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Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy

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 John Fitzgerald Kennedy President of the USA 1961-1963
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Inside splash over for Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy.

SUPERMAN ® and © DC Comics. Used with Permission.

 Superman was to meet President Kennedy for a special assignment to encourage America's youth to join President Kennedy's "Presidential Fitness Progam" in Superman #168, but Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963 caused DC to cancel the comic story. Months later President Johnson's administration contacted DC Comics asking that the story be published.

The story finally saw print in issue #170 as the lead story, however DC decided that the actual cover would not feature the President, since the country was still in mourning.

Originally, Curt Swan had drawn the story, but after DC's cancellation, it was reported that he gave the art to Jacqueline Kennedy. For more articles, posters, and information on John F. Kennedy.

The new art was then drawn by artist Al Plastino. Recently, the JFK Museum announced Plastino's art work would be on display in 2014.


Rare JFK Superman Comic Book Story
“Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy” at JFK Library
-- Opening March 20th and on display through June 30th 2014 --

Boston, MA – The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum announced that it has unveiled a special new display of rare Superman artwork created by legendary comic book artist Al Plastino featuring President John F. Kennedy. The story, told in ten hand-drawn story boards, was written in collaboration with the Kennedy White House in an effort to promote the President’s initiative encouraging physical fitness. The never-before-displayed original artwork will be shown in the Library’s museum through June 30, 2014.

In 1963, the Kennedy White House launched a highly innovative marketing effort in collaboration with DC Comics (then called National Periodical Publications), the publisher of Superman, to create a story that would promote the President’s Council on Physical Fitness. A hallmark of the Kennedy Administration, the Council established physical fitness curriculum for the country and initiated a national publicity campaign on the topic. In “Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy” JFK calls upon Superman to help inspire the nation to exercise, eat better, and get stronger.

"The alliance between the Kennedy White House and DC Comics designed to promote President Kennedy’s physical fitness initiative demonstrates how innovative the administration was in communicating and advancing key initiatives," said Tom Putnam, Director of the Presidential Library. “Thanks to the Superman artist, Al Plastino, and the generous donation of DC Comics, we are pleased that this artwork will be available for the public to view for the very first time.”

The Superman piece was in production when President Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, and the project was set aside. Eight months later, with the encouragement of President Lyndon Johnson, the story was published as a special tribute to President Kennedy. The final page of the published version states that the story’s original artwork would be donated to the Kennedy Library, which was then in the planning stages.

Al Plastino, who drew Superman for 20 years, took special pride in his drawings for this story. In late 2013, nearly a half a century later, when the artist learned that his original artwork was slated for auction, his family contacted the Kennedy Library to see if it had any record of the material ever being part of its holdings. A thorough search showed no evidence that the artwork had ever been offered to the Library or was ever a part of its collections.

In December 2013, just a month after Mr. Plastino passed away, DC Comics acquired the original drawings and offered them to the Kennedy Library, where they have become part of the permanent collection.

Upon securing the artwork, DC Comics issued a statement saying, “As a tribute to honor him and preserve his artistic legacy, DC Entertainment is pleased to confirm that we have acquired the art and will be donating it to the JFK Library, fulfilling Plastino's longtime hope for the story, which he often pointed to as one of his most important artistic contributions.”

The ten story boards for “Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy” are in the original black and white; color was added to them prior to publication.

Al Plastino, left, draws Superman for a group of children.
Credit: The Plastino Family. Image was given to us as part of the press package from to share with our readers.

Below are a couple of videos featuring President Kennedy remarking on the fitness goals of his administration.

 President John F. Kennedy's remarks on the Youth Fitness Program in the State Department Auditorium in Washington, D.C. on July 19, 1961.

Credit: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum


President Kennedy's public service announcement promoting physical fitness.
Credit: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Get Workout information at Want to be fit like an Action Hero check out Action Hero Abs the site.

Message from the President from President Kennedy’s official U.S. Physical Fitness program, prepared by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness.

Credit: Printed Materials Collection/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

One last thing, as part of the President's fitness program was this hilarious song, "Chicken Fat".


“Chicken Fat”, also known as “The Youth Fitness Song”, composed for President Kennedy’s Physical Fitness Program. Recordings of this song were sent to radio stations/school districts throughout the United States to accompany the official U.S. Physical Fitness program of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness
Credit: Meredith Wilson/Robert Preston/Bernie Green/JFK Library