‘The Right Stuff’ Fact Check: Did the Test Pilots All Go by ‘Bill Baker’?
In Disney + 's limited series "The Right Stuff" in the late 1950s, NASA attracts the best test pilots from every branch of the armed forces to find out who will be the first American to fly into space. Eventually, the upstart program narrowed its list to seven men, a group that would be referred to as the Mercury 7. However, the search started with a hell of a lot more than seven - and they all had one thing in common.
In episode 1, titled "Sierra Hotel," we follow Gordon Cooper (a.k.a. Gordo, played by Colin O'Donoghue) to a lobby counter at a hotel near Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia. There he checks in under the pseudonym "Bill Baker".
"Not only do they all have the same name, they all look the same," says the receptionist, creating a log-in book with the signature of "Bill Baker".
We then all see fake Bill Bakers mingling in the background at a cocktail party. Yes, these test pilots all look the same.
Also Read: 'The Right Stuff' Fact Check: Did Mercury 7 Astronauts Really Get New Corvettes For $ 1?
But did the "Bill Baker" x 100 thing really happen? Or was it just some device that was used on the show for dramatic - and humorous - effects? A bit of both, it turns out.
That decision was "a creative license based on two historical facts," a Nat Geo production manager told TheWrap.
"The astronaut candidates were given top secret orders to appear at a mysterious meeting to learn more about the Mercury Project. However, this took place at the Pentagon and there were no aliases," said the production manager. "When NASA recruited the next round of astronauts for Gemini, they let them check-in at the Rice Hotel under the pseudonym 'Max Peck'."
Also Read: 'The Right Stuff' Fact Check: Did John Glenn's Wife Stutter?
"The Right Stuff", based on the 1979 Tom Wolfe book, which also inspired a 1983 film, tells the story of the first American astronauts: John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Gordon Cooper, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra, Gus Grissom and Deke Slayton. Patrick J. Adams, Jake McDorman, Colin O'Donoghue, James Lafferty, Aaron Staton, Michael Trotter and Micah Stock play the test pilots who instantly become American heroes.
Executive producers include showrunners Mark Lafferty, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson and Danny Strong. "The Right Stuff" is a Nat Geo series for Disney +.
The first two episodes of "The Right Stuff" were released on Disney + on Friday. The next six episodes will be released one after the other every week.
Read the original story "The Right Stuff" Fact Check: Did the Test Pilots All Gone by "Bill Baker"? At TheWrap
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