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Gerry Anderson, MBE, S.I.G, F.A.B, R.I.P
December 26, 2012 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Gerry Anderson, creator of many 1960's puppet series (shot in Supermarionation) has passed away. He was responsible not just for Thunderbirds, Joe 90, Stingray, Captain Scarlet and many others, but also the creator of the 60's live action shows UFO, Space 1999 and Space Precinct. Anderson suffered from mixed Alzheimer's in recent years died peacefully in his sleep Wednesday lunchtime.
posted by Webbster (65 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
There goes a piece of my childhood.

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posted by radwolf76 at 11:58 AM on December 26, 2012


I spent many an hour enjoying his creations.

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posted by immlass at 12:02 PM on December 26, 2012


Went on a nostalgic Thunderbirds binge with the kids last weekend. Sad news.

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posted by N-stoff at 12:04 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by inflatablekiwi at 12:05 PM on December 26, 2012


Thunderbirds may well have been the defining moment of my childhood. One of my very favorite series ever (and lets not forget Captain Scarlet). Watched repeatedly on old VHS till the tapes were well and truly past it.

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posted by ElliotH at 12:09 PM on December 26, 2012


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posted by Hanuman1960 at 12:14 PM on December 26, 2012


Just last night, one of my nephews (he is 4) was playing with an old Thunderbird 2 toy of mine. He was completely engrossed by it, to the exclusion of a number of his other presents. I think that is as fitting a tribute as any to Gerry Anderson's genius.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:17 PM on December 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


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S.A.D.
posted by doogyrev at 12:18 PM on December 26, 2012


Dammit.

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posted by dbiedny at 12:20 PM on December 26, 2012


Oh crummy day. I've been such a fan for years.
posted by item at 12:20 PM on December 26, 2012


Ah, yes... when the space age was awesome... these shows completely mesmerized me as a kid.

BTW: available streaming on Crackle.com!

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posted by mondo dentro at 12:21 PM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by Sys Rq at 12:26 PM on December 26, 2012


Thanks for all the childhood memories and thrills, Mr. Anderson!
posted by carter at 12:26 PM on December 26, 2012


Terrahawks scared me something rotten as a child, or at least Zelda did. My brothers liked it though and had some of the the toys.

By the time Thunderbirds and Stingray were shown as reruns, I thought they were a bit naff because of the marionettes. But they were still a lot of fun, which I suppose is a testament to them being straight up good kids' stories.
posted by Jehan at 12:29 PM on December 26, 2012


"Well, Brains, your phenomenal mind made all this possible."

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Yup, major peice of my childhood too.

Here's Warren Ellis from 2009 on why that's a good thing: 'Thunderbirds will grow a generation of mad engineers'

posted by Artw at 12:38 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow- what a fascinating legacy and collection of memories he leaves behind. "Supercar" was my favorite Anderson thing- maybe because I was such an impressionable little nerdette back in '61 and the car just looked like something I would love to drive/fly/aqua-cruise in.

Plus, the marionette walk still makes the grandkids laugh. ;)

Thanks for all the neat stuff, Mr. Anderson!

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posted by Phyllis Harmonic at 12:40 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


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My Dad watched episodes of that with me when I was a kid. I still have some of them on VHS. I liked it enough that my parents painted Thunderbirds (Along with the solar system and Star Wars things) on my wall when I was a kid, where they proudly remain to this day.
posted by Canageek at 12:40 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The opening sequence from The Protectors, featuring the Tony Christie hit, Avenues and Alleyways.
posted by grounded at 12:43 PM on December 26, 2012


The glistening drops on my painted wooden face are sweat, honest. From defusing a bomb on a plummeting nuclear powered plane or something.
posted by Artw at 12:45 PM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thank you for Fireball XL5, sir. And Supercar.

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posted by Thorzdad at 12:52 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always marvelled how the opening titles for Captain Scarlet had him just nonchalantly blowing away the dude who just shot him. What kids show would have the huevos to do that today?
posted by PenDevil at 12:55 PM on December 26, 2012


Loved Fireball XL5. First mp3 I downloaded was the theme song. Safe journey, Gerry.
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posted by Fibognocchi at 1:05 PM on December 26, 2012


Wow, I lived on Moonbase Alpha for major portions of my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, and later adulthood. Actually, I'm still there. It is a bit far from Starbucks and the good school districts.

