First Superman on film | Superman Blog

First Superman on film

clark kent and lois lane Kirk Alyn, the first Superman of cinema, was born 100 years agoOct. 08, 2010 | 3:48 p.m.

One hundred years ago Friday, John Feggo Jr. was born in Oxford, N.J., but he is far better known by two other names — Kirk Alyn and Superman.

This week, Warner Bros announced that Zack Snyder , director of “300” and “Watchmen, ” will be handling the latest relaunch of Superman as a silver-screen brand name, which makes it even more fitting to look back on Alyn, the very first cinematic Superman but a sinewy star who gets overshadowed by those other Men of Steel, Christopher Reeve and George Reeves.

Alyn was born Oct. 8, 1910, to Hungarian immigrant parents and attended . Early in his career he was a song-and-dance man in the chorus of such classic 1930s Broadway musicals as the “Girl Crazy” and “Of Thee I Sing.”

He married MGM singing star Virginia O’Brien, who was best known for her deadpan singing style, in 1942 (they had three children before they divorced in 1955) and made the big jump to Hollywood after working in vaudeville. The going was rough, though, and his career stagnated with small roles in forgettable films. He scored a decent role in the 1946 Republic serial “Daughter of Don Q.

Finally, at the age of 37, lighting struck and he was chosen to play Superman in the 15-chapter 1948 serial “Superman” and its 1950 sequel, “Atom Man Vs. Superman.” Produced by Sam Katzman, “Superman” was the most successful movie serial of its time.

Superman Jim LeeThe film was advertised as being based on the Superman and Action Comics magazines and on the “Superman” radio program which was broadcast over the Mutual Network. The original poster declared, “THE ONE AND ONLY ‘SUPERMAN’…Rocketing to ‘REAL LIFE’ in a Mighty SUPER-SERIAL!”

The serial (see a sequence in the video below) followed his arrival on Earth as an infant and the last survivor of the planet Krypton, his transformation into a superhero and then his first nemesis: The Spider Lady, played by Carol Forman. Noel Neill, who would play Lois Lane for five seasons on the “Adventures of Superman” television series, originated the role in the serial. Tommy Bond, who had played Butch in the “Our Gang” comedy series, was Jimmy Olsen, and Pierre Watkin was Perry White.

Because Alyn wasn’t a familiar face to most audiences, his name was kept off the credits because the studio felt that no one should know who was playing Superman. In fact, Columbia spread a rumor that Superman himself was playing the part. Alyn was initially just credited as playing Clark Kent.

Thanks to “Superman, ” he got a starring role in the Republic serials “Federal Agents Vs. Underworld Inc.” (1949), which starred, the Miss America of 1941, , and “Radar Patrol Vs. Spy King” (1949).


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