Jack Larson, the Jimmy Olsen of my youth in “Adventures of Superman” died in California Sunday at the age of 87.
87! I remember when he was just a kid!
The obituaries all point out how he was typecast as Jimmy forever after playing the cub reporter with the geeky bowtie at the Daily Planet from 1952-1958. But what I didn’t know what that he was also a playwright, and had done the libretto for an opera.
He was also a “confirmed bachelor,” having been a lover of Montgomery Cliff and sharing his later years with producer and director James Bridges.
I remember his first appearance as Jimmy:
But the second episode was all his:
This is from the 1952 episode “The Haunted Lighthouse.” Jimmy goes to visit his aunt at the shore, but strange things happen, including the plaintiff cry in the distance:
Yep, that episode of Superman, seen many times in reruns in the early 1960s, freaked my baby mind out. I don’t think I watched the full episode without hiding my eyes until decades later.
But anyone who remembers the days of George Reeves (Superman/Clark Kent), Phyllis Coates (Lois Lane season one), Noel Neill (Lois Lane the rest of the series and the preceding movie serial) and John Hamilton (Perry White) knows that the first season of “Superman” was really scary. (Remember the two-part Mole Men story, or the guy who trapped Superman in the chamber and tried to electrocute him, or the deserted village with the people in the gas masks? Freaky, right?) The show wasn’t really geared toward kids until the second season.
Jimmy was always getting into scary situations, but the first season it was out of curiosity. The later seasons, he was just goofy.
But that’s probably why he appealed to kids. He was just like one of us.
Here he is in a savings bond commercial with Lois and Clark:
He did appear in another Superman movie years later:
I guess this means Phyllis Coates and Noel Neill are the last survivors of the series?