TAC Table of Contents
Over ther years many inconsistent comments have been said about both Don Brewer and Frank Bessolo. As a result it has led to many confusing scenarios. The following are the TAC reader responses for the topics denoted above. I took the liberty to lift these comments from the Dave Shutz Adventures of Superman Discussion Board plus e-mails sent to me. If for some reason anyone would prefer their post not to reside here just e-mail me at email@example.com and I'll remove it. I appreciate the comments, it gives me great satisfaction to know we are doing good things here at The Adventures Continue. I want to thank those listed below for their interest and articulated comments. Best of all, we can finally put to rest after so many years of it being speculated and even referred to as fact that Frank Bessolo commited suicide, when the fact is he did not. Serena did a wonderful search for this information and while her classic film interest is much broader, TAC greatly appreciates her coming forward with discoveries many before could not. This is not to take away from all the great work that has been going on for years, after all we really have come a long way since 1976, the year of Superman: Serial to Cereal.
Gary Grossman: Jim and Lou, you've done it again! Unbelievable.
I just can't believe the baby pictures and the research you've
done...continue to do...and I can clearly see, always will do.
Your adventures continue, and with it, our knowledge increases.
Richard Potter: Lou, I just finished enjoying the new
articles on The Adventures Continue website.
John O'Keefe: Lou, Enjoyed the articles...a real Super Feature !!! Was a great Sunday morning read with my coffee.
Gail McIntyre: Wow, Serena's research is so comprehensive and thorough! I had long believed that George had no real fatherly presence in his life which I thought was so sad. I was glad to see that I was wrong about that. Many thanks to all of you. And of course Happy Father's day!
Gail, you would be surprise what has been impressed upon us about George that simply is not so. Talk about things aren't what they seem. At times I've done my own speculating, but not without it being well thought out and discussed with others whose opinions I highly respect. It is based on rationalizing and maintaining simple reasoning regarding all the various accounts and elements of this life. To quote Judge Judy Sheindlin: "If it doesn't make sense, It can't be true." The goal is always to seek the absolute truth. Frank's death certificate is a prime example of this process. The originality of this discovery is of tremendous significance to the life of both George Reeves and Frank Bessolo and can no longer be told in any other way unless it is proven the death certificate is wrong. Now, can the same be applied to George's own death certificate where is cannot be told in any other way other than the official ruling? No. George's death is far more complicated, there is a tremendous amount of unanswered questions leading to the tragic moment and the series of events that followed including those responsible for authorizing the official ruling and who they were influenced by. With Frank, there was nothing to go by. There was no foul play to consider. Lou
Sue Schnitzer: Terrific Feature Lou & Serena, It was worth skipping my exercise class to read the thorough research on Frank B. I'm happy that George had a positive father role model which transcended to his extended TV family. Happy Dad's day!
Jan Alan Henderson: Serena and Lou, you both have provided the final chapter.
Colete Morlock: I humbly bow to the "goddess of research" for her amazing, articulate use of resources! Having done some of my own family investigations, I appreciate the painstaking effort that went into producing this article. I am gratified to learn, as I too had suspected, about some of the information that Serena had unearthed.
According to the Marriage Tribunal for the Catholic Church, unless either Helen or Frank applied for an annulment through their bishop to receive papal dispensation, Frank would have been excommunicated from the church the minute he married Alice. That would have been another reason why he would not have been able to be buried with "full Catholic rites and privileges". Obviously, this was not the case.
Thanks once again to the three of you as you've given us a most intrinsic puzzle piece in the life and times of George Reeves.
