Sergeant Deadhead

Sergeant Deadhead
Directed by Norman Taurog
Produced by James H. Nicholson
Samuel Z. Arkoff
Written by Louis M. Heyward
Starring Frankie Avalon
Deborah Walley
Cesar Romero
Buster Keaton
John Ashley
Music by Les Baxter
Alta Vista Productions
Distributed by American International Pictures
Release dates
  • August 18, 1965 (1965-08-18)
Running time
90 mins
Country United States
Language English

Sergeant Deadhead is a 1965 musical comedy film starring Frankie Avalon. It features many cast members who appeared in the Beach Party movies.


Sergeant Deadhead is bumbling soldier who is accidentally blasted into space. When he returns home he is a national hero but has also developed a massive ego. A soldier who looks exactly like him, Sergeant Donovan, is found to take his place.



The movie was the first in a two-picture deal AIP signed with Norman Taurog in 1964.[1]

On 10 March 1965 it was announced that Tommy Kirk would star. However Frankie Avalon ended up taking the role instead.[1]

Filming began in May 1965.[2] Location work took place at the San Fernando Valley.

The script by Deke Heyward would not write in gags for Buster Keaton. It would simply say "Buster does a bit here" and Keaton would come up with something on his own and show it to the director.[1]

Before the film came out, plans for a sequel were announced - Sergeant Deadhead Goes to Mars, meant to start 13 April 1966.[3]


AIP made the film hoping that military comedies would provide them with a genre as popular as the beach party movies but it proved a commercial disappointment, Samuel Z Arkoff claiming it "bombed out".[4] Norman Taurog's biographer claimed the film managed to recoup it's costs and make a small profit for the studio.[1]


All the songs in the film were written by Guy Hemric and Jerry Styner:


  1. 1 2 3 4 Michael A. Hoey, Elvis' Favorite Director: The Amazing 52-Film Career of Norman Taurog, Bear Manor Media 2013
  2. MGM Buys Windsor Novel, Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 06 May 1965: d18.
  3. "AIP to Discontinue Second Features", Box Office, 5 July 1965
  4. Film Company Seeks a New Locale for Its Teen-Age Movies Special to The New York Times. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 06 Nov 1965: 18.
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