Thursday, January 9, 2020

Seven Thing to Know About the Adventures of Superman TV Series

George Reeves as Superman.
1. Although athletic, George Reeves was not signed to play Superman because of his physique. According to Bruce Scivally's book Superman on Film, Television, Radio and Broadway, the 37-year-old Reeves wore shoulder pads and "muscle pads" that covered his upper chest and biceps.

2. Although George Reeves signed a seven-year contract for the Adventures of Superman, he demanded a raise once the series became popular. Reluctant to pay their star more, the producers asked Kirk Alyn--who played Superman in two serials--if he'd be interested in replacing Reeves. He replied that he'd want the same amount of salary, so Reeves was retained.

Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane.
3. The 2006 film Hollywoodland implies that George Reeves's alleged jealous mistress Toni Mannix, wife of MGM general manager Eddie Mannix, had Phyllis Coates fired as Lois Lane after the first season. In a 2006 interview, Coates disputed that claim, stating she, Reeves, and Mannix were good friends. She said that she left the series on her own accord to shoot a pilot for a TV series that was never picked up. Coates was replaced by Noel Neill, who had played Lois Lane in the serials with Kirk Alyn.

4. Starting in 1954, the Adventures of Superman started filming all episodes in color. That was unusual at the time because of the scarcity of color televisions on the market. However, it turned out to be a stroke of genius once color TVs became commonplace and syndicated color shows were in great demand. Incidentally, in the black-and-white episodes, Superman's costume was brown and gray--not blue, red, and yellow.

5. In preparation for his post-Superman career, George Reeves became a member of the Directors Guild of America. He directed the final three episodes of the Adventures of Superman and was preparing to direct a science fiction movie.

Reeves and Leonore Lemmon.
6. George Reeves allegedly committed suicide in 1959, at age 45, prior to the start of another season of Adventures of Superman. His fiancee, Leonore Lemmon, was downstairs in his house with guests when they heard a gunshot in Reeves' room. In an Associated Press article at the time, Lemmon offered a reason for his possible suicide: "Because he was known as Superman. He couldn't get a job. That combined with the fact that a woman never got off his back. I think everything just swooped down on a very sensitive man." The quote about that "woman" may have been a reference to Toni Mannix. George Reeves' mother thought it was not suicide and hired famous Hollywood attorney Jerry Geisler to investigate her son's death. However, Geisler uncovered no new evidence.

7. Adventures of Superman ran for six seasons and 104 episodes. A number of now-famous actors appeared as guest stars, to include: Chuck Connors, Hugh Beaumont, Claude Akins, Billy Gray, Russell Johnson, and John Banner (Schultz on Hogan's Heroes).


  1. Fitting the Reeves' fiance was Leonore Lemmon. Those with "LL" figured prominently in Superman's life.

    Reeves turned down Toni Mannix, the wife of once powerful Hollywood "fixer" Eddie Mannix. Even at that late date, it would be no problem for him to arrange a "suicide".

    Ir was Reeves' demand that he not play Clark as a wimp. Unlike the comics and other media versions.

  2. George Reeves was such an appealing actor.

    Thanks for all the information on a series whose influence is being felt to this day.

  3. I read a book about DeForest Kelley that said that he was friends with George Reeves. Kelley was greatly surprised and saddened about George's suicide. They know each other from the time that they both were in a Coast Guard training film.

    1. That's interesting! I didn't know they were friends, though Kelley was in quite a few films and TV series from the period.

  4. I didn't realize they started filming in colour in 1954. A brilliant move, as you pointed out.

    What is your opinion of "Hollywoodland", as a movie?

    1. I saw it, but don't remember it very well. I guess it didn't make much of an impact.

  5. It has been suggested Leonore Lemmon killed Reeves accidentally though it is said she was downstairs in the living room when the shot was heard.
    Another story claimed Eddie Mannix arranged the murder though suicide was indicated.
    I feel there was a murder. More than 1 person though all accounts of this possibility point to one.
    After the guests realized George was dead the police were not called for 45 minutes.
    I feel whoever murdered him and that is my speculation threatened the guests. There was someone or more than one person other than George in the bedroom that nignt. There is only one way in and out, the staircase! The murderer(s) could have rasily gotten in as the place was filled with people partying who were drunk: loud music etc. Then when the deed was done whoever was there came down with another gun or guns considering more than one person. The guests were all known to whoever murdered him. They were all warned and prompted. After that and that would account for the 45 minutes, the police were called in.
    Considering everything the police did a slipshod job in their investigation.
    This is my take on the scenario.
    The actual death analysis will always be a mystery.