'Buck Rogers in the 25th Century' Cast Then and Now

"Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" only aired for two seasons, but it sure made a lasting impact on television as one of the first futuristic shows. It's a story of a man found transported to, you guessed it, the 25th Century. With talks of a reboot hitting the screens, here's a look at the cast since the series ended.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock


GIL GERARD

Astronaut Buck may have had a difficult life in the future, but the actor who played him definitely did not. Gil Gerard went on to star in several other television shows and made a name for himself. Initially, Gerard worked as an industrial chemist and ever reached the vice-presidential level of his company. 

Gil Gerard attends the 2016 Long Island Sci-Fi/Fantasy Convention at Ramada Plaza. | Source: Getty Images

Gil Gerard attends the 2016 Long Island Sci-Fi/Fantasy Convention at Ramada Plaza. | Source: Getty Images


Acting was at his heart since his high school days. The actor first landed a role as an extra in the film "Love Story" before getting into commercials of over 400. Gerard's first lead role was in "The Doctors" and later founded his own production company. He later landed significant roles on "Sidekicks," "Nightingales," and "Code 3," which he hosted.

Gil Gerard and Erin Gray are seen around Comic-Con 2010 on July 23, 2010 in San Diego, California. | Source: Getty Images

Gil Gerard and Erin Gray are seen around Comic-Con 2010 on July 23, 2010 in San Diego, California. | Source: Getty Images


The actor also appeared in the movies "Nuclear Hurricane" and "Action Hero Makeover." Recently, Gerard became the executive producer of the series "2491," which refers to the year Rogers had to adapt to. The show will likewise follow an astronaut who finds himself in the future and goes back to earth to find himself behind everyone else.

Gil Gerard seen around Comic-Con 2010 on July 23, 2010 in San Diego, California. | Source: Getty Images

Gil Gerard seen around Comic-Con 2010 on July 23, 2010 in San Diego, California. | Source: Getty Images


ERIN GRAY

Star Fighter pilot Col. Wilma Deering was played by Erin Gray, who continued to have a long list of credited on-screen appearances after the show. Initially, the actress was scared to play the part because of how fiction the story was. She revealed to Closer Weekly:

Erin Gray at the 2015 Society Of Camera Operators Lifetime Achievement Awards held at Paramount Studios. | Source: Getty Images

Erin Gray at the 2015 Society Of Camera Operators Lifetime Achievement Awards held at Paramount Studios. | Source: Getty Images


"I was scared to death on the one hand. You know, 'Oh, this is science fiction, which means that everything I'm dealing with isn't real.'" The actress said she got by with the help of her cast members, adding that Gerard was the jokester of the crew, influencing Gray to show her comedic side instead of her serious one.

Erin Gray at the 2015 Society Of Camera Operators Lifetime Achievement Awards held at Paramount Studios. | Source: Getty Images

Erin Gray at the 2015 Society Of Camera Operators Lifetime Achievement Awards held at Paramount Studios. | Source: Getty Images


Gray appeared in over 40 productions, including "Silver Spoons," "Police Story," and "Gibbsville." However, her career began as a model in one of the most elite companies of her time. She has since founded the booking agency Heroes for Hire and said: "I throw myself into things that are scary and hope for the best."

Image Source: Getty Images

Image Source: Getty Images


TOM O'CONNOR

Before Tom O'Connor had starred in the show, he appeared on the long-running series "Peyton Place" in 1964.  He was already, at that time, a familiar face on television with shows including "The United States Steel Hour" and "Family Classics."

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons


After playing Dr. Elias Huer on "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century," he starred as Jack Boland in "General Hospital" and Peter Falk in "Columbo." His other appearances include "Wheels," "The Man with the Power," "Tail Gunner Joe," and "Murder in Peyton Place."

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


FELIX SILLA

Before Felix Sila's career as an actor, he was a circus performer and toured with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Show. He then became a stuntman in Hollywood and started out in "The Ticklish Affair." He later had more notable roles in "The Black Bird," "The Addams Family," "The Towering Inferno," "The Hindenburg," and "Battlestar Galactica."

