Buy Adventures of Superman - The Complete First Season
The Man of Steel assumes the secret identity of Clark Kent,
mild-mannered reporter for the Metropolis Daily Planet. And with powers
and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, he battles for truth and
justice and the American way as Superman. The first ever Superman TV
series! Originally aired in the 1950's, it features George Reeves as
Superman and enjoyed tremendous success during its broadcast as a first
run syndicated series. The TV series premise was established a year
before its broadcast via the theatrical release of "Superman
and The Mole Men" in 1951.
George Reeves The Adventures of Superman - The
Episodes from the First Season
1-"Superman on Earth" (9/19/1952)
An infant boy is rocketed from the dying planet Krypton to Earth and is
reared by a kindly couple. As a young man, Clark Kent gets a job at The
Daily Planet newspaper. As Superman, he rescues a man from a dirigible.
2-"The Haunted Lighthouse" (9/26/1952)
Jimmy Olson visits his aunt and discovers a group of smugglers on her
3-"The Talkative Dummy" (10/3/1952)
Armored cars are robbed and then disappear. A ventriloquist's dummy is
used to transmit the armored car routes.
4-"The Mystery of the Statues" (10/10/1952)
Two elderly men buy and destroy small statues all over Metropolis. Lois
investigates and is captured and almost killed before Superman rescues
5-"The Monkey Mystery" (10/17/1952)
A secret formula used in defense of atomic warfare is stolen. Superman
gets a trained monkey to help get it back.
6-"A Night of Terror" (10/24/1952)
Lois Lane is vacationing in Canada when she's kidnapped by gunmen. Jimmy
tries to help her, but gets captured as well.
7-"The Birthday Letter" (10/31/1952)
A young girl is kidnapped by counterfeiters when she mistakenly receives
printing plates from a French Bank.
8-"The Mind Machine" (11/7/1952)
Three congressional witnesses are killed by a hypno-therapy machine run
by Lou Cranek, "Kingpin of Crime."
Lois tries to rescue a coal miner who is trapped in a mine, but she
becomes trapped as well.
10-"The Secret of Superman" (11/21/1952)
The evil Dr. Ort tries to drug Superman and control his will. He then
captures Lois and Jimmy.
11-"No Holds Barred" (11/28/1952)
A young wrestling champ tries to expose crooked wrestling. Superman
breaks up the ring and rescues him.
12-"The Deserted Village" (12/5/1952)
A "killing fog" and a strange sea monster drive people away from their
village. It turns out that a druggist and his son have discovered a
deposit of hydrozite, an element of the hydrogen bomb.
13-"The Stolen Costume" (12/12/1952)
A thief steals Clark's Superman costume and tries to sell it. Clark uses
a clever trick to get it back.
14-"Treasure of the Incas" (12/19/1952)
Looking for Incan treasure, Lois and Jimmy are seized by desperate
15-"Double Trouble" (12/26/1952)
The Von Klaven twins steal a million dollar radium core from the U.S.
Medical Corps. When one brother is murdered, Superman cracks the case
and brings the other to justice.
16-"Mystery in Wax" (1/2/1953)
Madame Selena, operator of a wax museum, predicts deaths that come true.
When Mr. White disappears, Superman investigates.
17-"The Runaway Robot" (1/9/1953)
A correspondent of The Daily Planet invents a robot which is stolen by
robbers to use for looting banks.
18-"Drums of Death" (1/16/1953)
Haitian voodoo worshippers capture Jimmy and Perry White's sister.
19-"The Evil Three" (1/23/1953)
Three strange men try to scare Jimmy and Mr. White out of an abandoned
20-"The Riddle of the Chinese Jade" (1/30/1953)
An expensive figurine is stolen before it can be presented to the
National Museum. Superman reveals the thief.
21-"The Human Bomb" (2/6/1953)
"Bet-A-Million" Butler, a racketeer and gambler, schemes to keep
Superman helpless while robbing the Metropolis Museum.
22-"Czar of the Underworld"
Clark and Inspector Henderson are warned by a gang leader to "lay off"
of a film about crime. After murder and sabotage on the set, Superman
sees to it that the film is completed.
