When the syndicated Marvel Super-Heroes cartoon debuted in the fall of 1966, it was fashioned in such a way that each individual station could run it in whatever manner they pleased. As every story had been broken up into three 7-minute chapters, there was the freedom to mix and match segments, or to run an entire complete story each day. Most stations did the latter, dedicating a specific day from Monday-Friday to a particular character. One thing certain stations did was to have the cartoons introduced by their onw live-action host. This was typical for the cartoon spots of that period and would continue as a practice well into the 1980s.
In Boston, station WNAC chose to have the series introduced by an actor in a full Captain America costume. This was Arthur Pierce, who holds the distinction of being television’s first Captain America. (Though he was beaten to the role in cinema by Dick Purcell and a bevy of stunt doubles in the 1944 CAPTAIN AMERICA movie serial.)
Sadly, most of Pierce’s bumpers seem to be lost to history. A fragment of one did survive, taped off of the air on an 8mm camera by a fan. Reportedly, Superman creator Jerry Siegel wrote the copy for most of these spots.
4 thoughts on “Television’s First Captain America”
Too bad I was too young and not into comics then! I think I lived in Hull, MA, at the time, a town just across the harbor from Boston!
I had never heard of live-action segments being used for this series. I learned about it today, so I tried to find more about it and I came to this page. I used to watch these crudely animated cartoons in Brazil when I was six and it was only in this century that I found something else about it: a 7″, 33 RPM record was released in Brazil with the Portuguese-dubbed version of Captain America’s “Midnight at Greymoore Castle” story. The TV series was initially sponsored by Shell in Brazil, so they were marketed as the “Shell Super Heroes”. The first issues of Captain America/Iron Man, Hulk/Namor and Thor comic books were sold in Shell gas stations, but I had never heard about the record until recently. I think it was never sold in my home town. I would like to find a detailed episode guide including comparisons between the original comic books and the cartoon adaptations.
I actually remember seeing some of these on Major Mudd. They got me into comic books. I especially remember a sequence where Cap thought Bucky had come back because his face was projected on a cloud (could have mis-remembered some of this) and Cap was crushed when it turned out to be a plot by the Red Skull. I still remember scenes from When the Sleepers Awake cartoon.
My older brother and I would tune in every day to see the live host “Smash, bash, bop and bang” those “no good super villains.” He was hilarious. We tuned in to see his schtick more than for the cartoons. It is a shame all those funny video bits are lost forever.