The Ominous Octopus

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Carol Forman And The Spider Lady

Carol Foreman is best known for her roles as "The Black Widow" and "The Spider Lady" in the serials THE BLACK WIDOW and SUPERMAN.

Carol Forman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Carol Forman
Born(1918-06-19)June 19, 1918
Epps, Alabama
DiedJuly 9, 1997(1997-07-09) (aged 79)
Burbank, California
OccupationTelevision actress
Carol Foreman (19 June 1918, Epps, Alabama – 9 July 1997, Burbank, California) was an American actress best known for playing exotic villains in action serials, particularly The Spider Lady in the 1948 Superman Serial.

 External links

SUPERMAN and the sequal ATOM MAN VS. SUPERMAN were the most successful serials ever made. But they were out of circulation for years, because the arrangement that they had with DC comics had been only for a limited time, after which they were withdrawn. A great deal of misinformation circulated about these serials during the period that they were unavailable for viewing.

Some accounts had it that Carol Forman had given a poor performance and flubbed a number of lines. Today these serials are back in circulation, and modern viewers are able to decide for themselves how well Carol Forman did in the part of "The Spider Lady".

This version makes it look like The Spider Lady is Superman's costar.

A scene from the serial.

                                                       THE SPIDER LADY

Some elements of the first Superman serial were taken from the Superman radio show, which had a story involving kryptonite and a villlianess called "The Scarlet Widow". But this character was described as "gaunt and ungly" ( something that was all too typical on a program that tended to depict female characters unfavorably ), while The Spider Lady was beautiful.*

The fact is that The Spider Lady is about the same character as the Black Widow that Carol Forman had played in the previous serial,

                             who resembled "The Dragon Lady" in "Terry and the Pirates".

There were also similarities to the "Spider Woman" of the 1944 Sherlock Holmes movie, particularly the way the character on the poster was depicted in the center of a web.
Although Sherlock Holmes won the first time around, he was somehow missing from the sequal.
Which made it look as if the Spider Woman was still running around loose after all.
It was only natural that after the tremendous success of the character in other mediums, Superman would conquer television. But when they made the television show, they passed up all the people who had starred in the serials in favor of new actors. Of the principals, only Noel Neill would return to the role she had played in the serials, and that only after Phyllis Coates left the series.

Carol Forman and Lyle Talbot ( Luthor in the second serial ) were still active on television during this same period, but were never used on the Superman show. I suspect it was due to some sort of prejudice on the part of the production people, who based the new television version on the old radio show rather than the serials.

However, even though Carol Forman didn't turn up again on the television show, they did reuse her "Black Widow" costume in one episode, "The Riddle Of The Chinese Jade", in which it was worn by Gloria Saunders.

Who also played "The Dragon Lady" on the "Terry and the Pirates" show.

Which made it look as if the Spider Lady had snuck back into "The Adventures Of Superman" after all.
In 1952, Kirk Alyn and Carol Forman made another serial for Sam Katzman, BLACKHAWK. Once again Carol Forman played about the same character as the Black Widow.
While Kirk Alyn played another comic book hero, who could be compared to Superman.

This was to be the last serial that either Carol Forman or Kirk Alyn made. The age of the serial was coming to an end.
In one of her last roles, Carol Forman had a cameo appearance in this Doris Day musical as "Dangerous Dora", the villianess in a little boy's fantasy, who once more was about the same character as she had been playing in the serials.
"The Black Widow" that appeared in Marvel comics in 1964 was originally about the same character that Carol Forman had played in the 1947 serial, which had been run on television prior to the comic book character's first appearance.
Later, the Marvel character became a superhero and changed her costume, which decreased the similarities between the serial charachter and the comic book character.
"The Scarlet Widow" character was revived eventually for a revival of the play IT'S A BIRD, IT'S A PLANE, IT'S SUPERMAN. Or so they said.
The Scarlet Widow they had is a young woman ( Julie Johnson ) who is described as "voluptuous" and is named "Sombra". This is actually the name of the "Black Widow" played by Carol Forman in the old serial.  