23-"The Ghost Wolf" (2/20/1953)
Lumberjacks leave their job fearing a werewolf. A forest fire enlivens
24-"Crime Wave" (2/27/1953)
A gigantic crime wave sweeps Metropolis. Superman is exposed to atomic
25-"Unknown People - Part I"
Investigating the world's deepest oil well, Clark and Lois find that it
has been dug into a world in the center of the Earth. This two-parter
was edited from a single theatrical release entitled Superman and the
Originally a theatrical release
Superman And The Mole Men (12/18/1951)
26-"Unknown People - Part II"
A strange creature emerges from the well and is wounded by the excited
citizens. Superman helps him and gains his trust.
Superman And The Mole Men (12/18/1951)
Originally a theatrical release
The Adventures of Superman is the first television
series to feature Superman and began filming in 1951 in California.
Sponsored by cereal manufacturer Kellogg's, the syndicated show's first,
and last, air dates are disputed but generally accepted as September 19,
1952 and April 28, 1958. The show's first two seasons (episodes 1-52, 26
titles per season) were filmed in black-and-white; seasons three through
six (episodes 53-104, 13 titles per season) were filmed in color but
originally telecast monochromatically both on the ABC network and in
first-run syndication. Television viewers would not see Superman in
color until the series was syndicated to local stations in 1965.
George Reeves plays Clark Kent/Superman with Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen,
John Hamilton as Perry White, and Robert Shayne as Inspector Henderson.
Phyllis Coates plays Lois Lane in the first season with Noel Neill
stepping into the role in the second season (1953). Stories follow
Superman as he battles crooks, gangsters, and other villains in the
fictional city of Metropolis while masquerading "off-duty" as Daily
Planet reporter Clark Kent. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, Clark's
colleagues at the office, often find themselves in dangerous situations
which can only be resolved with Superman's timely intervention.
Adventures of Superman generally employed visual effects advanced for
television of the period, and, while the show won no major awards, it
was popular with its audience and remains popular today. Its opening
theme, known as The Superman March, has become a classic of its kind and
is instantly recognizable by most classic television buffs and Superman
fans. In 1976, the book Superman: From Serial to Cereal was published,
and, in 1987, selected episodes of the show were released to video. In
2006, the series became available in its entirety on DVD and reruns of
the show still hold a place on television programming schedules.
Black-and-white seasons, 1952-1953
The noir-like episodes of the first two seasons
resemble theatrical action-adventure serials and crime melodramas of the
1940s. The supporting casts are filled with established movie character
actors, heightening the resemblance. Phyllis Coates, like George Reeves,
was a popular lead in B features of the period. For the TV series,
Reeves suggested that Coates receive equal star billing. Coates created
a sharp, strong-willed Lois Lane, an enterprising reporter who tries to
out-scoop Clark Kent. Jack Larson presents Jimmy Olsen as a Daily Planet
intern always investigating the truth behind something wrong, but being
caught by the villains. He usually receives help from Superman in the
nick of time. Superman himself is seen as a semi-mysterious presence,
unknown to many of the crooks ("Who's the guy in the circus suit?" asks
a villain in "The Riddle of the Chinese Jade"). The episodes usually
featured action-packed, gritty, and often violent storylines in which
Superman fought gangsters and crimelords. Many characters met their
deaths in these episodes, some of them shown on screen.
When it came time to reassemble the cast and crew for filming the second
season, Phyllis Coates was no longer available, having committed to
another project. The producers then hired Noel Neill and gave her
secondary billing with Larson, Hamilton, and Shayne. Neill's portrayal
was more accessible to the younger television audience, sweeter and more
sympathetic than the efficient, hard-as-nails Coates characterization.
Bob Maxwell, whose episodes in the first season verged on the macabre,
left the show (going on to produce Lassie in 1954). Whitney Ellsworth
became Superman producer in 1953 and would remain so for the duration of
the series (he was already working on the show, as an uncredited
associate producer and story editor, during the initial season). The
second season shows were still fairly serious in nature, retaining its
film-noir/crime drama qualities while steering more in a science fiction
direction, with Ellsworth tempering the violence significantly. With
most of the villains becoming comic bunglers less likely to frighten the
show's juvenile viewers and only some occasional deaths, usually
off-screen, Kellogg's gave its full approval to Ellsworth's approach and
the show remained a success. Sentimental or humorous stories were more
in evidence than in the first season. A large portion of the stories,
however, dealt with Superman's personal issues, such as his memory loss
in "Panic in the Sky".
