Thursday, September 3, 2009

Urban Legends - Superman Curse

The Superman curse refers to a series of misfortunes that have plagued creative people involved in adaptations of Superman in various media, particularly actors who have played the role of Superman on film and television. The curse basically states,

If you intend to play the strongest man on Earth, you will either die or end up in the weakest position possible.

The curse is somewhat well-known in popular culture, largely due to the high-profile hardships of Superman actors George Reeves and Christopher Reeve. Other sources deny the curse, stating that several Superman-related actors, such as Bud Collyer and Teri Hatcher, continued with successful careers after their association with the franchise and that many hardships of "cursed" individuals are common in their respective fields.

Supposed victims of the curse

Siegel & Shuster

Writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster created Superman in the 1930s but their employer DC Comics held the copyright to the character. In 1946, the two sued DC, arguing that they were inadequately compensated for the character. The New York Supreme Court limited their settlement to $60,000 each, a small sum compared to the millions of dollars Superman comic books, films, television series, and merchandise grossed. In 1975, in response to a campaign launched by Siegel and Shuster and joined by many prominent comic book creators, DC agreed to pay the two lifetime pensions of $35,000 a year and give them credit in every adaptation of the character. While Siegel and Shuster were respected in comic book fandom for Superman, neither went on to work on any other high-profile comic books after Superman. Some tellings of the curse state that Siegel and Shuster themselves cursed the character out of anger for the injustice.

The Fleischer Brothers

Brothers Max and Dave Fleischer founded Fleischer Studios, which produced the original Popeye, Betty Boop, and Superman cartoons. Shortly after bringing Superman into animation, the Fleischers began feuding with one another and their studio slumped financially until they were forced to sell to Paramount Pictures, which ousted the Fleischers and rearranged their company as Famous Studios. Although Dave Fleischer went on to a career as a special effects advisor at Universal Studios (which now owns many of Paramount's sound feature films released before 1950), Max died poor at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital.

Kirk Alyn

Kirk Alyn played Superman in two low-budget 1940s serials but failed to find work afterwards, saying that casting directors thought he was too recognized as Superman. He eventually retired to Arizona. He made an uncredited cameo appearance in the 1978 film Superman: The Movie as the father of young Lois Lane, who witnesses young Clark Kent racing the train they are riding on (his wife is portrayed by Noel Neill, also uncredited, who played Lois Lane in the Kirk Alyn Superman movies as well as on The Adventures of Superman from 1953 to 1958). Alyn developed Alzheimer's disease before passing away of related causes and old age in 1999.

George Reeves

George Reeves played Superman in the 1951 film Superman and the Mole Men and the ensuing television series Adventures of Superman. Like Alyn, he was recognized only for the role. On June 16, 1959, days before he was to be married, Reeves was found dead of a gunshot wound at his home with his Luger near him. The death was ruled a suicide but other theories persist.

John F Kennedy

In 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy's staff approved of a Superman story in which the hero touts the president's physical fitness initiatives, scheduled to be published with an April 1964 cover date. On November 22, Kennedy was shot and killed but, at the request of successor Lyndon B. Johnson, DC published a reworked version of the story.


1 comment:

Nivedita said...

This story forgot to cover the most infamous and most tragic of all the "Superman Curse" victims... about Christopher Reeves...!!!
He was my favorite and I do bliv in the "Superman Curse".


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