Noel Neill, Star of ‘The Adventures of Superman,’ Dies at 95
Unfortunate news for fans of former Lois Lane and revered star Noel Neill, as the iconic Adventures of Superman star has passed away at age 95. Neill had portrayed the famous DC supporting character as early as 1948, including cameos in both Richard Donner’s 1978 update and 2006's Superman Returns.
Neill’s friend, manager and biographer, Larry Ward confirmed the star’s passing after a long illness over Facebook, saying:
It is with great sadness that I report the passing of my very close friend, actress Noel Neill, the original “live action” Lois Lane from Superman. Noel passed away yesterday at her home in Tucson, Arizona after a long illness. She was 95. […]
It was her role as Lois Lane in the 1948 Columbia movie serial Superman that caught the interest of fans everywhere. She was bright, funny, assertive but with a quick sense of humor; and opposite film’s first Superman, Kirk Alyn, the serial was a hit which necessitated a sequel, 1950's Atom Man Vs Superman, again starring Alyn with Tommy Bond as Jimmy Olsen.
Her work in the iconic 1950s television series, The Adventures of Superman with the late George Reeves, however, best defined and cemented her legacy as “the intrepid reporter.” After years of playing bit parts in bad films and great roles in forgotten films, she finally found her niche. As a teenager she knew all about the newspaper business from her father and she had also actually written for Women’s Wear Daily in the late 1930s, so it was a role she believed she was born to play. And as she would admit in interviews later in life, she simply played herself.
Arguably the most prolific actor in the Superman science fiction genre, Noel would also go on to work with Christopher Reeve in the 1978 film Superman, in the 1980s in the Superboy series with Gerard Christopher, the 2004 Jerry Seinfeld webisode Hindsight is 20/20; and finally, in Brandon Routh’s 2006 feature film Superman Returns.
As if that weren’t enough, Neill also garnered the title of “First Lady of Metropolis” from Illinois, receiving a Lois Lane statue in her likeness in 2011. Best thoughts to the family, and all those remembering Noel Neill’s work.
[An earlier version of this article incorrectly used an image of Lois Lane actress Phyllis Coates. It has since been amended. - Ed.]