Half a Century without
Honest George, the People's Friend

June 16, 2009

We all need heroes on this planet. to shelter us from Life's storms. There's not one among us who is without need of help, counseling, and guidance. Whether it e hurt of body or mind, anger, revenge, jealousy, betrayal, loss, or grief, we all look for someone to look up to. It's part of having faith. It's part of going on, when everything around us looks lost. It is the fabric of humanity.

The old saying used to be, "Where were you whe the Kennedys got shot?" The day the dreams died. The same holds true for Dr. Martin Luther King, who told us shortly before he was gunned down, "I have a dream." Echoes of our past. To some, ancient history; to some, just yesterday.

If you were a kid growing up in the 50s, there were plenty of heroes on television. The Lone Raner, Cisco Kid, Rocky Jones Space Ranger, Captain Video, Sky King, and a host of others flashed across the video screen in living rooms throughout America, providing kids of all ages endless hours of entertainment.

Among all this nifty 50s fodder, one hero stood out above all others: Superman! Embodied in the person of actor George Reees, this first superhero was everything that kids would look up to. After the show's debut in early 1953, kids soon believed that George Reeves, the man, was indeed a man from Krypton who had come to earth as a saviour of the human race. The stuff dreams are made of, but a tough gig for a mere mortal/

George was many things to many people, but human nonetheless, and this was proven by his generosity to all whose path he crossed. The reality is that George was a fine, highly trained actor and a fun-loving human being who fifty years ago today met a tragic demise.

Why, what, and who should not be the focus of our remembrance of this man. Volumes have been spoken and written about those events. We should take time to remember the gifts this extraordinary individual gave us; to his audience, his films and television appearances; to those who knew him, the pleasure of his company and friendship.

One of my oldest friends, Hank Dandini, told me something the other day that in all the years we've known each other, I was unaware of. "In late June of 1959, my family and I were enjoying a day at the beach. At the time, my sister was madly in love with George Reeves and he had just recently died. So my Mom and Dad, at her request, detoured and stopped by the Chapel of Gates at the Kingsley Gates Mortuary at 1500 Sepulveda Boulevard that afternoon. I remember the interior was a sepia color, and there were pillars in the room where George lay in state. No one was around. He was there in the casket as my sister paid her respects. It's a memory that I've always had."

It's been half a century since George left the planet. One thing George used to ask a co-worker during the Superman years was, "I wish I knew if I had any adult fans." Well, would he be surprised. The world would not be the same place without George Reeves. Heroes do last forever.

Back to Home Page