Colete, Thank you for recognizing the, "painstaking effort." It certainly does apply. I've worked on many projects for TAC, the Frank Bessolo issue now being the most deeply gratifying of all. Mostly because we clear Frank's name and set the record straight once and for all. Here is a man that has continued to be identified as committing suicide, when in reality it did not happen. Unfortunately he got caught up in the confusion through the years of much word of mouth communicating. Then it gets printed as fact as you will read further down below as I give examples of where information met the public. It's unfortunate these things happen. I don't think anyone is to be blamed because many rely on what they believe is reliable information. On a grander scale beyond Frank Bessolo, both the book "Hollywood Kryptonite" and the film "Hollywoodland" suffer from obtaining inaccurate information and the creation of its own. I've always appreciated the work of Jan Alan Henderson, I know he has worked hard on all subjects relative to the life and death of George Reeves. In 1995, Cult Movies magazine featured George Reeves: The Man, The Myth, The Mystery. I wrote Jan for the first time telling him how amazing I thought his work was. He and I have been great friends ever since. With the work I see Serena put into this, plus my own, I've now an even greater appreciation for Jan's efforts. "Speeding Bullet: The Life and Bizarre Death of George Reeves" is an outstanding achievement. Remember, Serena and I have focused on one issue at a time, Jan presented many before making his findings available. It took him an enormous amount of energy. Jan will be the first to tell you he has become suspect with some information told to him. He does note he is reporting them as stories. It all depends on the person doing the telling. Is the indiviual recalling the moment correctly? Is their perception right? Are they biased to any degree? I will say Jan doesn't report A to B by injecting his own speculation. He knows this is were trouble starts. You raise valid issues about the Catholic church regarding suicide. However Ted Newsome has a another side further below. Thank you, Lou
Hi Colete, Thanks again for your support and kind words. I had a lot of fun, and felt that it was time to clear the air and resolve these issues. It was a pleasure to contribute along with Jim, Lou, and Randy. I feel the Reeves fans have all played a part in restoring Reeves' reputation as well as establishing the importance of TAOS's contribution to popular culture and people's lives. I read Mary Spooner's guestbook, back in September, when I first got reacquainted with Reeves and TAOS, as well as Jim and Lou's website. I was terrifically moved by both. Best, Serena
Carl Glass (Glass House Presents): Dear Lou, Jim and
Serena:The thorough and comprehensive research of Serena, accompanied
with great photos by Jim Nolt, artwork by Randy Garrett and your
writing skill have brought a real sense of closure in this segment
of George's life.
Thom Hamilton & TC: Jim, and Lou, and to Serena,
Mike Goldman: That was just wonderful. Really an incredible amount of information, and a huge tip of the cap to Serena for all her effort and spectacular research. Where on Earth has she been hiding all these years? And Randy's artwork is...priceless. I could not take my eyes off it. I must have been staring at it and smiling for 5 minutes. The old saying about "...a picture being worth a thousand words..." just doesn't seem to be adequate.
Mike, you, Carl Glass, Stargazer and Richard Potter all have good taste. Randy's work is second to none as far as I'm concerned. Randy sent me the original and in turn I sent it to very special person as a gift. LK
Green Ink Girl: Two excellent pieces. Thank you and Serena
Stargazer: What A Treat ! You outdid yourselves. (is that possible ? I have to say yes) I am experiencing a tad of "research envy". The picture of George leaning on Frank is one I had never seen before. George had a good foundation. Thanks to all of you for taking the time and devotion to share this experience.
Ralph Schiller: First I want to congratulate Serena Enger for her magnificent detective work over at TAC on the earlier life of George Reeves, his natural father, Don Brewer, and step-father Frank Bessolo. Lou Koza also wrote a solid article 'Finding Helen' that went hand-in-glove with Serena's article.
The frosting on the top of the cake was another great illustration by Randy Garrett, who is truly the worthy succesor to Curt Swan.
