Tinseltown exposé

Television cemented stardom in the 1950s for many celebrities of radio, vaudeville and motion pictures—Lucille Ball, Milton Berle, even Alfred Hitchcock. The first TV star created by the infant medium was George Reeves. A capable actor with a Roman jaw, cast as Stuart Tarleton in Gone With the Wind (1939) and consigned to mostly forgotten pictures in the late 1940s, Reeves was offered the lead in a syndicated television program that was without sponsorship until two years after filming was completed. Take the money, his agent advised; nobody will ever see the silly thing anyway.

It was a sensible argument that could not have proved more wrong. Adventures of Superman (1951-1958) went through the roof. Five decades later, the original 104 episodes enjoy healthy sales in DVD sets from Warner Home Video. Lamentably, its only surviving actors, Jack Larson (Jimmy Olsen) and Noel Neill (Lois Lane), haven’t received a penny in royalties in decades.


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