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Noel Neill

Noel Neill in February 2008
Born November 25, 1920 (1920-11-25) (age 89)
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Noel Neill (born November 25, 1920) is an American actress in motion pictures and television best known as Lois Lane in the television series The Adventures of Superman.

Contents

Biography

Early life and career

Neill was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota; her father was a journalist, and her mother a dancer on the stage.

In her teens, Noel was a popular photographic model. While Betty Grable's pin-up was #1 among GIs during World War II, Noel Neill ranked next.[1] Noel also worked as a professional singer and dancer, signed up by Bing Crosby.

Signing a contract with Paramount Pictures led to appearances in many of the studio's feature films and short subjects. In the mid-1940s Noel had a leading role in one of Monogram Pictures' wayward-youth melodramas, and she became a familiar face in Monogram features for the next several years, especially in the recurring role of Betty Rogers.

Noel appears in the last of the original Charlie Chan movies, Sky Dragon (1949), and also played damsels in distress in Monogram westerns and Republic Pictures serials.

Superman

The film role of Betty Rogers, aggressive reporter for a high-school newspaper, led to the role of Lois Lane. In 1945 producer Sam Katzman gave Noel Neill the recurring role of Betty in his series of "Teen Agers" musical comedies. When Katzman was casting his Superman serial for Columbia Pictures, he remembered Noel Neill's newshawk portrayals and signed her to play Lois Lane. She played the role in the 1948 and 1950 serials, with Kirk Alyn playing Clark Kent/Superman.

Noel Neill as Lois Lane in Stamp Day for Superman

When Superman came to television in 1951, veteran movie actors George Reeves and Phyllis Coates took the leading roles for the first season. By the time the series found a sponsor and a network time slot, Coates had committed herself to another production, so the producers called on Noel Neill, who had played Lois Lane in the movies. She continued in the role until the series went off the air in 1958, making her the actress most closely associated with the role.

While Phyllis Coates generally distanced herself from the role, Noel Neill embraced her association with Lois Lane, giving frequent talks on college campuses during the 1970s, when interest in the series was revived, endearing herself to audiences with her warmth and humor.

Noel Neill has continued to appear in Superman related productions. She played Lois Lane's mother in a cameo for the 1978 film Superman, with Kirk Alyn as Lois' father. In an episode of the TV series Superboy she appeared alongside her former cast-mate Jack Larson, who had played Jimmy Olsen on TV. Her personal appearance at the Metropolis, Illinois, Superman Festival was featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. As "Aunt Lois" she has a guest appearance in the independent superhero film Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes, and she plays the role of dying widow Gertrude Vanderworth in Superman Returns (2006).

In 2003, an authorized biography of Neill was published. It was entitled Truth, Justice, & The American Way: The Life And Times Of Noel Neill, The Original Lois Lane by Larry Thomas Ward (Nicholas Lawrence Books, softcover, ISBN 0-9729466-0-8). A limited-edition, expanded version of the book was released in 2006.

Noel Neill and Jack Larson donated their time to record commentaries for the DVD releases of the Superman TV episodes. Noel remarked on the documentary Look, Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman that a frequent question she would get from children at the time was, "Why don't you know that Clark Kent was Superman, just wearing a pair of those darn eyeglasses?" And Neill replied to the children (and later to college audiences), "I don't want to lose my job!"

Notes

  • In the 1956 episode "Tomb of Zaharan", Lois Lane was stated to be 26 years old, exactly 10 years younger than Neill was at the time.
  • It's a staple of Hollywood history that Betty Grable's pin-up was #1 among G.I.s during World War II, but rumor had it that the #2 poster girl was Noel Neill.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b Larry Thomas, Ward (2003). Truth, Justice, and the American Way: The Life and Times of Noel Neill. Nicholas Lawrence Books. ISBN 978-0972946605.  

External links








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