Born George Brewer in Woolstock, Iowa, on January 5, 1914, actor George Reeves's parents divorced soon after his birth. His mother eventually moved to Pasadena, California, where Reeves was raised, and soon remarried. Reeves' stepfather adopted him, changing his last name to Bessolo. After a stint in college, he was discovered for his role as Stuart Tarleton in David O. Selznick's Gone With the Wind while appearing at the Pasadena Community Playhouse in 1938. While studying at the playhouse, Reeves met actress Ellanora Needles, whom he married in 1940. The couple worked together in several plays and the films The Leather Burners (1943; with William Boyd) and Winged Victory (1944; with Jeanne Crain). Reeves was under contract to Warner Bros. and then Universal early in his careeer, and he later signed with Paramount. Before signing with Paramount, he acted in a string of Hopalong Cassidy westerns in the early 1940s. With more than 20 films under his belt, he became a box-office attraction in Paramount's film So Proudly We Hail! (1943; with Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard, and Veronica Lake) .

George ReevesGeorge ReevesGeorge Reeves

LEFT: Universal Studios photo from 1940. CENTER and RIGHT: Paramount portraits of George Reeves from 1947

During World War II, Reeves enlisted in the Army Air Corps and made war training films. But by the time Reeves' hitch was up, his popularity and film career had vanished. He returned to Paramount following the war, but the studio released him in 1948. By the late 1940s, Reeves was left struggling with "B" programmers such as Jungle Goddess (1948; with Wanda McKay) and Jungle Jim (1948; with Johnny Weissmuller). Separating from his wife in the late 1940s, Reeves left Hollywood for New York in 1949 to work in television and obtained a divorce in 1950. He returned to Hollywood in 1951 when he was cast in a supporting role in the RKO western Rancho Notorious (1952; with Marlene Dietrich). In June of that year, he was cast in the title role of the television series Adventures of Superman (1952-1958), replacing Kirk Alyn who no longer wanted the role. Although Reeves was initially hesitant to be cast in the part, he was delighted when ABC picked up the series beginning in September 1952 and became an instant success. At the beginning of season three in 1955, production switched from black and white to color, a surprising move for a low-budget TV show in the mid 1950s. However, the series was broadcast in black and white, as ABC did not have the capability to broadcast in color. After 104 episodes, the show was canceled in 1958, at the end of season six.

the films of george reeves

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Fred Crane, Vivien Leigh, and George Reeves

With Fred Crane and Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind

Argentine Nights (1940)

George Reeves and Constance Moore

With Constance Moore in the Universal Ritz Brothers vehicle Argentine Nights

Lydia (1941)

Merle Oberon and George Reeves

From the romance Lydia with Merle Oberon

Colt Comrades (1943)

William Boyd, Andy Clyde, Jay Kirby, Teddi Sherman, and George Reeves

From the Hopalong Cassidy western Colt Comrades with William Boyd, Andy Clyde, Jay Kirby, and Teddi Sherman

So Proudly We Hail! (1943)

George Reeves

George Reeves in Paramount's So Proudly We Hail!

Jungle Goddess (1948)

George Reeves

Reeves in a still from the low budget adventure Jungle Goddess with Wanda McKay and Ralph Byrd. This film aired on Mystery Science Theater 3000 during season two

The Adventures of Sir Galahad (1949)

George Reeves

From the 15-chapter Columbia serial The Adventures of Sir Galahad

The Mutineers (1949)

George Reeves and Adele Jergens

With Adele Jergens in the Columbia adventure The Mutineers

Superman and the Mole Men (1951)

Phyllis Coates and George ReevesGeorge Reeves

LEFT: Reeves with Phyllis Coates in Superman and the Mole Men, Reeves' first outing as Superman. LEFT: Reeves as the Man of Steel

The Adventures of Superman (1952-1958 TV Series)

George ReevesGeorge ReevesGeorge Reeves

LEFT: Cast photo from 1954 with John Hamilton, Jack Larson, and Noel Neill. CENTER: Reeves jumps out of a window in an early episode. RIGHT: Reeves lifts a 1957 Plymouth from the show's final season

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Promotional photos from The Adventures of Superman

final days

Reeves' career went into immediate decline following the cancellation. His fame as the Man of Steel had typecast the actor. The only film role he had after the early days of the series came in Westward Ho, the Wagons! (1956; with Fess Parker). Without a steady paycheck, Reeves ran into financial problems. However, in 1959 Reeves struck a deal with producers to film another season of the series. Sadly, he was found dead of a gunshot wound on June 16, 1959 at age 45. Although officially declared a suicide, mystery has clouded the circumstances of Reeves' death some fifty years after the fact. For a number of years, he had an affair with Toni Mannix (1906-1983), the wife of MGM executive E.J. "Eddie" Mannix. Toni Mannix was very generous with Reeves, buying him expensive cars and even a house. In 1958 Reeves severed ties with Mannix, who was eight years his senior, and later announced his engagement to Leonore Lemmon (1923-1989), a hard-drinking socialite. It has been speculated that either Mannix or Lemmon may have been involved with his death, but nothing has ever been proved.


