TAC Table of Contents
The feature being presented to you here holds significant importance, and therefore I respectfully ask for your patience in receiving this introduction.
It was March 5, 2005 and I had just secured a newspaper article from an Ebay auction. At first glance, the Ebay auction description was vague at best and the image didn't give much to work with, with the exception of images including Helen and Don Brewer, as well as another of George Reeves as a small boy standing beside his step-father Frank Bessolo. The photo with George is similar to the photo Jim Nolt has provided at the Bessolo Family Photo Gallery. The image of Helen and Don is a rarity all in itself, perhaps because the two are together in the same photo.
More than likely, other than the two images I figured this article wasn't going to reveal anything significant. I thought I'd take a chance anyway and hoped to be awarded this auction solely for wanting these two rare images. The article was dated December 29, 1978, one week after the release of Superman: The Movie starring Christopher Reeve. I've always been a George Reeves fan and the Adventures of Superman is my all-time favorite classic television show. I started collecting TAoS memorabilia with the Topps cards in the mid 60's. However, my learning about George started in the early 80's with a "by luck" purchase of Gary Grossman's book, Superman: Serial to Cereal.
For a moment, let's rewind to the early days of Gary Grossman's 1976 book, SUPERMAN: Serial to Cereal. Thanks to Gary it was told George was not born Reeves, but Bessolo. But that's not to say Serial to Cereal offered ground breaking news. The Los Angeles Evening Herald, dated June 17, 1959 gave George's "real name" as George L. Bessolo. Gary's book went into numerous interesting details, yet it was obvious there was more to the entire story than covered in this book. Some of Gary's writings revealed not all was well with George during his last months. Aside from the usual reports of George being a "dejected star unable to find work," Whit Ellsworth would state "Two weeks (actually two months) before his death, George had a bad automobile accident and suffered a serious brain concussion. He was having violent headaches, and his doctor prescribed pain-killers. George had a little pain killer of his own--booze--and everybody knows that alcohol and sedatives make a very dangerous combination." The accident could have been nothing more than that, a stand-alone incident. Or perhaps it was related to his pattern of behavior stemming from a period involving a turbulent love triangle. I won't go into theories about the prescription drugs because a very radical comment will be offered within Greg's article. As far as I know the comment has never been repeated elsewhere, thus one of the many reasons I feel the article is unique, even to this day.
In 1988, Don Rhoden of Nebraska published his first-two issues of a fanzine called The Adventures Continue. A wonderful beginning to what would follow. In his second issue, Don would provide his own article And Who Disguised As George Reeves He would surprise readers with never before insights to George's real name and who his real father was. It was for many, a major break-through in George's mysterious life and the start of more revealing insights that would take readers further into learning. Readers couldn't wait for the next issue of the Adventures Continue. The only complaint from a small number to the publisher was that the issues weren't released on a monthly basis. Not a bad complaint because the readership was extremely enthused about the subject. Unfortunately, some couldn't understand there was a limitation with readily available information and manpower. Time took care of the information, but manpower consisted of one. Both publishers, had day jobs during their respected issues. While it would be sensational to publish a monthly series about our favorite television show and it's leading man, Jim would be first to tell you the information just wasn't pouring in at a rapid fire rate to sustain a monthly fanzine. Remember, the first several issues were before the Internet came into public access bringing people closer. After 2001's issue no. 16, Jim realized the readership was below par and discontinued the hardcopy fanzine. For Jim it was never about a dollar margin. Throughout the entire 16 issue run, that never was the agenda, nor did it ever happen. It was about educating. Today, what remains is the very popular The Adventures Continue web-site with updated news and contributions.
