The popular television show The Adventures Of Superman aired from 1952 to 1958. It was the first small-screen series to feature the Man Of Steel. Starring George Reeves as Clark Kent/Superman, it followed the adventures of the American hero as he fought crime with the aid of his friends at the Daily Planet. During its run, Superman came head to head with various crooks, gangsters and other bad guys in Metropolis while posing as a newspaper reporter by day. When one star died of heart failure and Reeves committed suicide, the show was canceled before its time. Check out some fascinating facts about the program… including why Lois Lane and Clark Kent couldn’t appear in commercials together!
The Production Was Very Low Budget
Producers of the series cut costs in many ways in order to save money. Today, it’s not uncommon for actors to wear several different outfits during a single episode. But during The Adventures of Superman, the actors wore the same costume throughout the entire episode.
Scenes that took place in the Daily Planet were shot together out of sequence, so the stars wore the same ensemble even if the scene took place on a different day. Producers also reused the sets.
The First Costume Was Brown, Gray, & White
When you think of Superman, one of the first things that come to mind is his iconic costume, a blue suit with a red “S” emblazoned on the front and a matching red cape. But when the show was first filmed in black and white, the costume was anything but blue and red.
In fact, Reeves wore a brown, gray and white ensemble so producers could get the proper tones while filming the monochromatic episodes. This was common practice during those days. In the show Car 54, the police cars used on set were actually red in order to stand out on film.
Season One’s Metropolis Was Actually Mayberry
The town of Mayberry was a fictitious place that was the setting for the television sitcoms The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D. Well, during the first season, The Adventures of Superman was filmed at RKO-Pathe Studios (which would later turn into Desilu’s studio) and on the RKO Pictures “Forty Acres” backlot.
The back lot was used to portray the downtown area of Mayberry as well as Metropolis. It’s interesting to think that the tiny North Carolina town could also be used to portray Metropolis. But remember, the show was initially shot on a very low budget. That’s one way to save money!
“Panic in the Sky” Had Bloopers Galore
Because The Adventures of Superman was shot on a budget, producers had to save money in various ways. In “Panic in the Sky,” you can hear the residents of Metropolis stomping down the sidewalks on plywood instead of concrete. When Superman lands on the flying meteor, you can hear the sounds of birds chirping in the background.
And at one point in the episode, Superman showed himself to Jimmy, Lois, and Perry without wearing his signature glasses, which were the main component of his disguise. He also failed to carry a notebook, which was pretty standard for newspapermen in those days.
A Wind Machine Helped George Reeves Fly
To help Superman fly, producers set up a mechanical arm and a piece of plexiglass was placed on Reeves’ chest and thighs. A group of 20 crew members manipulated the arm, while a video camera followed along on a hydraulic dolly. A wind machine and compressed air made it appear and sound like Superman was whooshing through the air, but in reality, the background was moving, not Superman.
Reeves would run and jump on a springboard, dive through a window, and land on wrestling mats. The arm would move him through the air, and then he was filmed landing feet first on the ground.
Kids Hurt Themselves Trying to Fly Like Superman
In the 1950s, television show merchandising was huge. And Superman products were a big draw. One of the most popular tie-in items was Superman’s cape. Unfortunately, some kids believed that if they tied on a cape they would be able to jump off objects and fly.
As a result, many kids sustained some injuries. Reeves begged to have the capes removed from the market, according to the book Superman: The High-flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero. He also starred in a public service announcement in 1955, telling kids, “No one, but no one can do the things Superman does. And that goes especially for flying!”
The Original Lois Left after Just One Season Due to the Proliferation of Alcohol on the Set
Phyllis Coates played Lois Lane in the first season. She had reportedly been offered an increase of five times her salary to stay on board, however, she decided to move on. Coates was worried about typecasting and had been offered to star in another TV series.
In addition, she didn’t like all the drinking that occurred on set, particularly by her co-star Reeves. Coates’ family had a history of alcoholism, and she feared if she stayed the drinking could have potentially had a “devastating effect” on her life. As of 2017, she is the only surviving cast member from The Adventures of Superman.
