TRIBUTE TO GEORGE REEVES ~ SUPERMAN

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George Reeves as Superman

In June 1951, George Reeves was offered the role of Superman in a new television series. He was initially reluctant to take the role because, like many actors of his time, he considered television unimportant and believed few would see his work. He received low pay and only for the weeks of production. The half-hour films were shot on tight schedules; at least two shows were made every six days. According to commentaries on the Adventures of Superman DVD sets, multiple scripts would be filmed simultaneously to take advantage of the standing sets, so that all the "Perry White's office" scenes for three or four episodes would be shot the same day, the various "apartment" scenes would be done consecutively, etc.

Reeves's career as Superman had begun with Superman and the Mole Men, a film intended both as a B-picture and as the pilot for the TV series. Immediately after completing it, Reeves and the crew began production of the first season's episodes, all shot over 13 weeks in the summer of 1951. The series went on the air the following year, and Reeves was amazed at becoming a national celebrity. In 1957, the struggling  ABC Network purchased the show for national broadcast, which gave him greater visibility.

The Superman cast members had restrictive contracts which prevented them from taking other work that might interfere with the series. Except for the second season, the Superman schedule was brief (13 shows shot two per week, a total of seven weeks out of a year), but all had a "30-day clause," which meant that the producers could demand their exclusive services for a new season on four weeks' notice. This prevented long-term work on major films with long schedules, stage plays which might lead to a lengthy run, or any other series work.

However, Reeves had earnings from personal appearances beyond his meager salary, and his affection for his young fans was genuine. Reeves took his role model status seriously, avoiding cigarettes where children could see him and eventually quitting smoking.

In the documentary Look up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman, Jack Larson told how when he first met Reeves he told him that he enjoyed his performance in So Proudly We Hail! According to Larson, Reeves said that if Mark Sandrich hadn't died, he wouldn't be there in "this monkey suit". Larson said it was the only time he heard Reeves say anything negative about being Superman.

With Toni Mannix, Reeves worked tirelessly to raise money to fight myasthenia gravis. He served as national chairman for the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation in 1955. During the second season, Reeves appeared in a short film for the Treasury Department, Stamp Day for Superman, in which he caught the villains and told children why they should invest in government savings stamps.

In the 104 episodes, Reeves showed gentlemanly behavior to his fellow actors. Larson, who played Jimmy Olsen, recalled that Reeves enjoyed playing practical jokes on the crew and cast, as depicted during a scene in the biopic Hollywoodland.    Reeves insisted his original Lois Lane, Phyllis Coates be given equal billing in the credits. He also stood by Robert Shayne (who played Police Inspector William "Bill" Henderson) when Shayne was subpoenaed byFBI  agents on the set of Superman. (Shayne's political activism in the Screen Actors Guild   in the 1940s was used by his embittered ex-wife as an excuse to label him a Communist,  although Shayne had never been a Communist Party  member.) When Coates was replaced by Noel Neill (who had played Lois Lane in the Kirk Alyn  serials), Reeves defended her nervousness on her first day when he felt that the director was being too harsh with her. On the other hand, he liked to stand outside camera range, mugging at the other cast members to see if he could break them up. According to Larson, Reeves took on-set photos with his Minox and handed out prints. By all accounts, there was strong camaraderie among the show's actors.

After two seasons, Reeves was dissatisfied with the one-dimensional role and low salary. Now 40 years old, he wished to quit and move on with his career. The producers looked elsewhere for a new star, allegedly contacting Kirk Alyn,   the actor who had first portrayed Superman in the original movie serials and who had initially refused to play the role on television. Alyn turned them down again.

Reeves established his own production company and conceived a TV adventure series, Port of Entry, which would be shot on location in Hawaii and Mexico, writing the pilot script himself. However, Superman producers offered him a salary increase and he returned to the series. He was reportedly making $5,000 per week, but only while the show was in production (about eight weeks each year). As to Port of Entry, Reeves was never able to gain financing for the project, and the show was never made.

In 1957, the producers considered a theatrical film, Superman and the Secret Planet. A script was commissioned from David Chantler, who had written many of the TV scripts. In 1959, however, negotiations began for a renewal of the series, with 26 episodes scheduled to go into production. ( John Hamilton,  who had played Perry White, died in 1958, so the former film-serial Perry White  Pierre Watkin was to replace him.)

By mid 1959, contracts were signed, costumes refitted, and new teleplay writers assigned. Noel Neill was quoted as saying that the cast of Superman was ready to do a new series of the still-popular show. Producers reportedly promised Reeves that the new programs would be as serious and action-packed as the first season, guaranteed him creative input, and slated him to direct several of the new shows as he had done with the final three episodes of the 1957 season.

View TV Introduction                               View  Adventures Of Superman Theme

View A Tribute To Superman                   View a Scene from first tevision show    Superman

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George Reeves starred in the popular TV series ~ The Adventures of Superman.

