“Superman has evolved more than the fruit fly. In the 1930s he was just the crime fighter we needed to take on Al Capone and the robber barons. In the forties he defended the home front while brave GIs battled overseas. In the Cold War he stood up taller than ever for his adopted country. For each era he zeroed in on the threats that scared us most, using powers that grew or diminished depending on the need. So did his spectacles, hair style, even his job title. Each generation got the Superman it needed and deserved. Each change offered a Rorschach test of the pulse of that time and its dreams.”
-Larry Tye, Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero, 2012
If you know me, you know that I love Superman. A few months ago, I created this Superman timeline which included the actors who I felt were most significant in portraying the Man of Steel. However, after reading Larry Tye’s book on the history of Superman, I realized that every actor was significant in some way. This new timeline encompasses all the actors (that I know of) and the years they were active. In order they are:
Ray Middleton (1940) - The first man to appear in public wearing the Superman costume during “Superman Day” at the New York World’s Fair.
Kirk Alyn (1948 - 1950) - The first actor to play Superman in the early serials and Atom Man vs. Superman.
George Reeves (1952 - 1958) - Starred in Adventures of Superman in the 50’s.
Bob Holiday (1966) - Portrayed Superman in the Broadway show It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman!
David Wilson (1975) - Star of the television adaptation of the broadway play.
Christopher Reeve (1978 - 1987) - Thought by many to be the greatest depiction of Superman ever in Richard Donner’s 1978 film, Superman: The Movie, and it’s 3 sequels.
John Haymes Newton (1988) & Gerard Christopher (1989 - 1992) - Both actors were Superboy in the television show of the same name.
Dean Cain (1993 - 1997) - Superman in the TV show Lois and Clark.
Tom Welling (2001 - 2011) - Starred as Clark Kent in the show Smallville, a unique take on the character, in which he never donned the traditional costume (until the last 10 seconds of the final episode) and never went by the name Superman.
Brandon Routh (2006) - Star of Superman Returns, a loose sequel to the Donner films staring Christopher Reeve.
Henry Cavill (2013) - Cavill will become Kal-El in next year’s Man of Steel by Zack Snyder.
In short, there have been many different Supermen, each offering something a little different. Though these might be the most significant, there are plenty of other depictions and variations not listed, such as Johnny Rockwell’s Superboy in a 50’s pilot that failed to take flight. Which Superman is your favorite?
Today is Christopher Reeve’s birthday. A perfect day to post this.
My site: slov.es
I made a timeline of some of Superman’s costumes from George Reeve, to Henry Cavill from next year’s Man of Steel.
My site: slov.es