So much of George Reeves' life has been completely misdiagnosed
based on erroneous information that has been refuted by Serena's
thorough research. We had people without any sort of medical
or psychology degrees making sweeping pronouncements on the mental
health of George Reeves based on completely false rumors! Great
Ted Newsom: Excellent work! I think perhaps you're onto something regarding the "father's suicide" actually referring to the birth father rather than Bessolo. That's probably an understandable point if the assumption is made from people who heard the story from Reeves. One point I'd add, however, about your logic regarding suicide and Bessolo's death. The Church could (and does) fudge a little when it comes to suicide, which is legally considered an unforgivable sin. You have a logical case for Bessolo not being able to receive a final mass, absolution and Church-sanctioned burial if he was a suicide. True enough by Catholic law. However, there's a loophole. If someone in the Church-- say, a friendly and understanding monsignor-- states that the deceased was clearly ill and not in his right mind (and logically, one cannot kill ones' self in one's right mind), then the onus of suicide is lifted, and the blessings of the Church are administered.
I'm not arguing that is what happened, but the Bessolos (& related families) were apparently a long-standing part of the Church in Southern California. No priest or official would want the surviving members of the family hurt by refusing the sanction of the Church. It's exactly the sort of situation where the loophole would be used.
But none of this changes the excellent digging and factual data. Amazing what a story supposedly "dry" facts can weave when they're put together like this. Full marks.
Jim Beaver: Serena, Lou, I just wanted to write and
congratulate you on the Frank and Helen stuff on the TAC website.
I just stumbled on it.
Excerpt from second e-mail from Jim Beaver: It's my
understanding that Helen told George that Frank had committed
suicide, but that she did NOT tell him that Don had committed
suicide. I've never heard from anyone that Helen lied about Don
committing suicide. I think anyone who has suggested that she
told George Don was a suicide have their facts wrong. In fact,
I'm unaware of anyone connected to George or his family ever
claiming that Don committed suicide or that Helen told George
he did. I never started hearing that about Don until after I
told Kashner & Schoenberger that Helen lied about FRANK committing
suicide, and they screwed up the story.
Excerpt from third e-mail from Jim Beaver: I'm just curious where you heard that. I've been digging for nearly thirty years, interviewing scores of people who knew Helen and George from his childhood, and I've never heard that from anyone. You can probably understand my curiosity! I'd love to know where the Don suicide story came from. I grant you it makes sense, but not so much in light of what she clearly told George about Frank. I'm betting that whichever husband she told the suicide story about, she didn't tell it about both of them. Somebody's memory is off, or somebody's guessing. I don't know. Mysteries never cease in this story, do they? All the best, Jim
Jim, thanks for taking time from your busy schedule. The "lie" referred to in "Finding Helen" are in the context of the confused information being spread throughout our modern times. Modern times being defined by the dawn of Gary Grossman's book "Superman: Serial to Cereal, April 1976. I've read varied statements about either Frank committing suicide, in others it's Don, and in others, it's both. And as you will read in the listings below, some articles make claim to the act as being fact. Jimmy Olsen would have only one word to describe all this, "Jeepers." And I might add, "what are we to believe?" Simply for logic reasons, it is my belief it was Don the "lie" was linked to. Helen had her reputation to lose. Don was a great distance away and far more difficult for George to reach. Therefore making it easy for Helen's "lie" to remain so. All said and done, in 1943 while near Chicago George did call Don during the Winged Victory tour.
While I'm not doubting what Catherine Chase stated to you, it seems illogical to me George would wait X number of years before finding out the truth about Frank since all he had to do was make a local phone call to the Bessolo family residence to share his condolences, especially since he missed the funeral. Upon doing so he would have learned Frank was alive and well.
From my own findings it was Catherine Chase who inadvertently told George about Frank Bessolo not being his real father. This was during the time George was a Junior at Pasadena Community College and at his uncle's home in Whittier, California. By my estimate this occured approximately 1934 and George would have been 20 years old (Frank actually would pass away 10 years later). Helen had gone to New Orleans when Catherine made the statement to George. It is plausible that once George confronted his mother about who the real father was Helen would back-up her reason to it being Don having committed suicide, mainly to conceal the fact she conceived George prior to being married. I don't see Helen having a motive for lying about Frank other than the court case regarding money. From what I've gathered (if I gathered it all) below the reporting seems to dominate the link to Frank and therefore you could be right about it was Frank in the forefront of the reports with Don to follow. Yet still, I'm inclined to lean towards Don the "lie" should correctly be linked to, not Frank. And as I stated in "Finding Helen," I highly doubt she would repeat a second "your father commited suicide" performance for whichever sequence we give credit to.
