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Accueil » Toutes les news » Mort de l'auteur de pastiches Frank Thomas Jr
Thierry Saint-Joanis
Mort de l'auteur de pastiches Frank Thomas Jr
Death of pastiches author Frank Thomas Jr
Mai 16, 2006

Frank Thomas jr est décédé le 11 mai, après une crise cardiaque. Il était âgé de 85 ans. Ce comédien américain qui, sur le petit écran, restera le cadet de l'espace Tom Corbett, la série de SF qui précéda celle de Star Trek, est plus connu du milieu holmésien comme auteur de pastiches.

On lui doit les titres suivants :
- Sherlock Holmes And The Golden Bird (Pinnacle, 1979),
- Sherlock Holmes And The Sacred Sword (Pinnacle, 1980),
- Secret Cases Of Sherlock Holmes (?, 1984),
- Sherlock Holmes And The Treasure Train (Pinnacle, 1985),
- Sherlock Holmes And The Masquerade Murders (Medallion, 1986, Otto Penzler, NY, 1996),
- Sherlock Holmes And The Bizarre Alibis (?, 1989),
- Sherlock Holmes And The Panamanian Girls (Author22, NV, 2000),
- Sherlock Holmes Mystery Tales (Gryphon, NY, 2001),
- Secret Files Of Sherlock Holmes (Xlibris, NY, 2002),
- Sherlock Holmes, Bridge Detective et Sherlock Holmes, Bridge Detective Returns, (Pinnacle, fin des années70).

Frank Thomas expliquait ainsi sa passion holmésienne en 2000 : "Eh bien, quand j'avais environ 7 ans, c'est-à-dire en 1931, William Gillette, un comédien célébre, qui avait interprété Sherlock Holmes depuis 1899, faisait sa dernière tournée dans le rôle du détective. Un comédien, ami de mon père, Raymond Calendar, jouait le rôle d'un domestique dans la troupe, et m'offrit ce que l'on appelait un "Annie Oakley", un ticket "de faveur" (NdT : en référence à la célèbre tireuse au revolver de la troupe du Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show) pour une place gratuite. Et je fus installé au premier rang de l'Empire Theatre pour voir Gillette jouer Holmes. Et je fus littéralement ensorcelé par le personnage. Ainsi, quand j'ai décidé de mettre un terme à ma carrière télévisée et radiophonique… enfin, ce n'était peut-être pas une décison volontaire… il est possible qu'on ne m'offrit plus rien… (sourire)  j'ai donc envisagé l'écriture de romans et pourquoi pas avec Holmes. Cela m'épargnait de devoir écrire des scènes d'amour (l'art de la séduction est un domaine dans lequel je n'ai jamais excellé…) avec des femmes, puisque les femmes ne tiennent jamais un rôle important dans les aventures de Sherlock Holmes. Finalement, cela était très proche de l'univers de Tom Corbett! De l'aventure et rien d'autre. Voilà pourquoi je réussis à écrire neuf pastiches holmésiens. Ils ont tous été publiés, Dieu merci ! Ce qui est étrange, c'est que le premier pays où la série complète fut publiée, c'est l'Allemagne. Puis, elle le fut en Israël. Quatre le furent en Russie... et les Russes ont payé comptant. Je n'ai jamais rencontré ou eu une communication avec un représentant de la famille Conan Doyle... sa fille, je crois, était la dernière en vie à cette époque."

--- Traduit de ©

Actor Frank Thomas Jr. died of complications from a stroke and respiratory failure at age 85. Frank Thomas Jr. was best known for the role of "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet." The TV series ran from 1950 to 1955. Though Mr. Thomas appeared in a number of memorable films and also was a successful author, he will forever be associated with "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet." Mr. Thomas came from a show biz family. His parents Frank M. Thomas, mother Mona Bruns were both stage and screen actors. Mr. Thomas’ other film credits include "A Dog of Flanders," "Boys Town," "The Major and the Minor" as well as several "Nancy Drew" films. After retiring from acting Mr. Thomas became a successful writer, penning a number of "Sherlock Holmes" novels. Mr. Thomas served his country during WWII in the US Navy.

--- ©

Frankie gave the following answer to a question about his Holmes novels, back in 2000 when he gave a talk on his radio, TV, film and stage career to SPERDVAC, an organization for fans of old radio: "Well, when I was about 7 years old, William Gillette, a famous actor, who had played Sherlock Holmes since 1899, and this was about 1931, was making his last tour playing the immortal sleuth Sherlock Holmes. An actor friend of my father's, Raymond Calendar was his name, was in the company playing Holmes's cohort the butler, and he got me what they call an "Annie Oakley," a ticket that's pre-punched twice, a freebie, you get in for free. And I sat on the front row of the Empire Theatre and watched Gillette as Holmes, and I just was fascinated with the character. So when I decided not to do any more television and radio writing... maybe I didn't decide it, maybe I just didn't get any more offers... I thought of doing some novels, and I figured if I could write Holmes. I wouldn't have to write (a) seduction scenes, which I'm no good at anyway, and (b) women, because Holmes did not trust women. So with Holmes I wouldn't have to write either one of those things. You know, it would be like Tom Corbett! Pure adventure. So that's why I wound up writing nine Holmes novels. They were all published, thank God, but strangely enough the only country where all nine were published at first was Germany. Then they published them all in Israel. Four of them were published in Russia... and the Russians paid off on time. I never met or talked to Conan Doyle's family... the daughter, I guess, was the only one left at that time."

