TV Guide: How They Make Superman Fly

it cannot be overstated how much of an impact the 1950s ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN had in keeping both the character and the entire comic book business alive and vibrant throughout that decade and the next. While the Man of Steel was a red-hot fad at the start of the 1940s when he first burst onto the scene, it’s entirely possible that he would have faded into the same sort of relative obscurity as the Shadow and Doc Savage had something not come along to make him a household presence. And that something was this 104-episode television series, broadcast straight into the living rooms of America and then rerun in syndication for another three decades-plus. Superman was a character that every kid in that era knew, and that most loved.

This 1953 edition of the weekly TV Guide magazine (covering programs from September 25 through October 1st) carried a short article on the making of the program. Depicted is not only star George Reeves, who portrayed both the Man of Tomorrow and his alter ego Clark Kent, but also Whit Ellsworth, a key DC/National Comics editor who had gone west to supervise the production. Ellsworth had been a key figure in guiding the hero for many years, both as the editor-of-record of his comic books and as an advisor on the 1940s radio program. Him being involved in the television series–which National Comics was funding production of–was a no-brainer.

Those color photographs of Reeves in flight in the Superman costume had to have been recolored, as the suit in these black and white days was gray and brown, the better to show up on the B & W television sets of the day. The series wouldn’t start to film in color until its third season, which was still ahead of it.

3 thoughts on “TV Guide: How They Make Superman Fly

  1. The color photos actually are of the 1954 to 1958 color costume. There are subtle differences between the B&W and color episode costumes, most notable the insignia. In addition, George’s hair got progressively lighter after 1953 until the 1956 episodes when he died it for one season. Thanks for the post. I’ve seen the cover of this TV Guide for years, but never the interior.

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  2. Typo alert! The third sentence should have said “when he dyed it for one season.” Sorry, but proofreading is a dying art.

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