“…More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!”

English: Screen capture of actor George Reeves...

Screen capture of actor George Reeves as Superman in the U.S. government film “Stamp Day for Superman” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“‘Look! Up in the sky!’”

“’It’s a bird!’ ‘It’s a plane!’ ‘It’s Superman!’”

“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!”

“And now, another exciting episode in the Adventures of Superman!”

His costume has been updated in this generation’s comic books, but it is still recognizably Superman.

What little boy hasn’t asked his Mom to pin a towel to his shoulders so he could pretend he was Superman?

Even though putting on his glasses so no one would know that Clark Kent was also Superman required a suspension of disbelief.

Superman was aspirational. There really should be someone to protect the weak.

It was the 50s. Now, we’re grown up and we know that someone is us.

On September 19, 1952, the Adventures of Superman aired its first episode on television.

It ended not quite six years later, on April 28, 1958, after 104 episodes, but had an outsized influence on children of the 50s.

Seeing it in color now is jarring, as it was filmed in black-and-white for its first two years and then, though filmed in color, broadcast in black and white until it was syndicated in 1965.

Superman started out as a comic book superhero in 1938, developed by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

It was turned into a radio series in the 1940s, a novel, and subsequently theatrical serials and a series of animated shorts.

When a movie producer produced a 67-minute feature film, starring George Reeves, Kellogg’s Cereals signed on as sponsor.

This initial story, Superman and the Mole Men, was later aired as a two-part series.

The iconic The Daily Planet building, where Clark Kent was a reporter, was, in the first season, the 10 or 12-story E. Clem Wilson building in Los Angeles, then the 32-story Los Angeles City Hall.

Most of the series was shot in sound studios or in and around Los Angeles, with a few clips of New York City.

How did he fly?

In the first season, to take off, George Reeve was suspended from cables and wires, but, when he fell and nearly suffered a concussion, this set-up was swapped out for a springboard.

To fly, he lay on a spatula-like device with scenes projected behind him or dubbed in later.

To land, he either jumped off a ladder or swung in from a horizontal bar.

But, there aren’t any telephone booths anymore. How would Superman change today?

He often used broom closets or alleys, not just telephone booths.

Producers planned two years more of episodes and a spin-off using actors in dog costumes playing the characters, but John Hamilton, who had played the newspaper editor and Clark Kent’s boss, Perry White, died in 1958, of a heart attack, at the age of 71.

Then, George Reeves died in 1959, suicide by gunshot, at the age of 45.

Plans to continue the series ended.

The entire series was committed to DVD in 2006.

Click on the title to order the entire first season from amazon, the Adventures of Superman.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers


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