George Reeves

George Reeves
Associated Press

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George Reeves
TV: North side of the 6700 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Actor
Born George L. Bessolo on Jan. 5, 1914 in Woolstock, IA
Died June 16, 1959 of suicide

Actor George Reeves, who was known to children the world over as television's "Superman," killed himself with a bullet through the head.

Police said Reeves was discouraged over the slump in his acting career after he finished filming the "Superman" series.

Reeves, whose real name was George L. Bessolo, was born in Woolstock, Iowa, and grew up in Pasadena. He trained for an acting career at the Pasadena Community Playhouse.

There he met Eleanora Needles, a stage player, and a romance blossomed. They were wed in 1940, but the marriage ended in divorce.

Reeves' motion picture credits included many Hopalong Cassidy films, "Gone With the Wind," "Winged Victory," "So Proudly We Hail," "Till We Meet Again" and "From Here to Eternity."

He was selected from scores of actors for the television "Superman" role. His 6-foot, 2-inch muscular frame, straightforward good looks and prowess in judo and wrestling (he was Pacific Coast light-heavyweight champion while at Pasadena City College) helped.

It was estimated that the series drew an audience of 35 million each year, 48% of them adults. It became one of the top series in Japan, and Reeves received a letter from the emperor telling how much he enjoyed the show.

An element of mystery was injected into the circumstances of his death when his fiancee, New York stage actress Lenore Lemmon, said they were to be married in Tijuana just days after his death. Seconds before the fatal shot was heard, Lemmon inexplicably predicted to visitors that Reeves was going to kill himself.

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