Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Comparative Legacies of Kraft Suspense Theatre and Star Trek

Star Trek was a low rated show that teetered on the brink of cancellation for its entire first run on television. Kraft Suspense Theatre attracted the best actors of its (or any) era. Yet Star Trek, its performers and its trivia are discussed and dissected far out of proportion to its original success. KST is virtually forgotten.

I wrote in my initial post that Kraft Suspense Theatre has been largely ignored by fans and biographers of 1960's television and the actors from that era:
Stars and their biographers are quick to point out their roles on other shows of that era, including Star Trek, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Hitchcock, etc. But they usually see no benefit in touting their performance on Suspense Theatre.

In response, director Ralph Senensky has written to me that he often forgets Kraft Suspense Theatre when he is asked what shows he directed. Senensky directed numerous popular television shows before during and after the 1960's.

I suspect that many of the biographies that I have seen lack reference to KST because the biographers do not appreciate the significance of the show. Because KST has not been in syndication very much, it is not considered significant among biographers and historians.

Star Trek received poor ratings during its entire first run. Many other shows of that era did better in the ratings. Yet actors that played roles on Star Trek emphasize their Star Trek roles to the exclusion of shows that were more popular during the 1960's. Star Trek guest stars still appear at Star Trek conventions across the country, while there are no such conventions for KST or many other popular shows of the 1960's.

So not only is KST largely ignored, the original Star Trek's legacy exceeds its original success and reflects mainly its post-run popularity.

Grace Lee Whitney devoted most of her book to Star Trek (plus some small roles in other shows), while not mentioning her role on KST ( still does not mention her role in KST, even though she had a speaking role).

Ralph Senensky's blog is named "Ralph's Trek," even though he directed more episodes of some other shows than he directed of Star Trek. Senensky's Wikipedia entry does not mention KST (or Hart to Hart or Barnaby Jones), but mentions Star Trek.

Lloyd Bridges' Wikipedia entry makes no mention of KST, yet includes a reference to Star Trek merely because Bridges turned down a role on that show.

Joseph Pevney's Wikipedia entry does not mention KST. It does mention Star Trek and also lists many of the individual Star Trek episodes (while failing to mention individual episodes for any other series).

Actor Ian Wolfe worked for almost 60 years, including some prominent roles with famous actors. His Wikipedia entry does not mention KST, even in the long catalogue of credits at the bottom. The narrative part of the entry does list both of his Star Trek episodes by name (and little else).

Perhaps no actor played a more prominent role on Kraft Suspense Theatre than Jack Kelly. Kelly's Wikipedia entry does not mention KST, but mentions his less prominent role in Kraft Mystery Theatre.

Warren Stevens played in three KST episodes, none of which were mentioned on his Wikipedia page. That page did mention his one Star Trek role.

Malachi Throne played in three KST episodes, none of which were mentioned on his Wikipedia page. But the same Wikipedia entry discussed his one Star Trek role at length.

Actress Katherine Crawford starred prominently in three KST episodes (and had family connections to the show and to Universal Studios). She had no connection with Star Trek. Not surprisingly, she has no Wikipedia entry. Had she guest starred even once on Star Trek, it is safe to say that by now she would have appeared at numerous Star Trek conventions and would enjoy her own cult following.

Of course, the Wikipedia entries and IMDB bios (as opposed to the IMDB catalogues) for Mickey Rooney, Milton Berle, Peter Lorre and other KST guest stars make no mention of KST.

There are many other examples.

This legacy helps define one purpose of this blog. The plots are the most important part of each review, but cataloging the well-known actors of each episode serves its own purpose. The list of famous actors adds gravitas to KST. The demand for KST would be much greater if it was more widely known that KST featured less prominent performances of the all-time greats. These considerations may hasten the day of a DVD release or KST availability on

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