Sunday, February 13, 2011

Props!

by David J. Schow

OUR ESTEEMED OUTER LIMITS PANEL

Having mentioned the fates of a few assorted Outer Limits props (so far) we could easily debate the status of Coolest All-Time Outer Limits prop endlessly, but I think this is a good candidate:

Wah Chang sketch of Mr. Zeno’s supercool, much-coveted, completely retro climate-altering desk lamp, or possibly, iPod dock.


Private collectors have scooped up Turdo from “Doomsday,” the laser pistol from “Bellero Shield,” the Thetan disintegrator from “Architects of Fear” … and past that and a mound of latex long-decomposed to dust, there really weren’t that many distinctive props or costumes from the series.  A smattering, sure.

SF super-collector Bob Burns told me the tragic tale of the Galaxy Being’s head.  That’s right — “Andy” the Andromedan.  Spotty.  Bob had the head.  And thanks to the silver paint sprayed on it for the TV Guide photo shoot, the rubber turned completely glutinous.  If you touched it, webs of goo would follow your finger away.  Ultimately, Spotty’s head literally melted and there was nothing Bob could do to preserve it.
Spotty’s head, before the meltdown.  (Courtesy Bob Burns)

I’ve already described the similarly hideous fate of the Empyrian mask from “Second Chance”… and the equally hideous auction of Don Gordon’s pot-holder spacesuit from same.


And don’t even bring up the subject of the eponymous Glass Hand.  If anybody knows what became of it… they ain’t talking.

I was once offered mostly-destroyed original masks from “Nightmare” and “The Chameleon” at $500 a pop.  In 1977.  (I always did wonder what became of the alien weapon and costume medallions from the latter episode, or the “Nightmare” control wands and boxes, for that matter.)

And we’ve all dutifully clicked on the correct link to read the story of the apemania.com restoration of an original Invisible … right?



But here is my unexpected choice for most desirable Outer Limits prop ever:


You may instantly recognize this as the control panel inside of Phobos' carrycase in "Controlled Experiment" ... but in re-viewing several episodes for this blog, I began to notice it popping up all over the place, as a drop-in piece of functional set dressing for many other Outer Limits control boards and panels.

It’s right next to the FORWARD-BACKWARD lever in “The Sixth Finger.”

It's in "The Mice" — the Chromoite operates it.

It's in "The Bellero Shield" — as part of Richard's apparatus.

It's in "Second Chance" — the Empyrian operates it.

It's in "Moonstone" — look to Hari Rhodes' left.

It's in "It  Crawled Out of the Woodwork" — in Dr. Linden's living dead lab.

Touched by a multitude of Outer Limits humans and creatures, it was right there, day-and-date, on-hand for most of the series, which is why I think it worthy of extreme covet.

Formerly the property of the same fellow who owned the Thetan gun, the panel is now on display as part of the permanent collection of the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle.

The oft-seen “power pylons” constructed by Jack Poplin were so large they probably bit the dust years ago.  Paul LeBaron of Project Unlimited once mentioned he had the brain tank from “Brain of Colonel Barham” in his garage.

Forry Ackerman had several other Outer Limits strays, most of them now owned by Greg Nicotero, including the Erosian gloves from “Children of Spider County” and the alien boots from “Keeper of the Purple Twilight.”  Forry also had a set of Andro’s hands from “The Man Who Was Never Born” — they were built on top of yellow Playtex rubber gloves.

But the panel…!



The placard reads:

Control panel used in the television series The
Outer Limits, 1963-1965.  This set piece is also
featured in several Outer Limits episodes,
including "Controlled Experiment," where it is
repurposed as a "temporal condenser."
Undercover Martian agent Deimos, played by
Caroll O'Connor, uses the device to interact with
the past, allowing him to influence human
behavior and alter the course of history.

2003.320.18
From the Paul Allen Family Collection

So — probably too late — we hereby inaugurate a test of will and mettle called SPOT THE PANEL.  Spot it, that is, in episodes other than the ones cited already.  I’d like to get a tally.

Below, you can see a few more Outer Limits refugees from various collections over the years.

FX makeup man Dave Ayres with original “Chameleon” and “Keeper of the Purple Twilight” masks, a fake Zanti, a bona fide “Specimen: Unknown” pod with restored flower, and the remnants of “Chill Charlie” from “The Human Factor.”

