erik lundegaard

Jack Larson: 1928-2015

Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen in "The Adventures of Superman"

Larson as Jimmy Olsen in “The Haunted Lighthouse” episode of “The Adventures of Superman,” which aired on Sept. 26, 1952. 

Shortly after I heard about the death of Jack Larson, who played Jimmy Olsen on “The Adventures of Superman” TV show in the 1950s, I read the following tweet from author Mark Harris:

With one tweet I found out the original Jimmy Olsen (or the second, after Tommy Bond), whose acting career pretty much ended with Jimmy Olsen, was:

  • gay
  • involved in high art
  • had good taste in men

That's the problem with being straight. Actually, more, that's the disadvantage for anyone in the majority when the majority forces people who are different from them underground or away—segregating or marginalizing them. It means you don't know the whole story. 

I mean, how much have I written about Superman? And I didn't know any of the above? Yeah, I feel a little rooked. 

The New York Times has a good obit, which makes Larson's life and career sound pretty fascinating. Thomson's previous librettist, for example, was Gertrude Stein. Larson met James Bridges when they were both young actors, and Bridges went on to write and direct, among other films, “The Paper Chase,” “The China Syndrome,” and “Urban Cowboy.”

Imagine if this were 40 years ago. How odd Larson's story would read. How much of it would've remained hidden from people like me.

Did anyone ever interview Larson about Superman and popular culture? About what it was like to star in a superhero story at a time when movies were for grownups and reading comic books were thought to lead to homosexuality? And to strive for decades for literary respectability (plays, opera) only to find the culture gravitating in the opposite direction? Toward superheroes?

Anyway, I agree with Mark Harris. Wow.

 Jack Larson in Superman Returns

Larson as Bo the bartender in 2006's “Superman Returns.” 

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Posted at 03:18 PM on Mon. Sep 21, 2015 in category Superman  

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