History of Hanna-Barbera: 'The Space Kidettes' and 'Young Samson'

Updated on September 9, 2019

Hanna-Barbera created a seemingly endless amount of package shows, series comprised of multiple unrelated segments, throughout the late 50s and well into the 60s. A holdover from the days of theatrical animation that lasted 6-8 minutes a short, these package shows generally followed a few unwritten rules. One was that the segments tended to be designed to be shown alongside other shorts, whether sticking with the segments they were produced alongside or splitting off later and mingling with segments from other shows, but the segments weren’t standalone shows that were later folded into the package format. Another was that the segments within the package show tonally fit together, comedy shorts were paired with comedy shorts and action/superhero shorts only aired alongside other action/superhero shorts. Very few deviated from this structure; The Banana Splits (in both its original run and syndication) broke both rules, though that could be excused as fitting the show’s madcap nature.

An example of Hanna-Barbera's package show output, specifically during the Screen Gems era.
An example of Hanna-Barbera's package show output, specifically during the Screen Gems era.

Another was a strange case of two shows that were very different from one another, but have forever been joined at the hip since. Both ran on NBC and in the 10:30am time slot, but during separate years. One was a futuristic comedy about child astronauts, the other a superhero shows involving a Biblical figure. The blurb on the back of the DVD set for these two series poses the question, “What do pint-sized space travelers and a teenage science buff have in common?” While there are superficial comparisons, the real connection runs deeper than that. But before they were combined, they were two individual series: Space Kidettes and Samson & Goliath.

The Space Kidettes

September 10, 1966 - February 4, 1967
Snoopy, Scooter, Countdown, and Jenny, with their dog Pupstar.
Snoopy, Scooter, Countdown, and Jenny, with their dog Pupstar.

The Space Kidettes followed the adventures of four child space rangers (Scooter, Snoopy, Jenny, and Countdown) and their dog Pupstar, who spent their free time in clubhouse shaped like a space capsule. Together, they travel the cosmos looking for adventure and treasure, but right on their trail is the space pirate Captain Skyhook and his sidekick Static.

Static and Captain Skyhook
Static and Captain Skyhook

Much of the humor comes from the fact that the Space Kidettes are often completely unaware of the presence of Captain Skyhook, with their victories against him usually being out of sheer luck while they’re going about their adventure. One running joke also involved Static asking his captain why they don’t just use violence against the Space Kidettes, to which Skyhook would scold his assistant for such a thought because “they’re just itty-bitty kids”.

The Space Kidettes featured the voices of Daws Butler (Captain Skyhook), Don Messick (Countdown, Pupstar, and Static), Janet Waldo (Jenny), Chris Allen (Scooter), and Lucille Bliss (Snoopy).

Samson & Goliath

September 9, 1967 - August 31, 1968
Samson and his dog Goliath
Samson and his dog Goliath

Very much in-line with the other superhero offerings from Hanna-Barbera between 1966 and 1968, Samson & Goliath was an action cartoon with designs by comic book artist Alex Toth. It centered around a teenager named Samson (voiced by Tim Matheson, best known as Jonny Quest) and his dog Goliath (Mel Blanc), who travel across the country on a motorbike. At each place they visit, they encounter different threats, such as aliens, evil organizations, and out-of-control robots.

Samson after transforming.
Samson after transforming.

When faced against these threats, Samson calls on his “Samson Power”, and touches the bracelets on his wrists together. He is then transformed into his Biblical namesake, a muscular strongman, and his dog is turned into a ferocious lion with superpowers like super-strength and energy blasts. With these powers, they take on the villains and rescue the locals before taking off for their next destination. These abilities have been compared to the Fawcett Comics character Captain Marvel, in that he’s a boy who can call upon the powers of a legendary figure, as well as Marvel Comics’s own Captain Marvel (the Mar-Vell version) from right around the same time, who was similarly summoned by a teenager touching powerful wristbands together. It could also be said that Samson & Goliath may have served as some inspiration behind He-Man many years later.

It should be noted that the series was originally titled Samson & Goliath, but it also goes by a different name. During the mid-season of the 67-68 season, the series was retitled Young Samson, and became known by this going forward. It was never officially said why, but it’s been speculated that the issue was to avoid confusion with Art Cloakey’s Davey & Goliath series, which also featured a dog named Goliath, though in much less action-packed circumstances.

The Combined Fate of the Kidettes and Samson

So ultimately, what did these two shows have in common that they were later paired together? The answer lies with the sponsor for both series, General Mills. Typically at this time, Hanna-Barbera would seek sponsorship from a company (such as Kellogg’s) to help fund the series, and while the sponsor may have had some input in the development of the show, Hanna-Barbera would retain full rights to the show for later distribution. This didn’t seem to be the case with these two series, as when they went into syndication, the shows were handled by advertising agency Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, which owned General Mills. DFS had previously been involved in Gamma Productions, the animation studio behind the works of Total Television, who produced shows such as Underdog and Tennessee Tuxedo. Gamma Productions was about to close its doors by the time of Space Kidettes, which may have been why General Mills partnered with Hanna-Barbera to stay in the booming Saturday morning business.

In syndication, both Space Kidettes and Young Samson would air alongside the Total Television library, which had also  been sponsored by General Mills.
In syndication, both Space Kidettes and Young Samson would air alongside the Total Television library, which had also been sponsored by General Mills.

Initially, the partnership involved the two shows having short interstitials produced by General Mills airing between segments. But when Kidettes and Samson moved to syndication, they were lumped into DFS’s Total Television library, being paired alongside shows such as Tennessee Tuxedo and Go Go Gophers into a half hour block. However, to maximize the amount of commercials for this syndicated block, both Space Kidettes and Young Samson were edited to shave off time. It was not long after that they were joined together, becoming Space Kidettes/Young Samson as a single show, with even more time removed to make the individual segments 10 minutes long as opposed to 12. Additionally, six episodes of Young Samson were removed, to match the same number of episodes as Space Kidettes.

At least six episodes of Young Samson no longer exist due to the syndication editing practices of the show's distributor.
At least six episodes of Young Samson no longer exist due to the syndication editing practices of the show's distributor.

The most unfortunate thing in all of this is that, from a historical perspective, this pairing resulted in the irrecoverable loss of material. To make the necessary time cuts and to combine the shows, DFS edited the original negatives for both Space Kidettes and Young Samson, with no surviving copies of the original broadcast prints known to survive. As a result, the six cut episodes of Young Samson, as well as the edited material from both shows, are lost forever, with the spliced versions being all that is now available, even after Hanna-Barbera regained control of the shows years later.

Early production art for The Space Kidettes
Early production art for The Space Kidettes

In the end, the pairing of these two shows came down to their connection by a shared sponsor and distributor, rather than any tonal or thematic connection, edited into a Frankenstein-like creation of missing parts. But for what is still there, both shows still hold a place in the memories of those who watched them, whatever form that may have been.

Young Samson production art by Alex Toth
Young Samson production art by Alex Toth


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)