TRIVIA NOTE: Originally,
the Superman character did not have that many abilities. His super
strength and power of flight which enabled him to "jump tall
buildings in a single bound" was due to the gravitational
differences of his planet and Earth.
But in the 1940s a comic book war ensued between Superman's
rival pulp character Captain Marvel (a.k.a. "The Big Red Cheese")
who appeared in Captain Marvel Adventures (1941) published
by Fawcett Publishing. When the Captain got a new power,
Superman's writers countered with one of his own in the next
issue, thus increasing his arsenal of abilities. In reality,
Captain Marvel comics out-sold Superman.
During the Man of Steel's seven year run on television starring
Geoge Reeves, the show's script writers provided Superman
character with the additional abilities of levitation, splitting
himself in two (each form shared half of his powers) and walking
through solid matter.
As powerful as the television superhero appeared, the real life
actor George Reeves succumbed to human weakness. On June 16, 1959
he was found dead in his Los Angeles home at 1579 Benedict Canyon
Drive. The coroner's verdict: suicide. But many still today
suspected foul play.
In the summer of 1986, a total revision of the Superman
storyline occurred in DC Comics, eliminating many of the old
plots. Then in November of 1986, the real-life city of Metropolis,
Illinois dedicated a fiberglass statue (later bronze) of the "Man
of Steel" to its citizenry.
- A chronology of Superman facts follows:
- Superman premiered in the No. 1, June 1938 issue of
- The Superman character debuted as a newspaper comic strip on
January 16, 1939.
- During 1941-43 Max Fleischer produced Superman movie
cartoons for Paramount.
- Kirk Alyn was the first actor to play the Man of Steel in
the movie serials Superman (1948) and Atomic Man vs.
- George Reeves took over role from Kirk Alyn in Superman
and the Mole Men (1951) and continued in THE ADVENTURES OF
SUPERMAN/SYN/1952-57 (108 episodes)
- A 1962 un-aired series pilot THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY
starred John Rockwell;
- Broadway musical It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman
(1966) with Bob Holiday;
- Christopher Reeve (no relation to George Reeves) continues
the Superman legend in Superman (1977), Superman II
(1980), Superman III (1983) and Superman IV: The Quest
for Peace (1987).
- Superman's female counterpart appeared the movie
Supergirl: The Movie (1984) starring Helen Slater.
- The fall of 1988 premiered THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY/SYN/1988-91
about Clark Kent as a teenager that starred John Haymes Newton
and later Gerard Christopher as Superboy
- The comedy romance LOIS & CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF
SUPERMAN/ABC/1993-97 focused on the sexual tension between Clark
Kent/Superman (Dean Cain) and super-journalist, Lois Lane (Teri
Hatcher) whom Superman later married.
- The most recent adaptation SMALLVILLE/WB/2001+ follows the
teenage angst of Clark Kent as he emerges into manhood and
discovers whom he really is and where he really came from.
The Superman character was created by two teenagers, writer
Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster. They sold it outright in 1939
for a mere $165 and since then very little money from product
spin-offs has ever seen its way into their pockets.
When Joe Shuster died on July 30, 1992, Entertainment Weekly
(8/14/92) stated "Their character stands at the top of the 20th
century cultural pantheon, as globally recognizable as Mickey
Mouse, Charlie Chaplin, and Elvis."
German philosopher, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900)
developed the concept of a breed of "Supermen" in his writings
Thus Spake Zarathustra (1883-91) and Beyond Good And Evil
(1886) whose "Will To Power" would distinguish them from the
weaker, inferior species of humanity. The Nazi's perverted his
doctrines and used his writings to justify the racial superiority
theories of the German people in the years leading up to World War
Two. George Bernard Shaw wrote a comedy Man and Superman
(1903) and George Lowther wrote the novel Superman (1942).
Superman's parents on the original 1950s program were played by
Robert Rockwell as his father Jor-el and Aline Towne as his mother
In the 1990s, comedian Jerome "Jerry" Seinfeld on the sitcom
SEINFELD/NBC/1990-98 revealed his favorite superhero was Superman.
An American Express commercial later featured Jerry Seinfeld
helping an animated Superman out of a bind when Lois Lane needed
some money to pay for a grocery bill (Jerry whips out his American
Actor Chuck Connors played Sylvester J. Superman in the 1954
ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN episode "Flight to the North".
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