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After several years in Hollywood, Kirk Alyn had appeared in a number of films,
but mostly in small roles and unaccredited parts. His first major role came in
the 1946 Republic serial Daughter of Don Q. But Alyn's big break came in
1948, when the 37-year-old actor was chosen by Columbia to star as Superman in
the 15-chapter serial Superman.
Superman became the most popular movie serial of all time and was followed
up in 1950 with another 15-chapter serial, Atom Man vs. Superman. This
featured the first on-screen appearance of that brilliant scientific villain,
Lex Luthor. Luthor was played by an impressively stern Lyle Talbot, who
says of the series "our approach was never to kid it - this had to be for
Atom Man vs. Superman had much improved special effects, with animated bullets
bouncing from Superman's chest and live-action scenes of Kirk Alyn in flight.
Sam Katzman, who had made dozens of highly successful movies for Columbia, was
chosen as the producer for the 1948 Superman serial and the series was directed
by Spencer Bennet. The special effects scenes of Superman in flight were
animated in a style similar to the Fleischer cartoons.
The series was credited as being "Adapted from the Superman Radio Program
broadcast on the Mutual Network." It did contain such radio-show
inventions as the Daily Planet, kryptonite, and the characters of Perry White
and Jimmy Olsen, but Superman's origin in the movie serial was from the George
Lowther novel. In the first chapter of the serial, Superman Comes to Earth,
it is revealed that Krypton, Superman's home planet, boasted a race of super
men and women. Among the leaders of the planet was Jor-el, foremost man
of science, who had planned to build a mammoth fleet to rescue the population
of Krypton from destruction by transporting everyone to Earth. Krypton
was governed by a council which was led by Ro-zan. Clark
Kent's foster father is named Eben instead of Jonathan, but his foster mother's name
is never given. She makes him his Superman costume from the fire-proof
blankets that he was wrapped in while an infant traveling to Earth from Krypton.
His foster father gives him the name "Superman" and tells him
that he must use his powers to fight in the cause of truth, tolerance, and justice.
Both of his foster-parents pass away before he adopts the Superman mantle.
After the 1950 film Atom Man Vs. Superman,
Alyn was replaced as the Man of Steel by George Reeves. But Alyn
would make one more serial for Columbia, the 1952 15-chapter
Blackhawk, another character owned by DC comics. Blackhawk
(1952) at Amazon
Kirk Alyn had credited rolls in movies like, Forty
Thieves and The Man From the Rio Grande. He also had an uncredited
role as Lois Lane’s father in the 1978 Superman: The Movie.
Kirk Alyn, on Sunday, March 14, 1999, died, age
88, in a hospital in suburban Houston, Texas.