Frankie Thomas (April 9, 1921 - May 11, 2006), also billed as Frank M. Thomas, Jr and as Frankie Thomas, Jr, was a versatile actor who played both lead and supporting roles on Broadway, in films, in post-World War II radio, and in early television.
He was born in New York City to actors Mona Bruns and Frank M. Thomas. He liked to say that his whole family was always in the acting business, including his uncle Calvin Thomas and wife. Frankie was only 11 when he accompanied his mother to a casting office, where he stood in the background while his mother asked about possible openings in new Broadway shows. The agent replied, "I have nothing that suits you, Mona, but I can use the boy." Frankie wound up in a small part in Carry Nation (1932) playing with Jimmy Stewart. He went on to appear in six other Broadway plays between 1932 and 1936, including Little Ol' Boy (with Burgess Meredith), Thunder on the Left, Wednesday's Child, The First Legion, Remember the Day (in which he appeard with his father), and Seen But Not Heard. In Wednesday's Child he played the role of Bobby Phillips, the longest stage part ever written for a child performer. Thomas also developed a life-long fascination with the character of Sherlock Holmes during this period, when he saw William Gillette perform the part during his "farewell tour."
When Wednesday's Child was filmed in 1934, Thomas and his parents travelled to Hollywood where both parents found character parts in films, while Thomas again essayed the role of Bobby Phillips for the cameras. The next year Thomas played the role of Nello Daas in the film version of Dog of Flanders, based on the famous Ouida novel. However, subsequently Thomas missed out on a couple of key juvenile starring roles, and eventually wound up in the serial Tim Tyler's Luck in 1937, based on the comic strip by Lyman Young. The role was a step down for Thomas, but, according to him in later years, one of the greatest experiences of his life, and the source of many of the stories he subsequently told with great gusto. He often said that for him, the serial was the equivalent of attending college, because he got to meet so many notable silent-film stars who were in the large cast, and hear long, detailed accounts of their careers. When not kept busy in Hollywood, Thomas had been returning to Broadway; the serial also marked the end of his Broadway appearances for five years.
Thomas's last "A" film was Boys' Town (1938) with Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. Thomas was far down in the cast as Freddy Fuller. From then on until he left Hollywood in 1942, Thomas was confined to "B" films such as Little Tough Guys in Society and Nancy Drew, Detective (both 1938), Nancy Drew, Reporter, Code of the Streets, Nancy Drew, Troubleshooter, Angels Wash Their Faces, Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, On Dress Parade, and Invisible Stripes (all 1939). In 1941 he appeared in small parts in Flying Cadets and One Foot in Heaven. His last film roles were again small parts in Always in My Heart and The Major and the Minor (1942) where he significantly played a military cadet.
His last appearance on Broadway was in Your Loving Son which closed after two performances in April of 1941. He joined the US Navy in 1942 and was assigned to the US Coast Guard, served as a Third Officer on patrol in the Atlantic, and was discharged in Philadelphia in 1944. After the war he and his parents lived in Manhattan and at first all three found work in the hundreds of radio daily and weekly series originating in the studios of the four major radio networks in New York. By 1948 all three Thomases were moving into early television broadcasting. In 1949 Thomas worked on two pioneering TV soap operas, A Woman to Remember and One Man's Family. In the fall of 1950 he became the idol of millions of children when he took the part of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, beginning on CBS and transferring to ABC in January of 1951. The series continued its three-a-week 15-minute broadcasts until the spring of 1952. Kinescopes were rebroadcast on NBC during the summer of 1951. During the spring of 1952 the TV cast of Tom Corbett also performed a two-a-week 30-minute broadcast on ABC radio. The next fall the TV series reappeared on DuMont alternating every Saturday with Secret Files of Captain Video for 30 minutes, going off the air again in May of 1954. Thomas then took a role on another soap opera, First Love, but in December of 1954, Tom Corbett blasted off again on NBC, running until June, 1955. By this time Tom's interplanetary rivals Captain Video and Commander Buzz Corry of Space Patrol had been off the air for several months. None of the three series were ever revived. Tom Corbett had the distinction of appearing on all four Golden-Age TV networks, and during the summer of 1951 actually running on two different networks simultaneously. Like the majority of child stars, Thomas never quite made the transition to adult roles. Tom Corbett, despite the fact that Thomas was 34 at the end, was supposedly a teenager attending Space Academy, training to become a member of the Solar Guard.

In 1956, Thomas and his now-retired parents returned to California, where Thomas appeared in a few of the still-surviving radio series such as Suspense, and wrote soap-opera scripts. With characteristic energy, Thomas turned his hobby of bridge into a career, becoming editor of several bridge-related periodicals, and one-time president of the American Bridge Teachers' Association, as well as author of several books on bridge. In the late 1970s he also began to write and publish novels and short-story collections featuring Sherlock Holmes, a number of which are still in print. Among the titles are Sherlock Holmes and the Golden Bird (1979), Sherlock Holmes and the Sacred Sword (1980), Secret Cases of Sherlock Holmes (1984), Sherlock Holmes and the Treasure Train (1985), Sherlock Holmes and the Masquerade Murders (1986, 1996), Sherlock Holmes and the Bizarre Alibi (1989), Sherlock Holmes and the Panamanian Girls (2000), Sherlock Holmes Mystery Tales (2002), and Secret Files of Sherlock Holmes (2002).
During the last decade of his life he relished appearing as celebrity guest at conventions devoted to old-time radio, to the Golden Age of Hollywood, and to the Golden Age of Television. Particularly during the last five years of his life he often appeared at such gatherings wearing his original Tom Corbett dress uniform, into which he still fit quite well.
He died at a Sherman Oaks, California hospital of respiratory failure, following a stroke, at the age of 85 years and one month.

--- © Wikipedia

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