An appreciation of Carol Forman from another site:

Reblogged from http://www.stevehodel.com/evidenceroom/?p=1396 :

Kelvin Hodel- Tim Holt Anecdote
My younger brother, Kelvin “Kelly” Hodel was born in October, 1942, just eleven-months after the birth of my twin John and I. He would be Dorothy and George’s, fourth, and final son. Kelly from an early age “loved the girls” and believe me—the girls LOVED him. A 1949 Franklin House Kelvin anecdote is appropriate:
In 1948 -1949 our father rented out many of the rooms at the Franklin House to creative types, generally, artists and actors. During that time, one of the “roomers” was a beautiful actress named, Carol Forman. (Photo below) At the time she was living with us she was dating film star, Tim Holt, who naturally, came and went on a regular basis.
Brother Kelly, then age-6 or 7 had a terrible crush on Carol, and whenever Tim showed up to take her on a date, Kelly would object, informing Holt in no uncertain terms, “she’s my girlfriend.” Finally, Holt could take it no longer and took Kelly into the center courtyard, mano-a-mano and came up with the following suggestion:
“Look Kelly. You’re too young to be with Carol now. I will date her only until you get old enough and then you and Carol can get married, and I will get on my horse and ride off. Fair enough?”
Kelly agreed, Holt & Hodel shook hands, and the battle for Carol’s heart was ended.

And now for a little appreciation of my own:

I imagine all the little boys were crazy about Carol Forman at the time. And I can remember that when I was a boy I kissed a picture of her myself  that was in the book DAYS OF THRILLS AND ADVENTURE by Alan Barbour.
What red-blooded American boy wouldn't go for Carol Forman?
Especially since she wasn't really a villian, it was only in fun.

*There was also a comic book character called "The Spider Widow",  a beautiful girl who only disguised herself as an ugly old woman. The Spider Widow's first appearance in comics was in 1942, while radio's Scarlet Widow didn't appear until 1945.






http://movielab.tv/movieplayer.php?name=By the Light of the Silvery Moon&year=1953

Carol Forman:

Carol Forman:

Carol Forman and Tim Holt:

Carol Forman Obituary:

Sam Katzman:

The Scarlet Widow ( Radio Version ):

Revival Version:




Superman Serial Review:

Superman Serial Review:

Superman and Blackhawk Serial Review:

Terry And The Pirates ( TV Version ):


  1. Marvel has the problem that they have two characters code-named "Black Widow". The first was Claire Voyant, who debuted in Mystic Comics #4 (Aug 1940). (BTW, this version was impersonated by a time-traveling Carol Danvers in the 2008 mini-series Avengers/Invaders.) The second was Natalia Romanova, aka Natasha Romanoff, from the U. S. S. R. There appear to be several other similarly-powered Soviet women, but only one (Yelena Belova) has attempted to use the code name.

    1. "The Black Widow" in her early 1960's appearances was a dark-haired spy character close enough to the serial version that it looked like a continuation of the same character. But they never said that was what they were doing, although Stan Lee said Spider-Man was partly inspired by "The Spider", another character they used in the old serials.

  2. Fwd:Re: [Cliffhangerserials] Carol Forman And The Spider Woman
    Posted By: jconole jconole

    When I was a 12 year old at the Saturday Matinees at the old Grand Theater in
    Binghamton, NY I had a huge crush on Carol Foreman----still do.

  3. Heh. MY earliest crush was on Jean Rogers. ;)

    And it's funny, Benny. DC Comics used to have a fanzine titled Amazing World of DC Comics, and in one issue, they focused on Superman, and had a synopsis of each of his serials.

    They also said the serials were lost for good due to a warehouse fire in the 1950's. When they got re-released in the mid-1980's, I always thought someone found the serials in their grandfather's attic or something. :)

    Great blog, by the way, sir! :)

    1. Jean Rogers was one I wrote to, and she sent me an autographed picture of herself from the first Flash Gordon serial.

      I don't know they had the original negatives for the Superman serials, but they were supposed to have still had them in storage somewhere when they finally reissued the serials. Although a lot of other old movies were lost in warehouse fires, because the old nitrocellulose film was unstable and could spontaneously ignite.

  4. Fwd: Cliffhangerserials:Re: Carol Forman And The Spider Woman
    Posted By: swindol...

    I met Carol Forman at the Memphis Film Festival many years ago and she still
    looked GREAT! She got a little upset at me because I almost pulled her chair
    away from her by mistake when she was standing posing for a picture. She gave me
    one dirty look but later she laughed about it and signed my photo "Next time be
    careful" LOL
    I do treasure that autograph.

  5. Somebody said on facebook that's Shirley Jones as "Sombra" in the Superman play.

  6. Correction, somebody said that's Shirley Jones, not Sombra. Shirley Jones merely happened to be in the picture with the guy that was playing Superman. Although there was a Sombra in the play.

  7. Carol was my Great Aunt. Love seeing stories about her from people who knew her. I only met her a few times as a child.

  8. Benny, Carol was my Great Aunt. I only met her a few times as a child when she came home to Alabama. I love the stories from people who knew her or are fans.

  9. Carol was my Great Aunt. Love seeing stories about her from people who knew her. I only met her a few times as a child.

  10. Thanks for telling us about your aunt Carol, Davey Hatcher.