Bring Superman Home!

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 Adventures of Superman - The Complete First Season

 Adventures of Superman - The Complete Second Season

 Adventures of Superman - The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons

 Adventures of Superman - The Complete Fifth and Sixth Seasons

 Adventures of Superman - The Complete First Six Seasons (20pc)


Show Type: Adventure

Produced: July 1951-November 1957 (104 episodes)

Released: Fall, 1952

Syndication and Network Daytime - 30 minutes


Superman / Clark Kent..... George Reeves

Lois Lane (1951)..... Phyllis Coates

Lois Lane (1953-1957)..... Noel Neill

Jimmy Olson..... Jack Larson

Perry White..... John Hamilton

Inspector William Henderson..... Robert Shayne

Jor-El (pilot episode only)..... Robert Rockwell

Lara (pilot episode only)..... Aline Towne


    "Faster than a speeding bullet!" exclaimed the announcer. "More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound... 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 at Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way!"

    Superman was one of the most fabulously successful media creations of modern times - and, if you think about it, an interesting reflection on what we would like to be. Following a highly successful career in comic books, radio, and movies in the 1940's, he came to television in a syndicated (not network) version that was a major hit of the 1950's.

    His now-familiar genealogy was spelled out in the first episode. Kal-El was born on the faraway planet Krypton, the son of scientist Jor-El and his wife Lara (played by Robert Rockwell and Aline Towne in "Superman on Earth," the establishing TV episode). When destruction of their planet became imminent, the parents of Kal-El sent the infant to Earth in a miniature rocket. The rocket landed in Smallville, U.S.A. where the infant was discovered and raised by a childless couple named Eben and Sarah Kent. They named him Clark. As he grew older, Clark began to discover that he was different from other children, endowed with superhuman powers. The Kents told him about his origin and Clark began to consider how he might use these powers for the good of mankind.

    At age 25, after Eben Kent's death, Clark moved to Metropolis and landed a job as a reporter for The Daily Planet, a crusading newspaper. When danger loomed, he quickly changed from mild-mannered Clark Kent to Superman, leapt out a convenient window, and flew to the rescue! His familiar red-and-blue costume had been given to him by Mrs. Kent, who had made it from the blankets that had swaddled him the rocket as an infant (with no explanation how she cut and sewed it, since the completed costume was bulletproof, tear proof, and virtually as indestructible as Superman himself!).

    Clark's boss at the newspaper was blustery editor Perry White, whose most common expletive was "Great Caesar's ghost!" Jimmy Olson was the ambitious, but timid, young cub reporter and Lois Lane was the top reporter on the paper. She was chief competitor to Clark, and chief female admirer of Superman, but she never connected the two men. Lois was in fact rather hard-nosed and aggressive as portrayed by Phyllis Coates, but became more sensitive and vulnerable in the later characterization of Noel Neill. Inspector Henderson of the Metropolis Police Department was hard-working, but somehow never managed to solve a case without the help of Superman, the Planet staff, or both. Jimmy and Lois also seemed to depend on Superman's help - he was constantly called upon to rescue them from criminals - but no one suspected his true identity.

    Superman did have an incredible collection of powers - super-strength, super-hearing, X-ray vision, telescopic and microscopic vision, super-breath - and the abilities to split himself into two functioning entities, to will himself through solid matter, to levitate people, and, most importantly, to fly. The only thing to which he was vulnerable to was Kryptonite, fragments of green rock that were the remnants of his exploded home planet. The bad guys on Superman, including semi-regulars Ben Welden, Herb Vigran, Tris Coffin, and Billy Nelson (they turned up in different roles on different episodes), used everything they could get their hands on, including Kryptonite, to defeat and destroy Superman, but good always triumphed.

    Although the first batch of 26 Superman films were made in 1951, the series did not reach local TV  stations until late 1952. From 1953 to 1957, additional groups of films were made. Production, as with most non-network series, was low budget, and the actors wore virtually the same outfits all the time so that footage from different episodes could be shot at the same time without having to worry about matching costumes. The special effects were limited to having Superman crash through walls, lots of explosions, and scenes of Superman flying around - the latter accomplished by suspending him from invisible wires. The same flying sequences were used over and over, sometimes running as long as 30 or 40 seconds, to fill time. In one episode, Superman changed direction while flying, which was accomplished by simply turning the film around - making the "S" on his uniform backward! There was a good deal of action and violence on Superman initially, but over the years it began to take itself less seriously and, by the last season, many of the episodes were played more for laughs then for action.

    The media history of Superman is certainly varied. He was created by two teenagers, writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster in the 1930's, and was initially rejected by all the major newspaper syndicates. He finally appeared in a comic book in 1938, and became an instantaneous hit. This led to a regular newspaper strip that ran 28 years (1939-1967); a radio series from 1940 to 1951, with Bud Collyer initially providing the voice of Superman; 17 animated Paramount cartoons from 1941 to 1943; theatrical serials in 1948 and 1950; and a feature-length movie, "Superman and the Mole Men", in 1951 (later re-edited and shown as a two-part episode of the TV series).

    George Reeves, who had made his movie debut in Gone With the Wind, became so typecast by his TV Superman role that he could not get other work. Although there were conflicting stories surrounding his death on June 16, 1959 - including one that the series was about to return to production - the coroner's verdict was that he had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. Nothing, however, could end the fictional Superman's life. ABC reran the syndicated films from October 1957-September 1958 on Wednesday afternoons, and CBS revived the Man of Steel in animated form on its Saturday lineup in 1966 (with Bud Collyer again doing the voice). The CBS cartoons, under the titles Superman, or The New Adventures of Superman, or as part of The Superman-Aquaman Hour and The Batman-Superman Hour, ran until September 1970. Superman then moved to ABC on Saturday mornings where he was an integral part of the animated Superfriends from 1973 to 1985. CBS brought the Man of Steel back to its animated Saturday morning lineup for the 1988-1989 season, and the WB network aired The New Batman/Superman Adventures on both Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons from September 1997 until the fall of 2000. In 1978, Superman got his first big-budget production. Superman - The Movie, starring Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, and Marlon Brando (Noel Neill in an unbilled cameo role). It was a huge hit at the box office and precipitated a series of films about the superhero. There have also been a Superman play on Broadway, a novel, a Superman museum in Illinois, and endless nostalgia books about the Man of Steel. He will no doubt be seen on videodisks and on holographic TV in years to come! A thorough and comprehensive history of the Superman character can be found in Superman - Serial to Cereal by Gary Grossman, published by Popular Library in 1977.