“Gosh, Mr. Kent” rings in my ears now that Jack Larson who played TV Superman’s Jimmy Olsen has passed. In the age old question of which comes first: the character or the actor?; it was definitely the character for me in this case. “The Adventures of Superman,” on TV from 1952-1958, was my kind of show: unbelievable reality topped by no one knowing that Clark Kent was Superman even though they were separated by only thick black glasses and a change of clothes. Jimmy, of course, was the most obtuse of all about Superman’s true identity.
Kent was a “mild mannered reporter” while Jimmy was working his way into the trade as a cub reporter/photo journalist. Jimmy wore a tweed-like sports coat and a sweater—the same uniform I had in my first months as a general assignment reporter “for a big metropolitan daily,” although I drew the line at a bow tie, opting instead for thin, ugly brown ties. I probably was a bumbler like Jimmy, although I try not to think about the stories I missed.
My kids, especially my son, watched Superman in the 1990s—I was in the background watching as well. And when my hair turned grey, dad was gifted with The “Adventures of Superman” DVD.
So, this past week I read the obits that revealed parts of Jack Larson I never knew. But for me, no amount of new information could alter the bouncy, goofy image of this reporter he played on TV. Thanks to reruns and DVDS Jimmy Olsen lives on. Good job, Jack.