For the past 25 years, I've been an actor and stand-up comedian, having performed everywhere from comedy clubs and colleges to cruises and Carnegie Hall. I've had the good fortune to have met many wonderful and famous people over the years. Of all the celebrities I've gotten to meet and know, four particularly stand out in my mind. Their names are Robert Shayne, Jack Larson, Phyllis Coates and Noel Neill. If these names are familiar to you, it is because you are old enough to remember one of the greatest television shows of the 1950s called The Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves as Superman.
I grew up with that show, as did many other people my age, and I loved it dearly. I also had a great admiration and love for the star, George Reeves. I guess it was this feeling I had for him that brought him to me on the morning of December 1, 1990 and eventually led to my getting to meet the other stars of the Superman series. Yes, I did say "brought him to me," for as you know, George Reeves died on June 16, 1959.
As I said before, I've always loved Superman and George Reeves since I was a kid. My wife and I were living in Encino, California in an apartment complex where most of the residents were quite elderly. We liked it because it was quiet and peaceful there. In the 3½ years we were living there, we had never heard any noises of any kind from our neighbors. It was the week after Thanksgiving and I just arrived home from a gig on the road. It was the beginning of a week full of events happening to us relating to George Reeves.
First of all, while I was away, I had my wife tape a Superman festival that Jack Larson, the actor who played Jimmy Olsen, used to host every Thanksgiving on New York station WOR. Later in the week, I had to go into Beverly Hills to buy a tuxedo for a show I was going to be doing with Merv Griffin in Atlantic City. On our way to the store, my wife and I got a bit lost and noticed we had stumbled onto Reeves Drive. Finally, we arrive at The Malibu Clothing store, and while shopping for my tux couldn't help but notice the photos of all the famous people on the walls who had been customers over the years. Suddenly my wife said, "Honey, look at this photo." There was an autographed photo of my childhood hero, George Reeves in his Superman costume. I remember offering the salesman $200 to buy the picture, but they declined.
Later that week, while I was working at a comedy club on Sunset Blvd., I watched the comic on stage doing a routine about famous Hollywood ghosts. He talked about Ozzie Nelson and then about George Reeves. He had a booklet with him that showed the location of George Reeves home and I asked him if I could look at it. Naturally, I wanted to see where George lived, so the next night my wife and I took the ride up Benedict Canyon to take a look at my hero's former residence.
We made our way up the long and winding hill until we finally reached the address. We stopped the car across the street to view the house. My wife, who is 14 years younger than I, knew nothing about George's death and very little about the Superman show, other than having seen some episodes that I had on tape. I was explaining to her how he died, having been shot in the head. I pointed to the bedroom above the garage and told her that was his bedroom where he died. My wife isn't psychic, but she is a very intuitive person. She'll say to me things like, "Watch out for that person, he's no good" or "that guy's cheating on his wife" and she's always right. As we were getting ready to leave, out of nowhere, she said to me, "You know, honey, the way you love George, wouldn't it be something if he could do something for you?"
I looked at her kind of funny and she said, "Why did I say that?" We both laughed about her strange statement and drove home.
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