The Show Was Broadcast in Black & White Even Though Several Seasons Were Shot in Color
By 1954, the show was filmed in color, but due to high costs, the episodes were broadcast in black & white until the show’s conclusion in 1958. In the 1960s, color TV became more prolific, and viewers finally saw Superman in his iconic red and blue costume.
When reruns of The Adventures of Superman aired in 1965, audiences watched Superman as he was meant to be seen in tight blue tights with a bright red cape. In later seasons, producers also focused on making characters such as Perry White and Inspector Henderson more relaxed, comfortable, and less uptight.
George Reeves Died at Age 45: Was It Suicide or Murder?
The circumstances surrounding George Reeves’ death are a bit mysterious. On June 16, 1959, just one year after The Adventures of Superman filmed what would become its final season, he was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head in the bedroom of his home in Benedict Canyon. Authorities ruled his death a suicide, but many believed he had been murdered.
Reeves’ fiancee Leonore Lemmon was suspected of killing him, but she blamed his death on depression caused by his “failed career” and his inability to find more work. She and several people were at Reeves’ home for an impromptu party when he died at about 2 a.m.
Reeves’ Ex-Mistress Was Accused of Killing Him
Reeves had an affair with Toni Mannix, who was married to MGM vice president and mobster Eddie Mannix. Reeves broke up with Toni to date New York socialite Leonore Lemmon. Toni was so upset that she harassed Reeves and Lemmon, which spurred the actor to file a restraining order against his ex. Some believe Toni or Eddie killed Reeves.
Toni died in 1983 after suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Los Angeles publicist Edward Lozzi later claimed that Toni had confessed to a Catholic priest in his presence that Reeves did not kill himself but that she was responsible for his death.
The Show Was Set to Air for Two More Seasons
On Oct. 15, 1958, John Hamilton, who played newspaper editor Perry White, unexpectedly died of heart failure at his home at the age of 71. Producers had planned on continuing The Adventures of Superman for an additional two more years, starting in 1960.
However, Hamilton’s death put a wrench in their plans. To combat the problem, they hired actor Pierre Watkin to replace Hamilton. He was picked to play Perry White’s brother. Watkin had already played Perry White in two Columbia serials and had appeared on The Adventures of Superman as a guest star. But after Reeves died, the series’ future was sealed.
Producers Wanted to Continue the Series Using a Reeves Look-Alike
After Reeves died in 1959 following an apparent suicide, producers toyed with the idea of continuing the series as Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen. They suggested it focus on Jack Larson continuing his character, playing opposite a “Superman” that would be cobbled together using stock video footage of George Reeves and a look-alike stunt double that could be filmed from the back.
Larson thought the idea was distasteful and rejected it. Today, producers sometimes use old footage or computer generated images to bring back actors from the dead (such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story using original actor Peter Cushing, who died two decades earlier).
Jack Larson Struggled to Find Work Following Superman’s Cancelation
Jack Larson originally didn’t want to play the young newspaper reporter Jimmy Olsen in The Adventures of Superman because he feared the role would typecast him. However, he eventually took it on because his agent told him it would probably never be picked up and he would get a decent paycheck.
After the show was canceled, Larson struggled to find other acting roles, thus proving his original theory about being typecast. He eventually gave up acting and turned into a producer and playwright of The Candied House, Chuck, and The Astronaut’s Tale. He was also the first playwright to be awarded a grant by the Rockefeller Foundation.
Jack Larson Hid His Sexuality
While Jack Larson struggled with his acting career following the cancellation of The Adventures of Superman, during his stint in Hollywood he had a sexual awakening. He was gay when no one talked about it in Tinsel Town. Larson became involved with legendary actor Montgomery Cliff, whose relationships with men were not public knowledge during his career.
Larson also met his future longtime partner James Bridges, director of films such as The Paper Chase and The China Syndrome. In 1998, the Times said of Larson: “He realized, in retrospect, that some of his adolescent angst had been due to turmoil over his sexual orientation.”
Noel Neill Appeared in Various Superman Incarnations
Noel Neill played Lois Lane in the 1948 film Superman and 1950 film Atom Man vs. Superman before joining The Adventures of Superman during its second season. She played the role for five seasons until the series was canceled in 1958. While her predecessor Phyllis Coates tried to distance herself from the role, Neill embraced it.
