Roland reed productions title card

Roland Reed Productions

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Roland Reed Productions was the company that produced Rocky Jones, Space Ranger.

Captain Video came to the air in 1949. Followed quickly by Buck Rogers, Space Patrol, Tom Corbett and Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers.

Roland Reed worked his way up the the ladder in Hollywood with jobs as Film Editor, Director, and eventually Producer. Roland Reed Productions opened their doors in 1950. They produced commertials, religious films, and filmed television series (All on 16mm film, as it was the television (and classroom) playback standard at the time).

Roland Reed teamed up with Associate Producer Arthur Pierson, and Executive Producer Guy B. Thayer.

It was Guy B. Thayer who convinced Reed that a space show would be a hit.

To see if the market was interested, a coloring book was produced in 1951. It sold over a million copies! Children seemed to be interested in only three things in the 1950's - cowboys, Indians, and space explorers!

A Rocky Jones Space Ranger Pilot was completed in 1952 directed by Abby Berlin. The original print of this pilot is in the Library of Congress archives. The only part of this original pilot that can be seen in the regular series is the "comet" rocket seen in the episode "Bobby's Comet". Cast were changed, and the series was helmed by director Hollinsworth Morse. Jack R. Glass handled the special effects (famous for his optical effects in The Adventures of Superman).

But the cost of doing the expensive and time consuming special effects nearly bankrupted the studio! Roland Reed stated in a TV GUIDE article that he spent a quater of a million dollars on the Rocky Jones series (1953 dollars!)! Each episode cost aproximately $25,000, and Roland Reed productions only recieved a 30% return. One of the problems was that the syndication fees for the show were not stable. Major cities commanded top fees, while smaller market bookings were miniscule in comparison. Fluctuating income, as well as bad publicity from one of the stars private life exploits created a bad product in a flooded market. NBC dropped the series after airing the first three episodes. Syndication seemed the only option left to the show. And while critics complained about the bad writing (which was no better or worse than any of the competition) they also praised the high production standards and quality of the production values!

Merchandising for Rocky Jones did not begin in earnest until 1954, and was widely varied in type and style, but it was a matter of too little too late.

By 1954, Rocky Jones was over.

MCA Corp redistributed the series in 1956 and again in 1965. This could only have been done due to the forethought of having had shot the series on 16mm film instead of a live broadcast.

The distributor, Official Films, edited the three part episodes into what is widely believed to be the first ever tv movies. The Rocky Jones movies were edited and released in 1956. (The three part episodes ran 78 minutes, while the movies ran aproximately 73 minutes.) 

The other hits Roland Reed Productions did have (Beulah; Mark Saber; Waterfront; The Stu Erwin Show; and My Little Margie - which featured the Orbit Jet set in season three, episode 17 - Margie's Millionth Member) did not save Roland Reed Productions financially, even though they were often shooting three shows a day, and Roland Reed Productions shut down in November 1956.

Roland Reed continued to work in television at Gower Studios where he made industrial films, and used his own money to attempt other pilots, one underwater adventure utilized Director Hollingsworth Morse once again.

As is often the story in Hollywood, Producer Roland Reed died broke. Hollingworth Morse was one of three people who attended his funeral.