Born John Feggo in Oxford, New Jersey, on October 8, 1910, Kirk Alyn became the screen's first Superman in the 15-chapter 1948 Columbia serial of the same name. Alyn had worked as an actor for many years prior to taking on his most famous role, with some success. After attending Columbia University, Alyn started his show business career as a dancer and then worked the vaudeville circuit before moving to Broadway as an actor/dancer, where he spent about 14 years. Alyn also worked in early New York-based television in the late 1930s and early 1940s. In the early 1940s, he went to Hollywood to attempt to break into films. Soon after his arrival, in 1942 Alyn married actress-singer Virginia O'Brien, and the couple had three children before divorcing in 1955.

Kirk AlynKirk AlynKirk AlynKirk AlynKirk AlynKirk Alyn

LEFT and CENTER: Columbia promotional photos of Kirk Alyn as Superman. RIGHT: Alyn in 1972 in a photo taken at his Hollywood home

After spending several years in Hollywood beginning in the early 1940s, Alyn had appeared in a number of films, but mostly in small roles and uncredited parts. His first major role came in the 1946 Republic serial Daughter of Don Q. But Alyn's big break came in 1948, when the 37-year-old, 6'2" actor was chosen by Columbia to star as Superman in the 15-chapter serial Superman. In fact, Alyn had more success in the serials in which he acted for both Columbia and Republic than he did as a feature film lead. In 1949, Republic released the 12-chapter serial Federal Agents vs. Underworld, Inc., with Kirk Alyn in the lead role, costarring Rosemary La Planche, Miss America 1941. And in 1950, he starred in Republic's 12-chapter Radar Patrol vs. Spy King. After the release of Atom Man Vs. Superman, Alyn tired of the role and would only agree to continuing as the Man of Steel in exchange for a hefty pay raise. Columbia studio executives, notoriously tight-fisted, decided to replace Alyn with George Reeves. However, Alyn acted in one more serial for Columbia, the 1952 15-chapter Blackhawk.

the films of kirk alyn

Superman (1948)

Pierre Watkin, Kirk Alyn, Noel Neill, and Tommy BondKirk AlynKirk Alyn and Noel NeillKirk Alyn and Noel Neill

Scenes from the Columbia serial Superman. LEFT: With Pierre Watkin, Noel Neill, and Tommy Bond. CENTER A: Alyn as Superman. CENTER B and RIGHT: With Noel Neill

Federal Agents vs. Underworld, Inc. (1949)

Rosemary La Planche, James Dale, Kirk Alyn, and Roy Barcroft

From Republic's engaging noir serial Federal Agents vs. Underworld, Inc. with Rosemary La Planche, James Dale, and Roy Barcroft

Atom Man Vs. Superman (1950)

Kirk AlynKirk AlynKirk Alyn

LEFT and CENTER: From Columbia's 15-chapter serial Atom Man Vs. Superman. RIGHT: This photo of Alyn illustrates how Columbia handled Superman's flying sequences. Note the platform under Alyn's torso and the suspension of his cape

Blackhawk: Fearless Champion of Freedom (1952)

Kirk AlynKirk AlynKirk AlynCarol Forman and Kirk Alyn

Alyn as another comic book hero come to life in the 15-chapter serial Blackhawk: Fearless Champion of Freedom, one of Columbia's final serials. LEFT and CENTER A: Alyn as the title character in his last starring role. CENTER B: Kirk Alyn bests a bad guy. RIGHT: With Carol Forman

later years

Kirk Alyn's career hid the skids after he parted company with Columbia in 1952. Serials were being replaced by television programs, and Alyn, now more than 40 years old, had great difficulty in finding roles. He took roles on TV programs such as Highway Dragnet and The Donna Reed Show and did numerous television commercials. By the 1970s, Alyn saw a revival in his career and toured extensively to discuss his role in Superman. He also revived his acting career, making appearances on television and in a few films, including a cameo appearance in the 1978 Warner Bros. release Superman. His final film appearance came in the horror film Scalps (1983; directed by Fred Olen Ray). In his last years, he left southern California and relocated to Texas. Sadly, Kirk Alyn died of natural causes related to Alzheimer's disease at the age of 88 on March 14, 1999. He was survived by two daughters, Terri and Elizabeth, and a son, John.

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Scalps (1983) with Carroll Borland and Forrest J Ackerman; directed by Fred Olen Ray
Superman (1978) with Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder
Beginning of the End (1957) with Peter Graves and Peggie Castle
The Eddy Duchin Story (1956) with Tyrone Power and Kim Novak
Blackhawk (1952) with Carol Forman
When Worlds Collide (1951) with Barbara Rush, Peter Hansen, John Hoyt, and Larry Keating
Gambling House (1951) with Victor Mature, Cleo Moore, Terry Moore, and William Bendix
Atom Man Vs. Superman (1950) with Noel Neill, Tommy Bond, and Lyle Talbot
Radar Patrol vs. Spy King (1950) with Jean Dean
Bride of Vengeance (1949) with Paulette Goddard, Macdonald Carey, Albert Dekker, and Raymond Burr
Federal Agents vs. Underworld, Inc. (1949) with Rosemary La Planche and Carol Forman
Superman (1948) with Noel Neill, Tommy Bond, and Carol Forman
Little Miss Broadway (1947) with Jean Porter
Sweet Genevieve (1947) with Jean Porter
The Trap (1947) with Sidney Toler, Mantan Moreland, Victor Sen Yung, Anne Nagel, and Minerva Urecal
The Time of Their Lives (1946) with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
Daughter of Don Q (1946) with Lorna Gray
Call of the Rockies (1944) with Sunset Carson and Smiley Burnette
The Girl Who Dared (1944) with Lorna Gray and Grant Withers
Forty Thieves (1944) with William Boyd and Glenn Strange
Four Jills in a Jeep (1944)
Is Everybody Happy? (1943)
Overland Mail Robbery (1943) with Bill Elliott, George 'Gabby' Hayes, and Anne Jeffreys
Pistol Packin' Mama (1943) with Ruth Terry
The Man from Rio Grande (1943) with Don 'Red' Barry
You Were Never Lovelier (1942)

Battlestar Galactica, episode The War of the Gods: Part 1, originally aired January 14, 1979
The Donna Reed Show, episode No More Parties - Almost, originally aired February 26, 1966
The Donna Reed Show, episode Think Mink, originally aired October 7, 1965
Shannon, episode Uneasy Debt, originally aired May 14, 1962
Dennis the Menace, episode A Quiet Evening, originally aired February 25, 1962
Naked City, episode Burst of Passion, originally aired January 20, 1959
Buffalo Bill, Jr., episode Blazing Guns, originally aired August 24, 1956
Buffalo Bill, Jr., episode Silver Mine Mystery, originally aired August 16, 1956
Highway Patrol, episode Mental Patient, originally aired April 9, 1956
Highway Patrol, episode Released Convict, originally aired 1956
The Adventures of Champion, episode The Real Unfriendly Ghost, originally aired 1955
Annie Oakley, episode The Iron Smoke-Wagon, originally aired August 14, 1954
Annie Oakley, episode Annie Meets Some Tenderfeet, originally aired May 15, 1954
Lux Video Theatre, episode Call Me Mrs., originally aired March 11, 1954
The Adventures of Kit Carson, episode The Devil at Angel's Camp, originally aired October 6, 1951

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Watch the trailer for Kirk Alyn's 1948 Columbia serial Superman

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