Joanne Siegel, The Inspiration for Lois Lane, Passes Away at 93
Joanne Siegel, the original model for Lois Lane and the wife of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, passed away yesterday at the age of 93. Joanne met Siegel and his co-creator Joe Shuster when she was a teenager in the 1930s, and responded to a newspaper ad for a model.
When Siegel saw her, he believed he had found the face of of a certain character he was working on for a comic book. “I thought she was the perfect ideal for Lois Lane,” said Jerry Siegel in a 1981 documentary called Superman: The Comic Strip Hero. “She just represented my image of her.”Joanne and Jerry would later marry in 1948, and after Jerry’s passing in 1996, Joanne took up the legal battle with Warner Bros to take back the copyright to the Superman character, which Siegel and Shuster originally sold for a mere $130. Joanne called regaining the copyright “a dream of Jerry’s,” and the Siegel family would later regain a share of the copyright in 2008.
The Beat has posted an obituary for Joanne written by Bradley Ricca, a filmmaker currently working on a documentary about the Siegels. Ricca focuses on Joanne’s doggedness during the legal battle, which still had not reached a final settlement at the time of her death:
It bears repeating because no matter whose side you may be on in this, the defining battle of comics (legal, moral, economic, or otherwise), you know that after Jerry died in 1996, Joanne carried on the fight, much to the dismay of Time-Warner, some fans, and maybe even herself at times. But she never gave up. She believed in truth, justice, and all that stuff. She made a lot of calls to DC Comics in her day. A lot of dogged, pushy calls. And when they hung up, she called back.
Like I said, Lois Lane died today.
At CBR, novelist and comic book writer Brad Meltzer recalls his meetings with Joanne first through research for one of his books, and later when he founded the Siegel and Shuster Society to preserve the house where Superman was created. Meltzer describes the power of her personality, her “intrepid reporter” determination, and her remarkable beauty even in her 90s:
The crazy part is of everyone I’ve ever spoken to in my life, there’s nothing like speaking to Lois Lane. When I finally met her at the unveiling of the repaired Siegel and Shuster house, which I flew to because I wanted to meet her face-to-face and see all the work everyone in Cleveland had done, everyone said to me ‘She’s beautiful. You won’t believe how beautiful she is.’ And I was thinking that this is a 90-year-old woman…how beautiful can she be? But she was beautiful. It was the only way to describe her. You saw here, and there was this stunning, elegant, amazing woman that was a spitfire.
You can see Joanne speaking about meeting Jerry and posing for Lois Lane in this clip from the Superman: The Comic Strip Hero documentary, around 7:30.