During the ’70s she toured college campuses and talked about the show. She later appeared in various guest spots in the 1978 film Superman, the 1980s TV series Superboy, the 1990s television drama Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and the 2006 film Superman Returns.
Noel Neill Had Three Failed Marriages
While Noel Neill was beloved by Superman fans, she had a difficult time managing her personal relationships. She wed makeup artist Harold Lierley in Hollywood, California, in 1943. However, their marriage was annulled a short time later. She wed her second husband, William Behrens in 1953 in Santa Monica, California.
The pair called it quits in 1962. After The Adventures of Superman was canceled, Neill became a homemaker before landing a job in the television department of United Artists. She met Joel Taylor, whom she married in 1964. But this relationship was also doomed. After seven years of marriage, they divorced.
Lois Was Banned from Appearing on Commercials with Clark Because It Was Too Suggestive
One of the reasons The Adventures of Superman was able to get on the air in 1952 was due to a sponsorship by Kellogs. When the show aired, characters appeared in commercials for the cereal giant alongside each episode. However, Superman himself did not appear in the commercials.
Neither did Lois Lane. She was in effect banned from the corn flake advertisements because the culture was very different during the ’50s than it is today. Producers believed it would have been too sexually suggestive for Clark and Lois to be sharing breakfast together. Because if they shared breakfast, what else did they do together?
Robert Shayne Was Blacklisted Because of Communist Ties
Robert Shayne had a prolific career in Hollywood and acted for over 60 years before his death in 1992. He is likely most remembered for playing police inspector William “Bill” Henderson on The Adventures of Superman. During the earlier episodes, he appeared only sporadically because he was being investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee, whose goal was to look into people and organizations suspected of having communist ties.
Shayne was briefly blacklisted on unspecific and unproven charges. When he was cleared, Shayne later appeared in more episodes of the show, particularly those filmed in color, and eventually became a regular on the series.
Superman And The Mole Men
Right before filmmakers began shooting on The Adventures of Superman, the first ever feature film featuring Superman (or any super hero for that matter) was released in 1951. The film was Superman and the Mole Men. The movie was directed by Lee Sholem and starred the same people that were seen in the television program, George Reeves as Superman and Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane. In the film, Clark Kent and Lois Lane travel to the town Silsby. Reporters are flocking to the area in order to watch the drilling of the world’s deepest oil well. Unfortunately for the townspeople the drilling disturbs humanoids that are living underground and end up crawling out terrifying the people of Silsby. Of course, Superman has to emerge to save the day.
While the show transitioned from black and white to color, along with many other shows of the same era one particular detail in the show was left to transition as well. Clark Kent and Louis Lane’s wife was named Perry White. Perry was played by veteran actor John Hamilton who was known for films like The Maltese Falcon which starred Humphrey Bogart and The Roaring Twenties starring James Cagney. In the Adventures of Superman, his character has an office with an industrial style painting in the background. While the show was in black and white, of course, so was the painting. However, when it switched into color, the painting remained in greyscale. However, one episode it suddenly switched into color. This can probably be explained by producers simply noticing that the scenes done in the office would “pop” more if they had color.
A Golden Voice
Each episode of Adventures of Superman began with a narrator proclaiming, “Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap buildings in a single bound!” The voice behind the iconic lines was none other than a veteran radio announcer named Bill Kennedy. Bill also happened to be an actor under contract with Warner Brothers Studios. One of his most well-known roles is in Joan of Arc where Joan is played by Ingrid Bergman. He is the character who sets poor Joan on fire! In addition to providing the iconic narration, he also appeared in several episodes. He played a racetrack announcer in several of them.
The Rifleman Connection
Actor and athlete Chuck Connors became famous for his stint in the hit Western television show Rifleman. However, before he landed that role he also appeared in Adventures of Superman. In the show he played Sylvester J. Superman. Despite his last name, he is not related to the superhero George Reeves version of the character. Instead, he is kind of a bumbling country guy who happens to respond to an ad asking for the services of “Superman”. He appears in the episode entitled “Flight to the North,” and the entire appearance is basically a joke off of the Superman name. The character is quite a longshot from is future role in The Rifleman.