What is most important is the public and fans of George Reeves now know Frank Bessolo did not commit suicide. Credit: Serena Enger. His final moment is no longer a mystery. - LK
Regarding the state of confusion regarding Frank and Don, below is a list of resources that have over the years perpetuated the issue. Compiled by Lou Koza.
Chicago Sun-Times, Tuesday, June 30, 1981 / TV's 'Superman 1: the George Reeves mystery by Gary Deeb. Excerpt as follows: "According to (Jim) Beaver, Reeves' mom got pregnant in 1913 in her hometown of Galesburg, Ill., eloped and got married in Iowa, and then quickly divorced her husband. She took baby George and married a man in Pasadena, Calif. It wasn't until he joined the Army during World War II that Reeves discovered a number of chunks of his life that his mom had hidden from him--his true birthdate, the identity of his natural father and the fact that his stepfather had committed suicide eight years after being divorced by George's mother.
This so disturbed Reeves that he wouldn't talk to his mom through most of the 40's."
Unless someone has a prior dated article, this is the earliest known statement that Frank Bessolo committed suicide. - LK
TAC no. 2 / Autumn 1988 / Page 25: "And Who Disquised as..." by Don Rhoden. Excerpt as follows: "Helen eventually remarried in 1927, George was adopted by his mother's second husband, Frank Bessolo. Later, Helen would also divorce Bessolo. Frank Bessolo would commit suicide eight years later."
There are two unidentified expert sources for Don's essay as stated with the confirmation of G.B. Reeves (1916-1959) residing in the Sunrise Corridor of the Pasadena Mausoleum. In a follow up interview with Jim Beaver in TAC issue no. 6, dated Spring 1991 it is told the G.B.Reeves (1916-1959) noted is not our George. Jim Beaver knew the whereabouts of George's resting place and out of respect for the family did not divulge the whereabouts. However, because of the 1995 Earthquake which caused some damage at the mausoleum the urn containing George's ashes and housed behind a glass display window was returned to a viewing position. Our George is indeed placed in the Sunrise Corridor not far from G.B. Reeves (1916-1959). Find out who Mr. Rhoden's two expert contributors are and you'll most likely find out who claimed Frank died of suicide.- LK
Hollywood's Unsolved Mysteries. / Dated:1991 / by John Austin / Page 259-260. "It wasn't until he joined the army during World War II that Reeves discovered a number of chunks of his life that his mother had hidden from him - his true birthdate, the identity of his natural father, and the fact his step-father committed suicide eight years after being divorced by George's mother."
Obvious this statement is lifted directly from Chicago Sun-Times, Tuesday, June 30, 1981 now listed above. - LK
Hollywood Kryptonite / September 6, 1996 / Page 13 / by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger. In the context of speaking about Helen and Don, the following excerpt: "Helen lied to George about his date of birth in order to cover up the fact he was conceived out of wedlock, celebrating George's birthday in April instead of January. However, when George was old enough to understand, she told her boy a far greater lie: that his father had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
Helen would soon set her sights on Frank Bessolo, a member of a well to do family from the wine country of northern California."
Hollywood Kryptonite does not make any references to Frank Bessolo being linked to suicide. Sam Kashner would also repeat this theme in his A&E Biography: The Perils of Superman. A&E is littered with inaccuracies, including the Winged Victory backstage meeting between Don and George. It would be very dramatic for George to learn his real father was alive at this moment and Hollywood producers love that kind of stuff. But it never happened. It should be noted that Sam and Nancy were in a learning mode while writing this book. They relied mainly on the expertise of others, some who had George's best interest in mind to see the book would be done right and therefore provided information accordingly. Unfortunately Nancy and Sam's personal theory of George's death impeded the overall work and liberties were taken when they inserted their own input. They obviously botched up the information provided by the reliable sources and gave credence to those who were not. In a follow-up to Hollywood Kryptonite, in TAC no. 13, dated Spring 1997, it is only Jim Nolt and Jan Alan Henderson who stood up for all that was wrong with Sam and Nancy's translations of their contributions.- LK
TAC no. 15 / Autumn 1998 / Page 77: The Boy Who Would Be Superman by Jim Nolt. Excerpt as follows: "Even though George and his step-father got along very well, the love between Helen and Frank did not last, and tragically, several years later after the divorce, Frank committed suicide."