I have to say that Sylvia Anderson's contribution to all this is very underrated. I think that, together, they had an ability to captivate and mesmerise that was way beyond the ordinary. Ther was a lot to criticise about those shows, but in the end, none of it mattered. You could call certain things silly or cheesy and still be captivated by them. Yes, Isaac Asimov, I'm looking at you - I don't care that playing pool with planets is a physically outlandish idea. The Andersonverse had heard all about those silly laws of physics and wanted no truck with them.
posted by tel3path at 1:18 PM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


International Rescue has left the building.

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posted by Smart Dalek at 1:18 PM on December 26, 2012


Thunderbirds are Went

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posted by inturnaround at 1:23 PM on December 26, 2012


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posted by prolific at 1:29 PM on December 26, 2012


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posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 1:32 PM on December 26, 2012


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...and my own personal favorite Andersonia...

- my Thunderbird 2 Corgi toy
- early memories of Marina's theme over the closing credits of Stingray
- UFO scaring the bejeezus out of me
posted by fairmettle at 1:33 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by vibrotronica at 1:40 PM on December 26, 2012


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posted by smoothvirus at 1:41 PM on December 26, 2012


some of my earliest nightmares were Thunderbirds related. Also, Joe 90
posted by philip-random at 1:46 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


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I think the Jo 90 opening sequencemay have been why I ended up working in R&D.
posted by rongorongo at 1:52 PM on December 26, 2012


Thunderbirds are gone.

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posted by chavenet at 2:02 PM on December 26, 2012


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Are these programmes still worth watching with grown-up eyes? I haven't dared revisit them for fear of ruining cherished childhood memories.
posted by monotreme at 2:04 PM on December 26, 2012


I loved UFO and Space 1999 in an extremely moderate way when I was much younger. So much so that I am loath to watch the shows now for fear it will taint my memories of my younger self. I do think that the Dinky Toys had something to do with it. That, and the Space 1999 opening credits.

RIP, Mr. Anderson.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:17 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Supercar. One of my favorite shows as a little kid.
posted by DarkForest at 2:22 PM on December 26, 2012


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or

🚀

(That's a rocket Unicode character, but I fear many browsers won't display it.)

I can hear the Thunderbirds music playing in my head. Bad few weeks here for deaths of childhood figures, starting with Dave Brubeck.

(I tried to watch some Thunderbirds when I was a teenager and couldn't get past the strings. That was a long time ago, tho...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:51 PM on December 26, 2012


Oh, he was SPACE 1999 as well? What fantastic work. I loved all his adventurous, fun, exciting programmes when I was a kid.

The news in the UK played a brief section where he said that Lew Grade of ITV said to him (of STINGRAY) "That's not a TV show. That's a feature film!" And commissioned 32 hours straight away. And they do look great, and they have a real high-quality feel to them.
posted by alasdair at 2:52 PM on December 26, 2012


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posted by toadflax at 3:12 PM on December 26, 2012


Saturday mornings early 60s followed the arc of silly Hanna Barbera shows (get your cereal on) to Jonny Quest (change out of PJs) and ended with the adventurous stuff like Anderson's Fireball XL5.

Then American Bandstand came on and, not understanding girls yet, you put on your jacket and rode bikes.
posted by hal9k at 3:18 PM on December 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anderson was responsible for several of my first groundings. I thought every Revere model car, 1/24 slot racer or family Ford wagon was greatly improved visually with a firework shooting spark and smoke out the tailpipe.

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posted by hal9k at 3:19 PM on December 26, 2012


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posted by sammyo at 3:21 PM on December 26, 2012


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Damn.
posted by Mezentian at 3:22 PM on December 26, 2012


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posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 3:44 PM on December 26, 2012


Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in a parody that could only have come from true obsessives: Superthunderstingcar.
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:58 PM on December 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


Saw Gerry Anderson on my TV
Flying saucers and puppetry
Supermarionation
I wanna be thunderbird one
Living underground in the dark and cool
Deep beneath the swimming pool
And all the other thunderbirds will be really jealous
Cause I'm a giant, flying, silver, red-tipped phallus
posted by Sparx at 4:58 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember getting up very early to watch Thunderbirds on TV when I was a kid in the Chicago suburbs, circa the late 70s. Didn't realized he was connected with Space 1999.

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posted by jquinby at 5:18 PM on December 26, 2012


I just finished the UFO set, and what greatness is in there. Kudos to Sylvia on the set design, which is outstanding. Excellent stuff. Space 1999, Thunderbirds, etc.