The Show Must Go On?
In 1959, George Reeves was found dead due to a gunshot wound to his head. At the time, there was some controversy over whether his death was actually a suicide or whether there were more sinister forces behind his untimely demise. Whatever the case may be, the producers of Adventures of Superman needed to figure out something fast due to the death of their man character. In what might seem fitting of the Hollywood stereotype, the producers of the show wanted to continue on without their main character. They pitched several ideas around including having co-star Jack Larson carry the show and simply use old stock footage, b-roll, and even look alikes of George Reeves. Thankfully, Jack was totally against the idea and the show did not end up continuing on in its original form.
Failed Superboy Spin-Off
After the show ended in a tragic and unexpected way, with the death of Superman actor George Reeves, producers still attempted to keep the Superman “universe” alive. Several years later in 1961, a pilot was run called the Adventures of Superboy. The idea was to attempt to recapture the magic that audiences loved about the original Superman. Superboy was being played by Johnny Rockwell and another character was introduced named Lana Lang who was played by actress Bunny Henning. The pilot just failed to be anything to write home about and it was never picked up, however the characters did live on in future years.
Forever Lois Lane
In 1978, Superman catapulted back on the silver screen with the Superman movie which starred Christopher Reeves. The film shot Christopher to stardom and made Superman a hit once again. The producers on the film decided to nod to the original series by casting one of the original stars of the television show in a cameo. Actress Noel Neill who played Lois Lane in the original showed up in the 1970s Superman. When the young version of Lois Lane is shown on the train (which Clark Kent is able to outrun), Noel plays her mother. Lois Lane’s father also has a Superman connection, played by Kirk Alyn who was the first ever onscreen Superman. Noel Neill appeared in Superman Returns thirty years later, only this time she switched to the dark side. She was cast as Lex Luthor’s wife. Wow!
Within the Superman lexicon, every fan knows that Clark Kent had parents on planet Earth and parents on his home planet. On Earth, Superman transformed into his alter-ego Clark Kent and his parents were named Jonathan and Martha. However, it seems as though this was not always the case. Well, according to Adventures of Superman, anyway. In the very first episode entitled “Superman on Earth” which was shot in 1952, Clark Kent’s parents are shown to be named Eben and Sarah. Apparently, within the comic book world of Superman, the characters did not yet have consistent names. The names Sarah and Eben were shown in the 1942 novel called “The Adventures of Superman and in the first Superman short film. However, the two characters were seen as minor until the Superboy comics some time later.
Superman Really Needed Glasses
For whatever reason, glasses were always portrayed at this time period as being “nerdy”, which is why Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent wore them. In order to show that he was nothing like the super strong and debonair Superman. During the beginning of the show when actor George Reeves was portraying Clark Kent, he actually sported glasses that had no lenses in them. Interestingly, George Reeves was the oldest actor to ever portray Superman on screen, as he started at age thirty-eight. As he aged, so did his eye sight and he ended up needing glasses for real. If you notice, in later episode George can be seen wearing real glasses which can be seen by the light reflecting off the lenses.
Interesting On Set Hijinks
Every film and television production is known for having their own secrets about how the were able to get it made and Adventures of Superman is no different. For instance, the actor John Hamilton who was cast as Perry White, apparently had a difficult time memorizing lines (which is a pretty interesting problem for an actor to have, to say the least). In order to get around this, he was often shown sitting at his desk which was conveniently covered in papers. Mixed among the set design was the script, so he could actually read lines and prompt himself to get through the scene. Another interesting on set detail, was the cast’s money situation. The regulars were apparently all paid $200 per episode, which seems like kind of a lot for the time period. However, they certainly didn’t think so and they allegedly begged the producer for a $50 raise. They were successful but the rumor goes that the producer refused to speak to all of them for two weeks.