I spoke to Jim Nolt earlier today (6/22/07) to discuss this and he concurred he followed the lead from Don Rhoden's TAC no. 2 article listed above. - LK
The Hollywood Book of Death / 2002 / Page 277 - 280. By James Robert Parrish. Excerpt as follows: " Reeves was born George Keefer Brewer in 1914 in Woolstock, Iowa, five months after his mother, Helen Lescher, wed Don C. Brewer, a small-town druggist. (Later, his mother would alter the birth certificate to make it appear that her son had been conceived in wedlock). Months after George's birth, the battling Brewers divorced. Helen took George to live in Ashland, Kentucky (near her parents), and then to Pasadena, California, where her sister resided. In Pasadena, she met Frank Bessolo, a second generation Italian-American whose family owned a lucrative vineyard in northern California. The couple married in 1917, and a few years later he adopted George. Helen would later tell George that his real father was dead, having committed suicide by gun when George was very young."
"Real father" is a reference to Don Brewer. This book refers to Hollywood Kryptonite by Nancy Schoenberger and Sam Kashner as it source of information.- (entry added on Aug. 25, 2007) - LK
Truth, Justice and the American Way, (script) Draft 2 / February 20, 2002 / Page 80 / by Paul Bernbaum. In a scene where Lamar Moglio is discussing publicity still photos with his wife Rebecca, she comes across one of Don Brewer. The Moglio dialog states: "Don Brewer....and later this guy killed himself. Put a gun to his head."
Mr. Bernbaum obtained this information from somewhere, from someone. Hollywood Kryptonite and/or the A&E Biography TV segment are two possible resources. Sidebar: To Paul's credit, this script does contain a scene where George and Noel Neill visit a children's hospital. Had Hollywoodland kept this idea in the film it certainly would have balanced the death of Ben Affleck's version of George Reeves to a more truer sympathetic meaning, thereby allowing the audience to feel the death of George Reeves as tragic regardless of any believed theory.- LK
Truth, Justice and the American Way, (script) / January 20, 2005 / Page 98 / by Paul Bernbaum / revisions by Howard Korder.
Similar to the dialog in the film Hollywoodland which has Leonore calling Louis Simo (Louis Moglio in the script) with discussions of how Helen screwed with George's head with the claim his father committed suicide. Neither Don or Frank is identified by name (see below for film dialog). - LK
Crime Magazine, an encyclopedia of crime (Internet). / Who Killed Superman? / by Bill Kelly. Excerpt as follows: "George didn't know his true birth date, or the identity of his real father until he joined the army after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He also learned at this point that his step-father blew his brains out in a rented motel room with a .38-caliber handgun."
With no proof the writer took it upon himself to assume a gun is the cause of death, and a motel room the place. What compelled this writer to escalate the myth beyond the standard falsehood, especially since the cause and place had never before been defined? - LK
Wizard 2 / Issue no. 162B / June 2005 / The Death of Superman / by Christopher Lawrence. Excerpt as follows: "Beyond that, relatively little is known for certain about the earliest years of George's life. It's been suggested that Helen, described as a demanding and controlling woman, kept the details of her marraige a secret from her son and falsified his birthday, presumably to hide the fact he was conceived out of wedlock. It's also been alledged she lied about the whereabouts of his birth father - she reportedly told him Don had committed suicide - and years later, that Helen kept from her boy the news his adoptive father Frank, whom she had also divorced did, in fact, take his own life."