To many kids in the 1940s, Clayton "Bud" Collyer was the Man of Steel; Collyer and Joan Alexander (as Lois Lane) were the voices of the Mutual Radio series The Adventures of Superman from 1940 through 1951. The team voiced about 20 early 1940s Superman cartoons as well. Nevertheless, Collyer was never seriously considered for either the Superman films or TV show because he was based in New York, as was Joan Alexander, and simply didn't have the physical presence to portray Superman. More importantly, Collyer had his hands full with his growing popularity as a game show host, first on radio with Winner Take All (1945), and on television with Beat the Clock (1951-1958) and To Tell the Truth (1957-1967). Collyer and Alexander teamed up once again for The New Adventures of Superman, a cartoon series produced from 1966-1967. In 1967, the show grew to an hour and was renamed The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure and lasted through 1969. Collyer continued to be the voice of Superman in cartoons until he passed away from natural causes at age 60 in 1969. Joan Alexander also did time on game shows, appearing as a regular panelist on the ABC-TV quiz show The Name's the Same from 1951-1955. Alexander passed away in 2009 at the age of 94.

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*Superman (1973) an edited compilation of color Superman episodes; with Joi Lansing
Westward Ho the Wagons! (1956) with Fess Parker, Kathleen Crowley, Jeff York, and Sebastian Cabot
Stamp Day for Superman (1954), a 45-minute feature to promote U.S. Savings Bonds
*Superman and the Jungle Devil (1954)
*Superman Flies Again (1954)
*Superman in Exile (1954)
*Superman in Scotland Yard (1954)
*Superman's Peril (1954)
The Blue Gardenia (1953) with Anne Baxter, Ann Sothern, Jeff Donnell, and Raymond Burr
Forever Female (1953) with Ginger Rogers and William Holden
Rancho Notorious (1952) with Marlene Dietrich
Bugles in the Afternoon (1952) with Ray Milland and Hugh Marlowe
Superman and the Mole Men (1951) with Phyllis Coates
The Good Humor Man (1950) with Jack Carson, Lola Albright, and Richard Egan
The Great Lover (1949) with Bob Hope and Rhonda Fleming
Samson and Delilah (1949) with Hedy Lamarr and Victor Mature
Special Agent (1949) with Kasey Rogers and Virginia Christine
The Adventures of Sir Galahad (1949) with Nelson Leigh and Ray 'Crash' Corrigan
The Mutineers (1949) with Jon Hall and Adele Jergens
Thunder in the Pines (1948) with Ralph Byrd, Greg McClure, Denise Darcel, and Lyle Talbot
Jungle Goddess (1948) with Ralph Byrd, Wanda McKay, and Armida; once aired on Mystery Science Theater 3000
Jungle Jim (1948) with Johnny Weissmuller and Virginia Grey
The Sainted Sisters (1948) with Veronica Lake, Joan Caulfield, Barry Fitzgerald, William Demarest, Beulah Bondi, and Chill Wills
Variety Girl (1947)
Airborne Lifeboat (1945) with Barry Nelson
Winged Victory (1944) with Lee J. Cobb and Judy Holliday
The Last Will and Testament of Tom Smith (1943) Reeves made this informational film as part of the war effort
The Leather Burners (1943)
Bar 20 (1943) with William Boyd and Robert Mitchum
Border Patrol (1943) with William Boyd and Robert Mitchum
Buckskin Frontier (1943) with Lee J. Cobb, Robert Dix, Lola Lane, and Albert Dekker
Colt Comrades (1943) with William Boyd and Robert Mitchum
Hoppy Serves a Writ (1943)
So Proudly We Hail! (1943) with Claudette Colbert, Veronica Lake, Paulette Goddard, Barbara Britton, and Sonny Tufts
The Mad Martindales (1942) with Jane Withers and Gig Young
Sex Hygiene (1942) with Robert Lowery
Blue, White and Perfect (1942) with Lloyd Nolan and Mary Beth Hughes
Blood and Sand (1941) with Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Rita Hayworth, Alla Nazimova, Anthony Quinn, J. Carrol Naish, Lynn Bari, and John Carradine
Dead Men Tell (1941) with Sidney Toler and Sheila Ryan
Lydia (1941) with Merle Oberon, Alan Marshal, and Joseph Cotten
Man at Large (1941) with Steven Geray, Elisha Cook Jr., Minerva Urecal, and Barbara Pepper
The Strawberry Blonde (1941) with James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland, Rita Hayworth, Alan Hale, Jack Carson, and George Tobias
Meet the Fleet (1940) with Robert Armstrong and Herbert Anderson
Argentine Nights (1940) with the Ritz Brothers and the Andrews Sisters
Ladies Must Live (1940) with Wayne Morris, Rosemary Lane, and William Hopper
Pony Express Days (1940)
The Lady and the Lug (1940) with Elsa Maxwell
Virginia City (1940)
'Til We Meet Again (1940)
Always a Bride (1940) with Rosemary Lane
Calling All Husbands (1940) with George Tobias
Father is a Prince (1940)
The Fighting 69th (1940)
Gambling On the High Seas (1940)
Tear Gas Squad (1940) with Dennis Morgan, John Payne, and Frank Wilcox
Throwing a Party (1940)
Torrid Zone (1940) with James Cagney, Ann Sheridan, Pat O'Brien, Andy Devine, Jerome Cowan, and George Tobias
Gone with the Wind (1939) with Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, Evelyn Keyes, Ann Rutherford, Hattie McDaniel, Butterfly McQueen, and Victor Jory
The Monroe Doctrine (1939)
Espionage Agent (1939)
Ride, Cowboy, Ride (1939)
Smashing the Money Ring (1939)
*These films are edited episodes of The Adventures of Superman

