Superman on Television
Exclusive Interview with Noel NeillDate: April 10, 2003
The Superman Homepage is thrilled to be able to bring you this exclusive interview with Noel Neill... The Original Lois Lane!
Miss Neill is about to launch a new book... The first ever Noel Neill authorized biography, titled: TRUTH, JUSTICE, & THE AMERICAN WAY: The Life & Times Of Noel Neill, The Original Lois Lane. Published by Nicholas Lawrence Books, the book is due out mid to late May 2003 and will retail for around US$24.95.
THE INTERVIEWQ: Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your background?
A: I was born and raised in the great state of Minnesota, in the city of Minneapolis. My father was a newspaper editor, and Mother was formerly in show business. My parents were both wonderful people, and they supported my decision to go into acting as a profession.
Q: How did you originally go about becoming an actor?
A: I was always acting - it was all I knew from age 4 years on. It was all I knew.
Q: How did the role of Lois Lane come about for you in regards to the original Serials with Kirk Alyn?
A: Sam Katzman, the producer, had used me in several other productions. He knew me, knew what my range was, and thought I'd be good in the part. Of course, I agreed with him.
Q: How did you react when they asked you to return to the role of Lois Lane for the second season of the TV series with George Reeves?
A: Oh, I was happy to do it. I liked - and still like - being Lois.
Q: What was your first reaction when you learned you had landed the role?
A: Wheeeee!!!!! I like to work.
Q: How did you feel about the way your character was written for the series?
A: Well, you have to understand that all the scripts were written by the writers working for DC Comics in New York. They wrote primarily comic books, and it was on the strength of their characterization of Lois Lane that made her popular. So who was I to argue that Lois didn't have great lines, or was always tied to a chair? You don't mess with success, and they were successful.
Q: Were you a Superman fan before taking on the role?
A: No. I had never heard of Superman. Back then, comics were read mostly by boys.
A: Working on the show was one of the greatest - and also, one of the most exhausting - experiences of my life. How did I get along with George and Jack? Well, it's in the book!
Q: What was your saddest moment in regards to the show?
A: Payday. Once, I accidently got the paycheck for the fellow who swept the set clean everyday, and I quickly noticed that he got paid a lot more than I did! I couldn't believe it!
Q: What are you most proud of about the TV series?
A: That we all worked hard; did our best to put a quality program on, inspite of some of the hardships that we had to endure at the time. I also like the fact that I haven't aged in over 40 years on TV!
Q: Have you ever met Phyllis Coates (who played Lois Lane in the first season of the TV series)?
A: Don't know her. Never met her.
Q: Do you know if all 104 episodes of "The Adventures of Superman" will ever be released to DVD?
A: I honestly don't know. But I wish they'd do it soon, because I'm tired of looking at all those terrible bootleg videotape copies that keep showing up on ebay. How do you put 104 episodes on 7 videotapes? They have to be the worse copies ever. The show deserves a better presentation than that, and so do the people who unknowingly buy these bad copies.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the book and what fans can expect from it?
A: It is simply my life story, for the most part. It covers many areas that almost no one knows about me, that might surprise you. It is a large 9 x 12 book with over 150 photographs, most of which have never been seen or published prior to this book. In fact, there are photos in there that I hadn't seen in over seventy years. Wonderful Jack Larson wrote the introduction, I wrote the epilogue, and poor Larry Ward, bless his heart, had the job of writing everything in-between - and he designed the book, as well! Originally he had talked me into writing this book myself, but I soon decided that I couldn't be objective enough, so I asked Larry to write it. I know he must have done close to a year of research before he even put pen to paper. The book covers my early childhood years in vaudeville and radio; hitting the fair circuit as a teenage banjoist in a musical trio; my years as a nightclub singer; posing for "leg art" and making movies; having my own TV show in Hollywood in 1943; all the Superman Years with Kirk, George, and Christopher; doing the college shows in the 1970s, and on and on and on...
A: Yes, we will be. We're both looking forward to it. I always have a wonderful time in Metropolis.
Q: What other promotional events can we look forward to in regards to your new book?
A: Both Larry and I will be at Adventure Con II in Knoxville in May, Motor City Comic Con in Detroit, also in May, Carol Summers' Starstruck in Las Vegas in June, and a bunch of other places that I can't remember at the moment. I hear we're also doing a lot of bookstores across the country. Sounds like fun!
Q: What can you tell us about the author Larry Thomas Ward?
A: Larry is not only a very good writer, but a conference promoter in Colorado. I did a few shows for him in the past and we got to be very close friends as a result. His conferences are a little different; they're mostly for counselors and teachers. He shows them how to work with kids who are having problems. He likes to use known entertainers. I know he's used Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo) many times, as well as actor John Hart, Joyce Brothers, and quite a few others. They're just great shows, and a lot of fun to do.
Q: We all owe you a great debt for your "Lois Lane" role. Who would you like to see portray her in a new movie?
A: That's a pretty hard question. I've never really thought about it. Perhaps Sally Field.
Q: Do you keep in touch with Jack Larson? If so, how is he doing these days? Is it true he is also about to publish a biographical book?
A: Yes, I think we talk quite often - perhaps once a week. After all, we live only ten minutes apart. He's doing very well. He's always positive, always upbeat. He's one of my closest friends. It's true, he is writing his own book, but it may take some time, because he hasn't even gotten to the Superman years yet!
A few "off topic" questions:
Q: What is the best advice anybody ever gave you?
A: "Marry Rich", though I never did.
Q: Who would you most like to sit next to on a long airplane flight?
A: The pilot.
Q: Who would you least like to sit next to on an airplane flight?
A: The people responsible for making sure that none of us who made the TV show in the 1950s get any residuals now. We stopped getting residuals in 1965.
Q: What is the one thing you can't live without?
Q: If you were down to your last $10 how would you spend it?
A: I'd buy a lot of milk. I drink a lot of it.
Q: Thanks for allowing the Superman Homepage to interview you!
A: Thank you for asking me to be a part of this. I've enjoyed every minute of it.
This interview is Copyright © 2003 by Steven Younis. It is not to be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author.