Action: Tailspin Tommy


Tailspin Tommy:

Tailspin Tommy, debuted in 1928, is a comic strip about a fictional pilot named "Tailspin" Tommy Tompkins, drawn by Hal Forrest.

In the wake of Charles Lindbergh's crossing the Atlantic Ocean a great interest in aviation was created. Tailspin Tommy was the first aviation based comic strip to appear as a result of this interest, and also the longest lasting.

By 1931 it was running in over 250 newspapers across the country.

By 1940, interest in aviation was on the decline and Tailspin Tommy began to lose papers. A change in syndicates did little to help and the strip ended in 1942.

Tailspin Tommy appeared in movie theaters throughout the 1930s. He first appeared in the twelve episode 1934 movie serial Tailspin Tommy, played by Maurice Murphy (see below).

Next, another twelve part serial followed, in 1935. This one, entitled Tailspin Tommy in the Great Air Mystery, starred Clark Williams in the lead role.

Finally, John Trent portrayed Tommy in a series of hour-long features. The titles in the series included Mystery Plane, Stunt Pilot, Sky Patrol  (see belowand Danger Flight  (see below). All the films were released in 1939.

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Tailspin Tommy in the Great Air Mystery (1935) – Clark Williams:

A 12-episode serial in which Tailspin Tommy evades volcanoes, anti-aircraft shells, and time bombs as he foils a plan by corrupt profiteers to steal an island's oil reserves.

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1. Tailspin Tommy in Danger Flight (1939):

Tailspin Tommy was a hit in comics and on the radio. His exploits were made into features and serials. This is the second feature.  The majority of the film concerns Whitey who is a tough no good kid. Tailspin shows him some kindness and Whitey comes around. When Tailspin crashes during a storm Whitey manages to find the crashed plane and rescue his friend. Whitey's really no good brother then uses him to lure Tailspin into a trap so the money he was delivering can be stolen.

2. Tailspin Tommy in Sky Patrol (1939):


Tailspin Tommy is back! After Danger Flight, he's back for more adventure in 'Sky Patrol'. Tailspin helps a bunch of

graduates on their first assignment patrolling a piece of land for some clandestine activity. When one of the pilots is

captured, it's up to Tommy and his crew to beat the bad guys AND to rescue the captured pilot!

3. Tailspin Tommy in Mystery Plane (1939): 

A pilot invents a revolutionary new bomb-targeting system. However, just before he is to deliver it to the Air Force, he is kidnapped by a criminal gang who want to give the system to a foreign power, and threaten to kill his girlfriend unless he gives them the plans.   John Trent plays Tailspin Tommy Tompkins.

4. Tailspin Tommy in Stunt Pilot (1939):

This is the second of the four, and it is a movie within a movie. In this story a movie director is filming a war epic with airplane fight scenes, and Tailspin Tommy gets involved with some of the stunt work. What he doesn't know is that the director wants to murder another stunt pilot who years earlier ran off with his wife. Tailspin Tommy is set up with real bullets in his plane instead of blanks and he shoots down and kills the other stunt pilot. All looks pretty bad for Tommy as he goes on the run from the police as an accused murderer. John Trent plays Tailspin Tommy Tompkins.



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