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In the past twenty years, many television entertainment and news shows, including Entertainment Tonight, A Current Affair, Hollywood Babylon, Now It Can Be Told, and Unsolved Mysteries, have presented segments on the life and death of George Reeves. On September 14, 1999 (and repeated on June 22, 2000) ABC's 20/20 presented theirs. Reaction from the readers of The Adventures Continue has been mixed. Below are a few reviews. I welcome further comment, and will include as many as I can on this page. Please send your letters to me using this contact information.
That's one of the many reasons TAC is so valuable. Without it, the real Super-Man, George Reeves would ever be known. I think that's why Jack, Noel and everybody else is so willing to be a part of TAC. It's quality work about a man that was, and still is, loved dearly.
I also took exception to ABC calling Jack and Noel, George's sidekicks. They were his co-stars and also deserve much better. I'd be interested in other TAC readers' reactions to 20/20 and seeing the questions they wanted ask. Thanks for getting back to me.
Janet Bliss reported going to George Reeves' house and hearing one shot.This is not what Kashner and Schoenberger reported in Hollywood Kryptonite --
Jan Bliss showed up . . . and caught a glimpse of George . . . just as she was about to knock on the door. It made her uncomfortable -- George walking around with his shirt off (which was all she could see through the window), having an argument with Leonore (sic) in front of everyone. She decided to skip this particular party, and she went home.
Sincerely and most respectfully,
20/20 reported that the Adventures of Superman premiered on the ABC TV network. In fact, the series was initially syndicated and premiered on Chicago's WENR-TV on September 19, 1952. ABC later carried Superman in New York and Los Angeles.
I think that the story 20/20 did on George was one of
the better ones done of late with the amount of time they spent
on the story. What I felt most important was the way the host
himself felt and the way we baby boomers felt towards George
Reeves' Superman. The host, like myself and many other who have
written to you, remembered the day he learned George Reeves
Jack Larson's and Noel Neill's admiration for George Reeves continues to be clearly evident.
Just wanted to share my opinion of the 20/20 segment. I thought it was interesting but unfortunately a repeat of the majority of information we've seen before. I was glad the exposure was on network television instead of some of the previous "tabloid" shows. I thought the most interesting feature was hearing from Jan Bliss, someone who was "almost there" when George died. That brings me to my main point -- the show focused on George's death which is understandable, but I, like you, wish a program could be done on George's life as well, especially all the good things he has done for so many people. From all the biographical sources we've read, we know there are many still alive who knew George and thought the world of him. It would be really nice to include them in a program on a celebration of his life.
Again I want to thank you so much for informing us of the 20/20 program. We would have missed it without you letting us know about it. May God bless you with good health.
Lenore Lemmon, interviewed on both Entertainment Tonight and A Current Affair, shortly before her death. On 20/20, Merrill Sparks says he remembers George and Lenore arguing the night George died.
I thought the 20/20 segment on George Reeves was good. I didn't know George resigned from the screen actors guild in 1958, he must have been quite upset to do that.
The segment covered quite a lot of ground in a short amount of time, and Bill Ritter did a good job of hosting. Jan Bliss was convincing in the way she described how she heard only one shot. I was a little surprised to see Ms Schoenberger getting her two cents in, plugging her book, and pressing the Toni Mannix theory. I tend to dismiss the hit man theory now because Jack Larson, who knew Toni Mannix very well, has said there's no way she had anything to do with it.
The piano player, Merrill Sparks, seemed to easily recall Lenore Lemmon's mood at the restaurant. We know she and George were arguing that night, I just wonder in the short time they knew each other if they ever got along. They certainly weren't that night. The bruise on George's upper left forehead I think probably came from the auto accident he recently had rather than the shot.
With the Jan Bliss recount of that terrible night, and the
modern day forensics conclusion I'm beginning to believe George
did it. But not intentionally. He didn't know the gun was cocked
and ready to fire. A luger fires with very little trigger
pressure when cocked. When not, it basically feels the same. He
went upstairs got ready for bed, saw the gun on the dresser
perhaps within arms reach, and being ticked off at himself,
grabbed it and went through the motion of shooting himself, never
intending to actually kill himself, but just to be self critical.
Bad way of being self critical, but George was not sober either.
Lemon might have seen him do this once or twice before, and set
the trap, knowing sooner or later it could happen. But we have no
real motive as to why Lenore would want to see such an accident.
Incidentally a lot of details were left out of the segment. I
would like to see a much longer program on the subject covering
ground on this, but with the bulk covering George's life. A
biographical movie would be nice, something to convey how he made
us all feel, to do the right thing, be friendly, and believe in
Dear Jim Nolt:
I was intrigued to get a glimpse of the autopsy photographs of George Reeves, but overall disappointed with their conclusion of suicide. So far the best program on this topic is the E! Entertainment's Mysteries and Scandals episode. Although I did appreciate the kind comments made by the correspondent about George Reeves' portrayal of Superman.
Jan Henderson's magazine, and later book, Speeding Bullet,
lay out a well researched and more important a well-documented
case for homicide in this mystery. The Kashners got lazy and took
Jan's research and drew a bogus conclusion. But beyond all this
evidence, the main reason Reeves' death was not suicide, was that
he would never let down the millions of
Jim, I hope your doing well, and hang in there.