Since 1988, Jim's publication had become the corner-stone for all other work related to George Reeves, his life, film career, the highly popular television show the Adventures of Superman and the unfortunate and tragic death. Articles in REMEMBER, STARLOG, American Cinematographer and FILMFAX magazines (refer to the Paper Trail for listing), television segments such as Hollywood's Mysteries and Scandals, A&E Biography, Current Affair and Entertainment Tonight all turned to Jim in one form or another seeking information. I'll save us from going into more details. Especially since I'm eager to get you to the article. TAC gave Jan Alan Henderson proof a market did indeed exist for his own work-in-process book titled SPEEDING BULLET: The Life and Bizarre Death of George Reeves published in 1998. It can all be pointed back to1988, and 1976 before that with Superman: Serial to Cereal.
All this brings us back to the beginning of this TAC feature, GEORGE REEVES: REAL 'MAN OF STEEL.' Upon receipt of my Ebay winning, I opened the package and delicately placed the folded newspaper flat on the table. I immediately took note of the two images that originally caught my attention.
As I read forward the article continued to reveal several surprises. As is, the article contains new insights even after thirty years, and insights we've come to read in various modern day publications since 1988. But remember, this was still December 29, 1978 when this Atlanta Constitution article was released. All the while I was also thinking about TAC issue no. 2, from 1988 and how, at this time, it had been considered the beginning of the basis for so much of what we would come to learn.
At the top of the article (see image below), the author's name was displayed in tradition form. His name -Greg McCollum. It was a name I've never come across in my many years involved in this interest.
Atlanta Constitution newspaper image as it was shown in March 2005 Ebay Auction.
Caption reads as follows: Above, George Reeves' parents, Donald Brewer and Helen Lescher. They met at Lombard College in Galesburg, Ill., had a fast romance, eloped in the late evening hours of Aug. 11, 1913, and got married. Below, George with his stepfather Frank Bessolo. George did not know that Frank wasn't his real father until he was a junior college student, and a cousin remembers, he was "terribly hurt at his mother for not telling him ealier in life."
Within the next forty-five minutes I read the whole article and surmised that this was an extraordinary piece of writing, given the time comparison to everything that has been written about George Reeves in the previous twenty-some years. Through the magic of the Internet I contacted Greg.
After finding a match, an e-mail was sent off. The next day, I received a response as follows:
Wow! I haven't thought about that in
decades. Yes, I'm the one. Most of the material I wrote has since
been supplanted with more details. For example, a book called
"Speeding Bullet" (I think). Then, of course, there's
"Hollywood Kryptonite." I
was the first writer to get Reeves original last name (Brewer)
in print. Others had mistakenly written that Bessolo was his
A day or two passed and Greg and I were on the phone speaking about this article at great length. We spoke for over two hours. I couldn't help but be fascinated by Greg's tale. I felt he is like so many other loyal George Reeves fans I've come to know throughout the years. As I listened to him speak about his experiences in developing GEORGE REEVES: REAL 'MAN OF STEEL' for the Atlanta Constitution readers,' I couldn't help but realize this too is a story all onto itself. It was a remarkable journey for a then twenty-three year old who traveled across the states to track down those who were close to George Reeves.
Before we closed our discussion, Greg expressed how glad he was someone such as me took a great interest in his article, and he would gladly let me use any part of the article I wanted. Without hesitation I responded, "Use any part? I want to publish the entire article, word for word. I want the community to read it first hand, not as reference in another article." I strongly believe it will stand on its own when the George Reeves Community has the opportunity to read it. The community must know about Greg's article, read its total content and realize his early discoveries. Greg was easily a minimum of ten years ahead of everyone with the insights he presented in his Atlanta Constitution article. The article deserves its place of honor in the amazing history of George Reeves, as well as the author, Greg McCollum.
At the time in 1978, GEORGE REEVES: REAL 'MAN OF STEEL' was limited to the Georgia market. As a result, the article has been long lost in yesterday's news - but no longer. Thanks to the Internet and TAC, GEORGE REEVES: REAL 'MAN OF STEEL' will be received and embraced by George's entire fan base.
Without further delay, I present to you GEORGE REEVES: REAL 'MAN OF STEEL' in its entirety. While reading the article, keep in mind that this was published in 1978, Folks.
See Next Page for beginning of entire article.
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