TAC Table of Contents
2007, A Year In Review
By Lou Koza
(5 pages / Avg. Read Time: 16 min.)
Hello again. Yes, indeed a new year is soon to arrive as I sit here on December 22, to begin writing my second A Year in Review for The Adventures Continue, the premier home for George Reeves. This year held some exciting moments and there are many to thank for the wonderful contributions made to TAC. I wondered at the start of this year if TAC could come close to realizing the same level of attention 2006 offered. Fan emotions were running high in 2006 due to the Warner Brothers TAoS DVD releases, the films Superman Returns and Hollywoodland, a second printing of Speeding Bullet and many TAC activities. This included the whereabouts of the 1953 Nash-Healey sports-car George drove as Clark Kent. I'm happy to report that TAC-2007 did very well. In fact, the features this year proved to have an incredible abundance of valuable substance.
If someone were to ask a fan of the Adventures of Superman why they continue to watch the show even after all these years, the most likely reason would be its main star, George Reeves. However, like a baseball World Series championship, success is the result of team work. While many elite players have been known to carry a team on their back, a team cannot win a championship with one player only. It takes the whole team. It took George to implement the illusion of flight, however it took those that stood behind with the wind in their face to make it seem believable. Who could forget the drop-jaw looks of disbelief from Steve Carr as coast guard Lt. Hains in The Haunted Lighthouse or bus driver Lestor Dorr from The Mind Machine when Superman vaulted to the skies? These character actors made the illusion of flight appear believable to the audience while George bounced his way off screen. Working with a shoestring budget, the director needed these actors to perform with realistic expressions. George Reeves is indeed the main reason for watching 50's TV Superman. But without his teammates performing with credible characterization, there would be no believability to the show. At Dettman Documents, Bruce contributes his second year profiling and many wonderful character actors who have performed on the Adventures of Superman. This year's list includes a sterling line up consisting of John Kellogg, Phillip Pine, Dabbs Greer, Sterling Holloway, Larry Blake, Leonard Mudie and Peter Brocco. Bruce is also a main contributor at Glass House Presents. There he keeps very busy reviewing the shows from his own personal "Wonder Years" perspective. TAC is greatly appreciative to Bruce and we look forward to his future contributions at his main home, Glass House Presents and TAC.
In recent years, the fan base has been growing more and more with an interest in George's films beyond his work as Clark Kent/Superman. In 1991, I came across an 8x10 still of George in The Monroe Doctrine. Prior to this thrilling moment for me I had basically a mild interest in his work other than as the "Man of Steel." Gary Grossman's 1976 book Superman: Serial to Cereal was first to write any description of films George performed in. Throughout the 90's, in the many issues of TAC's hardcopy fanzine it would be Janeen Christensen who would write interesting stand-alone reviews of George's films. I contributed several mini-synopsis here at TAC (see here) , which only focussed on the size of George's role in the film. In the Saving George Reeves CD presentations I placed more emphasis on George's entire film career and the great actors/actresses he worked with. Recognizing George's work at the most highest level came from Jan Alan Henderson and Steve Randisi who teamed up with Bifulco Books to give us Beyond the Crimsom Cape, The Cinema of George Reeves. Crimson Cape has sold extremely well, proving there is a great interest in George's entire career. Beyond acting in front of the camera, George had a strong desire to work behind the camera as a director. Having done some directing at the Pasadena Playhouse and directing the final three episodes of TAoS. The Perils of Superman, a throw-back to the theatrical movie serial cliffhangers of the 40's, won him accolades from his fellow cast members. Sadly and tragically, George passed away in June 1959. He did so with an eye on his future. Among several options in the works, he had plans to direct thirteen of the twenty-six new 1960 season Superman episodes scheduled to begin filming September 1959. This directing experience, plus the monetary gain from the series would have given George confidence and credibility to direct two feature films of great interest for him, Return to Earth and The Deserter. Phyllis Coates on a number of occasions has stated that George contacted her to star in a science fiction film. Because of George's death, these projects would not be realized under his direction and therefore we can only speculate what his interests may have been. This year at TAC, Colete Morlock would explore the possibilities of George's interest with Lowell Barrington's story, The Deserter. Ms. Morlock would thank both Serena Enger and Penn Genthner for their assistance. It is known George was on the verge of redefining his career in 1959. Rarely, is this insight explored other than a counter-reference to some of the "dispondent" descriptions often stated about George. I'm happy to say fans are turning more and more to the films of George's entire career. The Super-Ladies at GHP, Susan Schnitzer and Gail McIntyre also see the value of George's entire career with their reviews.With folks like Colete Morlock we continue to learn even more than we expected. Thank you Colete Morlock for your contributions and we look forward reading more from you at both your main place of residence, Glass House Presents and TAC.
