Superman on Radio & Audio

Joan Alexander

(April 16, 1915 - May 21, 2009) By Josh Wilson

Joan Alexander I don't know if the ad in the Daily Planet ran this way, but I bet when they were looking for a new reporter they started with....

    "Girl Reporter Wanted-Must be willing to get into precarious situations. Not intimidated by egotistical maniacs, gangsters, monsters, or aliens. Minimum wage to start, must know how to touch-type. Contact Perry White c/o Daily Planet offices"

Never did a girl get in so much trouble than Lois Lane. Of all the damsels in distress that have run their course from Gwenivere to the modern female superhero that needs an assist, Lois Lane set the bar for Damsels in Distress in the golden age of comics. When it came to radio, the part was played for most of the series by a great radio and stage actress who would become a TV personality in her own right. Little did anyone suspect that the wonderful actress would have enough twists and turns in her own life to fill Lois Lane's assignment book for years.

Joan Alexander was born Louise Abrass in St. Paul, Minnesota, April 16, 1915. Her life would take a sudden turn at age 3, when her father died. Her mother remarried and the family moved to Brooklyn, New York. She would attend a Convent School on Long Island for much of her school years. She did become a model and actress, and also took some acting classes in Europe under Benno Schneider, who was a director in the Yiddish Theatre. Her first marrage was in 1944 to fellow actor John Sylvester White. The marriage was a secret one, and a secret that would not be revealed until 2007.

Louise did eventually change her name to Joan Alexander, taking the "Joan" from Joan Crawford. The origins behind the "Alexander" family name are still a mystery. She did quickly take to the acting ranks in the medium of Radio. One of her first roles was that of newspaper reporter Lois Lane. However, she was not the FIRST to play Lois Lane. That honor went to Rolly Bester, a radio veteran in her own right prior to joining the Superman cast. She had roles on The Big Story, The Chase, X-Minus-one and The Cavalcade of America. Helen Choate became the second actress to fill the famous reporter's shoes until Alexander stepped in them. From that moment on, Alexander never relinquished the role until the series ended in 1951. Alexander was another hot radio property, having appeared on Mutual cornerstone shows Dimension X and Philo Vance. She would also be the first to play a famous secretary... Della Street, the private secretary to Earle Stanley Gardner's "Perry Mason". Alexander would also provide the voice of Lois Lane for the Paramount/Fleischer Studios "Superman" theatrical cartoons.

Joan Alexander with Beck and Collyer Later in her personal life, Alexander would divorce from John Sylvester White (who later went on to play Principal Woodman on the 1970's series "Welcome Back Kotter") and marry surgeon Robert Crowley. From that marriage, Jane Crowley was born, who would later become a screen writer and author under the pen-name Jane Stanton Hitchcock. In 1954-1955, Alexander married Arthur Stanton, who distributed Volkswagon cars to the United States. The couple had three children: Jonathon, Adam and Timothy, and they adopted Jane when she was 9. The couple was well known in New York for their lavish parties at their Upper East Side apartment and their home in the Hamptons, which included such notables as Leonard Bernstein (Composer), George Plimpton (Author) and Neil Simon (Playwright).

Alexander would transition to Television as a regular pannelist on the Goodson-Toddman game show "The Name's the Same" on ABC-TV from 1951-1955. She was referred to by announcers as "a noted actress of stage, screen and radio" and quite possibly used some of the interview skills she picked up as Lois Lane on the show, which would require a panel of 3 or 4 to guess a person's name that matched up with a famous person or a famous thing. On one occasion, near the end of "The Name's The Same" run, co-hosts Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding took up the habit of introducing the panel themselves. Radio Veterans of their own comedy radio variety show, they introduced her once as "Not only a great actress, but the voice of Lois Lane on SUPERMAN", which elicited an uproar of laughter from Alexander, and great applause from the audience. She commented at the show's end that she couldn't believe the two remembered her from "Superman".

Apparently some others didn't forget as well. In the 1960's, she would be hired to be Lois' voice for the Filmation version of "Superman", teaming up with fellow Radio and Television stalwart Bud Collyer as he reprised HIS role of Superman/Clark Kent. Alexander would also return to stage acting in 1964 in a production of Poor Richard.

From the 1970s onwards, she remained in New York, living in her apartment, not needing to work. A year prior to her death, Alexander filed a lawsuit against Kenneth Ira Starr, aledging that Stanton, who died in January of 1987, had left her a $70 million estate, which according to court papers, was squandered and used inappropriately by Starr.

Alexander passed away at the age of 94 on May 21, 2009 from internal blockage.

While Lois Lane has evolved in the years after Alexander was done with the role, including the reveal of Superman's identity, and subesquent marriage to Lois Lane, Joan Alexander remained a genial actress and a great person, as evidenced from her good natured fun on television with the game show. Alexander's voice will forever be linked to Lois Lane, but Joan will forever be linked to class in the entertainment world.

Josh Wilson

This biography is Copyright © 2009 by Steve Younis. It is not to be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author.