On the 13 May the world was dealt a terrible blow with the announcement of Margot Kidder’s death at the age of 69. The actress’s most memorable role was that of Lois Lane to Christopher Reeve’s Superman/Clark Kent in the 1978-1987 versions of the Superman franchise.
Now how is this relevant to the the Curse of Superman?
What exactly is the Curse of Superman?
The Curse of Superman has been around since the beginning of the comic books. It has plagued almost everyone involved in the franchise, whether it be the the leading man playing the man of steel, or his co-stars and crew (sometimes even the DVD deliver guys). It’s a series of events surrounding the franchise, some horrific and others down right laughable. April this year marked the 80th anniversary of the creation of this iconic character: Superman. The two well known people to be “affected” by the curse are George Reeves and Christopher Reeves – not related – just a really bizarre coincidence- both who portrayed the Man of Steel.
George Reeves played the man of steel in the 1950’s adaptation of the comic books. Since Superman is such an iconic role, he often couldn’t find work after the portrayal as many felt he was Superman (Type casting at its best). Tragedy struck on 16 June 1959, literally days before he was suppose to be married, he was found dead from a gunshot wound in his home. His pistol was found near his body. It was rulled as a suicide, but as there wasn’t any of his fingerprints present on the gun, its led to serveral conspiracy theories saying he was murdered. To add fuel to the fire of this conspiracy, he had been having an affair with the wife of MGM exec Eddie Mannix. It was his death that first sparked the term: Curse of Superman.
Christopher Reeves is probably the Superman everyone remembers and is fondly thought of the real Man of Steel. He played Superman and his civillian counterpart Clark Kent in the Superman films; Superman: The Movie (1978), Superman II (1980), Superman III (1983), and Superman VI: The Quest for Peace (1987). Obviously being linked to the the iconic, and frequently type casted, role, he often found it difficult to find lead roles in films outside of the franchise. Tragedy struck this leading man on 27 May 1995, when he was thrown from hos horse during a cross-country equestrian riding event, he was paralysed from the neck down. He died on 10 October 2004 from heart failure linked to his medical condition.
This curse is not limited to the silver screen- cartoon, live action films or tv shows- it also affected the creators of the comics; Writer Jerry Siegel and Artist Joe Shuster. They sold the rigths to DC comics for $130 ( thats just over $2000 in today’s currency-pathetic). Later in life Shuster’s eyesight started to worsen preventing him from drawing. He worked as a deliveryman to earn a living. A sad fact was that DC’s CEO called Shuster to visit him, gave him a hundred dollars to him instructing him to buy a new coat and to find a new job. By 1976 Shuster was almost blind and living in a nursing home in California.
In a show of true camaraderie, Siegel launched a campaign in 1975 protestng against DC Comics’ treatment of Shuster and himself.
Dc’s parent company, Warner Communcations, hearing their plea add their byline (which had been dropped from the comics more than 30 years earlier) and gave them a lifetime pension of $20,000 annually plus health benefits. The first issue with the restored credit was: Superman #302 in 1976.
Shuster died in 1992 and Siegel passed four years later in 1996.
The Curse of Superman may have taken its latest victim in its spree, but we can only hope its going to be the last.