Another feature from Ms. Morlock is a focus on Dabbs Greer's performance in 1999's The Green Mile. Refer to Dabbs Greer in the Green Mile. Sadly, Mr. Greer passed away, leaving behind many admirers. One individual who felt the loss a bit more than the average admirer was Mr. Jim Nolt, the owner of The Adventures Continue web-site. Jim has a great fondness for Dabbs and wrote frequently to him. In July 2001, Jim visited Dabbs at his Pasadena home for the very first time. Jim would express his own feelings towards a man he considered a second father, please refer to And Now It's Time to Say Good-Bye for this heartwarming expression of love. Mr. Greer will forever live in our hearts and we rest assured he is now and forever in very good company.
Jim has on occasion the pleasure to speak with a good number of TAoS alumni. A list far too long for this entry. On a rare occasion earlier this year, Jim contacted Isa Ashdown, known to TV Superman fans as Kathy Williams from The Birthday Letter. Isa has the grand honor along with Judy Ann Nugent (Around the World with Superman) to fly the friendly skies with Superman. Isa not only flew with Superman, she became the envy of every female fan of George's when she placed a (possibly unscripted) kiss on Superman's check. This would not be Jim's last feature this year at TAC as he assisted Mr. X on four occassions. Together they gave us a guided tour of the Daily Planet offices of the staff, Out of the Offices into their homes and the Happy Landings performed by George Reeves. Mr. X continues his high level of generosity throughout the GR community and TAC is always grateful for his contributions and friendship. All aboard with Vince Marzo and Jim as they provided the "Then and Now" theme to More Powerful than a Locomotive opening shot location. Bobby Ryan would also give us another look at a train. This time a modern look at the Valley Express used in Shot in the Dark. Thank you Vince and Bobby.
Speaking of Mr. X, he continues to create lots of video segments for downloading and enjoyment. Often we are learning far more about the series with respect to the Superman technical aspects and the professional level of restoration from Mr. X than ever before and we thank him for sharing his knowledge and insights.
Nearing the end of 2006, a new contributor emerge in the form of Serena Enger. Serena, a researcher by trade offered to extend her specialty to TAC. A small list I would present to her. By February, Serena contributed Recovering George Reeves, a unique and extensive perspective on the career of George Reeves and Vital Statistics, a look into George's business card. One request I made to Serena was to find information on the Bessolo family, most specifically regarding the mysterious circumstances regarding Frank's passing. Serena followed up with a very significant discovery. Thanks to Serena, it is now known beyond a shadow of doubt that Mr. Frank Bessolo, the step-father to George Reeves did not commit suicide as it has been told as "fact" for over twenty-five years or more. On June 17th, Father's Day, TAC released the extensive research conducted by Ms. Enger, titled Father's Day: Frank Joseph Bessolo:Step-Father of George Reeves. This included the death certificate proving once and for what really was a rumor, was indeed a falsehood. I feel the release date was most appropriate for the occasion. This feature led the way for Finding Helen by this writer. Finding Helen would offer a logical and reasonable understanding of the actions Helen Lescher- (Brewer) - Bessolo took with the roots of her son's early life. Reader response was overwhelming and extensive for both features regarding Frank and Helen. Jim Nolt contributed a gallery of early Bessolo family photos. Thank you Jim. TAC is also thankful to Randy Garrett for his artistic rendition of George and Frank enjoying a moment together. I consider Randy's contribution exactly like a desert after a hearty meal. The write-ups were extensive and I can't think of a better reward for the readers once they've gotten to the end. Thank you Serena Enger for finding your way to TAC. Your contributions are greatly appreciated in a most significant way and we look forward to further features from you.
