Television director and producer Dick Darley, director of the first season of The Mickey Mouse Club and the person who brought the groundbreaking pulp science fiction series Space Patrol to a national audience died April 21. He was 92. “Early this morning our family lost a wonderful man – my dad,” said Darley’s daughter, Carol on Facebook the day he died. “At 92 years old he finished the good fight with courage and dignity.”
Born in Los Angeles, he served as a fighter pilot in the United States Navy during World War II, then studied radio production and writing at USC. First working at San Diego’s KFMB, he later joined L.A.’s KECA where in 1950 he became director on the channel’s new series Space Patrol.
Set in the 30th century, the series followed the adventures of Commander-in-Chief Buzz Corry of the United Planets Space Patrol, who along with his sidekick Cadet Happy faced off against a rogues gallery of villains inspired by then-current Cold War. For its first 10 months, the show aired as 15 minute episodes Monday through Friday. In December, 1950, ABC commissioned a half hour version that ran on Saturdays, concurrently with the 15-minute version. Aimed at children, the show picked up a following of adult viewers and would go on to make history when it became the first regular live West Coast morning show to be beamed to the East Coast.
After Space Patrol ended in 1955, Darley moved on to Disney, directing the first season of The Mickey Mouse Club. He later created the early 60s animated sci-fi series Space Angel, and went on to director or produce on television series including The Rosemary Clooney Show, The Spike Jones Show, Lassie, and Sid and Marty Krofft’s Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. Other credits include American Sportsman and The Wonderful World of Golf. “To his crew and peers he was a talented, creative, respected director, but to us he was Dad,” his Daughter said about him. “A handsome, loving, funny gentleman with great integrity, always seeing the funny side of life’s situations – a quality he passed on to his children and grandchildren!”
He is survived by his wife Marilyn, son Chris and daughter Carol, his brother and his grandchildren.