Superman is a world famous superhero known and beloved by millions. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman, who first appeared in Action comics on April 18, 1938. Since Superman’s creation, he has appeared in various movies and television shows. Although many actors portrayed Superman, George Reeves is my favorite.
Back in the early 80s, I can remember watching old reruns of The Adventures of Superman with my brothers. Reeves was chosen for the Superman role. He had appeared in popular movies like Gone with the Wind and From Here to Eternity.
In 1951, Reeves portrayed Superman in a short film titled Superman and the Mole Men. The movie launched The Adventures of Superman from 1952 to 1958; Reeves appeared as Superman in 104 episodes. The Superman role may have been a great opportunity for Reeves, but it didn’t do much for his career. Reeves became typecast as Superman and found no quality roles after the series ended.
Reeves, 45, found himself unemployed and resorted to appearing in commercials and celebrity boxing matches. This was hardly quality work for a former Superman. Supposedly, Reeves became depressed and committed suicide. But was he depressed enough to kill himself or had someone else killed him?
This would become the million dollar question that still lingers today. Little did Reeves know, but his death has created a mystery that made him more famous in death than in life.
On February 16, 1959, authorities arrived at the home of George Reeves on 1579 Benedict Canyon in Los Angeles. He lived in the home with his fiancée Leonore Lemmon. The story goes that Lemmon, neighbor Carol Van Ronkel and her boyfriend Robert Condon, and neighbor William Bliss were having a small party in Reeves’ home. The party included alcohol and loud talking.
Although tipsy, the four shared the same story with police. They claimed Reeves had woken up and came downstairs around 1:20 a.m. angered about the noise. He then returned to bed. Afterward, the guests claimed they heard a gunshot. When authorities arrived, they found Reeves naked and sprawled across the bed.
It seemed like a suicide, but many unanswered questions remain about Reeves’ death. For one, why did Lemmon wait almost an hour before calling police? Second, there were three gunshots. Also, the bullet that killed Reeves was lodged in the ceiling. It had gone through his head and struck the ceiling. This didn’t seem possible based on the position of Reeves’ head. Furthermore, the shell was found underneath Reeves while the pistol was found near Reeves’ feet.
Had he committed suicide, it’s unlikely he would have fired three shots and there should have been gunpowder residue on Reeves’ head and hands, but there wasn’t. To complicate matters more, authorities didn’t take any crime scene pictures, dust for prints or perform an autopsy.
The coroner ruled Reeves’ death a suicide. But some theories include a police cover up.
Today, it doesn’t seem possible that Reeves killed himself. The circumstances are unbelievable. Since the death of Reeves, the house on Benedict Canyon has been bought and resold several times.
Former residents who lived in the home claimed to have heard mysterious gunshot sounds. Others claim they have seen the ghost of George Reeves wearing his old Superman costume. One couple claimed they saw Reeves and became so terrified they left the same day.
This is one of the most fascinating ghost stories in Hollywood. People believe Reeves still appears because he never received justice for his death. Today, the house still exists, but all the key players involved have joined Reeves in death. Therefore, we can only speculate about what happened on Benedict Canyon in 1959.
Marc is a grandparent and longtime resident of Clermont County. Visit his author page at http://www.lifewithgrandpa.com. He also wrote Just Bite Me: A Guide to Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Walking Nightmares, which is available on Amazon.com.