Back in the days before I discovered girls, my life was pretty simple. I ran around and played. I read comics books. I watched TV. I was not very discriminate back then. I'd play any game or just run for the hell of it. I'd read any comic book, although I did prefer the funny animal type of comic. (I'd even read an issue of so of my sister's yucky love comic books.) And I'd watch almost anything on TV, bowing to the preferences of my parents or the occasional babysitter. But on Saturday mornings, I got to watch some of my favorites: Hopalong Cassidy and Captain Midnight.
I don't know why I liked Captain Midnight so much. Sure, the dreadful plots and acting made sense to my uncritical eye. And I don't remember the show having too much action, but I remember well how much I enjoyed Icky, Captain Midnight's sidekick, played by Sid Melton. When the show went into syndication the name "Captain Midnight" did not go with it. The producers did not own the name, so the show was retitled Jet Jackson, Flying Jackson, and every time the name Captain Midnight was uttered, the syndicated show would replace it with a very poorly dubbed "Jet Jackson." (This confused the hell out of me, but I continued watching the show anyway.)
Captain Midnight began on the radio. Jim Albright, a WWI Army pilot, gained the moniker after returning from a secret mission at the stroke of midnight. In 1938, when the radio program premiered, he was a private pilot who liked to help people. By 1940, however, he was to head the Secret Squadron, a paramilitary organization formed to battle espionage in the years leading up to our involvement in WWII. Not unsurprisingly, the villains they faced were nasty Germans and Japanese.
With the end of the war, the Secret Squadron tackled criminals and enemies of America, both here and abroad.
Captain Midnight became a short-lived comic book from Dell in 1941 before it had a six-year run as a Fawcett comic from 1942-1948. Also in 1942, the character starred in his own newspaper comic strip. The background and characters here varied somewhat from the radio series in the comic strip and widely in the Fawcett comic. (The Fawcett comic also rebranded Albright as a genius scientist/inventor.)
A fifteen-episode movie serial was filmed in 1942 with Dave O'Brien in the title role. Here, Captain Midnight was a costumed hero and no mention was made of the Secret Squadron.
The television show from Screen Gems ran for 39 episodes from 1954 to 1956. The Captain (played by Richard Webb) was now a veteran of the Korean War and the Secret Squadron was now a private organization. The only holdover character was Ichabod (Icky) Mudd. Joining the cast was Aristotle "Tut" Jones, resident scientist, played by Olan Soule. The show was sponsored by Ovaltine, which claimed to be a healthy drink for kids. (My parents never bought Ovaltine, darn it!, so I only had it when I was over at friends' houses -- it was delicious and not as healthy as I had been led to believe.)
Today, Captain Midnight -- not Jet Jackson, please -- has been revived by both Moonstone Press and Dark Horse comics.
From October 12, 1955, an episode of Captain Midnight -- "The Frozen Men":