George Reeves was one of THE most iconic men to play Superman. The most iconic of course being Christopher Reeve. George Reeves had the classic body builder build which Kirk Alyn didn’t possess. He also had classic rugged Hollywood good looks.
Why are we focusing on George Reeves today? Well we’re focusing on him for a few reasons. The first reason being that he was the first actor to bring Superman to life on the small screen. The Adventures of Superman was a family show that people would gather around to watch week after week. Again, would also like to restate that George Reeves is the second most iconic Superman next to Christopher Reeve. Which is the second reason we’re focusing on him. Reason number three is because George Reeves has permanently embedded himself in pop culture not just because of his portrayal of Superman, but because of his death. George Reeves’ death is still an unsolved murder. There are three popular scenarios as to what actually happened. His death was ”officially” ruled a suicide by the Hollywood police department who investigated it, but there is evidence to suggest otherwise. Now lastly, and most importantly, we are focusing on George Reeves because June 16 was the anniversary of his death. We felt it fitting to pay tribute to a man who was the first great portrayal of Superman and brought him to the little screen into people’s homes each and every week.
George Reeves was a bit of an enigma. He was an amazing Superman and kids loved him right to pieces, but he hated the role. George Reeves HATED being Superman. He hated the roll so much that after every season he would burn the costume. Why did he hate it so? Because he couldn’t do anything else afterwards. He tried to do other movies, but all he heard was Superman jokes. He was only seen as Superman. Granted that killed his ability to really do anything else, but at the same time it shows how well he played Superman.
George’s personal life was far more chaotic. He was a heavy drinker. He would start his day with a screwdriver (orange juice and vodka) or two in the morning. He was also having an affair with the wife of the general manager for MGM studios. His mother was unstable and would often introduce George to people as her brother. Then later George ended the affair and was engaged to a younger woman who was a gold digger. She only liked him for his money and status.
George Reeve’s death still remains unsolved. There are three popular theories as to what happened. The first theory is the one that HPD wrote on the paperwork which is suicide. They say that he was depressed because he got old and couldn’t do anything since all everyone saw him as was Superman. The second theory is that the MGM general manager had him killed because the break-up of the affair caused his wife so much misery. The last theory is that George and his fiancé had a fight that got out of hand. Apparently they fought like cats and dogs on a regular basis.
There are a few of evidential reasons why the whole suicide thing doesn’t sit well with people. First off, he was found naked in his room. The two strongest reasons are that there were bruises found on his body and there were two other bullet holes found at odd trajectories in the floor. The last piece of evidence that makes people say, “No way!” to the suicide is that the hand he supposedly used to pull the trigger actually didn’t have the strength in that hand to do the deed.
The best place we can direct you for more information on George Reeves is a book called Hollywood Kryptonite by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger. The other is a movie called Hollywoodland starring Ben Affleck, Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, and Bob Hoskins. Also the Super Museum in Metropolis, Illinois has a color costume from George Reeves.
So to George Reeves we say farewell and leave a rose in memory of you. Even though you hated the part, you were a wonderful Superman. Thank you for leaving your mark on the blue tights and red cape.
(January 5, 1914 – June 16, 1959)