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Superman Curse Continues To Claim Victims

by Les Hewitt

The Superman Curse pertains to a series of tragedies that have occurred to individuals associated with the Superman franchise. The list of victims includes George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Richard Pryor, and many others. Skeptics of the curse claim they are just misfortunate coincidences. However, others disagree and believe something more sinister is at play.

A collage of some of the victims of the Superman Curse.

A collage of some of the victims of the Superman Curse.

Creation of Superman

DC Comics began life as Detective Comics. Nowadays, like Marvel Comics, it’s known for its abundance of superheroes such as Batman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman. During 1933 two friends, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, combined their imaginations to come up with a superhero that single-handedly began the entire genre.

Five years after selling their idea to Detective Comics, Kal-El made his debut in Action Comics #1. He went on to not only save the world hundreds of times over but to dominate it. Quickly becoming an American icon and global phenomenon, Superman spawned an industry that covered everything from television to film franchises to merchandising

A 1942 photo of Jerry Siegel (standing) and Joe Shuster. They were the creators of Superman.

A 1942 photo of Jerry Siegel (standing) and Joe Shuster. They were the creators of Superman. Image: The New Yorker.

Even before the presses rolled on that first incarnation of the Man of Steel, misfortune was already at play. Both Siegel and Schuster sold more than just the idea to DC Comics. They sold the copyright itself and, for many years afterward, missed out on all the income that their original concept would create. While the pair did end up with royalties they considered they should have had, it took almost an entire lifetime to accomplish.

Their story may be a case of corporate exploitation and naivete. Siegel and Schuster were not the only hopefuls looking to turn an idea into a powerhouse juggernaut of a franchise. They were just among the handful that had the right ideas at the right time.

Did Jerry Siegel Create the Curse?

Is it possible that Siegel put a curse on the franchise? He certainly had reason to be bitter. He lost the copyright to Superman, which quickly became DC Comics’ most lucrative asset. When Siegel learned in 1975 that a Superman movie was in the works, he stated the following:

I, Jerry Siegel, the co-originator of Superman, put a curse on the Superman movie! …The publishers of Superman comic books, National Periodical Publications, Inc., killed my days, murdered my nights, choked my happiness, strangled my career…

Jerry Siegel

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Victims of the Superman Curse

Since the early days of Superman, a great many people involved with the legendary superhero have suffered some misfortune or catastrophe. This catalog of woe simply cannot all be written off as mere coincidence.

  • George Reeves was one of the first actors to portray Superman in the 1950s television show The Adventures of Superman. He played the title role for six years. When he was only 45, Reeves suffered a fatal gunshot wound that was officially ruled as self-inflicted. However, many believe it wasn’t.
  • Christopher Reeve brought Superman to the big screen in 1978. Eight years after making his final appearance in Superman 4, Reeve became paralyzed following a horseriding accident. He ultimately died in 2004.
  • Christopher Reeve’s wife Dana Morosini died in 2006 from lung cancer at the age of 44 despite never smoking cigarettes.
  • In the same film franchise, Marlon Brando made a cameo as Jor-El. In 1990, Brando’s son, Christian, served five years in prison for shooting the boyfriend of his half-sister, Cheyenne Brando. Cheyenne committed suicide in 1995. Christian later died of pneumonia in 2008.
  • Richard Pryor stole the show in Superman 3 in his role as Gus Gorman. Three years later, doctors diagnosed Pryor with Multiple Sclerosis. He subsequently died of a heart attack in 2005.
  • Lee Quigley made a cameo in the first Superman film in 1978. He played the newborn sent to Earth amid Krypton’s destruction. Quigley died at 14 due to complications with substance abuse.
  • Muriel Hemingway appeared in the final Superman film in 1987. Muriel’s older sister, Margaux, died from an overdose of sedatives. Muriel has always refuted this conclusion.
  • Nintendo 64’s video game Superman 64 received poor reviews. Bad graphics and glitched gameplay are among the negative comments. Superman 64 is ranked the worst game ever released on the Nintendo 64 system.
  • Three members of the production crew for Superman Returns were victims of minor accidents, including assault and mugging. Another fell down a flight of stairs, and the third smashed into a glass window.
  • Kate Bosworth, Lois Lane in this reboot, blamed her break-up with Orlando Bloom solely on the curse.
  • The FBI charged Smallville actress Allison Mack with Sex Trafficking for the NXIVM organization in 2018.
  • Margot Kidder became famous for playing Lois Lane in Superman. In April 1996, she went missing for several days before being found in a paranoid and delusional state. Kidder committed suicide in 2018.

“I think the curse is nonsense. The reality is if you get any group of people, X number are going to have some sort of calamity in their life because that’s what life is.”

Margot Kidder (2006)

Not Everyone Agrees

Critics of the Superman Curse inevitably insist the above instances are nothing more than merely a case of bad luck. Other actors involved in Superman productions have managed to avoid becoming another statistic.

The Kennedy Family Curse

Dean Cain has had a successful career after playing his version of the 1990s television Superman series Lois & Clark. The same is true of Teri Hatcher, probably even more so. More modern Supermen Tom Welling, Henry Cavill, and Brandon Routh have yet to taste any misfortune due to their involvement in Superman. The latter pair dismiss the idea of the curse outright.

Superman even appeared on Broadway. Bob Holiday, the star of the 1966 musical It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman! states the notion of a curse is a silly one. He says his experiences have been highly beneficial and ‘nothing but good’. After his stint on Broadway ended, he became a very successful businessman in Florida until his retirement.

Historic Mysteries updated this article on March 19, 2020.

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