The Ominous Octopus

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Noel Neill

Noel Neill is best known for playing "Lois Lane".

Noel Neill

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Noel Neill

Noel Neill in February 2008
Born(1920-11-25) November 25, 1920 (age 91)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Years active1940 - present
Noel Neill (born November 25, 1920) is an American actress in motion pictures and television. She is best known as her portrayal of Lois Lane in the film serials Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950), and on the 1950s television series Adventures of Superman.



 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.


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, beginning with Junior Prom in 1946. 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 film serials Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950), with Kirk Alyn portraying Superman/Clark Kent.
When Adventures of 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 for five seasons until the series went off the air in 1958. She was scheduled to appear in the seventh season with co-star Jack Larson in 1960, but after the tragic and sudden death of Superman actor George Reeves, the seventh season was cancelled, officially ending the show.
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 Gertrude Vanderworth (the dying elderly wife of Lex Luthor) 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. Ward would write another book, Beyond Lois Lane (Nicholas Lawrence Books, hardcover, ISBN 978-09729466-1-2) in 2007 which focused on Neill's other acting work and modeling work presented in an array of rare publicity stills, studio press releases, film reviews, newspaper commentaries, and candid photographs.
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!"
On June 15, 2010, the southern Illinois city of Metropolis, Illinois (the city that calls itself the "official home of Superman") unveiled a statue of Lois Lane. The Lois Lane statue is modelled on Noel Neill. Neill stated that she was honored to be memorialized with the statue.[2]
On July 23, 2010, Neill fell in her home in Tucson, Arizona and broke her hip. She was hospitalized for surgery at Tucson Medical Center. "I'm honestly not sure Noel will be able to survive the after-effects of the surgery and the fall," Neill's friend and biographer, Larry Ward said. "At this point, all we can do is keep her comfortable and hope the pain subsides soon."[3]


  • 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]


  1. ^ a b Larry Thomas, Ward (2003). Truth, Justice, and the American Way: The Life and Times of Noel Neill. Nicholas Lawrence Books. ISBN 978-0-9729466-0-5.
  2. ^ ABC Local - Metropolis unveils statue of Superman's Lois Lane June 15, 2010
  3. ^ http://www.kold.com/global/story.asp?s=12869976

External links

Noel Neill has recovered from the accident mentioned in the wikipedia article. She made a brief
appearance in June at the Superman Festival in Metropolis, IL where she now

                                              One of the most popular pin-ups of World War II.

On the set of Paramount's OUT OF THIS WORLD, left to right, Julie Gibson, Noel, Gloria Saunders and Kay Scott enjoy ice cream between takes.

Gloria Saunders would later appear on THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, wearing Carol Forman's "Black Widow" dress. She would also play "The Dragon Lady" on TERRY AND THE PIRATES.

Noel Neill as a sarong girl in BRICK BRADFORD, which also featured Carol Forman.

Noel Neill as Lois Lane and Carol Forman as the Spider Lady in SUPERMAN.

With Kirk Alyn as Clark Kent in SUPERMAN.

FORGOTTEN WOMEN. Here we see Noel Neill, who played "Lois Lane", with Veda Ann Borg, who played "Margo Lane".

The standard "Lois Lane suit" for television. Her wardrobe seldom varied,

 although she did get a chance to show up Liz Taylor on one episode as "Queen of the Nile".

                                                                  "Great Scott!"

( Superman tries to look innocent. He usually does. )

George Reeves and Noel Neill taking a break from working on the series. George Reeves appears to be drinking coffee and Noel Neill seems to be knitting.

Noel Neill on tour with George Reeves in the late fifties.

Gene Lebell also appeared as "Mr. Kryptonite", a villian made up for the tour. He fought Superman over Lois Lane, something that somehow never got into the tv version.

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane.

The Superman series was a smash hit, and Noel Neill had never been more popular. Her popularity continued as the series was run again and again on television.

When the show ended, Noel Neill simply retired. And she lived happily ever after

But there are those who don't want this story to have this happy ending. They don't like it that way. They would not have it that Noel Neill's portrail of Lois Lane was either good or popular. Some of them wouldn't even have it that Lois Lane was Superman's girlfriend or that she should want to marry him.

But Lois Lane is supposed to be Superman's girlfriend. And when she got her own comic book, it said so right on the cover.

Lois Lane's wanting to marry Superman is a recurring occurance, and likewise is a recurring thing on the cover of these comics.

In 1996, Lois Lane and Clark Kent got married in the comic book and a "wedding album" comic book was also released. The wedding in the comics was made to coincide with the wedding of the same characters on the TV series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

So the idea of Lois Lane wanting to marry Superman is a recurring element that is important to the character and the series.

