Ed Kemmer provided the

template for Commander Buzz Lightyear, the Toy Story character who believes he really is a space hero rather than just

a toy.

Kemmer, who has died in New York at the age of 84, played Commander Buzz Corry on Space Patrol, one of television's first science-fiction series.

The handsome and wholesome intergalactic policeman was accompanied on his adventures by a gauche teenager called Cadet Happy, and he would seem as naive and ridiculous to today's audiences as Buzz Lightyear. But Kemmer could draw on personal experience both as a pilot and a hero.

He was a decorated fighter pilot, who was shot down and captured by the Germans during the Second World War. It was in the PoW camp Stalag Luft III, scene of The Great Escape, that Kemmer first took up acting, when the men put on a version of the play The Front Page. He escaped from the camp, but was recaptured.

After the war he renewed his interest in drama. He had been born Edward Kemmerer in Pennsylvania, but shortened his name when he became a professional actor, first playing Buzz Corry on a local Los Angeles television station in 1950. It transmitted five 15-minute episodes a week.

They went out live, production values were extremely basic and disaster never far away - Kemmer recalled that in one episode he and Cadet Happy were sitting in their cockpit, travelling through the outer reaches of space, when a stagehand walked past the window of their spacecraft.

However by the end of the year, Space Patrol had been picked up by ABC not just for national television, but for national radio as well.

Buzz Corry worked for the United Planets of the Universe, humanely immobilising villains with his ray gun. He also used

a ''brainograph'', a device that reprogrammed anti-social types as model citizens.

Space Patrol was a big hit and several hundred episodes were broadcast between 1950 and 1955. Although intended for children, the series had a big adult following, too. It was not shown in the UK at the time, and has no connection with the British series of the same name in the sixties, though

surviving episodes were eventually broadcast on satellite television.

After Space Patrol, Kemmer made guest appearances in other television series, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955) and Maverick (1957). He also moved in films, doing his own stunt flying in The Hot Angel (1958).

He appeared in a wide range of films from the biopic Too Much, Too Young (1958), with Errol Flynn and Dorothy

Malone as John and Diana Barrymore, to Giant from the Unknown (1958), in which a giant Spanish conquistador is brought back to life by lightning, and the even sillier Earth vs the Spider (1958), in which a giant spider is brought back to life by rock music.

The Clear Horizon (1960-62) was the first in a series of television soap operas in which he played recurring characters. Fran Sharon played his wife in The Edge of Night (1964-65) and they subsequently married in real life, too.

He had two stints on As the World Turns (1966-1978), one of the world's longest-running soaps. It began in 1956 and is still going.

He retired in the eighties and is survived by his wife and three children.

Ed Kemmer, actor; born October 29, 1920, died November 9, 2004.