This website is dedicated to the work of the “Doc of Schlock,” Irving Spotnitz, creator and director of the Chrono Cops series. Read on to learn a little more about the man himself.
Irving Spotnitz: The Man
The work of television and motion picture auteur Irving Spotnitz has been greatly underrated over the years. You only have to page through the science fiction books and magazines to notice the absence of features on his classic sixties shows “Chrono Cops,” “Land of the Space Draculas,” and “Sergeant Bananas – Sniper Chimp,” to name a few. Now, over a quarter of a century later, people are rediscovering his work and are finally beginning to appreciate his genius and vision.
Irving Spotnitz was born in New York on June 12th, 1918. He enrolled in the LaGuardia College of Dentistry in 1936, but dropped out two years later to pursue a career writing for radio. He worked as a staff writer for WTF Chicago’s “Grouchy Pepper’s Comedy Playhouse” and KPST’s “Mystery Adventure Time Theater Hour, but found that fame eluded him.
His big break came in 1951. While working as house writer for Mourningwood Pictures, Irving Spotnitz informed on his immediate supervisor and most of the production staff to the HUAC for their un-American and communist behavior. In the wake of the massive blacklisting, Spotnitz found his career path relatively unobstructed and quickly rose to the rank of producer. Although his first movie, “Midsummer Night’s Murder” was considered a flop, Spotnitz eventually found moderate success with his subsequent films “I Was a Teenage Hitler” and “Attack of the Fifty Foot Foot,” which earned him the title as “the Doc of Schlock.” In 1955, he wrote, directed, and produced “Sunset Boulevard,” a film noir drama that was intended to be his magnum opus. Unfortunately, Mourningwood was unable to release it because it was too similar to a film Paramount Pictures had released in 1950. Disheartened, Spotnitz took his leave of the motion picture industry and turned his attention to television.
In 1957, Irving Spotnitz moved to Stoat-Pamphlet Television Studios, where he produced the comedy “Dennis Millegan’s Island.” This was followed up by the police thriller “Bacon and Legs” (1959) and the wartime drama “Sergeant Bananas – Sniper Chimp” (1961). His first foray into television science fiction was “Land of the Space Draculas,” which debuted on NBC in 1964 and was canceled 10 minutes into the first episode.
But it is 1967’s “Chrono Cops” for which Spotnitz will always be remembered. This ambitious series–about time-traveling cops doing battle all through history against criminals, terrorists, and communists–was the only Spotnitz production to last an entire season.
By the 1970s, Spotnitz left television and formed his own motion picture production company, Soup to Nitz Productions. He attempted to ride the epic disaster movie zeitgeist of that era, but his 1974 movie “Volcanic Ant Explosion!!!” proved to be an unmitigated box office disaster. Spotnitz spent the next decade producing pornographic features.
In 1986, Irving Spotnitz got the opportunity to return to his milieu when ABC asked him to write, direct, and produce a made-for-TV movie in honor of Chrono Cop’s 20th anniversary. The movie, “Chrono Cops ’87: Timestrike Commando Squad,” was a minor ratings hit and spawned a new generation of Chrono Cops fans.
Spotnitz retired from filmmaking in 1988. However, he still continues to tour the U.S., attending sci-fi conventions and the occasional boat show. Spotnitz also hosts periodic public screenings of his favorite Chrono Cops episodes. And although well into his nineties, he’s still going strong.
Irving Spotnitz: A Selected Filmography
- Grouchy Pepper’s Comedy Playhouse, Writer (1938-1945)
- Ma Culpepper and Li’l Weewee, Writer (1940-1942)
- Mystery Adventure Time Theater Hour, Writer (1940-1945)
- Midsummer Night’s Murder (Mourningwood Pictures), Writer/Director/Producer (1952)
- I Was a Teenage Hitler (Mourningwood Pictures), Writer/Director/Producer (1953)
- Attack of the Fifty Foot Foot (Mourningwood Pictures), Writer/Director/Producer (1954)
- Volcanic Ant Explosion!!! (Soup to Nitz Productions), Writer/Director/Producer (1974)
- Naughty Naked Nurses (Soup to Nitz Productions), Director/Producer (1978)
- Naughty Naked Nurses 2: Playing Doctor (Soup to Nitz Productions), Director/Producer (1979)
- Menage a Disco (Soup to Nitz Productions), Director/Producer (1980)
- Scattered, Smothered, and Covered (Soup to Nitz Productions), Director/Producer (1982)
- Amagayass (Soup to Nitz Productions), Director/Producer (1984)
- Naughty Naked Nurses 3: Spankpocalypse (Soup to Nitz Productions), Director/Producer (1986)
- Dennis Millegan’s Island (Stoat-Pamphlet), Writer/Director/Producer (1957)
- Bacon and Legs (Stoat-Pamphlet), Writer/Director/Producer (1959-1960)
- Sergeant Bananas – Sniper Chimp (Stoat-Pamphlet), Writer/Director/Producer (1961)
- Land of the Space Draculas (Stoat-Pamphlet), Writer/Director/Producer (1964)
- Chrono Cops (Stoat-Pamphlet), Writer/Director/Producer (1967-1968)
- Chrono Cops ’87: Timestrike Commando Squad (Soup to Nitz), Writer/Director/Producer (1987)