The Adventures of Superman, the 1953-1957 syndicated TV series, with Jack Larson, Noel Neill, and Phyllis Coates (1953 only); 104 episodes. The show was shot first in black-and-white and later in color.

I Love Lucy, episode Lucy and Superman, originally aired January 14, 1957
The Ford Television Theatre, episode Heart of Gold, originally aired December 25, 1952
Kraft Television Theatre, episode Six by Six, originally aired August 6, 1952
Fireside Theatre, episode Hurry, Hurry, originally aired March 25, 1952
Lights Out, episode Leda's Portrait, originally aired March 12, 1951
Suspense, episode The Brush Off, originally aired November 14, 1950
The Web, episode Talk of the Town, originally aired September 13, 1950
Lights Out, episode The Ides of April, originally aired August 28, 1950
The Web, episode Home for Christmas, originally aired August 15, 1950
Kraft Television Theatre, episode Feathers in a Gale, originally aired August 9, 1950
Starlight Theatre, episode The Great Nonentity, originally aired July 20, 1950
Kraft Television Theatre, episode The Wind Is Ninety, originally aired June 28, 1950
The Trap, episode Sentence of Death, originally aired May 27, 1950
Kraft Television Theatre, episode Storm in a Teacup, originally aired May 17, 1950
Starlight Theatre, episode White Mail, originally aired April 23, 1950
Suspense, episode Murder at the Mardi Gras, originally aired April 18, 1950
Believe It or Not, episode Journey Through the Darkness, originally aired March 1, 1950
Kraft Television Theatre, episode Kelly, originally aired January 25, 1950
Suspense, episode The Bomber Command, originally aired January 10, 1950
The Silver Theatre, episode The First Show of 1950, originally aired January 2, 1950
Actor's Studio, episode The Midway, originally aired December 13, 1949
Kraft Television Theatre, episode Seen But Not Heard, originally aired November 30, 1949
The Silver Theatre, episode Silent as the Grave, originally aired November 21, 1949
Suspense, episode The Thin Edge of Violence, originally aired November 15, 1949
Actor's Studio, episode O'Halloran's Luck, originally aired November 8, 1949
The Clock, episode Payment on Time, originally aired October 19, 1949

george reeves links

Superman Super Site
Everything there is to know about the Man of Steel! This site includes lots of information about the actors who have portrayed Superman, including George Reeves, Bud Collyer, Christopher Reeve, Kirk Alyn, and many more. Plus, there's information about the actresses who have portrayed Lois Lane, addresses of actors from the Superman films and TV series, and more.

The Adventures Continue
Jim Nolt is one Superman superfan! Explore his on-line tribute to George Reeves.

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Watch George Reeves in the 1940 Technicolor short Meet the Fleet
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This page premiered September 17, 1999.
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