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Men Without Steel
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Does A “Superman Curse” Grip Hollywood?


By James Donahue


Everybody knows that actor Christopher Reeve, who gained fame after playing a role as Superman in a series of films, met with a tragic end after falling from a horse in 1995. He became a paraplegic and then died from complications.


People who pay attention to Hollywood goings-on say there are more tragedies linked to a list of actors who not only played Superman roles in the past, but played supporting roles as well. Now that Time Warner is planning yet a new Hollywood version of the Superman adventure, there are growing murmurs about a Superman Curse.


Indeed, while the Reeve tragedy is the best known of the lot, older movie fans who remember him say that another actor with a similar name, George Reeves, who played a Superman television series in the 1950s, died of a mysterious gunshot wound to the head in 1959. The death was officially called a suicide, although many believe Reeves was murdered.


The first Superman movie, filmed in 1948, saw actor Kirk Alyn playing the title role. Kirk who? And that is the point. Alyn was an obscure actor struggling to get his big break and it came with the Superman serial. But after the serial ended Alyn’s film career also came to an end. He retired to Arizona never to be heard of again. Was it a curse or just bad acting?


Bud Collver, who voiced the first cartoon Superman in the 1940s, continued on to create and host the game show To Tell the Truth. When he returned to be the cartoon voice behind The New Adventures of Superman in 1966, however, he died three years later of a circulation condition.


Coincidence or a curse?


The stories behind the fates of former actors that played Superman roles may have had something to do with decisions by actors Paul Walker and Josh Hartnett to turn down offers to play the title role in the new Superman movie.


British actor Henry Cavill has reportedly been cast for the role, however, and thus the production of Superman Lives has begun. The film is scheduled to be released sometime in 2012.


But wait, there is more to this so-called curse. Margot Kidder, the woman cast as Lois Lane in all four of the film series alongside Christopher Reeve, suffered a nervous breakdown and also went into bankruptcy.


Comedian and actor Richard Pryor, who appeared in Superman III, died of Multiple Sclerosis. Before that, he suffered a heart attack in 1990.


A spokesman for the Warner Brothers film crew, Bryan Singer, recently suggested that the film crew is now taking the hit.


“One of the crew tumbled down stairs, another was beaten up while being mugged, and a third smashed into a glass window,” Singer said.


Since announcing plans to film another Superman film, Time Warner also has been plagued by a lawsuit brought by the heirs of Jerome Siegel, one of the original creators of the comic book character in 1932. A federal judge ruled in 2008 that the film company must share the copyright in 2013.