George Reeves and Phyllis Coates during a Superman publicity shoot, 1952. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Despite the smiles and the aura of invincibility, actor George Reeves had his fair share of worries. He had overcome a difficult childhood and was presented with a potentially dubious opportunity to play Superman in Adventures of Superman on the new medium, TV, which actors at the time, did not deem important. Despite already being a respected actor (even appearing in Gone With the Wind), he reluctantly accepted the role as Superman and locked himself into a restrictive contract and “monkey suit” from which he would have difficulty freeing himself. His frustrations were compounded by complicated romanitc liasons and a weakness for a lifestyle that his relatively meager salary could not support. This “strange visitor from another planet who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men” alas could not prevent the (self-inflicted?) gunshot which took his life at the age of 45.