Port Of Entry
As shown in the film Hollywoodland starring Ben Affleck, George Reeves was not happy with his acting career. And particularly being cast as Superman, he longed to have more serious, dramatic roles. After the third season of Adventures of Superman, he was ready to quit. He apparently, informed producers and they went to actor Kirk Alyn who had played Superman back in the film shorts of the 1940s. Kirk turned down the role. In the meantime, George attempted to produce his very own series that was called “Port of Entry”. The show was said to be an adventure series, however the financing apparently never panned out. Instead, he ended up returning to Adventures of Superman and also received a raise.
Interesting Costume Tidbits
One of the most famous aspects of Superman is the costume. However, it has changed greatly over the years and at times has even been recycled. In the first ever episode of the show entitled Superman on Earth, the costumes shown while on the planet Krypton were actually taken from the 1940s serials nearly a decade earlier. Jor-El, Superman’s father, wore a costume that was previously worn by the character Buster Crabbe in Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe. Other costumes shown in the episode were taken from Captain Marvel and Captain America, both from the 1940s. Another interesting note about characters appearances is that Jack Larson first sported thick curly hair in the early episodes. By the end of the show, however, he had a full-on crewcut.
Money was actually pretty tight on the set of the Adventures of Superman. As previously noted, the actors had to beg for a fifty dollar raise, which the producer was not happy about! However, the budget issues also affected the way they filmed the show. All the episodes were actually filmed out of sequence in order to cut costs. Basically, each time a certain set or location was used, everything was filmed at once. For example, all the Perry White office scenes were shot at one time. This is easily seen if you watch the show back because the actors were always dressed in the exact same clothes in order to avoid any continuity errors.
The Last Surviving Cast Member
There were actually two Lois Lanes in the Adventures of Superman. The first was Phyliss Coates, who played the role in the first season. After she left, the role was replaced with actress Noel Neill. However, she was not new to the character. She had previously played the role in the early short films of Superman. Noel Neill later appeared in various incarnations of Superman over the years. She passed away in July of 2016 at the age of ninety-five years old. There is now only one cast member surviving from the original cast, the original Lois Lane – Phyllis Coates. Phyllis is now ninety years old.
Superman Does His Own Stunts
Superman having a costume that includes bulky muscles is nothing new, actually it originated back with George Reeves costume to make him look like he had some extra weight on him. The costume also probably helped pad any crash landings he might have had, as the guy did most of his own stunts on the show! He performed stunts like jumping from relativinly high heights, jumping off a springboard, and swinging through windows. Although, he did use a stunt man for some of his harder stunts, it was still pretty impressive to be able to carry out the stunts while being able to ensure hitting his mark to make the scenes look as realistic as possible.
Smile and Duck!
George Reeves developed some interesting mannerisms that really became a part of the Superman character. For instance, in the first season, whenever Superman is pursued by a bad guy and shot at without success, Superman smiles in return. Another instance is that George developed the habit of ducking whenever a bad guy threw a gun at him (which happened whenever a bad guy ran out of bullets for some reason). Many people think this was done because George didn’t want to be hit by the kind of heavy prop gun, but it was actually done by George’s stunt double Dale Van Sickle.
This Death Was Overshadowed By George Reeves
While it is very well known that George Reeves committed suicide before filming an additional season of Adventures of Superman, it is not often talked about that another actor died in the meantime as well. John Hamilton who played Perry White and died in October of 1958. George Reeves later committed suicide in June of 1959 at the age of forty-five. While producers had planned to continue on after John Hamilton’s death and replace him with Pierre Watkin for the seventh season of the show, no one could have expected that George Reeves would also have an untimely death. The series was subsequently cancelled after all the tragedy.
The Superman Curse?
Many actors who have played Superman or are otherwise connected have allegedly fallen victim to the rumored “Superman curse”. The curse is said to ensure that whichever actor plays the character will have some misfortune befall him. George Reeves is one of the most famous examples of this, as he died at a relatively young age. Although the circumstances of his death remain controversial with some believing that he was actually murdered. Another example often given is of actor Christopher Reeves. Christopher played Superman in the late 1970s and through the 1980s. He tragically had an accident while horseback riding which left him paralyzed. He died nine years later when he was only fifty-two years old from causes that were undoubtedly related to his accident. Do you believe in the Superman curse?