Felix Silla at Mountain-Con III in Layton, Utah. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Felix Silla at Mountain-Con III in Layton, Utah. | Source: Wikimedia Commons


MEL BLANC

Largely regarded in Hollywood as "The Man with a Thousand Voices", Mel Blanc was very popular and successful on-screen and voice actor. In the show, he lent his voice acting talents for the character of Twiki the robot companion in Buck Rogers.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons


In a Hollywood acting career that lasted almost 60 years, Blanc has over one thousand acting or voice acting credits to his name. He is the voice behind some of the most iconic cartoon characters, ever. He's the man behind the voices of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Marvin the Martian, Heathcliff, and Barney Rubble.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons


OLDER THAN YOU THINK!

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is over 40 years old which already quite a while back if you think about it. You'd be surprised, however, that the character of Buck Rogers and his story of time-traveling 500 years into the future is much older than the show. In fact, the it's over 90 years old.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons


Buck Rogers was first introduced as a comic book. It was created by Buck Rogers was created by Philip Francis Nowlan in 1928. The story was given a film adaptation in 1939 and starred Buster Crabbe as the titular hero. It was also turned into a tv show in the 50s. 

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


A PROOF OF CONCEPT

In 1977, 2 years before the television show premiered, the original 1928 Buck Rogers film was given a second run in theaters. This time, it was edited down to make the movie more palatable to the times. The Buster Crabbe film was originally over three hours long. This condensed version was half that and was something like a market test.

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


A DIFFERENT KIND OF PREMIER

Rather than begin life on the small screen, the new Buck Rogers’ TV movie was actually released into cinemas on 30th March 1979. It did very well at the box office, so TV network NBC immediately commissioned a weekly series.

Photo by Nathan Engel from Pexels

Photo by Nathan Engel from Pexels


Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was produced to become a TV movie and was actually released into cinemas on March 30, 1979. Things changed went it began to perform very well at the box office. This prompted their tv network, NBC, to immediately commission it to become the weekly tv series, we've known to love.

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


SLY STUDIOS

Studios often do their best to minimize the cost of production for a show, but this one takes the cake. As a matter of fact, the show used a bunch of props, costumes, and special effects shots from another show that the studio was shooting at the time.

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


That show was Battlestar Galactica. For example, the 'landram' vehicle in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was actually made from surplus from the Battlestar Galactica series, and the control sticks in the Terran starfighters were the same ones used for shots featuring the Viper craft from Battlestar Galactica too.

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


FAMOUS GUEST

As the show started to grow in its audience and popularity, a number of big-name tv and movie actors graced the show with cameo appearances in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.  Some of the big names you'd probably recognize are the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis, and also the late Gary Coleman.

 Jamie Lee Curtis attends the premiere of Pantelion Films' "Spare Parts" at ArcLight Cinemas on January 8, 2015 | Getty Images

Jamie Lee Curtis attends the premiere of Pantelion Films' "Spare Parts" at ArcLight Cinemas on January 8, 2015 | Getty Images


NOT MUCH OF A TEAM PLAYER

Sometimes even the title star of the show has a different opinion. Gil Gerard who plays the hero, Buck Rogers was not a big fan of his own show! He preferred the more serious tone of the movie rather than the lighter story-lines of the television show.

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


Remarkably, He was even quoted as saying that he hoped the show wouldn’t be renewed for a second series, as he didn’t like the direction it was taking. Well, I guess he kind of got his wish. The show did go on to have a second season, but it barely got going before it got canceled.

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


SHORT LIFE SPAN

Another remarkable but otherwise sad thing about this beloved show is that it only has a total of 37 episodes. The first season had 26 and the second and final season had 11 episodes. This was due to a writer's strike. Disappointingly, the show ended on a regular stand-alone without any closure to our hero's story.

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


IT BEAT THE DOCTOR!