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posted by parki at 6:27 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oz's D-Generation Thunderbirds parody (ripped off from Pete and Dud, but very funny).
posted by oluckyman at 6:37 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's very sad to lose a giant like Mr Anderson. Here's a song of mine from 1982 inspired by my childhood obsession with Captain Scarlet.

the creator of the 60's live action shows UFO, Space 1999 and Space Precinct

Those were not 60's live-action shows : they were all 1970's or later, eg Space Precinct was 1990's.
posted by w0mbat at 9:00 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


His work was such a big part of my childhood.

I like to imagine that his burial will be a stately affair involving conveyer belts, clear plastic tubes, and several specialised tracked vehicles.
posted by gamera at 9:08 PM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mr. Thunderbird - The Gerry Anderson Story (2000)
posted by plokent at 9:38 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by lalochezia at 10:18 PM on December 26, 2012


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posted by Zack_Replica at 10:23 PM on December 26, 2012


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And it took me reading the Wikipedia page to realize that each Tracy son is named after a Mercury astronaut.

Poor Gordon. Stuck with the lamest of the Thunderbirds, Thunderbird 4. Always felt bad for him. Scott gets to coordinate, Virgil's a hot-shot pilot, Alan's a rocket jockey, and John gets a whole damn space station. Sorry Gordon, you get the submersible boat.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:14 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was a little kid I thought Fireball XL5 was the greatest show ever, and probably the start of my lifelong love of Science Fiction.

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posted by lordrunningclam at 4:22 AM on December 27, 2012


"Anything can happen... in the next.. half hour."
posted by Trochanter at 5:33 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Poor Gordon

At least he gets to live on earth, on a tropical island with a swimming pool. John, on the other hand, is banished to a space station, alone. What did he do to be punished like this? What dark family secrets did he know, that Old Man Tracy wanted kept quiet?

"Can I come down, now, dad?"

"Sorry, John! We need you there. Looking for incidents! Alerting us about disasters!"

"But, dad, it's four years since I've seen another human being... the highlight of my month is when the shuttle arrives with the baby food and the freshly-laundered uniforms... why do I have to wear a uniform all the time, dad?"

"It's not baby food, John, it's special space food."

"The uniform?"

"We're International Rescue, we have to keep up appearances."

"But, dad, you're the only person who sees me, once every three months when something explodes!"

"Maybe you can loosen the sash a bit, if it's uncomfortable. Sorry, John, got to go - we've having a barbecue, and Lady Penelope is here and she brought Hef and some bunnies and it's a thing... I have to go. Speak to you in a couple of months. Hey... maybe you'll get lucky and something will explode!"

"But... dad! Dad! Dad?"

"Later, John."

(John Tracy's cries for help echo around the empty rooms of Tracy Island. In the distance there's the tinkling of ice in glasses, and the giggling of the bunnies.)
posted by Grangousier at 6:27 AM on December 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


Sing if you're proud to be plastic now.
posted by incster at 7:22 AM on December 27, 2012



The first three Supermarionation series -- Supercar, Fireball XL5, and Stingray -- were very important to me as a kid. I took those puppets very seriously. I must have outgrown the Andersons' style after that because I never watched Thunderbirds or Captain Scarlet or any of the later Supermarionation series.

Don't forget about the live-action film Doppelgänger (Journey to the Far Side of the Sun). It had some intriguing elements, even if the astrophysics of it are disproven (at least). Bit of a downer, but that was the style of the times.

And now . . . a tribute to the lasting influence of Fireball XL-5:
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posted by Herodios at 8:19 AM on December 27, 2012


Loved UFO and Space:1999 as a kid. My 3rd grade classmates enjoyed calling me "Bryan the Brain" after that episode of the latter.

And Journey to the Far Side of the Sun blew my mind in a Twilight Zone kind of way.

My parents swore I adored Captain Scarlett, but I never remembered it.

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posted by doctornemo at 8:58 AM on December 27, 2012


Absolutely loved SPACE:1999 way back in the day - it seemed so perfect, shiny, and future-y. And the opening music and credits - BAM. As for UFO - one of the absolute best TV themes. Anderson sure did create a lot of memories for several generations.
posted by davidmsc at 12:05 PM on December 27, 2012


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posted by Superfrankenstein at 12:58 PM on December 27, 2012


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posted by mdoar at 2:24 PM on December 27, 2012


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posted by Webbster at 8:10 PM on December 27, 2012


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