myspace.com/chuckwinston. While keeping active with various musical and theatrical pursuits, Chuck offers professional voice over and narration services and can be reached at: chuck.harter@earthlink.net.*

THE PILOTS

Superboy and Superpup The pilots of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERPUP (1958) and THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY (1961) are both important parts of the "Superman" legacy. George Reeves' the Adventures of Superman (TAOS) series (1951 - 57) served as a classic role model for many "baby boomer" fans. Chuck Harter's definitive look at the 2 rare spin-offs from the classic TV series is Superboy and Superpup: The Lost Videos was published in 1993 by Cult Movies.

Q&A With Chuck Harter

SS: Why did Michael J. Hayde write the forward to your book?

CH: Michael J. Hayde wrote the forward because I asked him to do so. I felt that with his previous articles written about the "Adventures of Superman" and his knowledge of the show, he would be able to give an educated opinion on coverage of the two pilots.

SS: Was Superpup meant for a very young audience?

CH: The Adventures of Superpup was intended to be broadcast on Saturday mornings for a young audience of second graders and under. In 1958 the Superpup series was targeted to a very young audience that was used to cartoons.

SS: Who starred in Superpup?

Billy Curtis and George Reeves CH: Billy Curtis (Note: Billy Curtis starred in 2 TAOS episodes: The Unknown People I & II and Mr. Zero) starred in the dual role of Bark Bent and Superpup. Ruth Delfino played Pamela Poodle. Angelo Rossitto played Editor Terry Bite. Harry Monty played Villain Professor Sheepdip. Frank Delfino played Sergeant Beagle and Sadie Delfino played Wolfingham.

SS: Was it real life action?

CH: The show was a live action project with no animation.

SS: Was Superpup the precursor for UNDERDOG in the '60s?

CH: Superpup was not in any way a precursor to the 60's cartoon series UNDERDOG.

SS: Do you think that Superboy was hit material?

CH: The Adventures of Superboy series had great potential as the Superboy comic book was selling very well in 1961 and there was a potentially large audience.

SS: Would Superboy have been a hit if a sponsor had picked it up?

CH: It is impossible to ascertain if the series would have been a hit as there are many factors that contribute to a television series' success or failure. The show had real possibilities though.

SS: Did Superboy series pretty much follow the story lines that were already in place in the comics?

Superboy CH: The pilot story, Rajah's Ransom had appeared in a previous Superboy comic book. The characters of Clark Kent/Superboy, Lana Lang and Superboy's parents would have continued in the series.

SS: Was the pilot of Superboy the precursor for future Superboy TV shows?

CH: Yes. It was made in an attempt to sell the series for a full season's broadcasts.

SS: How committed was Whitney Ellsworth and the company to these two projects?

CH: Whitney Ellsworth was completely committed to both projects. National Comics was lukewarm at best to the concept of Superpup but agreed to finance half the budget for the pilot out of respect for Whit's success as the producer of the "Adventures of Superman" series. He provided the other half of the budget. National Comics was interested in the "Superboy" series and were pleased with the pilot. Several other factors contributed to the show not being sold and those can be found in chapter 5 of the book.

SS: Did George's (Reeves) death hurt the chances of these two pilots being picked up?

CH: The Superpup pilot was completed by late December of 1957. It was eventually "shelved" by the late summer of 1958. Reeves' death had no impact on its failure at all. Reeves' death may have had some impact on the failure of the Superboy pilot but other factors of an economic nature were more influential. The reason can also be found in chapter 5 of the book.

Superpup SS: Had the shows been picked up, would do you think they would have been successful?

CH: Superpup was filmed in color and if broadcast in that way would have had the potential to be a success with the young audience. However, since the Adventures of Superman (TAOS) didn't begin color transmission until 1965 it is more than likely that the Superpup series would have been broadcast in black and white. It still would have been a hard sell at best. Superboy could have been a success. John Rockwell, in the lead, had real potential and could have, with experience, carried the series. The majority of the 13 scripts for the series contained science fiction stories which would have been of interest. The plots for the other 12 episodes can be found in chapter 6 of the book.

SS: Do you think that TAOS being syndicated in daily reruns have an adverse effect on the 2 series' run?

