12 O’Clock High is based on the motion picture by the same name. The series followed the missions of the fictitious U.S. Army Air Forces 918th Bombardment Group in their B-17 bombers. Stationed in England at the fictional airbase Archbury Field, the group is commanded by General Frank Savage (Robert Lansing) and later by Colonel Joe Gallagher (Paul Burke).
Due to the first two seasons being filmed in black and white, actual World War II combat footage supplied by the U.S. Air Force was included in many episodes. The show also had access to a real B-17 bomber, but it could only taxi. In later 12 O’Clock High episodes, a P-51 Mustang was worked into the storylines to cut production costs. The Mustang cost less to fly than a four-engined B-17 and only required one pilot.
The show ran for 3 seasons on ABC and was a co-production of 20th Century Fox Television and QM Productions.
Table of Contents
A Quinn Martin Production
First Broadcast: September 18, 1964
Last Broadcast: January 13, 1967
|Sep 1964 – Jan 1965||Fri 9:30 – 10:30pm|
|Jan 1965 – Sep 1965||Fri 10:00 – 11:00pm|
|Sep 1965 – Sep 1966||Mon 7:30 – 8:30pm|
|Sep 1966 – Jan 1967||Fri 10:00 – 11:00pm|
|Frank Overton||…||Maj. Harvey Stovall|
|Paul Burke||…||Col. Joe Gallagher|
|Chris Robinson||…||Sgt. Sandy Komansky|
|Robert Lansing||…||Brig. Gen. Frank Savage|
|Barney Phillips||…||Maj. Donald “Doc” Kaiser|
|Robert Dornan||…||Capt. Bob Fowler|
|John Larkin||…||Maj. Gen. Wiley Crowe|
|Andrew Duggan||…||Maj. Gen. Ed Britt|
|Lew Gallo||…||Maj. Joe Cobb|
Regulars & Guest Stars
|Tom Skerritt||…||Tech. Sgt. Nick Neely / Lt. Paddy Gialella / Sgt. Ben Rodale / Lt. Steve Parmalee / Lieutenant Ryan|
|Barry Cahill||…||Capt. Curt Douglas|
|Richard Anderson||…||Brig. Gen. Phil Doud|
|Bruce Dern||…||TSgt. Frank Jones / Lt. Michaels / Lt. Danton|
|Gary Lockwood||…||Maj. Gus Denver / Lt. Josh McGraw|
|Lloyd Bochner||…||Major Mallory / Kirby Wyatt / Capt. Derek Evans|
|Bernard Fox||…||Sgt. Major Higgins / Major Dutton / Colonel Charles|
|Lee Meriwether||…||Capt. Phyllis Vincent / Lt. Amy Patterson|
|Judy Carne||…||Doris / Floy / Jill|
|Jack Lord||…||Col. Arnold Yates / Lt. Col. Preston Gallagher|
|James Whitmore||…||Col. Harry Connelly / Col. Paul ‘Pappy’ Hartley|
|Norman Fell||…||Maj. George Praeger / Lt. Canello|
|Sally Kellerman||…||Lt. Libby MacAndrews|
|Roy Thinnes||…||Capt. Paul Pridie / Maj. Jake Hays|
|Burt Reynolds||…||Tech. Sgt. Vern Chapman|
|Edward Mulhare||…||Col. Gert Schotten / Kurt Halland|
|Jill Ireland||…||Sara Blodgett / Alyce Carpenter|
|Dabney Coleman||…||Captain Robbins / Captain Wilson|
Theme Song / Opening Credits
The producers approached Volkswagen about being a sponsor of the show. The scenes of the pilot episode that they showed VW executives included actual war footage. One of the executives recognized one of the buildings being bombed as a VW plant and declined to sponsor the show.
Gregory Peck played General Frank Savage in the Twelve O’Clock High movie. George Nader was originally set to play the role in the tv series, but the role was eventually given to Robert Lansing.
The fictional 918th Bomb Group was based on the real 306th Bomb Group, (3×306=918).
The aircraft General Savage flies is named the “Piccadilly Lily” and the radio operator on the craft is named “Cliff”.
Four generations of Colonel Gallagher’s family were in the military.
In the show, the name of the base was Archbury. This fictional name was based on the real-life base of Alconbury, which was the wartime home of the 306th Bomb Group, the group after which the 918th was modeled.
If you have a keen ear, you’ll notice that some of the music used for segues on Star Trek are also used on 12 O’clock High.
Robert Lansing was reportedly difficult to work with, which is why he was replaced by Paul Burke in the second season.
At the Primetime Emmys of 1965, 12 O’Clock High won Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment – Cinematographer (William W. Spencer). The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Bonanza were also nominated.
12 O’Clock High was the only QM Production show to not show “A QM Production” in the closing credits.
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12 O’Clock High Fan Fiction (Fan Fiction) – Fan fiction based on the 12 O’Clock High tv series.
12 O’Clock High Forum (Forum) – Connect with fans and discuss the show in our forum.
Fans of 12 O’Clock High Facebook Group (Facebook) – A Facebook group for 12 O’Clock High fans to interact and share their love of the show.
12 O’Clock High Fan Fiction at ArchiveOfOurOwn.org (Fan Fiction) – Archive of fan fiction for the show.
Bob’s B-17 Page (Fan Site) – A fan site with information about the 12 O’Clock High tv series.
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Tags: 12 o’clock high, 12 o’clock high tv show, robert lansing, paul burke, frank overton