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Al Markim, who portrayed Astro, a young engineer from Venus, on the popular 1950s sci-fi TV serial Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, died Tuesday, his family announced. He was 88.
Tom Corbett, Space Cadet aired from 1950-55, broadcasting live from a New York studio. It was set in the 24th century and featured the adventures of Astro and others from the Space Academy who travel around the solar system on the ship Polaris.
The serial began as 15-minute installments and had the rare distinction of appearing on four networks: CBS, ABC, NBC and the DuMont network, and then NBC again. The show made its way into merchandising, comic strips, books and a radio show.
“I remember sometimes we’d watch something [real-life space-related] and my kids would say, ‘Wow!’ and they’d ooh and aah, and I would say, ‘Aww, I was there. I stood there,” Markim said in Tom Weaver’s 2008 book, I Talked With a Zombie. “I walked on the moon. I walked on Mars. That’s nuthin’!’ Because it felt, in my mind, sort of like I had done it.”
Markim later worked at MGM and served as executive in charge of production on the Sidney Lumet drama The Pawnbroker (1964), starring Rod Steiger, and as an associate producer on The Fool Killer (1965), toplined by Anthony Perkins.
A native of Wilkes Barre, Pa., Markim in 1968 co-founded the video duplication firm Teletronics and entered into a partnership with Sony; the company would later become Video Corp. of America and merge with Technicolor. He was inducted into the Video Hall of Fame in 1996.
Survivors include his wife of 53 years, Sondra; children Nancy, Dan, Gary, Nina and Carla; and 11 grandchildren.
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