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Kellogg’s Comes Onboard

Kellogg’s had long sponsored radio programs, and by the early 50s the company was keenly interested in telling a young television audience about “the greatest name in cereals.” The company got off to a good start in 1951 with offerings such as Tom Corbet, Space Cadet and The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok.

Looking for even more opportunities, Kellogg’s, on July 2, 1952, announced a final deal with Superman. As Michael Hayde reminds us in Flights of Fantasy,July 2 was nearly six months after MPTV had been handed a finished product. What had taken so long?”

The answer lies in the content of some of those episodes. Before Kellogg’s would agree to a deal, it asked for some changes to some of the more violent or otherwise objectionable content. As Maxwell was producing those first twenty-six episodes, he didn’t see it as a children’s program. Regardless, that was surely Kellogg’s target audience.

Anyone familiar with Season One already knows about the kind of material Kellogg’s objected to: The main characters drinking champagne in the editor’s office at the end of “Mystery in Wax” and several scenes of violence in “Riddle of the Chinese Jade” and “Crime Wave.” There were also some other more ordinary changes that Kellogg’s wanted: Break in the middle for a commercial, etc.

I find it odd though that some material many folks still find objectionable for kids even today was not touched: The removal of Kathy Williams’ leg braces in “The Birthday Letter,” Greer and Wong drinking beer in “Riddle of the Chinese Jade,” a few “girlie pictures” in “Ghost Wolf,” and the torture of Ram in “No Holds Barred” for example.

Regardless, Kellogg’s requested their changes, they were made, and things moved forward. George Reeves returned to the Forty Acres backlot sometime that summer to film the first set of those somewhat famous Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes commercials featuring Reeves and a few children. And with that, the series was ready for prime time (or in whatever time slot the individual stations preferred). The first station to air the Adventures of Superman was Chicago’s WENR on September 19, 1952. Additional stations were soon eager to broadcast the new series. Superman was finally Up! Up! and Away!

With that, this story of the first season comes to a close.

Links to all pages in the history of
Superman’s first season

Posted: July 2, 2022

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