The Deal With The Emblem
Throughout the course of a TV series or even superhero movies, the hero may remain the same but somethings about them tend to change. Superman’s original outfit has a storied past. Did you know it was made from wool?
“The above photo on the left, taken in 1951, was a costume test, one of the earliest photos of George as Superman,” wrote jimnolt.com. “His chest emblem is made from heavy wool felt, a brown piece for the ‘S’, and a cream colored piece for the background. The picture on the right makes this easier to see.
Back in the era when this TV show was out, production was not as great as it is today, clearly. As we mentioned before, the emblem is made from heavy wool felt and had to be cut by hand because it was too heavy for machines. This caused problems.
“Sometimes emblems changed from scene to scene,” wrote jimnolt.com. “Above left is George as Boulder in 1953’s The Face and the Voice, confronting Perry White. Note the top edge of his emblem, clearly a 1951 type pattern, a slightly rounded top edge. On the right, note that his emblem is totally different. The top edge is perfectly straight, and thinner than the 1951 pattern.”
How Color Helped His Costume
Briefly touching on the topic of switching to color, we didn’t discuss the effects it had on Superman’s costume. The show was first filmed in color in 1954 but was still broadcast in black and white. The costume looked amazing in color but wasn’t a great look in black and white.
“As you can see from the above comparison, from 1954’s Great Caesar’s Ghost, there is virtually no contrast between the red and blue in George’s costume,” wrote jimnolt.com. “As the series progressed, in a compromise between monotone and color, the blues in George’s costume grew gradually lighter.”
Don’t Leave It On Too Long!
Some people have sensitive skin and there is minimum action that can be done about it. Sometimes you just need to take a break from whatever is causing the issues. That is what George Reeves had to do when it came to wearing that suit.
“Gary Grossman mentioned in his book that if George Reeves spent too much time costumed as Superman, his skin would break out in a rash,” wrote jimnolt. “In Warner’s special feature Adventures of Superman: The Color Era, Jack Larson said the same. Jan Alan Henderson added that after thirty minutes, George’s skin would break out, and he’d have to be “de-suited” and allowed to cool off until his skin calmed down.”
The Latex Muscles
In the case of George Reeves, his skin issues didn’t come from the suit directly but from what was in the suit. You ever wonder if he was actually hitting the gym like a beast or if they somehow made him seem bigger. Well, producers had a hand in helping his physique.
“I now realize that George almost certainly developed a latex allergy from the latex ‘muscles’ he wore under his costume,” wrote jimnolt. “This padding became more extensive through the show’s six year run. By 1955, George was wearing full body armor.”
With great physique comes great rumors. Now that we’ve gone over some of the costume issues and technicalities, what were some of the things that the public was saying about Superman? Well, there was one rumor going around and a fat one at that.
“George was padded in this manner throughout the color years, except for a few episodes in 1957,” wrote jimnolt. “These episodes gave rise to comments that he appeared overweight.” Not to say that assumption isn’t a fair one but it surely isn’t a nice one. He had to do what he had to do.
Stunt Like You Mean It
We talked about how George Reeves did most of his stunts but not about the stunts he didn’t do and who did them. 1951 saw the most use of the stunt double.
“We see more use of stunt doubles for George in 1951 than in any of the other five seasons,” wrote jimnolt. “The camera doesn’t lie, it was impossible for anyone to successfully double for George Reeves. Probably the only good example of doubling for George in 1951 was the alley takeoff which was first used in Superman and the Mole-Men, and repeatedly used in 1951 and 1953, with good reason. It was a great stunt, and the stuntman looks a lot like George.”
Who Were The Stuntmen?
Like a secret kept well, no one really knew who the stuntmen were for Superman except for one of them. You’ve heard the saying give credit where credit is due so it wasn’t possible to give credit to the other stuntman.
“The identities of the men who doubled for George over TAOS‘ six seasons are shrouded in mystery, except one, Dale Van Sickel, who played Baker, the foreman, in 1953’s Five Minutes to Doom, and Slim’s wisecracking partner in 1956’s Money to Burn,” wrote jimnolt. “Van Sickel was a prolific actor and stuntman, IMDB credits him with hundreds of roles.”
