The Strange events of 1959
January 22 The Los Angeles Herald reported that Sam, George Reeves' Schnauzer, was stolen from a car at 1627 Vine St. Sam was under medical care for the loss of an eye in an auto accident. Anyone with news of the dog was urged to call Oldfield 4-8000. March 29 George Reeves made his final public appearance when he rode (as himself) in the Beverly Hills Easter Parade. April 8 George Reeves was involved in an automobile accident and suffered a mild concussion and gash on his forehead. The accident occurred at Benedict Canyon Drive near Easton Street. He was taken to Cedars of Lebanon Hospital (now Cedars-Sinai Hospital).
April 28 It was reported that the romance between George Reeves and Lenore Lemmon was called off. A conflicting report appeared on May 20, 1959.
May 20 Scripts for a Fall, 1959 season of the Adventures of Superman are being prepared. There is some controversy over whether or not Whit had the go-ahead for a 7th season, however. When I visited with Whit in 1980, he told me there were no plans to continue. Whit's margin notes in Gary Grossman's book indicate the same thought. Jack Liebowitz, in a conversation with Pat Ellsworth Wilson, concurs. Yet Michael Hayde has gathered together some circumstantial evidence to the contrary:
1. The newspaper report "Superman Loses His Dog" includes the address at ZIV;
2. In May, 1959, George Reeves told UPI reporter Henry Gris that he had been approached about doing 26 new episodes;
3. In June, 1959, Art Weissman told the press (after George's death) that he (Reeves) had planned to do another season;
4. In July, 1959, Mort Weisinger approached Jack Larson with the idea of doing 13 episodes of Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen because, in Larson's words, "Kellogg's had already put up the money to do these shows;
5. Noel Neill and Bob Shayne both reported that another season was in the works. Noel even wrote that a character actor had been hired to play the part of Perry White's brother while Perry was on an extended vacation. (John Hamilton died in October, 1958.)
UPI reported in "Superman Takes A Bride" that George Reeves would soon marry Lenore Lemmon.
June 16 In the early morning hours, George Reeves died in his home at 1579 Benedict Canyon Drive in Beverly Hills, California. June 17
George Reeves had promised Alejandro Vacio, Nati and Queta's son, that he would attend his high school graduation tonight. Chuck Harter's interview with Alejandro will appear in a future issue of The Adventures Continue.
In an article in the LA Mirror-News, staff writer Paul Weeks reported that parents are asking "What do I tell my children?" about the death of George Reeves.
June 20 Jerry Giesler said today that he had been retained by Mrs. Bessolo to investigate the shooting death of her son. June 22 In his column "It Happened Last Night," Earl Wilson noted that "Lenore Lemmon has all the tough breaks. Back home mourning the suicide of 'Superman' George Reeves, her apartment was flooded when a water main burst and most of her clothes were ruined. June 25 Helen Bessolo, mother of George Reeves, arrived by train in California from Galesburg, Illinois. June 26 The Sacramento Bee reported that two more bullet holes were discovered by police investigators who pried up a carpet covering the floor where Reeves was found. One bullet had gone through the floor and lodged in the paneling of the living room downstairs; the other one was recovered from a ceiling beam. Examination disclosed the same Luger automatic that killed Reeves had fired them. The bullet that killed Reeves was recovered from the bedroom ceiling. Only one empty cartridge case was found in the bedroom, however, and no fingerprints were found on the gun. June 27
TV Guide published a notice of George Reeves' death. Farewell to Superman: Children the world over were dealt a severe blow last week. George Reeves, 45, TV's indestructible "Man of Steel," Superman, was dead by his own hand, and the flowing cloak would flow no more. A gentle man in real life, given to moods, he was despondent because "everyone thought of him as Superman, not as an actor," and now that the show was no longer shooting, he couldn't get a job. One of his friends wrote a poignant epitaph. "Superman was like a puppy dog," she said. "All who knew him wanted to cuddle and care for him."
The Beverly Hills Citizen reported in a copyrighted interview that Jerry Giesler doubts George Reeves committed suicide because the case has too many "phony angles."
June 29 Pallbearers were named for the funeral of George Reeves. Honorary pallbearers are Alan Ladd, Gig Young, George Blair, Whitney Ellsworth, Bill Walsh, Hudson Shotwell, Natividad Vacio, Gene LaBell, Dwight Hauser, Arthur Weissman, Damian O'Flynn, and Jimmy Seay. June 30
The Sacramento Bee reported that a friend of Lenore Lemmon backed up her story of a second bullet. The woman, whose identity was kept secret by the police, said that a few weeks before Reeves' death, she was with Lemmon in the house. After Lemmon asked her, "Would you like to hear how this sounds?" she fired into a beam in the ceiling.
In the Beverly Hills Citizen, Attorney Giesler is quoted as saying her story is "a bunch of hooey."
July 1 Funeral services are held for George Reeves at the Wayside Chapel of the Gates Funeral Home in Los Angeles. Among friends attending were Noel Neill, Don DeFore, Gig Young, and Mrs. Dan Dailey. The Rev. R. Parker Jones of St. Albans Episcopal Church officiated. Rev. Jones recalled Reeves' "selfless interest in the service of the lives of children, especially those in hospitals." Reeves was temporarily entombed at Woodlawn Mausoleum in Santa Monica. It was reported that Mrs. Bessolo would take the body to Cincinnati in the fall. July 4 & 5 George Reeves was scheduled to appear as Superman at Kennywood Park near Pittsburgh. A contract signed by Reeves had been received a few days before his death. July 10 Superior Court Judge Edward R. Brand admitted the will and two codicils of George Reeves into probate. The chief beneficiary was Toni Mannix. Arthur Weissman was approved as executor. Although Lemmon and Mannix were both suspected of killing Reeves, no arrests or convictions were made. His death remains shrouded in mystery.