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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

X Minus One - "The Man in the Moon" by George Lefferts

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X Minus One (1955-58) aired "The Man in the Moon" on May 29, 1955 as its sixth episode. Written by the esteemed George Lefferts, who, along with Ernest Kinoy would adapt already published stories from Astounding and Galaxy (for Dimension X and X Minus One, respectively), Lefferts would write a fair number of original radio scripts along the way, "The Man in the Moon" being one such.

I think it's a safe bet that George Lefferts is known far more widely outside of Old Time Radio circles and his work on Dimension X and X Minus One, than anyone familiar with his name only for these shows would imagine. Until recently I, too, knew little of the man outside of his connection to Dimension X and X Minus One, but was amazed at how stellar his career has been to this point. His credits and awards are far too numerous to mention here, but here's a sample of what I found at the Dramatists Guild of America site:

"[George Lefferts] is a Writer/Producer/Journalist/Composer, five-time Emmy Award winner for: “Best Drama” [producer, "Teacher, Teacher" Hallmark Hall of Fame, NBC]; “Best Special Series,” [writer/producer/director "Specials for Women," NBC]; “Best Miniseries” [producer, "Benjamin Franklin," CBS]; “Best Daytime Program” [writer, "One Life to Live," ABC]; and “Best Daytime Drama” [writer, "Never Say Goodbye," CBS]. He won two Golden Globe Awards for" SOS Andrea Doria" and NBC's "Specials for Women."

"He won the New Englad Press Association award for 'Best Weekly Newspaper Column in America' for two consecutive years for his columns in The New York Observer.

"He won The Cine Golden Eagle Award for Best Industrial Film" for “Moonflights & Medicine" [writer, for Merck]; two Golden Globe Awards for "NBC Specials for Women” and “SOS Andrea Doria” and The National Media Award for "Specials for Women," [NBC, Margaret Mead called this series a groundbreaker for the Women's Movement in America]; and The Albert Lasker Medical Award for "Hospital Emergency," [NBC].

"He was nominated for The Christopher Award for Outstanding Writing for "Never Say Goodbye," [CBS] and he won The Producers’ Guild Award for his original film series “Breaking Point,” directed by Sydney Pollack, starring Robert Redford, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy. Lillian Gish, Walter Pedgeon and John Cassavetes. [ABC].

"He wrote and produced the film "The Living End" [NBC]. [Variety wrote: "…a work of art. The writing by George Lefferts was so pure it was well-nigh perfect."] He also produced and wrote "The Smithsonian Institution Specials" [CBS] and served as Executive Producer for Time-Life Films, CBS, David Wolper Productions, NBC, and ABC."

As if this wasn't enough, Lefferts studied poetry with W. H. Auden and served four years in the Army during World War II. And the list goes on. For more I recommend his comparatively brief wikipedia page, though it adds information not included in the Dramatists Guild piece.

One would think that with all of his accomplishments through the decades and with much written and known about Lefferts that it would be no great feat to find out the simple fact of when the man was born, but this has turned out to be a great mystery. After coming up empty after semi-exhaustive internet searches of at least a dozen sites mentioning him or his work, there was no information regarding his date of birth--and thus his age (he is, thankfully, still alive as of this writing). However, through two clues appearing in the article from which I snagged Lefferts' photo at top right, I believe him to be either 94 or 95 (depending on his exact birth date). The website, nj.com (the initials standing for New Jersey), did an article on Old Time Radio dated October 2011 and stated that Lefferts was at that time 90. One need only to count backwards to arrive at his birth year being either 1920 or 1921 (again depending on whatever his exact birth date was). Why his date of birth is never given anywhere--at least at any of the dozen or so internet sites I found material on him--is indeed a mystery. Might one make a guess that Mr. Lefferts doesn't want anyone to know his birth date (but then why?)--or that he himself doesn't know? Mystery, secrecy, and the unknown thus surround George Lefferts' date of birth, much as they do in his fine original radio drama for X Minus One, "The Man in the Moon."

And speaking of "The Man in the Moon," it concerns a strange beamed signal coming from the Moon, at a time when man hasn't been to the moon, and the mystery of certain important people who have gone missing years before--having simply vanished from the face of the Earth. Sounds interesting, to say the least. And if my surmise is correct, then George Lefferts wrote this original radio episode at the age of 34 or 35.

Play Time: 29:10

{Enthused as always after listening to an X Minus One episode, the neighborhood gang couldn't wait for their weekly allowance and their trip to the local drugstore for another fix of their favorite reading, examples of which are shown below. After selecting and paying for their magazines, they would hop up on the swivel stools (with red plastic seats) at the counter and spend another nickel apiece on a cherry, chocolate, or vanilla flavored fountain coke and begin flipping pages until straws made gurgling sounds at the bottom of their glasses--a sure signal that it was time to head home.}

[Left: Astounding, May 1955 - Center: Fantastic Universe, May 1955 - Right: Other Worlds, May 1955]

              

To view the entire list of weekly Old Time Radio episodes at Tangent Online, click here.