CH: TAOS in reruns didn't affect the Super pup series but had a definite effect on the economics concerned with the potential Superboy series.

SS: How many scripts were written for Superpup?

CH: Only one script was written for the Superpup pilot.

SS: Why did Whitney Ellsworth feel that Superpup would make it after we had the iconic George Reeves as Clark Kent and Superman? Didn't he think that fans of TAOS would consider this an insult to a TV series that they came to treasure?

Superboy CH: National Comics made the decision to stop production on TAOS as they had enough episodes to arrange a lucrative syndication package. Reeves' attitude and behavior during the 6th season of production on TAOS also contributed to their decision. The fans of TAOS really grew in number and opinion years later when the show continued in syndication.

SS: Who helped you research material for this book?

CH: Several people helped me in the research for the book. I must thank Michael Copner and Buddy Barnet of Cult Movies Magazine for their offer to publish my first book.

SS: Where can people order SUPERBOY AND SUPERPUP: THE LOST VIDEOS and HEY! HEY! WE'RE THE MONKEES (Special Edition Documentary)?

CH: Both can be ordered for $20. (See address below)*

SUE'S VIEW

Superman fans of all ages will enjoy Chuck Harter's book because it is light reading, moving faster than a speeding bullet, is well structured with history and information info that I wasn't privy to before. The 150 never-before-seen photos were great and the ones for the 12 wannabe episodes had enough creative illustrations for the reader to use their own imagination for "what could have been." Plus it contains exclusive interviews with the cast and crew, and production information. I don't want to give out too much information ...you'll just have to buy the book.

IN THE WORKS

Chuck is currently writing, and seeking a literary agent for, the final quarter of his next book Tragic Hero: The Shooting of George (Superman) Reeves which he firmly believes is the solved mystery of George Reeves untimely death. Another book in progress is the story of the silent movie comedian Harry Langon. It will be called Little Elf: A Celebration of Harry Langdon and will be written by Chuck Harter and co-authored by Michael J. Hayde and is to be published by Bear Manor Media in 2012. Chuck did a recent narrator job for Superman impersonator Scott Cranford's documentary entitled Heroic Ambition. http://www.heroicambition.com/

Credentials:

Superpup Chuck Harter - Author, Historian, TV Commentator

Chuck Harter has been researching and assimilating material on the mysterious death of George (Superman) Reeves for over 20 years.

He has the largest single repository of information, both written and visual on the subject with many exclusive items....

He has appeared on camera, provided materials or consulted on the following television programs...

  • "Now It Can Be Told" with Geraldo Rivera (Syndicated) 1992

  • "Talk of the Town" - George Reeves Episode (Long Beach Cable) 1992

  • "Unsolved Mysteries" - George Reeves Episode (NBC-TV) 1995

  • "Mysteries and Scandals" with A.J. Benza (E-Channel) 1998

  • "20/20 Downtown" - George Reeves Segment (ABC-TV) 1999

  • "Biography" - George Reeves Episode (A&E Networks) 2000

  • "Places of Infamy" - George Reeves Segment (The Travel Channel) 2002

  • "North Mission Road" - George Reeves Episode (Court TV) 2006

  • "Moviereal: Hollywoodland" (A&E Networks) 2006

  • Cops: America's Most Wanted" - George Reeves Segment (Fox) 2006

  • "Myths and Legends" - George Reeves Segment 2007 (TV Land)

    Chuck is the author and designer of three books... two of which are related to the Superman character...

    1. Superboy and Superpup (The Lost Videos) - Cult Movies Press

    2. Superman on Broadway - Self Published

    Chuck Harter is an acknowledged expert on the controversial mystery of George Reeves' death. He would welcome any leads or advice on getting a literary agent for the Reeves "death" manuscript.

    Chuck Harter
    3124 Hutchison Ave
    Los Angeles, CA 90034
    Cell: 818-319-7949
    Chuck.harter@earthlink.net

    References:
    Thank you Chuck Harter
    SUPERBOY AND SUPERPUP: THE LOST VIDEOS
    Superman on Television - 10th Anniversary by Michael Bifulco
    Flights of Fantasy by Michael J. Hayde
    GeorgeReevesForever.com
    Neil Cole's The Superman SuperSite



    2011 Television News

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