Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Freeze Frame! - Blasting Off with Donna Reed

As we have discussed here at 2719 Hyperion a number of times, Walt Disney's various forays into futurism during the late 1950s tend to be little remembered here in the 21st century. But they did in fact have a dramatic impact on the popular culture of the post-war baby boomer era.

Case in point: the Werner Von Braun-inspired lunar rocket, featured in the Disneyland series episode "Man in Space," made a cameo appearance in a 1958 episode of television show The Donna Reed Show. The popular program chronicled the life of the Stone family, parents Donna and Alex and children Mary and Jeff, portrayed respectively by Reed, Carl Betz, Shelley Fabares and Paul Peterson. In the episode entitled "The Football Uniform," Jeff decides to donate his recently acquired rocket to the annual charity auction. He tells his parents, " . . . it wasn't as much fun as I figured it would be. Besides, all the kids are playing football." His father's response: "Well, there went two bucks into outer space!"

An interesting footnote: Peterson was a Mouseketeer, albeit briefly in 1955. Various misbehaviors, including punching a casting director in the stomach, led to his early dismissal.

Explore the 2719 Hyperion Archives:

Man in Space: March 9, 1955


Tony said...

Wow! How did you ever discover that was the same rocket? I get a kick out of "little ironic coincidence-like facts" like this. One never knows where Disney-related gems will show up.

Anonymous said...

What an interesting and unfortunate attitude to take, putting a sport over space - especially in 1958, when the Space Age was just getting started.

Clearly this child was not exposed to Walt's Man in Space series from a few years earlier.

Anonymous said...

Here is a thread from this blog which shows what the role of the XR-1 in Disney's plans for space exploration was to be:


If we had followed Disney and von Braun's plans, we would colonies on the Moon and Mars by now, and who knows what else we would be doing in the Final Frontier.