TUCSON, July 5 (UPI) — Superman’s original Lois Lane, Noel Neill, has died at 95.
The petite actress who played reporter Lois Lane, coworker to Clark Kent, aka Superman, in the 1940s Superman movie serials and on the television series in the 1950s, had reportedly been battling a long illness that was not made public, People reported.
Neill’s biographer, Larry Ward, confirmed her death, the New York Times reported.
Neill was already a veteran actress with some 40 movies to her credit when she got the role of Lois Lane who always suspected her coworker was really Superman, defender of Truth, Justice and the American Way.
Neill was cast for 15 Superman movie serials opposite Kirk Alyn in 1948. Two years later, she came back in the same role for Atom Man vs. Superman, based on a comic book.
When the Adventures of Superman television series debuted in 1952 it was Phyllis Coates, not Neill, who was cast as Lois Lane. But Coates left the show after just one year and Neill stepped in to resume the role. She remained with the cast throughout the series until it ended in 1958.
Many years later, in 1978, Neill returned to her beloved role playing Lane’s mother Ella. She also took on the role of Lex Luther’s wife Gertrude Vanderworth in the movie Superman Returns.
A life-sized statue of Lois Lane was erected in Metropolis, Ill. in 2010 (a town with the same name as the fictional home of the Daily Planet newspaper in the Superman franchise), it was Neill’s likeness that was used and she attended the dedication for the statue.
Born in Minneapolis in 1920, Neill’s father, David Neill, would become the editor of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Her mother, LeVere, was a former singer and dancer.
She became an actress on a fluke when she visited Southern California with her mother and got a singing job at a racetrack partially owned by the legendary Bing Crosby. Crosby later introduced Neill to his brother and theatrical agent Larry and her acting career began.