Monday, July 23, 2007

Why do we still care about the death of TV's Superman?

I care about George Reeves, but sometimes I am at a loss to understand why.
I think there were several things that came together to make him as popular today as he is.
My generation watched first-run TV "Adventures of Superman". But, there were all those reruns on TV. I watched WGN-TV channel 9 on Sunday mornings for the show. That was before there was cable and satellites were scientific objects few and far between, floating around the earth. No TV signal from them. No superstations.
Certainly we could all tie a towel around our necks and pretend to be Superman. We could even "fly" for short distances, if there was a soft mattress beneath us when gravity pulled us to ground.
George Reeves was so identified with Superman, that we saw his image and could easily pigeon-hole him in that role.
That is important for children.
Kids have trouble seeing adults in multiple roles of life not only in films.
Last night I was watching the serial Superman starring Kirk Alyn and learned he didn't get screen credit. They just said they hired the real Superman because no actor could live up to the real guy.
Think of the time in history when George flew, too.
UFO sightings were big in the '50s. Science fiction movies and movies about monsters were big, too. A strange visitor from outer space with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men just fit into the genre.
The tragedy -- as is always true with suicides -- is that George never understood his importance in TV. If he was murdered, that is another ball of wax, but I'm not convinced it was anything but suicide and a botched investigation.