Are you familiar with Dr. Who? It's one of the longest-running television shows ever. It ran from 1963 to 1989 and then came back again in 2005 and hasn't missed a beat since. It's one of British television biggest tv shows and one of the world's most beloved science fiction shows ever.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons


Dr. Who is also regarded as one of the highest-rated TV shows ever too. But the show was kicked off the number one spot by our own time-traveling astronaut. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century's ratings were so high that showrunner of Dr. Who even decided to bump itself off the Saturday night prime time slot and move to weekdays.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons


CAN'T PLEASE EVERYONE

While it inspired many young people in its time, smashed the weekend ratings and earned the love and respect of many, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century didn't win everyone over. As it has aged, many of today's critics see the show as a far cry from being a timeless sci-fi classic.

Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels


Understandably, it has a lot of more successful, long-running shows to contend with but it has its charm. A critic, John Javna even went as far as to write in his book ‘The Best of Science Fiction TV’ that Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is on the list ‘worst sci-fi shows of all time’, alongside Space 1999 and Manimal.

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


THERE ARE COLLECTIBLES

Buck Rogers was such a hit during its better days that it even came out with its own merch and extended media. Surprisingly, the show spawned two novels, a 14 issue comic book series and even a line of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century line of toys. Mego, a toy company, produced two sets of action figures and spaceships.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons


RE-RELEASE

Shows as old as Buck Rogers in the 25th Century will undoubtedly be etched in the memories of the fans they entertained back in the day. It's over forty years old now, but that hasn't stopped the show from coming back to grace our screens once more.

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


Today fans and would-be fans can enjoy the daring adventures of Buck and the gang through their 8 disc, Blu-ray box set, which you can order online. On top of that, the show has made its way to the world of on-demand streaming which works out better for us, don't you agree? The show is currently available on Amazon Prime!

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


TALKS OF A REBOOT

In 2015, veteran film producer, Don Murphy announced in San Diego Comic-con that he will be bringing Buck Rogers and the hero's story to the big screen, which was a sign of hope and new life to the fans of the long-forgotten show.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons


Don Murphy made his mark as a Hollywood producer for critically acclaimed films like Natural Born Killers, to Saturn Award-winning films like From Hell starring Johnny Depp and Apt Pupil with Ian McKellen. More recently he is known for being one of the long-running producers of the Transformers franchise and most recently Will Smith's Gemini Man. 

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


It's been shared that he wants to adapt the original 1929 novella that introduced us to Buck Rogers, Armageddon 2419 A.D. by Phillip Francis Nowlan. In this story, Rogers is a coal mine inspector who wakes up from being in suspended animation after 500 years. Rogers finds himself in the middle of a planetary war.

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


LEGAL ISSUES

Unfortunately for Murphy and fans, the rights to the Buck Rogers story are currently seeing a legal battle in federal courts in both, California and Pennsylvania as well as the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Murphy believes that Nowlan's character, his story, and brand are now public domain and is fair game.

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


U.S. copyright law states that the protection of creative works expires after 95 years from the first publication. Disney famously brought the term to 95 years in what has been called the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, in an effort to protect Steamboat Willie. It's been made known that there have been no efforts to extend the copyright of Buck Rogers. 

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


BUCK IS LOCKED DOWN

Current owners of the rights are heirs of John Dille, the man who published Phillip Francis Nowlan's work in magazines over 90 years ago. Would-be producer Murphy has even gone as far as to invite current rights holder, Dille's grandson to collaborate on the screenplay, but those offers have been turned down.

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


To make things worse, there have been more than a few questionable tactics that have been employed to keep Murphy from obtaining the rights to make the Buck Rogers film. These include the promise of paying for trademark litigation (to extend the copyright) to suddenly taking it back (to stall for time) and even filing for bankruptcy.

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


WHERE IS IT ALL GOING

It's been about five years since we were hinted at a Don Murphy led Buck Roger's film but because of all the legal battles over the copyright, it looks like we'll be waiting a little bit more. Let's just hope it happens in our century and not int the 25th Century. Get it?

Image Source: Youtube

Image Source: Youtube


Source: IMDB, 80s Kids, Movieweb

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