A Clear Double
Sometimes things can be obvious and there is nothing you can do about it. Staying on the topic of stuntmen, there was one particular time when the double was obviously not George Reeves but that didn’t stop producers from using him. Like we said, this was way back in the day so it probably wasn’t that big of deal.
“Sometimes things can be obvious and there is nothing you can do about it,” wrote jimnolt. “Staying on the topic of stuntmen, there was one particular time when the double was obviously not George Reeves but that didn’t stop producers from using him.”
For Promotion Purposes
There are many different ways that something can be promoted or marketed, especially in today’s social media era. However, back then there weren’t that many ways to promote things so you had to find a way to make it work. This show was a result of promotion and here is why.
“DC Comics, the original owner/producer of the Adventures of Superman, regarded the series as a vehicle to promote comic book sales, pure and simple. They were comic book publishers, not film producers, and never had a true appreciation for their television step-child.
We talked about the low budget this show had but left out some specifics. There were many things that would reveal just how low of a budget this show really had but they still made the most out of what they had.
“The production was low-low-budget, MeTV wrote. “Actors wore the same outfits in every episode, as Daily Planet scenes were shot in bulk, out of sequence. The sets were repurposed as well. If you pay close attention, you will see that Clark and Lois have the same office, with some minor changes in decoration and name plate.”
He Was To Be A Villain
How different it would have been if Superman had been a villain instead. There would be no all powerful superhero for the kids to look up to.
“Recent high school graduate Jerry Siegel self-published a story in January 1933 called “The Reign of the Superman,” featuring a mad scientist who plucks a vagrant from a bread line and gives him telepathic capabilities,” wrote History.com. “This so-called Superman, intoxicated by power, then kills the mad scientist and begins taking over the world until the enchantment wears off and he once again becomes a nobody.”
Sold It For Cheap
You would have thought that the creators of Superman would have known how big he was going to become. Maybe then they wouldn’t have sold the rights for so low. Even for the era they were in, that price they sold it for was too low and they could have forced the hand of DC a bit more than that. Just goes to show that you always have to have faith in your creations.
“Siegel and Shuster earned fairly high salaries writing and illustrating Superman comics,” wrote History. “But they received no royalties, having signed away all rights to their character for $130.”
Super Before Bat
The two superheroes that are synonymous with DC happen to be Superman and Batman. Who is better? Who do the fans love more? Better yet, who came first? The answer to that is Superman. But that just leaves the other questions forever unanswered.
“In the spring of 1939 Superman #1 hit the stands, the first comic book ever devoted to a single character,” wrote History. “Soon after, DC’s other ubiquitous superhero, Batman, made his debut in Detective Comics #27. Their earliest joint appearance came during a 1945 episode of “The Adventures of Superman,” a radio serial.”
Censoring The Man Of Steel
During World War II, Superman was censored. We know, what on earth could prompt a superhero being censored during times of war? Nuclear weapons are what could prompt such an act. And it wasn’t even Superman’s fault, it was due to his enemies.
“During World War II, with the top-secret Manhattan Project in full swing, any mention of nuclear weapons in the popular press drew the government’s ire,” wrote History. “DC found this out when it developed a comic book in which Superman’s archenemy, Lex Luthor, launches an attack with what he calls an ‘atomic bomb.'”
Something About Double “L”
You ever had a specific type? Maybe a guy that is only 5’9 or perhaps only women with red hair. Whatever your type is, you know it and most of the time you don’t even realize you’re going for that type. Well, Superman had a type as well.
“In the comic book universe, Superman rarely falls for anyone not initialed L.L,” wrote History. “Lois Lane, a reporter who tends to pine after Superman while rejecting his meek alter ego, Clark Kent, has been around since Action Comics #1. Competing with her for Superman’s attentions are Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris and Lyla Lerrol.”
Be Careful Future Supermen
There are curses out there that some people choose to believe in or not. One that comes to mind is the Madden cover curse that goes any cover athlete will endure an injury of some sort. Well, there is a Superman curse too.
