On Superman

A Word of Warning for Brandon Routh

By Lou Anders

The Adventures of Superman star George Reeves was only forty-five years old in 1959 when he was found dead in his home from a single gunshot. There was a lot of talk of foul play at the time, though the death was officially labeled a suicide. Depression over his typecasting as the Man of Steel and failure to find other work was the likeliest target, and rumors even spread that, in an alcohol- (or painkiller-) induced state, Reeves had mistakenly assumed he could fly and leapt from a tall building in a single bound. But over the years, many startling facts about the case have surfaced. One, that no fingerprints were found on the gun that fired a bullet into Reeves’ right temple. Two, that the discarded shell was found under Reeves’ naked corpse, difficult to explain in a suicide. Three, that Reeves had recently been the victim of a months-long harassment from mobster Toni Mannix, with whose wife Reeves had had an affair. Four, that the suicide occurred at a party at Reeves’ house, and the guests had waited thirty minutes before alerting the authorities. And finally, five, that Reeves’ depression had ended and he was, according to friends, in the highest spirits in ages about his upcoming marriage and the decision by the producers to film another season of The Adventures of Superman after a three-year hiatus, and thus unlikely to commit suicide at this time. In the 1980s, both costars Noel Neill (Lois Lane) and Jack Larson  …

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