Mr. Lawrence, like Sam and Nancy was in a learning mode during their writing process. He spent six months researching and writing this fairly well done ten page article. But like everyone who has written about George's life and death, inaccurances are contagious. - LK
Hollywoodland / September 8, 2006. Theatrical film. Directed by Allen Coulter. Scene with Leonore Lemmon talking on telephone with Louis Simo. Dialog from Lemmon as follows: "That b**** who hired you. Do you think she loved Georgie? He grew up without a father. When he's old enough she finally tells him what happened to daddy. Suicide. Pistol to the mouth. Georgie never stopped thinking about it. Fifteen years later he gets a visitor. His father,..alive. All he done was dump the b**** for another woman, Georgie too. Mommy tells baby daddy killed himself. She tells her own son. Georgie swore he'd never speak to her again."
This dialog is obviously referring to Don Brewer. Reference to the "visitor" is the key. The dialog reads as if factual, but actually it is littered with fabrications. Liberties are obviously taken since never before has it ever been stated that Helen's lie included "pistol to the mouth." This is pure imagination. The visit by the father is again the old played out and erroneous story of Don visiting George back stage of Winged Victory in 1943. Stating his father dumped his mother for another woman is total speculation. Other than Helen's odd behavior, no reason has ever been given why the two divorced within a year. In addition, when "the lie" was told, George was approxiamately 20 years old (1934), not a "baby." And finally, the last sentence is again, another artistic liberty. A pure fabrication. Proof is the posed photo of Helen and George in his Superman costume during her visit to the Superman set. Helen also states in news articles following the death of her son that she spoke to George about his upcoming visit to her in Galeburg, Il. There is nothing taken out of context, since it is the whole context. In watching this scene, one could argue the character of Leonore Lemmon is repeating what she was told by George in confidence and expressing it second hand to Simo. How else would she know? Unfortunately, the casual or inquisitive audience member is going to take this information as being reliable. Therefore, while the story tellers in general may not realize this, they have an obligation to their audience to provide information accuarately. Isn't the whole idea of a film such as this so the audience can draw their own assessment of what might have happened? How can the audience do that if what they are being fed is entirely wrong? And they aren't wise enough to know better. Example, by referring to the prayer cards (if you knew who put it there and what it meant) in the manner is was presented the film leans towards the Mannix's as being responsible for George's death. And we know the prayer card reference was not accurately told. - LK
CUT! Hollywood Murders, Accidents and other Suicides / November 2006 / Barron's Educational Books / by Denise Imwold, Andrew Brettell, Heather von Rohr, and Warren Hsu Leonard. Excerpt as follows: "Reeves born George Keefer Brewer, the son of Don and Helen Brewer, who divorced soon after his birth. Helen then married Frank Joseph Bessolo and maintained to George for many years that his biological father was dead." AMAZON link
How does any writer include the words "in fact" to a statement when in actuality it is not a fact at all? In addition, we could shoot down the credibility of Crime Magazine or John Austin's Hollywood Unsolved Mysteries based on other indulged entries, but it remains undeniable all these writings are adding to the overall confusion. And lord knows so much has been inaccurately told about this case. The film title Hollywoodland was changed from Truth, Justice and the American Way. It like Dreamland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Freedomland, Funland and Disneyland all imply things aren't what they appear or seem to be. How true it applies to almost everything presented about George Reeves. In the subject alone, just when you think it's Frank, it's Don, then Frank again, then both, then finally neither. Truly mind boggling. In a twisted sort of way I hear the jubilent ramblings of Elsa from the ending of The Evil Three; "Ha, ha, Nobody's got the money!! Ha, ha, ha." Replace the words "got the money" with "committed suicide" and this is a good thing. - LK
Remember folks, Super-boo loves you.
Thanks for Watching.
Lou (June 24, 2007)
Update Alert: July 16, 2007
Update Alert: July 20, 2007
Update Alert: August 24, 2007