The author of this book wants you to think that something is wrong with Noel Neill's portrail of Lois Lane on the television program. He does not think Lois Lane should act as if she in love with Superman. He does not want Lois Lane to want to marry Superman.

 He is also critical of Noel Neill being bosomy.

But the original idea was that Lois Lane was bosomy.

Sketch of Lois Lane by Jerry Siegel, the original artist.

There's also a claim in this book that The Adventures Of Superman was the victim of a "mammy fixation" of the 1950's and that the films of the forties were somehow different.

The problem is that the emphasis on women's bosoms can be seen in many films made during the 1940's. Jane Russell's famous movie THE OUTLAW was made in this period, and not only that, but Howard Hughes successfully defended his film in the censorship case by demonstrating that other actresses prior to Jane Russell had already exposed more bosom than Jane Russell did in THE OUTLAW.

Marie Wilson
mentioned by the defense in the OUTLAW case as having bared more bosom in the movies than Jane Russell did in Howard Hughes' western.

Carole Landis
said to be "The Original Sweater Girl".

Lana Turner ( 1937 )
famous as "The Sweater Girl".

Maria Montez ( 1942 )
who made a series of "Tits and Sand" movies.

Paulette Goddard, Dorothy Lamour, and Veronica Lake ( 1943 )
"The Sweater, The Sarong, And The Peek-A-Boo Bang" number from STAR SPANGLED RHYTHM.

Iolna Massey

Rita Hayworth
one of the most popular pin-up pictures of WWII.

Jane Russell ( 1943 )
Publicity photo for THE OUTLAW.

Jane Adams ( 1945 )
"Vicki Vale" in the 1949 serial BATMAN AND ROBIN. Which was just like another version of Lois Lane, and in ATOM MAN VS. SUPERMAN Noel Neill would reuse one of her costumes.

Virginia Mayo

Marie McDonald
She wasn't called "The Body" for nothing.

The comic books of the 1940's were influenced by the movies of the period and similarly saw an increased emphasis on the bosom, something that was later noted by Dr. Fredric Wertham in his book SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT.

A couple of comic book covers used as illustrations by Wertham:

BLUE BEETLE # 54 ( March 1948 )
Wertham's caption, "Children call these 'headlights' comics."

PHANTOM LADY #17 ( April 1949 )
Wertham's caption, "Sexual stimulation by combining 'headlights' with a sadist's dream of tying up a woman."

The term "headlights" was used by Ann Sheridan in the 1940 movie THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT.
Warner Brothers called Ann Sheridan the "Oomph Girl". They gave her falsies in order to ensure that she would appear bosomy.

Something also used by another girl who is part of this story:

Phyllis Coates

Grossman says something's wrong with Noel Neill appearing bosomy, but not Phyllis Coates, although he mentions right in the book that she wore falsies.

And somehow Phyllis Coates doesn't really seem right as Lois Lane. I would blame the scripts more than anything else, the first season doesn't have her acting like Superman's girlfriend, she doesn't seem to want to marry Superman, and she had only one line in the whole first season that even sounded as if she might possibly have any sort of romantic inclinations to Superman ( and that was a joke. ) It's like she's not really playing Lois Lane, they just use the name.

 If some fans prefer that version, I'll let them. I don't see much point in arguing about it. And I don't really have anything else to say about Phyllis Coates right now, except that I'll do her story another time.

Fan club for Noel Neill:

Lois Lane and Lola Lane ( Noel Neill Mention ):

Maria Montez, Well Known For "Tits And Sand" Movies In The 1940's:

Noel Neill:






Noel Neill Comes Home To Metropolis:

Noel Neill Statue:

Noel Neill in WWII Publication:

Sam Katzman:


Special thanks to Darci for his help with this blog.



  1. Benny,
    I'm not familiar with this book, but it sure sounds like he only liked the first season of the show.

  2. I think part of the problem was that Grossman wanted to work in a "women's lib" ( topical at the time ) angle, but he was misrepresenting the films of the forties and the character of Lois Lane.

  3. This (4.bp.blogspot.com/-5qzkpLO57jQ/UKVa8jZSwNI/AAAAAAAAHV4/8TFXFEZ2LEM/s1600/Ilona+Massey.jpg) is not Iolna Massey. This (http://images.google.com/search?q=Iolna%20Massey&orq=+Iolna+Massey&tbo=d&biw=1366&bih=651&sei=xu7DUNHPIoi6iQecu4HICA&tbm=isch) is. If you ever find out who the image really is, please let us know - she's quite... intersting.

    1. Thanks, Ted Kennedy. When I got it, it was labeled as Ilona Massey. - Benny Drinnon

  4. Your mystery lady is the singer Eydie Gorme, she can sing too!