Noel Neill, the first onscreen Lois Lane, dies at 95

Noel Neill and George Reeves as Lois Lane and Clark Kent.
(Image credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Noel Neill, famous for starring as Lois Lane in movie serials and TV's Adventures of Superman, died Sunday at her home in Tucson. She was 95.

Her friend and manager Larry Thomas Ward told The Hollywood Reporter she died after a long illness. Born Nov. 20, 1920, in Minneapolis, her father was an editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and he wanted his daughter to become a reporter, even securing a job for her at Women's Wear Daily. Instead, Neill became a performer, and after playing the banjo in a trio, landed in Southern California. While singing in a restaurant at the Del Mar race track, Neill was spotted by Bing Crosby, who helped her land a contract with Paramount Pictures.

Neill first played Lois Lane in a 15-chapter serial for Columbia Pictures that played in theaters in 1948, and picked up the role again in 1950 for another serial, Atom Man vs. Superman. In 1953, she took over for Phyllis Coates, who played Lois Lane in the first season of the Adventures of Superman, starring in 78 episodes until the show ended in 1958. After that, she left show business, telling The New York Times in 2006 she "figured I'd worked enough." She married and moved to the beach, but did briefly appear as Lois Lane's mother in 1978's Superman and as Gertrude Vanderworth in the opening scene of 2006's Superman Returns. "She did whatever she wanted to do," Ward told The Hollywood Reporter. "That was the beauty of her skill. Ultimately, only she truly knew what was best for her, and that came out time and again. She was very smarty, quite astute about the acting business."

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.