Tuesday, February 22, 2011

One of the best: The Adventures of Superman

Bud Collyer made a perfect Clark Kent/Superman
When a radio series lasts over two thousand episodes and most survive (giving us all the opportunity to hear a good portion of the series) it can be hard to accurately describe it.

Such is the case with the juvenile series, The Adventures of Superman. Starring Bud Coyller as Clark Kent/Superman, the show must have seemed like an endless adventure for kids back in the 1940's.  I call the show "juvenile" but it was usually on late enough in the evening so that dad could listen in as well.

You all know the story of Superman but you may not know that this series shaped even the comic book image of Superman (and the fabulous cartoons of Superman that ran during the radio show's run.)

While Superman is filled with American propaganda which sometimes makes the show kind of corny, it was so different than anything else on the air at the time - even compared against the shows for adults.

The radio show was dynamic on many fronts, including having Superman fight the Nazis, track down members of a Ku Klux Klan-type of gang and almost-daily preach against intolerance of religions and race.

Aiding Superman (played perfectly by Bud Collyer)  are Joan Alexander as Lois Lane, Jackie Kelk as Jimmy Olsen and Julian Noa developed the character of editor Perry White.  The White character had not been in the comic book version so Noa's presentation set the character up "for life."

There are some bad story arcs among the lot of these shows but the vast majority of them are superb in retrospect.  The Adventures of Superman allowed Superman to come to life.  The Superman legacy has grown much since then but the radio serial has as much or more to do with it than anything.

The sound on 95% of the shows seem to be passable. the outrageously loud organ music will annoy you as will the somewhat long Kellogg's Pep comericals - but it's all a part of the package.  But this show is one of the best out there - and most adult men will enjoy this show.  I'd have to give it 4 stars.  (If not for the annoying organ, I'd probably give it 5 stars.)


  1. This is one show I remember listening to as a youngster. I classify it with the Lone Ranger. Those two shows were regular listening for me. Although sometimes now I wonder why I did not listen to such shows as Nero Wolf and a bunch of others that I never knew existed. As said before, you tend to listen to those that you were used to and did not try others.

  2. I take it from your comment that you do not listen to it now? I understand why but it's my first time to go all the way through it (of the series that remains -and completed storyline - I'm about 75% done.)

    There are some storylines that are really good - and a couple that are really bad. For anyone who is reading other than you, BB - I'll point out I thought the worst storyline was the "Sleeping Beauty" one. There are others - but by in large, a very good serial.

  3. I am reconsidering downloading the serial Superman. I only had downloaded the ones that were complete stories. They are fun stories even now.

  4. Superman also was ahead of its time because it worked with plots dealing with racial intolerance. "Knights of the White Carnation is an example of this. A great serial!

  5. Hi Gary,

    I'm *just* fixing to start on the Knight sof the White Carnation this evening:) Isn't that cool?


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