|Index||2 reviews in total|
For millions of kids (like me) who grew up in the 1950s, George Reeves
as "Superman" was a true hero, a tremendous role model. Thus, to this
day, his sudden and mysterious death, brings a frown to our faces. The
program deals with the latter in the last segment and, frankly, makes
me now believe that the cause of Reeves' death was murder, not suicide
as first reported. The evidence - as reported on this TV program -
makes it look that way. However, Jack Larson, who played "Jimmy Olsen"
on the TV series with Reeves, still thinks it was suicide, as some
others think. If it was murder, the death points to either one of two
women: Leonore Lemmon or Toni Mannix. The latter was the scorned woman
and Lemmon was about to be the same when Reeves was shot.
Most of this episode, however, is a nice, upbeat and positive portrayal of "The Man Of Steel" who was a great guy in real life (excepting his poor taste in women). Reeves is shown to be a very easy-going nice guy who was extremely generous, giving away almost all the money he ever earned.
I couldn't help but feel sorry for him, too, with his film career. Reeves was a good actor but did not get the breaks to become the star he wanted to be. World War II interrupted things just when they were looking very promising. He had just had his first leading role in "So Proudly They Hail" and was promised bigger and better things by a Warner Brothers executive but when George came back from a stint in the war, the exec was dead and the man who replaced him didn't think Reeves was star material. He never got a leading role in a big picture again.
Also, you can't help but feel sorry for him even he became almost an instant celebrity with his television portrayal of "Superman." He couldn't go anywhere as he was mobbed by kids. After just a month on the air, 91 percent of all the homes in America that had a kid 12 years or younger was tuned in to the show!! That's how big it was in 1953, and it stayed a huge hit all the way to Reeves' death.
The suit the actor had to wear, and the padding underneath, made him lose 10-20 pounds each time and was extremely uncomfortable. How he didn't pass out every time was a mystery, but he suffered each time he put on Superman's uniform.
The program here makes no judgments on Reeves. It just gives the facts about his love life and the tragic results of it.....unless Larson is right and he just got too depressed to go on living. He wasn't happy playing Superman, and he drank way too much. We'll never know. Like any celebrity who dies an early death (Reeves was 45), that's the part which always will make the story of George Reeves and Superman a fascinating and enduring one.
This episode spotlights the life and career of stage, screen and
television actor George Reeves, from his 1914 birth, in Woolstock,
Iowa, the son of Helen Lescher Brewer and Don Brewer, whom George would
not know about for many years, for Helen returns to her native
Galesburg, Illinois, with baby George.
From here, Helen and George relocate to the state of California, where, in 1925, she marries Frank Bessolo, who adopts George, in 1927. After fifteen years, her second marriage ends in divorce, and Helen tells George, who is out of town at the time, that Frank has passed even though still alive, one fact which George would not learn for some time to follow, and another is that Frank is not his biological father.
George studies acting, singing and boxing, and enters the stage at Pasadena Junior College although Helen orders him to stop boxing. While studying at Pasadena Playhouse, George meets Ellanora Needles, whom he marries, in 1940, until their 1950 divorce.
In 1939, George adopts the stage name of Reeves, and enters his film acting career under contract with Warner Brothers, but making a noteworthy impression at MGM, by portraying the role of Stuart Tarleton, Scarlett's Beau in "Gone with the Wind" (1939).
Finding himself released from Warners, George signs with 20th Century Fox Studios to appear in a small number of films, before director Mark Sandrich signs George Reeves to star at Paramount in "So Proudly We Hail!" (1943) as Lieutenant John Summers, opposite Claudette Colbert's Lieutenant Janet 'Davy' Davidson.
Director Mark Sandrich reportedly sees great potential in George Reeves' acting career, but passes at a young age, before George reaches that anticipated potential, causing George and many others to speculate as to how things may have been.
This same year, he is drafted into the U.S. Army, and assigned to the U.S. Army Air Forces, also performing with them on Broadway, in "Winged Victory," which leads to a national tour and a film adaptation.
After the War, George is assigned athletic-type roles, as in "Jungle Jim" (1948) as Bruce Edwards, with Johnny Weismuller.
But when George Reeves portrays the title character in the film "Superman and the Mole-Men" (1951) as Superman/Clark Kent, his popularity reaches new heights beyond his expectations, and perhaps reluctantly.
For he will soon be cast in a television series based upon the super-hero, entitled "Adventures of Superman" (1952-1958), starring George Reeves as Clark Kent, Noel Neill as Lois Lane (after Phyllis Coates), Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen, John Hamilton as Perry White, and Robert Shayne as Inspector Henderson.
His public receives him well, as children gather at his many public appearances to see their hero, but when George Reeves becomes so identified with the overly-demanding role that industry insiders on the set scoff at the screening of "From Here to Eternity" (1953), his role is clipped. (This episode claims that he never films again, but yet he actually does.)
As the story goes, after George off the set becomes entwined with two reportedly powerful, overly-demanding, and extremely jealous women, Toni Mannix and Leonore Lemmon, and entangled with the reportedly mob-connected MGM executive E.J. Mannix in the process, and Hollywood insiders who say that George Reeves will never work again, a naked body is discovered by party guests at his Beverly Hills residence late one night in June of 1959.
Detectives find bullet holes in the bedroom floor and bruises were upon the victim, and shell casings, but no suicide note beside the pistol containing no fingerprints, and neglect to perform resin testing. A botched investigation leaves speculators to wonder for more than fifty years whether or not it is murder.
Interview Guests for this episode consist of Noel Neill (Actress/Co-star/Co-author: "Truth, Justice and the American Way"), Whoopie Goldberg (Actress), Jack Larson (Actor/Co-star), Jack Harris (Actor), Jim Beaver (Actor/Biographer), Jim Hambrick (Curator, SuperMuseum), Nancy Schoenberger (Biographer/Co-author: "Hollywood Kryptonite"), Sam Kashner (Biographer/Co-author: "Hollywood Kryptonite"), Jan Alan Henderson (Biographer: "Speeding Bullet"), and Chuck Harter (Author).
|Ratings||Plot keywords||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|