“The so-called Superman curse got its start with George Reeves, an actor who played Superman on a 1950s TV show,” wrote History. “Typecast as Superman, he had trouble finding other work. Then, in June 1959, he was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Tragedy also struck Christopher Reeve, the star of four Superman movies, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a May 1995 horse-riding accident. In the first of those films, Lee Quigley depicted Superman as a baby. He died in 1991 at age 14 after huffing solvents from a can.”
Rock That Mullet!
Hairstyles make up about half of a picture. So if your hair is looking nice, you’re looking half good at least in your pictures. Superman has some good hair and that is something he is known for but one time he switched up the cut.
“In a January 1993 issue of Superman, the Man of Steel dies in a battle with the monstrous villain Doomsday,” wrote History. “Unsurprisingly, he comes back to life a few months later—with his hair long in the back and short in the front. This much-ridiculed mullet did not disappear until his 1996 marriage to Lois Lane.”
Chicago Has Superman’s Back
Did you know that Metropolis is a real place? No really, it is. It can be found in Illinois and is the hometown of Superman. How would you feel living in the city of your favorite superhero?
“In 1972, with the support of both DC Comics and the state House of Representatives, Metropolis, Illinois, began calling itself the hometown of Superman,” Discovery wrote. “In honor of Clark Kent’s employer, the Daily Planet, the newspaper there even changed its name to the Metropolis Planet. Though a planned Superman theme park fell through, Metropolis continues to embrace the Man of Steel.”
Flying At The Speed Of Sound
Did you know what power the opening narration did not reveal about Superman each time? It basically laid out every one of his main powers but left out one his most important powers. That would be the ability to fly at the speed of light! How could they leave that one out?
Here is the opening narration: “The Adventures of Superman”, “faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound”. “Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!” The announcer goes on, “Yes, It’s Superman, strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands; and who disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights the never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way”.
It Was Japanese Emperor Hirohito’s Favorite Show
Americans weren’t the only ones who loved the program. The Adventures of Superman was a number-one hit in Japan and was dubbed in Japanese for the audience. The 124th Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, who was also known as Emperor Shōwa, was a huge fan of the TV show.
In fact, he even wrote a fan letter to Reeves gushing about the series, calling it his “ninkimono” or favorite program. The show had worldwide appeal and made its protagonist an international superstar. It aired in various countries with subtitles, including France. The American superhero was beloved and embraced by many cultures.
Jerry Seinfeld’s Favorite Episode Was “Panic in the Sky”
In the 1953 episode “Panic In The Sky,” Superman loses his memory while trying to stop an asteroid from hitting earth. It’s one of the series most popular episodes and is a favorite of actor/comedian Jerry Seinfeld.
Clark does not remember he is Superman, so the episode showed off his more vulnerable and tender side. The hero acted more human than alien, which appealed to audiences. The episode also portrayed a threat that hit close to home during a time when hydrogen bombs and intercontinental missiles were on the public’s minds. The episode was also based on the comic book.
In 2006, movie star Ben Affleck signed on to star as Superman. Actually, the film centered more around the man behind the scenes – George Reeves and his suicide or murder. It also starred Diane Lane and Adrien Brody. The movie takes places from the viewpoint of Adrien Brody who plays a detective, Affleck appears in flashbacks. While the entirety of the film shows Brody’s character attempted to get to the bottom of what happened in George’s life, it also juxtaposes the detectives own struggle with his ex-wife and young son. The film shows as George Reeves falls into an affair with Toni Mannix played by Diane Lane who is the wife of Eddie Mannix who is the general manager of the mega studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
The Film’s Take On George’s Death
The film also covers how George is attempting to get bigger and better jobs for a career he feels as stalled out and feels as though he is being laughed at for his role in Adventures of Superman. Later, George becomes fed up with his relationship with Toni who is much wealthier than him. He ends up leaving her for a younger woman named Leonore Lemmon. Toni is not happy that George has chosen to move on despite her continued marriage to Eddie Mannix. While it seems to suggest that it is possible that Mannix had George killed, in the end it seems to agree with the fact that George Reeves death was likely a suicide.