Very 1st Pilot 1951~ 1                                                                                  Superman and the Mole Men (67 min)Dec 51                                                              1st Season 1952-1953 syndicated B & W ...                                                            2.Superman on Earth
3. The Haunted Lighthouse
4. The Case of the Talkative Dummy
5. The Mystery of the Broken Statues
6. The Monkey Mystery
7. A Night of Terror
8. The Birthday Letter
9. The Mind Machine
10. Rescue
11. The Secret of Superman
12. No Holds Barred
13. The Deserted Village
14. The Stolen Costume

View Scene From "THE STOLEN COSTUME" 

15. Treasure of the Incas
16. DoubleTrouble                                                                                             17. Mystery in Wax
18. The Runaway Robot
19. Drums of Death
20. The Evil Three
21. Riddle of the Chinese Jade
22. The Human Bomb
23. Czar of the Underworld
24. The Ghost Wolf                                                                                            25. Crime Wave

3rd season 1955 (in color) ...

52. Stamp Day for Superman
53. Through the Time Barrier
54. The Talking Clue
55. The Lucky Cat
56. Superman Week
57. Great Caesar's Ghost
58. Test of a Warrior
59. Olsen's Millions
60. Clark Kent, Outlaw
61. The Magic Necklace
62. The Bully of Dry Gulch
63. Flight to the North
64. The Seven Souvenirs
65. King For a Day

4th season 1956 ...

66. Joey
67. The Unlucky Number
68. The Big Freeze
69. Peril By Sea
70. Topsy Turvy
71. Jimmy the Kid
72. The Girl Who Hired Superman
73. The Wedding of Superman
74. Dagger Island
75. Blackmail
76. The Deadly Rock
77. The Phantom Ring
78. The Jolly Roger

                   Cast List

George Reeves ... Superman/Clark Kent
Noel Neill ... Lois Lane (II) (1953-1957)
Jack Larson ... Jimmy Olsen
John Hamilton ... Perry White (1952- )
Jackson Beck ... Additional Voices
Robert Shayne ... Inspector Bill Henderson (1952- )
Phyllis Coates ... Lois Lane (I) (1952-1953)

During the early developing years of black & white TV Superman's costume was actually brown (for red) and grey (for blue) for the first two seasons because it provided a better and starker contrast for the black & white filming. In 1955, the show began to be filmed in color and Superman's costume became the same color as the original comic strip series red and blue.

A 1953 Photo of a young George Reeves as 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! 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 a never-ending battle for Truth! Justice! and the American Way.

The announcer who read, "Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound" was Willard Bill Kennedy (1908-1997) who appeared in the second season episode "Crime Wave" in 1953.

All episodes were filmed out of sequence because of a very limited budget. Certain scenes in locations were all being done at once like Perry White's office, Clark's office, Clark's apartment or a common shared office or room in different episodes. This is the reason why the actors always seemed to wear the same clothes all the time in a lot of episodes. Even the spring boarded fly out of the Daily Planet 10th floor window scenes and the back alley fly offs after Clark just transformed into his Superman costume were filmed at the same time and used in several of the same episodes to save money.

Second season 1953-1954 ...

26. Five Minutes to Doom 18 Sep 53
27. The Big Squeeze
28. The Man Who Could Read Minds
29. Jet Ace
30. Shot in the Dark
31. The Defeat of Superman
32. Superman in Exile
33. A Ghost for Scotland Yard
34. The Dog Who Knew Superman
35. The Face and the Voice
36. The Man in the Lead Mask
37. Panic in the Sky

Video - A "Panic In The Sky"


38. The Machine That Could Plot Crimes
39. Devil jungle                                                                                                  40. My Friend Superman

George Reeves was suspended by cables when he appeared to be flying during the first two seasons. In later seasons, as technology advanced he was positioned on a molded platform which conformed exactly to his body shape, and wore his costume over all of that. Landing scenes were accomplished by having George jump off of a ladder with the accompanying trademark air "er-zip" sound effect.

5th season 1957 ...

79. Peril in Paris
80. Tin Hero
81. The Town That Wasn't
82. The Tomb of Zaharan
83. The Man Who Made Dreams Come True
84. Disappearing Lois
85. Money to Burn
86. Close Shave
87. The Phony Alibi
88. The Prince Albert Coat
89. The Stolen Elephant
90. Mr. Zero
91. Whatever Goes Up

6th and final season 1958 ...

92. The Last Knight
93. The Magic Secret
94. Divide and Conquer
95. The Mysterious Cube
96. The Atomic Captive
97. The Superman Silver Mine
98. The Big Forget
99. The Gentle Monster
100. Superman's Wife
101. Three in One
102. The Brainy Burro
103. The Perils of Superman
104. All That Glitters

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 a never-ending battle for Truth! Justice! and the American Way.

Not many bigger fans than 9 year old Cecil Buffington.  The Adventures of Superman will always remain one of my favorite all-time Television series.

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