For many years it had been told of George and his fellow cast members experienced a racial situation in Memphis over the dividing of children at a personal appearance. Strangely, the story was never described in any great detail. So rather than wonder or speculate, I decided to ask Jack Larson about this situation since he had witnessed the experience. Mr. Larson was once again gracious with his valuable time and had enough recollections of that weekend for this writer to assemble a reasonable assessment of what happened. Standing Against Segregation doesn't come close to describing the overall sub-treatment one group of people had to overcome in this country. But just the same, it was a turbulent time and place and the situation could have encountered the kind of dangers caused by the very same hateful indifferences. In the 1940's producer Robert Maxwell during his Superman Radio show took on a similar effort against racial hatred. However, in this situation the difference was that George, Noel, John and Jack were on location, far from the comfort of their homes or studio. Thank you to Randy Garrett for also contributing additional information for this feature.
Late 2006, this writer explored the timeline and relationships between Toni Lanier and the two most important men in her life, Eddie Mannix and George Reeves. In early January the released feature Relative Revelations would focus on the whereabouts of these individuals and when their lives would cross and forever linked together. Thank you to Mr. Jack Larson for his clarification of certain aspects and Serena Enger for her support in obtaining documents to lend support and credit. This support included the surprise confirmation of Toni's birth name, her religious bloodline and the number of siblings. Ultimately, the information would be unique to all our prior knowledge, including Mr.Larson's.
This year brought an interesting artistic contribution. Skip Simpson re-created the famous and classic painting of the Brooklyn Bridge traditionally mounted on the wall behind John Hamilton's Perry White desk.The original prop is perhaps the most interesting of all items on the 50's television Daily Planet set. Skip did a marvelous job, and the current owner is extremely pleased to have purchased it from Skip.
Thanks go out to Carroll Hall, Armand Vaquer and Bill Dillane for their 2007 Photo of the Month contributions. Images included a TV Guide - TAoS advertisement, a photo of Phyllis Coates who made a personal appearance in Burbank, California and a photo of Noel Neill during her personal appearance in NYC.
Special thanks to Noel Neill and Larry Ward as they continue their barnstorming adventures across The United States of America. Their travels took them to cities; Phoenix, Orlando, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Charlotte, Arlington, New York City and Biloxi. That's a whole lot of traveling. Together they are bringing joy to the many fans who are meeting Noel for either the first time or the umpteenth time. The fans never tire of her company. BTW, both editions of Larry's book, The Adventures of Noel Neill, the Life and Times of the Original Lois Lane is sold out. But fear not, Larry's third book dedicated to Noel, Beyond Lois Lane is now available at Noel's appearances or can be ordered through TAC. The book is a walk through of Noel's wonderful career and you can be sure there are many beautiful photos of Noel's life and career, including the Superman years. This year I enjoyed attending the Morris Everett TV/movie NYC collectible show where a special birthday celebration for Noel took place. The occasion was the brainstorm of Mr. Terry Soto who devised a plan to include a very sizable birthday cake delivered by Christopher Reeve - Superman look-a-like in the form of Mr. Christopher Dennis, an actor by trade. Many fans were there to enjoy the moment. Mr. Dennis took great pride in his performance as the "Man of Steel" and it can't be argued he made a terrific impression.
