Jack Edward Larson (born February 8, 1928 in Los Angeles)
His father was an
While he did not enjoy school, Larson did like to bowl. By the age of 14, he had become the
"In 1947, Larson wrote Tambourine, a musical operetta and followed this with Balguna Del Mar, a musical comedy about college students vacationing at Laguna and Balboa beach during spring break, in 1948. During the run of that play, Larson, who was playing the lead role, was spotted by an agent for Warner Brothers and offered an audition. To a young stage actor the opportunity to be in films sounded like the chance of a lifetime, and soon after the audition, Larson signed with Warner Brothers. At the age of 15 he won a part in Fighter Squadron, a post-World War II film directed by Raoul Walsh. This film also featured a newcomer named Rock Hudson.
In 1951, At the age of 18, Larson felt that he well was on his way, setting his goals on Broadway. But, his agent came to him suggesting that he audition for the role of Jimmy Olsen in the new television show, The Adventures of Superman. Initially Larson balked at the idea because he was intent on becoming a serious actor, however, the casting director persuaded him by saying, "nobody will ever see this show. It's like doing a Saturday morning serial. Just take the money and run." Larson accepted the job, filming the first 26 episodes in less than five months and receiving about $250.00 per show.
Once filming ended, Larson left
However, it was difficult to take Larson seriously in a role where his most famous lines were "Golly, Mr.
Unfortunately for Larson, producers did not forget about that role, and he was forced to accept the reality of the situation, He appeared in six seasons of Superman. Larson also noted that before his death, George Reeves had been signed to direct and star in a seventh season of 26 new episodes of Superman that would appear in 1960. Still, Reeves was despondent. "I know George was depressed. I know life was a mess for him. I don't think the 26 episodes meant a lot to him. It meant a lot to me - I needed the money," Larson says. By that time, Larson was making approximately $350 per show and Superman was as popular as I Love Lucy. However, "We all were typed," recalls Larson, "you could not get another job."
After Superman concluded, Larson was basically unable to find any work. His agent went so far as to book Larson on a project in
During the late 1960's and early 1970's, the man that had played the meek and mild cub-reporter took a very strong political stand, frequently speaking out against the war in Viet Nam. At that time, this was not a popular stance, and did little to help his career.
Becoming impatient, Larsen decided to explore other possibilities and has become a respected producer. The longtime companion of late filmmaker James Bridges, Larson co-produced such Bridges films as The Paper Chase (1973), Urban Cowboy (1980, with John Travolta) and Bright Lights, Big City (1988). He also worked on Sept. 30, 1955 (1977), Continental Divide (1981, with John Belushi), Mike's Murder (1984) and Perfect (1985, again with Travolta).
Still, as much as Jack Larson sought to distance himself from "Jimmy Olsen", it was that character that brought him back to acting. In 1994, ABC began production on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Initially, the producers asked Larson to contribute to the show, but he preferred not to become involved and explained, "The one thing I would never consider is doing another television series. I believe that you only have to do it once in a lifetime. I did mine in Superman, and feel very fortunate to be remembered as Jimmy." But, in episode 5 of season 4 ("Brutal Youth" which originally aired: October 20, 1996), Larson did appear in Lois & Clark playing an older Jimmy Olsen. He also appeared in The Adventures of Superboy, along with Noel Neill, in an episode called "Paranoia". That show was a dark homage to The Adventures of Superman, with Larson saying "Jeepers" at one point and making reference to having worked at a newspaper.
In 1996, Larson attended the annual Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois, for the first time, to help publicize an auction to raise money and increase awareness as support of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at the University of California Irvine - a facility dedicated to spinal cord injury research and named for Christopher Reeve, star of the Superman films, who suffered a paralyzing injury a year ago.
In 2003 Jack had a new work CD released entitled More Than a Day, composed by Ned Rorem.
Continuing his long contribution to the world of Superman, Jack was cast in the 2006 blockbuster film "Superman Returns" as the barman known as Bo (Bibbo).
Today, Jack Larson lives in a house overlooking the sea, that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, with his dog Max. He remains close friends with Noel Neill.
- He had a guest role as a corporal on "Gomer Pyle USMC". He had also appeared in a 1991 episode of the TV series Superboy alongside Noel Neill (who had played Lois Lane in Adventures of Superman).
- He was a guest actor on the series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman as an aged Jimmy Olsen in the episode "Brutal Youth", first telecast on October 20, 1996.
- He also had a quick cameo in an American Express Card commercial featuring Jerry Seinfeld and an animated Superman, (directed by David Kellogg).
- He was the life-partner of director James Bridges. Their relationship lasted over thirty years until Bridges' death on June 6, 1993.
- He and his co-star Noel Neill provided commentary on several Superman episodes for the January 2006 DVD release of the 1953 season.
Also in 2006, he appears in Bryan Singer's film Superman Returns in a cameo role as "Bo the Bartender"; it was rumored prior to the film's release that his role would actually be Suicide Slum resident and Superman fan, Bibbo Bibbowski, a supporting character from the modern Superman comics. In one of Larson's Superman Returns scenes, where characters celebrate Superman's rescue of a plane, his character is shown wearing a bow tie in the style of Jimmy Olsen and hugging the film's incarnation of Jimmy Olsen (played by Sam Huntington).