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Thrilling but preachy live action Filmation show for Saturday mornings in 1974 - the excitement started when Billy Batson (Michael Gray) shouted "Shazam" and turned into the super-powered Captain Marvel (Jackson Bostwick).
Along for the ride: Mentor (Les Tremayne), assigned by the animated Elders to look after Billy as they travel the country in a fully equipped RV looking for adventure and seeking out folks in need.
The series focused on "cooperation, using reasoned judgments and the importance of wholesome relationships between child and adult" according to the network. It shot to the top of the ratings.
During the third year when Billy yelled "Shazam" Captain Marvel was personified by John Davey. This was because Jackson Bostwick was injured filming an episode and, rather than wait for him to heal, producers replaced him in order to stay on schedule. Bostwick was injured in the morning and his replacement was on the set that afternoon, cast primarily because he fit the suit and was immediately available to work.
Teen idol Michael Gray slid into obscurity and (briefly) drug addiction after 'Shazam' ended. He now owns a flower shop in LA.
CBS couldn't call the show 'Captain Marvel' because of possible trademark infringement with Marvel Comics - even though Captain Marvel was created decades before Marvel Comics came along.
DC comics acquired the character after suing Captain Marvel out of existence in the 1950s, they prevailed in court with the argument that the Big Red Cheese (as he was known in the comics) was a rip-off of their property, Superman.
DC then revived the character in 1971 with a new comics series that was enormously successful nationwide, at least initially. Interest faded quickly, however.
Created for television and seen in separate adventures (and sometimes with Captain Marvel) mighty Isis was mild-mannered science teacher Andrea Thomas in her day gig. After finding a magic amulet on an archaeological dig, she takes on super powers when she utters the words, "Oh Mighty Isis!" and displays the golden amulet.
Isis was played by the lovely Joanna Cameron, her pet crow was named Tut.
Billy Ingram interviewed Jackson Bostwick about his role on Shazam:
you a fan of the comic book superheroes when you were younger?
The way you played the role was very earnest and it worked. It
didn't come across as campy. Shazam was one of the few truly effective
live-action shows on Saturday Mornings. Any thoughts on that?
Did you film one episode at a time, or several in a block?
What was Les Tremayne like to work with?
Any funny stories while filming?
Do any of the guest stars stand out?
show was a huge hit. Why were you replaced while season two filming was
underway? The guy who replaced you wasn't nearly as good.
It was a precedent setting case at the Screen Actor's Guild, and Filmation had to pay me for all the shows they didn't use me on, plus residuals. Still, these clown's actions doomed a marvelous show. It wasn't John Davies' fault that he was suddenly thrown into the part of Captain Marvel. It was a rush job. I was fired at 1:00 PM that day, and he was out on the set at 3:00 PM. That's pretty darn fast, I'd say. One of the Execs' reasoning was "The kids'll never know the difference." Riiight. John's a fine actor, but he's no more Captain Marvel than I am Wonder Woman.
Do you get recognized as Captain Marvel today?
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