Locations of Adventures of Superman
||Adventures of Superman began filming at the
RKO-Pathe Studios (later, Desilu Studios) in Culver City, California
in August-September 1951. Episodes cost roughly $15,000 a piece, a
low-budget program by any standards then or now. In 1953-54, the
show was filmed at California Studios, and, in 1955, at Chaplin
Studios. In 1956-57, the show was filmed at ZIV Studios.
The establishing shot of the Daily Planet
Building in the first season was the E. Clem Wilson Building in Los
Angeles, California while the Carnation Milk Company Building a few
blocks east served as the Daily Planet's front door.
Later, various stock clips of the Los Angeles
City Hall were used as the Planet building and the sidewalk entrance to
the Planet was a studio-bound "exterior." Many exteriors in the first
season were shot at RKO Pictures backlot called "Forty Acres", a site
that later became famous as the fictional, idealized small town of
Mayberry, North Carolina on The Andy Griffith Show. Hillsides in Culver
City, city streets of downtown Los Angeles, or residential areas of the
San Fernando Valley were sometimes used for exteriors during all six
seasons. In later seasons, filming occurred on soundstages, with
exterior shots (such as cars driving along roadways) being stock
footage. Another Los Angeles stock-footage landmark was the Griffith
Observatory, which had several different "cameos" in the series. Aside
from a few clips of New York City in "Superman on Earth", most if not
all of the stock clips used to depict Metropolis are from the Los
The opening narration of the show, expanded from that of the 1940s radio
show and the Superman cartoons, was voiced by Bill Kennedy, framed by
the show's theme music, and set the stage for each program.
ď Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able
to leap tall buildings in a single bound! ("Look! Up in the sky!" "It's
a bird!" "It's a plane!" "It's Superman!")... Yes, it's Superman ...
strange visitor from another planet, who came to Earth with powers and
abilities far beyond those of mortal men! Superman ... who can change
the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who,
disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan
newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the
The main theme, based on a triad, matched the three syllables in the
character's name, as has been the case with nearly all Superman music.
John Williams' later score for Superman used a similar but not identical
musical triad. With the exception of the title theme, musical cues
ranged from the serious to the light-hearted and were different for each
of the seasons. Each season's cues tended to be used repeatedly from
episode to episode, in similarly appropriate "mood" moments such as
apprehension or fast action. The opening credits theme, Superman's
"leitmotif", was often (though not always) used whenever Superman was
depicted flying or taking action.
The show's sponsor was Kellogg's, maker of corn flakes and other
breakfast cereals, a sponsorship continued from the radio days. The
characters from the TV series made a number of TV commercials promoting
cereal products, some of which are preserved in the DVD series. Some
versions of the show contained a vocal introduction, "Kellogg's, the
greatest name in cereals, presents The Adventures of Superman." The line
was spoken by announcer Charlie Lyons. The sponsor originally requested
to have this line placed (at the intro's start) on every single episode
of the series, as well as (from second season onward) the company's logo
on the intro and the end of the closing credits. When Kellogg's ceased
being the show's sponsor, the logo and the intro line were removed from
some prints, especially when Warner Bros. Television received
While considered simple by today's standards, the "flying" effects on
Adventures of Superman were advanced for the period. Superman's "flying"
involved three phases: take-off, flight, and landing. Cables and wires
were used for Supermanís take-offs early in filming, but when Reeves
came close to suffering a concussion in the episode "Ghost Wolf", cables
and wires were discarded and a springboard was brought in. Reeves would
run into frame, hit the out-of-frame springboard which would boost him
out of frame (sometimes over the camera), and onto padding. The
springboard had enough force, along with subtle camera manipulation, to
make it look as though he was actually taking off. The flying scenes
were accomplished through a relatively small amount of stock footage
that was used repeatedly. The typical technique had footage of Reeves
stretched out on a spatula-like device formed to his torso and leg,
operated on a counterweight like a boom microphone. Reeves was
occasionally filmed in front of aerial footage on back-projection
screen, or against a neutral background which would provide a matte
which would be optically combined with a swish-pan or aerial shot. That
footage was matted onto various backgrounds depending on the needs of
the episode: clouds, buildings, etc. that he would appear to fly by.