Tighter view of Chill Charlie’s dome.  Man, it sure looks like it was made out of wax.

“Open-ended” Leslie Stevens interview disc from Season One.  It came with a script of written questions so local radio hosts could simulate actually talking to Stevens himself.

Original Luminoid mask from “A Feasibility Study.”
The only survivor of the “Corpus Earthling” invasion.  (As of 10 years ago, the “eye-lights” still worked.)

Wah Chang’s carved-wood “Master Zanti” — seemingly with the first (replaced) version of the head sculpt.  Fishing line ran out of the rear end.  When pulled, the head would turn in a single move, to save time for stop-motion animation.  Currently in the collection of Bob Burns.
 


The Calco claw from “Fun and Games,” recycled for the Megasoid in “The Duplicate Man”

Two views of finished — but not painted — “Chameleon” gloves, also re-used on several other shows.


From “Soldier” — Qarlo’s war helmet repurposed for Mork and Mindy (below).  Note the spiffy little radar dish that has been added.


Three views of Shatner’s “Cold Hands, Warm Heart” gloves.


Janos Prohaska handout.  Note the various iterations of the Megasoid, including its incarnation as a Macedonian Dodo Bird, for Bewitched, and some kind of goofy monster for Lost in Space.


Wah Chang tin ingot minted in 1958.

Wah Chang bronze casting of an otter at play.  Wah did many such limited editions in the latter part of his life, including dragons.


From the Project Unlimited auction:  Dave Pal joins props from Dinosaurus!, Master of the World and Jack the Giant Killer (BG), Gene Warren’s parking space, and the PUUDLY itself from “The Duplicate Man,” also known as the leftover parts of The Black Scorpion.

The Chromoite stands by … apparently someone is wearing the suit!



FLAT ZANTI joins forces with an original Luminoid head, formerly in the collection of Forrest J Ackerman (now owned by DJS).

10 comments:

  1. Simply awesome--every time I turn around, there's something new and exciting here. You've got a lot of the props covered--I'd wonder also what happened to the Calco creature's boomerang and the monster head puppets from "Invisible Enemy," for starters. And yeah, would surely like to know whatever happened to the glass hand, one of my favorites. As for that control panel--now I'm going to have to go back and watch all the episodes again! (Not that that's a cruel hardship, or anything like that.) Thanks again DJS for your continuing fascinating contributions here.

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  2. I was in the Seattle sci-fi museum last fall, for the first time ever. It was quite something, and I was glad to see The Outer Limits represented there, with the famous control panel and the helmut from Soldier.

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  3. . . . but evidently no effort to find the whereabouts of the greatest TOL prop of all: Gail Kobe's 'bow-tie' dress from the later acts of Keeper of the Purple Twilight. Shame, DJS, shame.

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  4. Pshaw!

    All this rubber stuff is okay, but I want to know what happened to Grace Lee Whitney's skirt from "Controlled Experiment." My kind of prop.

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  5. I'm counting on you guys 'n gals to get out there and SPOT THAT PANEL!

    Gail Kobe's dress: I think she's still wearing it. Grace Lee Whitney's snakeskin-tight skirt: I'm pretty sure it exploded.

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  6. Peter: what size are you?

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  7. Mr. Blamire-

    I don't think that's an appropriate question.
    Don't make me caution you again!

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  8. For the record, the wacky outfit that cutie Pam Dawber is wearing opposite Mork with his Qarlo helmet is none other than the "Bat Lady" costume from Paramount's 1955 Martin and Lewis comedy ARTISTS AND MODELS (it was originally inhabited by Shirley MacLaine).

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  9. That is stop motion animator, David Allen (not David Pal) posed with the PUUDLY from “The Duplicate Man.” He was the winner of this and a few other items in the auction. The PUUDLY was later used as a prop in the film, "EQUINOX," but didn't make the final cut, in either the Dennis Murien or the Jack Harris versions. The old man the teenagers meet in the cave has the creature "dead' on a spit over a fire. I have a photo taken showing the prop as it was dressed for the scene. After shooting, the PUUDLY sat in the back yard of David's parent's home where it decomposed into oblivion... On the other hand, the blue giant seen in the film IS wearing a pair of rubber feet that were originally made for O.L!

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  10. I have a copy of the Leslie Stevens record. If anyone is interested in it feel free to contact me at rloring911@comcast.net. Thanks

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