’50s TV Jimmy Olsen, Actor Jack Larson, Dies Aged 87

Jack_Larson_Jimmy_olsenJack Larson, the actor who played The Daily Planet photographer Jimmy Olsen opposite George Reeves in the 1950s TV series The Adventures Of Superman, died on Sunday at his home in Brentwood, aged 87.

Larson signed up to play Olsen on The Adventures of Superman to make enough money to move to New York to pursue a serious acting career, believing the show would be a one-season wonder watched by no-one but a few kids. Then the show became a phenomenon and made him a household name. He was being recognised on the street and later commented, “My life had turned upside down and this was not a good experience. I wouldn’t do a magazine interview, I wouldn’t do anything, because I thought everything I do as Jimmy Olsen publicity is just a further nail in my coffin as an actor.”

But his contract meant he had to appear as the hapless Olsen, forever being rescued by Superman, for six seasons. He was tied into a seventh but the the death of star George Reeves (Larson always regarded it as suicide) brought his torture to an end. Except now he was typecast and after the show he barely found work as an actor ever again. He was offered the chance of doing a 13-episode show called Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen but unsurprisingly turned it down.

Instead he became a successful playwright and even wrote librettos for operas such as Virgil Thomson’s prestigious Lord Byron. He also became a producer, including on many plays and films for his partner, the actor/director James Bridges, who died in 1993.

A few decades after his Olsen experience, Larson’s animosity towards Superman had cooled to the point where he was happy to make in-joke cameos on shows and films including Superboy (1991), Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1996) and Superman Returns (2006).


 

 

 

 

 

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