Not everything in 2007 went smooth. As many of the readers know, Jim's original message-board site of four years and over 10,000 entries at Yahoo.com was untimely and mysteriously dropped from the site. Yahoo gave no reason other than to refer to the terms and conditions and that a violation occurred. What was the violation? Again, Yahoo gave no details. Soon the New York Post was interested and they too wanted to know what happened. A reporter spoke to Jim and soon afterward a photographer was dispatched to Jim's home. On November 26, the article was released in the paper. The newspaper did a wonderful job communicating Jim's feelings, however they could not obtain a comment from Yahoo. But good did come out of a bad situation because Jim created a new message board at the Google site and it's logistics are far better than the Yahoo site.
Much to everyone's surprise, Infinity Entertainment and Falcon Picture Group released two Suspense DVD Boxset's this year. George is featured in two 1949 television episodes worth seeing. Also released this year are two books worth mentioning, Superman Vs. Hollywood by Jack Rosen and Superman on Film, Television, Radio and Broadway by Bruce Scivally. The books recognize the Superman phenom is still strong and George is a vital part of the Superman story.
So what's in store for next year? Only 2008 knows for sure. I've a couple of ideas brewing that I hope will prove to be fun reading. Bruce has a Walter Reed min-bio in the hopper and I know many readers are looking forward to it. There are related efforts to look forward to. Most immediately, since it has not hit the book stores shelves at this time (as of 12/29) is an Armand Vaquer interview with Stephanie Shayne Parkin in G-Fan no. 82. Stephanie discusses her father, Robert Shayne and his role in the classic monster flick The Giant Claw. Michael J. Hayde is currently writing a book titled Flights of Fantasy: Superman on Radio and Television, 1940-1958. Jim Nolt will keep the interested folks updated as progress moves towards a released date. There are confirmed scheduled personal appearances by Noel Neill. One appearance gaining notariety is a special June '08 convention in Memphis, Tn. The event is dedicated to both the 50's Adventures of Superman and The Lone Ranger which starred Clayton Moore and John Hart as "that masked man" and Jay Silverheels as his faithful Tonto. It is expected this show will be a major gathering for loyal fans who frequent the web-sites dedicated to George Reeves. TAC will certainly bring back many photos and good experiences to be chronicled in these pages. Phyllis Coates will be making an extremely rare visit to NYC in May. Many are looking forward to meeting Phyllis for the first time. Refer to the Front Page, in the "Scoops of News" column for all personal appearance details.
Before closing, I want to mention an item that has been overlooked this year. 2007 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1957 season. Just six years ago, on July 10th, 2001, a 50th Anniversary celebration (see here) in Los Angeles took place to honor the 1951 season. A grand occasion it was with Noel Neill, Jack Larson, Robert Rockwell, Jeff Corey, Dabbs Greer, Bette Shayne, Joanne Siegel and Paul Levitz and numerous loyal fans gathered in attendance at the Kenneth Hahn Hall and Cafe' Pinot. It truly was a special time. Since 2001, we've walked the same number of years as the number of years the show was produced and aired and likewise in that duration a lot has transpired. The 1957 season closed with dialog between Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent. Jimmy would exclaim, "Golly, Mr. Kent, you'll never know how wonderful it is to be like Superman." Followed by Clark's words, "No Jimmy, I guess I never will." This closing dialog would sadly become the last unrepeated on-screen words we'd hear Mr. Reeves speak.
That's all for now and I hope you all have a wonderful Happy New Year. Thank you for all your support throughout the years. Jim and I are grateful for all the many wonderful friendships. May 2008 bring real peace and happiness to everyone in all corners of the world. Remember folks, when you're tied up to a chair and the crooks have made their speedy getaway with Professor Pepperwinkle's plutonium manufactured gold, don't worry, "Super-boo" loves you.
Good-Bye 2007, but never forgotten.
To be continued,...in 2008. See you then.
Thanks for Watching.
Lou (December 31, 2007)
"Like The Only Real Magic -- The Magic Of Knowledge"