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 George Reeves

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George Reeves

Actor. He is best remembered for his role of Superman in the 1950s television series of the same name. Born George Keefer Brewer in Woolstock, Iowa, to Don and Helen Lescher Brewer. His actual birth date is January 5, but when he was growing up his mother lied to him, telling him it was April 5, 1914, since this would place his birth at nine months after her marriage. He did not discover this until he was an adult. To make confusion worse, his mother made a mistake on his burial marker, listing his birth date as January 6 instead of January 5. His parents divorced when he was young, and he was adopted by his stepfather, taking the last name Bessolo. He was raised in Pasadena, California, and educated at the Pasadena Junior College. An amateur boxer and skilled musician, he began his acting career at the Pasadena Playhouse, where he was discovered by Hollywood talent scouts. His first movie was “Ride, Cowboy, Ride” (1939), although it is in the role of Stuart Tarleton, one of Scarlet O’Hara’s suitors in “Gone With The Wind” (1939), that he is most remembered for in his early film career. He found steady work in the period 1939 to 1943, appearing in over 40 films. In late 1943, during World War II, he joined the US Army Air Force and appeared in several war training films, rising to the rank of Sergeant. He also made one screen appearance during the war, in the role of Lieutenant Thompson in the US Army sponsored film “Winged Victory” (1944). At war’s end, he left the military and returned to Hollywood, where he continued making films and in 1951, starred in the title role in “Superman and the Mole Men” (1951). This film got him noticed, and he was offered the title role in the upcoming television series, “The Adventures of Superman” (1952-1957). Initially he was reluctant to take on the role of Superman, believing that film acting was preferable to television acting. He was surprised when the role became a national hit. Afterwards, he got a few film and television roles, and since he had been typecast as Superman, his acting offers soon dried up. Although he was depressed with being stereotyped as Superman, he took the role model aspects seriously, giving up smoking and not making any appearances around children with any of his girlfriends. In the early morning hours of June 16, 1959, three days before his wedding to Lenore Lemmon, a gun shot was heard, and he was soon discovered dead of a gunshot wound to the head. An official inquiry returned the verdict of suicide, however, since his death, additional information makes many believe it was murder. He apparently had a long-term affair with Toni Lanier, a former showgirl and wife of MGM executive E. J. Mannix. She was known for her beauty and legendary sexual appetite, and the affair apparently had the approval of her husband, EJ Mannix, who had a mistress of his own. Five months before Reeves was to be married to Lenore Lemmon, he broke off the affair with Toni, which left her reportedly broken hearted and very angry. Toni would remain devoted to the memory of Reeves for the rest of her life. His life is discussed in detail in two books, “Superman: Serial to Cereal” (1976) by Gary Grossman, and “Hollywood Kryptonite” (1996) by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1284
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for George Reeves (6 Jan 1914–16 Jun 1959), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1284, citing Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum, Altadena, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .