TAC Table of Contents
MAYBE IT'S HIS COSTUME
From Dan Perez
attached a photo of myself, taken November 1, 1964, in Tampa,
Florida by my mom. I can only imagine that since this was the day
after Halloween, I just couldn't resist showing it off for more
than one day.
Attached is a photo of me, Larry James, wearing my Superman Playsuit.
This was probably 1959. That was a big year for me as I also because a member of the Supermen of America. I still have my button, certificate and decoder brochure!
Yes, the Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves helped mold my life. I was transfixed as I watched and learned how to be a good citizen. For example, the fact that Superman said that he didn't "make deals" with evil doers, stuck with me throughout my life. Yes, Superman knew right from wrong. He taught me so much.
I wanted to grow up and be like all of my heroes: especially, George Reeves, Johnny Weissmuller and Richard Boone.
This photo shows me in what was my new, Superman Playsuit! It came in a box and was NOT a Halloween costume. It had a red face mask for some reason which I couldn't figure out (Superman didn't wear a mask; The Lone Ranger did)! Also included was an off white pamphlet which had blue print. It was like a comic book. The story was about a boy who, like me, had just gotten a Superman Playsuit! He looked a lot like Superboy and his costume looked much more like Superman's than mine did. Why did they make the "S" so different than Superman's? Why were the pants so wide and bulky? Why was it shiny and so light blue? Why wasn't there an "S" on the cape? Oh well I thought, it is a Superman suit!
The moral to the pamphlet's story was that the suit didn't give the wearer super powers. It also was printed in yellow on the suit itself. Did they think that I as ignorant? Superman's powers weren't from his suit either! He was from Krypton. I knew that, sadly, I was from Middletown, CT! I also knew that Superman was a TV show and a comic book. Every show told me that George Reeves played Superman! Besides, WTIC channel 3 in Hartford ran the movie The Good Humor Man often (which featured George Reeves. Plus I liked to watch Jungle Jim and George Reeves was on that program too)!
I had heard, like every kid in America, that some kid (a generic kid? A prototype all American boy?) had wrapped a towel around his neck, played Superman in his living room, and jumped out the window to his death! How could a kid be so stupid I thought? Kids can't fly! The idea that the costume didn't lend me super powers didn't have to be told to me. I didn't need a lecture to understand that I wasn't Superman! Hey, I knew that I wasn't Tarzan either!
Behind me in the photo are two crayon drawings of superman taped over our 1948 Philco TV set. That was a popular model. It had the radio and record turntable. We also had a UHF converter. We were able to watch the 3 local Connecticut stations as well as the New York Stations (2,5,7,and 11 oh the local kids programming on those stations; Soupy Sales, Chuck McCann, Sandy Becker, Captain Jack, Officer Joe Bolton… TV was kid's heaven)!
Where is my Superman playsuit today? Well, you know how some parents can be. They most likely trashed it! Boy, were their priorities out of order!
May 4, 2012
And who, disguised as Jack Branson, mild-mannered backyard reporter, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.
This photo was taken in the early 1950's. I wore my Superman costume with pride because of my admiration of George Reeves and the Superman character. My mother must have bought it for Halloween; I can remember selecting it from the department store. He was All-American and represented the strength and power of America. His costume shared some of the colors of our flag. He was as powerful as the eagle that represents the seal of our country.
Even at that young age I knew that I was not quite Superman and therefore did not attempt to fly through the air or do anything that would do me bodily harm. However in my imagination and in many dreams I was doing just that. The costume is long gone. I wish that I saved it but that feeling that I got when watching George Reeves still happens when ever I look at the Adventures of Superman.
As a child growing up in the 50s the Adventures of Superman and George Reeves had a significant positive influence on my development and the forming of my personality. All this becomes quite clear now that I am in my 50s and have the benefit of retrospection. There were two great roll models in my life. One was my Father and the other was George Reeves. It is necessary to clarify that I am referring to the character that he portrayed, as I had no knowledge of his private life. The TV character that he portrayed was always a gentleman who showed kindness for the weak and respect for animals yet was firm with those who broke the rules. Respect for the law and authority was central to his character. Event though he himself had power far beyond that of the authorities he would allow himself to be placed in prison. When offered an alcoholic beverage he would accept only "ginger ale or milk". He told Jimmy to "get there as fast as you can" but cautioned "don't break any speed laws". I think that the most important message that I got from this as a child is that crime does not pay. I can still remember how I was frightened by the electric chair and had nightmares over it. Once there was the story of an execution in the news (I assume it was Ethel and Julius Rosenberg) and my mother explained that the electric char turned your body into a toaster. That fear of punishment was a good thing, it keep me law abiding all my life. There will be consequences if you get out of line and punishment will ensue. Even Superman respected and was an ally to authority.
Now that I have a one-year old child (yes, I'm starting late) I have recorded many of the old programs in hopes that it will influence her in the same way that it did for me when I was so impressionable. I must say that even though I have viewed them countless times over the years I never loose the desire to watch the programs. If I were on an island and had one request it would be to watch those old Superman programs. Not only are they entertaining but the latter ones have developed a great sense of humor. One of my favorite lines is when the professor stated that the only disadvantage to his gold making machine is that it cost more money to make the gold than it is worth. What a valuable lesson as those crooks always find out crime does not pay.
Read Bruce's In Retrospect: The Stolen Costume
Just like White Christmas, or It's a Wonderful Life, here is what has become an annual traditon:
The Stolen Costume (the title to an episode of the old Superman TV show) Happens in Real Life!
I believe this would have been Christmas 1961. I was 5. I wanted nothing more that year than a "real" Superman suit. Santa delivered! I must have been "gooder" than I had realized!
Before I received my costume, my mom, wonderful woman that she is, noticed that the dinky cape that came with the outfit probably wouldn't flutter properly when I "flew". She bought a yard of red material and made a much more impressive cape. AND she even sewed it onto the shoulders of the shirt, instead of using that silly yellow string the "real" cape came with. How she did this between the time Santa delivered it and I woke up to find it was a mystery.
It wasn't until much later, when I found the "real" cape, that I realized what a wonderful thing my mom had done for me in making my Superman suit look more like George Reeves's.
I'll never forget Christmas morning when I put the outfit on, Mom taking time to read the advisement printed on the bottom hem of the shirt: "Remember, this suit will not make you fly. Only Superman can fly." And the picture of Superman with his hand on a kid's shoulder. I thought Superman himself wrote me that note!
I wore my Superman suit constantly, even under my everyday clothes, just like Clark. How Mom ever got the thing into the wash is another mystery.
However, unlike Superman's, my suit was not indestructible. The knees gave way, and the patches on the knees followed. Finally the pants were retired altogether.
But that tunic, with its wonderful sewn-on cape, stayed with me for a long time. I didn't care that the silk-screened emblem had started peeling, or that the cape, once a brilliant scarlet, was turning pinkish.
Then, one day, it happened. I awoke and could not find my beloved Superman shirt. I had it on when I went to bed.
Some evil-doer must have stripped me of my uniform, so that he could impersonate Superman and commit some foul crime! The Stolen Costume and maybe even The Face and the Voice were occurring in real life!
Or just maybe, my wonderful Mom gently relieved me of the eyesore so I wouldn't have to bear painful witness to seeing the ragged material taken away with the garbage.
It's a mystery I wonder if even Superman will ever solve. 12/25/2009.
Jim, after my Mom died recently, we were going through some old family photo albums and came across this picture from 1961. I was an avid fan of the show by then and my Mom had searched the stores for the Superman costume I had to have. I guess since George had died so recently, there were no costumes to be found. So, like Mrs Kent, my Mom took some red and blue material and made my costume on the old Singer sewing machine. (The pants and trunks must have been in the wash when this snapshot was taken.) Several days after she completed the suit, I donned the 'blue and red' under the white shirt and tie of my parochial school uniform and headed out the door for school.
I'm not sure how Clark kept his secret all of those years,
because Mom busted me on the way out the door that morning.
Cultivating my vivid imagination was one thing, but she marched
me back upstairs to change before Mass. (Note my brother Mark and
sister Maureen in the Jimmy and Lois roles.)
After all these years, I can't believe I was there at the beginning. I was a child of the 50's, fortunate to be the only child in a blue collar family that was able to make it because of a hard-working salesman father and a stay-at-home mother. And fortunate to have access to that new-fangled contraption, the television, and to that icon of icons, SUPERMAN. Of course, I had THE SUIT. I even remember fantasizing about flying off the roof of the garage, but remembering that only Superman could fly, just as Superman had told me. I even remember Jimmy telling me that Superman's costume didn't give him super powers, only
super things. But that didn't stop me from running around making believe. It also didn't stop me from realizing that the costume we wear in public is the one that people see and respect - or don't respect. The costume that George Reeves wore, the wonderful man in it who obviously loved and respected children, and my parents gave me the ideals and truths to live by. I will be forever grateful that I was one of the lucky ones to have such Heroes."
February 5, 2005
We were a Navy family, living on the second floor of a multi-family complex, with a hallway and long flight of steps leading down to the front door, and, one day in early 1958, in the midst of a fantasy 'adventure', I ran down the hallway and did the Reeves' 'hop' from the top step, my arms flung out...I think I made it halfway down, before I hit a step, head first! I was lucky I only gashed my forehead and knocked myself silly, but I do recall bouncing a couple more times, and winding up on my butt, at the door...not even realizing I was bleeding until everybody ran out to see what the racket was all about! I guess I should have gotten stitches, but didn't, so I have a nice little notch a couple of inches above my right eye...and I made such a fuss that Mom let me keep the suit, with a promise to NEVER try to fly, again!
Here is a link to my website where I illustrate caricatures: http://www.cariart.com/
[You're mother was right, Ben. That costume doesn't have any particular powers. Only Superman can do super things. Nobody else... nobody. Jim]
August 29, 2009
"Like The Only Real Magic -- The Magic Of Knowledge"