Did Clark Kent Ever Turn Into Superman in a Phone Booth on Television?

Superman changing in a phone booth

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Clark Kent never turned into Superman in a phone booth on television.

Something that we’ve discussed a number of times in Legends Revealed is the idea that the public’s collective memory is not always accurate, as they’ll conflate two different things into one, like remembering Mr. T’s famous “I pity the fool” line from Rocky III (and seemingly every other project he’s ever done) and presuming that he used the same line as B.A. Baracus on The A-Team (as it turned out, he did not
) or they will remember lines in a tidier fashion than they actually existed (like Gracie Allen’s famous “Say good night, Gracie!” “Good night, Gracie!”, which she never actually said).

As it turns out, one of these examples of the public’s collective memory failing is Superman and his use of phone booths to transform from Clark Kent into Superman. As we detailed in a Comic Book Legends Revealed a number of years ago, it turns out that it was simply a matter of him doing so in one of the most popular Superman projects of all-time, the early 1940s Fleischer cartoons

that locked that image into our collective memory, so that the idea of Clark Kent transforming into Superman is just taken for granted, despite him rarely actually doing so.

Recently, though, reader Gerald P. wrote in to ask about that old Comic Book Legends Revealed. He noted that I mentioned that Clark never changed into Superman in a phone booth in any of the 104 episodes of The Adventures of Superman, so he wanted to know if it was true that Clark never actually changed into Superman at all on any of his live action television series.

Let’s find out!
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Was George Reeves’ Role Reduced in From Here to Eternity Because Audiences Couldn’t Handle Seeing Superman in the Film?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: George Reeves had a number of scenes cut out of From Here to Eternity because test audiences were too jarred at seeing TV’s Superman in the film.

George Reeves was already appearing as Superman in The Adventures of Superman when he appeared in the 1953 film, From Here to Eternity, as the character of Sergeant Maylon Stark.

In the 1952 James Jones novel that the film was based on, depicting the various troubles of servicemen stationed in Pearl Harbor in the months leading up to the sneak attack by the Japanese in December of 1941, Stark had a fairly sizable supporting role (below is the famous scene on the beach with leads Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr).

In the film, however, he is a very minor character.

As many people know by now, George Reeves suffered great difficulties dealing with being typecast as Superman after the show ended, ultimately leading to his alleged suicide in 1959.

Now, a legend sprung up regarding From Here to Eternity and the relatively small role of Reeves in the picture.

In his discussion of the film on the All Movie Guide, Hal Erickson pretty concisely describes the legend…

If you’re able to take your eyes off the principals for a moment or two, keep an eye out for George Reeves; his supporting role was shaved down when, during previews, audiences yelled “There’s Superman!” and began to laugh.

Read on to learn the truth…

Continue reading “Was George Reeves’ Role Reduced in From Here to Eternity Because Audiences Couldn’t Handle Seeing Superman in the Film?”