Well the 20/20 episode was pretty disappointing. The only thing "new" were some previously unseen photos (by me anyway) including one of a smiling George leaning on his Olds convertible. That picture looks like it may have been taken at the same time as the one of George sitting on his front steps with a rather dejected look. Both must have been taken shortly before his death.
I have read the autopsy photos were "lost" but apparently not. Showing them was rather gratuitous.
What was of interest was the wife of Bill Bliss saying she was at the Benedict Canyon address to "fetch" her husband and while looking through a window saw George and Lenore arguing and later hearing a single shot. Why was she outside peering into the window? Why has she not come forth with this info previously? As you know I have read a lot about George and his death and never heard her mentioned. I do remember seeing her as one of the people thanked by J.A. Henderson in the preface to his book. He certainly didn't mention her story. A few more questions directed to her would have been interesting i.e.. What were her husbands comments about the evening of George's death? He was an eyewitness. I have never seen any comments from him.
I know you tend to disagree but I go along with Whit's observation that George was under medication for a recent auto accident plus drinking heavily. Alcohol mixed with many medications can act as a powerful depressant. No conspiracy here just a tragic loss that may have been prevented by knowing the dangers of mixing alcohol and other drugs.
The autopsy photos with the bruises were a bit much, but I think Jay Henderson could have eliminated the picture of George in his casket from his book, too. All such material, take away a little more dignity of a man I admired, and who has been stripped enough.
All that said, I think a mention of Myasthenia Gravis would have been a nice touch. I would have liked to seen some of the Kellogs comercials, and more interviews with George's pals to let me know new sides to the man could have been fun. Jack Larson does a great interview, and looks great, but I fear he has done so many of these type shows, his answers are scripted by now. I know he must have more stories to share about the living George Reeves.
I always enjoy seeing Noel and Jack talk about George and the show. I'd watch anything if they were included. It was also nice to see Jan Henderson talking about George. Henderson, rather than Schoenberger, should have been the featured expert. It was interesting to hear comments by Mr. Sparks and the widow of William Bliss. Finally, like the photo on page 155 of Speeding Bullet, it was morbidly interesting, yet disturbing, to see the autopsy photos. That is pretty much all of the positives to the show.
The negatives can be summed up in five words.. Nancy Schoenberger and Hollywood Kryptonite. This might as well have been a mini teleplay of Hollywood Kryptonite, with Schoenberger as the narrator. It sickened me to see her be given the lead as a self proclaimed "expert" by virtue of the tabloid style book she co-wrote. Her arrogant know-it-all manner was aggravating and over all, proved you really can fit ten pounds of manure into a five pound bag. I also take great exception to the antics of Bill "you call this guy a reporter" Ritter. The way he sparred with Schoenberger over the names Toni Mannix could have...would have...should have... did call Lenore Lemmon, was below even the journalistic debauchery of the Weekly World News and their "Mummy Comes to Life And Talks!" type of stories. Ritter and Schoenberger almost seemed to enjoy the name calling part above and beyond the shock value. Someone should tell them there are 900 numbers they can call for that type of entertainment.
Above and beyond those issues, the entire segment was lacking in several respects. It was obviously slanted to the opinion of Shoenberger's book, as it used the "drunk and suicidal" theory while downplaying, or out and out ignoring, other theories and facts. Nothing was ever mentioned about the trajectory of the bullet. Likewise it was not mentioned that the bullet was lodged in the ceiling, meaning that George would have had his head turned at an angle. There was also no mention of the empty shell casing under the body.
The show also missed the mark with Jan Bliss. We know there is a certain amount of controversy surrounding Bill Bliss' presence at George's house that night. All we heard was a short clip of her telling what she saw and heard that night. Why wasn't she asked any of the things that needed to be asked? Things like "why did Bill go over there that night?" "To your knowledge was Bill involved in any type of conspiracy to kill George Reeves?" "What did Bill tell you about the events of that night?" And most important, "Do you know who killed George Reeves?" Jan Bliss is perhaps the last living direct link to anyone inside George's house that night, and to have not asked any direct questions is tantamount to destroying evidence. 20/20 Downtown really blew it with this one.
I also wonder just how many real pathology experts beyond Dr. Lovell 20/20 actually talked to. I find it difficult to believe that any substantial group of doctor's (more than say a total of two or three) in that field, would unanimously conclude that the case was a suicide, without the slightest possibility that it was anything else. I'm sorry, but I just don't believe it. I do however believe that 20/20 delivered "the answer" that would impress their audience.
Too much of the segment, specifically those parts with Schoenberger seemed more like an orchestrated Jerry Springer show. Overall, I'd have to say that 20/20's "new perspective", is one of tunnel vision. I think they truly did George and his fans an injustice. I wonder what Noel and Jack really thought of the show.
I guess I didn't realize just how upset I am over the bad producing of this segment until I started writing about it. Sorry Jim if I prattled on too long. I hope someday, someone produces at least a one hour show about George that talks about him, his life, the show, and his co-stars. Almost like a video version of TAC. Just a crazy thought, but if money could be raised for the Variety ad then... Hmmm.
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