January 5, 2015

100 years ago: the birth of George Reeves.

It wasn't a bird or a plane, it was Superman:

George Reeves, born January 5, 1914.

I think there are 2 main topics associated with George Reeves: 1. Was he the greatest Superman, and 2. Did he really kill himself?

1. Was he the greatest Superman?
"Ranking the Supermen." ("Reeves didn’t differentiate too much between his portrayal of Superman and Clark Kent, which sort of hurt his ability to sell the two characters as individuals.")

"Men of Steel: 11 Actors Who Have Played Superman" ("George Reeves’ portrayal of Superman/Clark Kent turned the traditional dynamic on its ear. The ruggedly handsome Reeves, with his broad smile and lantern jaw, virtually turned Clark Kent into the central figure.... While Reeves wore a padded costume to accentuate Superman’s physical power, his deep voice and the easygoing authority he projected (no actor has yet matched Reeves’ looks of bored exasperation as some hoodlum empties his gun at Superman) made him the definitive Superman for a generation.")

"Celluloid Superman: Is George Reeves the Best Man of Steel?" ("The platform beneath Reeves is visible when Superman flies, and the footage is recycled again and again. Cuts between shots of bodies falling/landing and Superman demonstrating his super-powers (best rubber knife scene ever!) are just plain awkward and poorly executed.")
2. "Many people have refused to believe that George Reeves would kill himself and have pointed out that..."
... no gunpowder from the gun's discharge was found on the actor's skin, leading them to believe that the weapon would therefore have to have been held several inches away from his head when it was fired; however, forensic professionals say that gunpowder tattooing is left only when the weapon is not in contact with the skin, while Reeves' skull fracture pattern shows that it was a contact wound....

In the partially fictional Reeves biography Hollywood Kryptonite, Reeves is murdered by order of Toni Mannix as punishment for their breakup.... Toni Mannix suffered from Alzheimer's disease for years and died in 1983. In 1999, following the resurrection of the Reeves case by TV shows Unsolved Mysteries and Mysteries and Scandals, Los Angeles publicist Edward Lozzi claimed that Toni Mannix had confessed to a Catholic priest in Lozzi's presence that she was responsible for having George Reeves killed.... Lozzi also told of Tuesday night prayer sessions that Toni Mannix conducted with him and others at an altar shrine to George Reeves that she had built in her home. Lozzi stated, "During these prayer sessions she prayed loudly and trance-like to Reeves and God, and without confessing yet, asked them for forgiveness."


MisterBuddwing said...

If George Reeves was born in 1914, then it's his 101st birthday.

MisterBuddwing said...

I recall an episode in which an armed man forces Lois Lane #1 (Phyllis Coates, not Noel Neill) to stand with him on a skyscraper ledge. Superman shows up, and when he finds out what's going on, he says to the man in a severe tone, "You're jeopardizing your life and Miss Lane's just to win a bet???"

At that moment, Superman sounded like an old-fashioned school principal. I remembered liking the idea that Superman was acting like a true grown-up - this was back in the days when people were supposed to grow up and assume adult responsibility.

Of course, Adam West's Batman was a very civic-minded super-hero too, but that was played for camp value.

Ann Althouse said...

"stand with him on a skyscraper ledge"

That brought back an old childhood memory of watching a TV show about standing out on a ledge.

I think I'm remembering something different, but I found that terribly frightening. I think somebody was threatening suicide and got talked in. Probably slipped while coming in and almost died after deciding life is worth living. That would have had to have happened, under the rules of melodrama.

George M. Spencer said...

"Truth, justice, and the American way."

You'll wait a long time before you hear Superman announced that way in a new movie.

MisterBuddwing said...

That brought back an old childhood memory of watching a TV show about standing out on a ledge.

Ever read a short story called "Contents of the Dead Man's Pockets" by Jack Finney? (Made my palms perspire.)


holdfast said...

I liked the recent Man of Steel movie. Cavail is so much better than Routh was. And this Superman is proud of being an American and a son of Kansas.

Mary Martha said...

" Edward Lozzi claimed that Toni Mannix had confessed to a Catholic priest in Lozzi's presence "

I just don't believe it. Not that it's impossible but it is highly, highly unlikely that a priest would hear a confession with someone else in earshot.

Anonymous said...

I saw Superman b/w reruns at some point as a kid. I thought he was incredibly fat and disliked the entire Superman franchise as a result.

JAORE said...

"no actor has yet matched Reeves’ looks of bored exasperation as some hoodlum empties his gun at Superman"

...or caused such a mental disconnect when he ducked as the bad guy tossed the now empty gun at hi.

William said...

Who was the best Lois Lane? My vote is for Margot Kidder......Christopher Reeve is to Superman as Sean Connery is to James Bond. Plus his back story is far more poignant and tragic than that of George Reeves. Maybe Henry Cavill will get Lou Gehrig's disease. That would cause a dramatic upward revision of his reputation,

eddie willers said...

I liked the recent Man of Steel movie.

If you trimmed out 60 minutes, there's a good movie hidden within.

Kind of like The Beatles "White Album".

A good single disc album stretched to tedium.

D. B. Light said...

Reeves was Ben Affleck's greatest role. Of course, the role didn't really call for much acting -- mostly bad acting. There was one really great scene -- when a little kid pulled out a real gun and aimed it at Reeves.

D. B. Light said...

I suppose I should identify the Affleck film -- it's "Hollywoodland".

John Lawton said...

Phyllis Coates is the best Lois Lane ever in my opinion.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

JAORE, you should at least give David Brenner props for the Superman gun bit.