Techniques for landings involved Reeves jumping off a ladder or holding
an off-camera horizontal bar and swinging down into frame. In early
episodes, stuntmen sometimes took Supermanís part.
* Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El, a being from the planet Krypton, is
rocketed to Earth in his infancy, grows to manhood under the foster care
of Eben and Sarah Kent, and then works as a Daily Planet reporter under
his human name of Clark Kent. Clark is mildly assertive and is
authoritive during situations when he is not Superman, despite the
show's introduction discribing him as "mild-mannered. He puts his
superpowers to work battling villains in Metropolis and is often called
upon to rescue his associates Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane. The Superman of
the television series developed superpowers beyond his precursors in
radio, cartoons, comics, and theatrical serials. He separated his
molecules to walk through walls, traveled over telephone lines, became
invisible, and split in two while retaining his traditional powers of
X-ray vision, microscopic vision, super-typing, super-hearing,
super-breath, super-strength, flying, and a mastery of foreign
languages. Superman's parents appear in the premier episode. Superman is
played by George Reeves.
* Lois Lane is a reporter with the Daily Planet
and Clark Kent's associate. She is a well-dressed, competent
professional woman. She suspects Kent is Superman and awaits an
opportunity to confirm her suspicions. In the Noel Neill episodes, Lois
is infatuated with the Man of Steel and dreams of being united in
marriage with him. Lois returns to her hometown in one early episode.
Played by Phyllis Coates in the first season, and thereafter by Noel
* Jimmy Olsen is a cub reporter and photographer with the Daily Planet
and an associate of Kent and Lane. Jimmy's mother makes an appearance in
an early episode. Though boyish in his tastes and sense of humor, Jimmy
occasionally displays mature astuteness, courage, and judgment. Played
by Jack Larson.
* Perry White is the blustering, impatient editor and publisher of the
Daily Planet. He is sometimes a participant in the dangerous exploits of
Lois and Jimmy as they pursue news stories. He treats crooks and thugs
with disdain and lofty contempt. Perry's sister Kate appears in the
first season episode "Drums of Death"; he has a nephew, Chris, who
appears in the second season episode "Jet Ace". Perry White is played by
* Inspector Henderson of the Metropolis Police is a friend of the Daily
Planet staff and often works in conjunction with them on crime
investigations. Henderson has a teenage son named Ray who appears in one
episode. Henderson was the creation of the radio series writers. Played
by Robert Shayne.
Amazon.com: about the DVD set
In 1952 Superman flew right into the hearts and minds of the American TV
audience faster than a speeding bullet. Though most people were already
familiar with man of steel through his comic books, as well as the
popular radio show, it was the new medium's Adventures of Superman that
transformed our resident Kryptonian into a timeless icon. For many young
baby boomers, Superman was the ultimate symbol of truth, justice and the
American way. After watching this nostalgic trip back in time it is easy
to see why: George Reeves. Reeves is the quintessential Superman. He is
kind, confident, smart, always does the right thing and can literally do
anything physically. Even Reeves' Clark Kent is cool, even cocky without
any of the trademarked shy, clumsy and hickish traits the character has
developed over the years. And then there's Phyllis Coates as the Lois
Lane. Coates portrayal of Lois is surprisingly one of the stronger
female roles in '50s television. She is one tough cookie able to stand
her ground against criminals, fight off bad guys and is not afraid to
outwardly express herself. Sadly, Phyllis Coates would be replaced by
Noel Neill in subsequent seasons.
Adventures of Superman also stands the test of time well as one of the
best shows from the early days of television. A lot of it has to do with
how the writers, producers and actors approached the making of the show.
This first season, as well as the second, were made as if they were
making a serious show suitable for kids and adults. Instead of being a
kids' comic book show, the episodes have a strong
"mini-serial-crime-movie" feel, are very story driven and include loads
of elements from the popular film noir style of the 1950s. This is
evident in such classic episodes such as the season opener "Superman on
Earth," "The Stolen Costume" where Superman has his costume stolen by a
burglar, and the tense horror-noir "The Haunted Lighthouse." Also
included on this DVD set is the 1951 theatrical release Superman and The
Mole Men which later became the televised two-part episode "The Unknown
People." --Rob Bracco
Buy Adventures of Superman - The Complete First Season