Friday, July 15, 2016

Women We Love: Lois Lane

Noel Neill aka Lois Lane
She was only playing a role, but Noel Neill was my role model. She played Lois Lane in tv's (and to my mind never equaled) "Superman". Noel died last week at age 95.

Lois was a valuable reporter on the Daily Planet. Although there were never other women on staff, she was not relegated to the women's pages. Lois worked for the blustering editor Perry White, was boon companion to Clark Kent/Superman and benevolent mentor to cub reporter Jimmy Olsen. Please don't tell me the "great metropolitan newspaper" was meant to be anywhere other than New York City.

Perry White, Superman aka Clark Kent, Jimmy, Lois

Noel originated the Lois Lane role in the 1948 Superman movie serial. The first tv Lois (1952-53) was actually played by Phyllis Coates (still with us at age 89). Phyllis was very pretty in that 1950s-Ozzie-and-Harriet kind of way. Noel returned to the role for tv and stayed with it through 1958. They looked similar, but as if Phyllis had a spunk makeover.

Phyllis as Lois 1952

Noel as Lois 1948
There was always that twinkle in Noel's eye. She was up for anything and not afraid of danger. I'd have to re-watch the old shows to be sure of this— and I just might— but I remember thinking Lois knew Clark was Superman but liked him enough to keep his secret. She also realized it was foolish to think their relationship would go any further.

So this 1950s working gal was in it for the job, not to meet Prince Charming. Although her character insisted on wearing hats a little longer than most women around me, I liked her no-nonsense tailored suits. I liked her even more when she stripped down to that white shirt and pencil skirt when the action called for it.

Business casual

Noel was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota to a journalist father. Although she showed early promise as an entertainer, her first job out of college was as a reporter (of all things) for Women's Wear Daily. She was a popular photographic model, whose "pin-ups" rated #2 among GIs behind Betty Grable. Small roles in movies followed, then the series of early Superman serials starring Kirk Allyn as Superman. Noel joined the tv cast in 1953 and stayed with the show through 1958, when it was cancelled due to the death of actor George Reeves, the tv Superman.
Noel as the #2 pin-up

Although acting roles became few and far between, Neil never shied away from her connection to Lois Lane. She had guest parts in several of the Superman cinema reboots (one as the dying wife of Lex Luther) and often appeared at Superman-related events— with a great sense of humor, stories to tell and more of that spunk. 

1 comment:

  1. They may have called Lois Lane a "girl reporter" but she was a model for bright and fearless women. (Even if she did need to be rescued too often....) At least she took her job seriously!