Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Superman Saw Seamy Side of Hollywood Book about the Death of George Reeves Lights Up Dirty and Dark Corners

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Superman Saw Seamy Side of Hollywood Book about the Death of George Reeves Lights Up Dirty and Dark Corners

Article excerpt

HE COULD CHANGE the course of mighty rivers and bend steel in his bare hands. But, disguised as actor George Reeves, Superman - the 1950s incarnation - proved both sad and sadly mortal.

Reeves died in 1959 of a gunshot wound to the head, a demise that went down in Hollywood's annals as self-inflicted. He'd been depressed at being typecast, conventional wisdom went. But a husband-wife investigative reporting team have dug into old files and old jealousies and unearthed a different story.

"Hollywood Kryptonite: The Bulldog, The Lady and The Death of Superman," by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger (St. Martin's Press, $21.95), suggests that Reeves was the victim of Eddie and Toni Mannix. Eddie was a hood turned Hollywood studio enforcer; Toni, his wife, was having an affair with the erstwhile Man of Steel. Along the way, the book provides illuminating glimpses into the seamy side of 1950s Hollywood, into what it means to portray a hero and the mindset that ruined many movie actors who did TV work. "It had always bothered me and my friends, watching the show endlessly on reruns," says Kashner, 42, who most recently co-wrote a book on Oscar Levant with Schoenberger. "Here was this guy, standing up to the bad guys with hands on his hips, bullets bouncing off his torso," Kashner says. "To know he was dead and had died under a cloud was disquieting for kids growing up." Employing a wonderfully over-the-top Raymond Chandler style ("She was a handsome woman with a brooch where her heart should have been"), the couple has uncovered enough information to make Lois Lane proud. "We wanted to write about a pure product of American culture, and we wanted to make it a homage to the hardboiled detective genre," says Schoenberger, 45. "But they were all straight out of Central Casting anyway. The characters in the story are so wild - almost too wild to be true." This is gripping (melo)drama, complete with shadowy figures, hang-up phone calls at midnight, mistresses, tainted evidence, a possessive mother and gunshots in the night. The narrative, too, is fascinating: It unfolds in an intricate manner while revisiting June 17, 1959, the night of Reeves' death, several different times from differing perspectives. The authors' ability to shift the lens - and view the death from all angles - lends credence to their ultimate charge of murder. "I really believe our conclusion," Schoenberger says. "You couldn't take this to court because there are no living witnesses and the forensic material was so incomplete to begin with. But we tried to make the most compelling circumstantial case that we could." The B-movie characters: Toni Mannix, aging, elegant glamour girl. She saw Reeves not only as a classically handsome boy toy but also as a man who would give her the affection that her husband wouldn't. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.