Superman on Television
Exclusive Interview with Noel NeillDate: February 9, 2007
Noel Neill is well known to Superman fans as Lois Lane from the 1950s "Adventures of Superman" TV series. Miss Neill also starred as Lois Lane in the earlier Superman Serials with Kirk Alyn, has appeared in cameo roles in "Superman: The Movie", the live-action "Superboy" TV series, and played the role of Gertrude Vanderworth in "Superman Returns".
The Superman Homepage is thrilled to be able to bring you this exclusive interview with Noel Neill regarding her thoughts on the movie "Hollywoodland" and how it portrays her colleague and friend George Reeves.
THE INTERVIEWQ: I read with interest in a recent interview with "Hollywoodland" screenwriter Paul Bernbaum where he claims you didn't much like the movie. What are your main points of contention with how George Reeves' life was portrayed in the film?
A: It's not that I didn't like the movie - I actually thought for the most part it was well-written, well-directed and nicely photographed - what I didn't care for was how my friend George Reeves was portrayed. The George Reeves they portrayed beared no resemblance to the George Reeves I worked with, cared about and knew. I didn't see any of George's wit, charm, warmth, humor, intelligence or charitable spirit of giving to others in that film. First and foremost, George truly cared about the welfare of children, and I didn't see that aspect in the film. George's always upbeat and always positive personality didn't come through here, either. He was pretty much the person you saw on the screen: caring, professional, and often very humorous. I worked with George on the show from 1953 to the end of the run, and we traveled the fair circuit together in 1957 for many weeks, so I knew George well, and he simply was not the depressed, suicidal drunkard that was presented in this film.
Q: Is there anything in particular - scenes or characterizations - that the director could have done differently that might have changed your view of the film?
A: It's a myth that George constantly felt typecast and had some sort of angst about being in the role. Not once did I ever hear George voice discontent about being Superman, and I believe he truly enjoyed his work; and he was too smart to let it guide who he was as a person and as a performer. He had a warm, multifaceted personality. It would have helped to show the real George as he truly was, and not primarily as this unrecognizable figure. He was far better than that, and those of us who truly knew him have said that, but it seems no one is listening.
A: I have no doubt whatsoever that Ben Affleck is probably a good and honorable person. I can see that he tried very hard in the role. But it takes a great actor to portray another great actor, and Ben Affleck is no George Reeves.
Q: On the DVD feature "Behind the Headlines", Ben Affleck says: "To me, this movie is about giving him [George Reeves] a fair shake in telling his story." Do you agree with this statement?
A: No, I think the film is about creating a product that sells tickets. It has little to do with giving George a fair shake.
Q: Were you at the screening of "From Here to Eternity"? What is your recollection as to whether or not people in the audience disrupted the premiere whenever George was onscreen?
A: I was not at the screening, so I couldn't tell you what that was all about. Jack Larson tells me George wasn't there, either. I believe he [George] and Toni [Mannix] were in Hawaii at the time.
Q: Your colleague and friend Jack Larson spent some time with the cast and crew of "Hollywoodland" before the movie was made and took part in the DVD interviews. Did you discuss at all with him his decision to take part in this project? Were you approached by the filmmakers at all? If so, why did you decline to participate?
A: Jack had mentioned at one point that he had met with Ben and Diane Lane at his house, but little else. At no point was I ever asked to participate in the making of "Hollywoodland". I was asked to offer commentary in the extras after the film was made, but I declined when they gave me no response when I asked to see the film first.
Q: Who do you believe is ultimately responsible for George Reeves's death?
A: I don't know who killed George Reeves, but it wasn't George Reeves.
Q: Jack Larson has said many times that he believes George did committ suicide, but you believe differently. Why is it that you and Jack disagree on this point?
A: I can't really say why we differ... I just saw George as someone so full of life, with so much going for him. I saw him two days before his death and he talked about a couple of films he was going to be making, taking a tour of Australia, and directing most of the new 1959 episodes. George was enjoying life to the fullest. He was happy and almost gleeful. Further, there are just too many unexplained facets about his death that were never explained, such as the many extra bullet holes. You only hear about the four or five in the floor, but there were many others that were in the walls. I had a friend whose husband was later hired to repair the drywall in George's bedroom. He said the place was literally riddled with bullet holes.
A: I would like people to remember George as the kind and wonderful person that I knew. He was just a wonderful person.
Q: The complete six seasons of the "Adventures of Superman" TV series is now out on DVD. How does that make you feel? Have you collected them all?
A: It's nice that the shows are finally out on DVD, as they've brought lot of happiness to a lot of people, and I have always felt honored to have been a part of the show. I think a lot of folks were surprised that so many copies have already been sold. Now, if someone could only figure out why I don't get residuals on the sales of these things... Oh, well.
Q: Al Gough recently indicated that having you appear on a future episode of the TV series "Smallville" was a possibility. Is this something you would like to do? Has anybody from "Smallville" ever approached you?
A: I would love to do a "Smallville" episode, but no, no one from "Smallville" has yet contacted me.
Q: In 2006 you re-issued an expanded hardcover edition of your biography "Truth, Justice, & The American Way: The Life And Times Of Noel Neill, The Original Lois Lane". Can fans still purchase your book in either hardcover or softcover?
A: Thank you for asking. The limited edition hardcover version (The Collector's Edition) can be ordered from jimnolt.com. The softcover version can be ordered fom the Super Museum in Metropolis, Illinois, and from the Metropolis Chamber of Commerce. There are usually a few copies available at my few personal appearances, too.
Q: You continue to make appearances at conventions around the U.S. Where can your fans catch up with you over the coming months?
A: In recent weeks I'll be at MegaCon in Orlando, Fl, February 15-18; Wondercon in San Francisco, March 3-5; CoastCon in Biloxi, MS, March 16-18; and at the NY Memorabilia Show on March 31-April 1st. A complete schedule of my appearances can be found at both jimnolt.com and glasshousepresents.com, and at this website.
Q: Thanks again for your time and continued good health to you.
A: It's always a pleasure to speak with you, Steve.
This interview is Copyright © 2007 by Steven Younis. It is not to be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author.