Superman, Superboy and former heavyweight contender and Kryptonian villain Jack O’Halloran fly into Metropolis for the 2018 Superman Celebration
Story by John Rinaldi, Joseph Rinaldi and Alexander R. Rinaldi
Photos by Alex Rinaldi, Juliann Rinaldi and Janine Rinaldi
June 7-10 – Metropolis, IL. Each year fans from around the globe venture to Southern Illinois and down to the town of Metropolis to participate in the fun-filled annual Superman Celebration.
This year the sport of boxing was represented by the visit of the always popular boxing Hall of Famer and former heavyweight contender Jack O’Halloran, who portrayed the mute Kryptonian villain Non in the blockbuster films Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980). Jack was one of the featured guests at the 40th Superman Celebration and was a fan favorite as he posed for photos and signed countless autographs.
As a professional heavyweight boxer in the Golden Age of heavyweights, O’Halloran fought the likes of George Foreman, Ken Norton, Ron Lyle, Henry Clark, Larry Middleton, Alvin Blue Lewis, Charlie Harris, Cleveland Williams and Manuel Ramos. After his successful career in the ring, that saw him emerge as a top ranked heavyweight contender and the heavyweight champion of California, Jack took up acting following his retirement from the ring in 1974. On March 28, 1977 at the Pinewood Studios in London, O’Halloran began filming the highly anticipated Superman movie in a scene featuring the 2-time Academy Award winning and screen legend Marlon Brando on the planet Krypton set.
Superman opened up in theaters on December 15, 1978 and by the end of its historic run, it grossed a whopping $300.2 million worldwide on a $55 million budget.
Because of the success of the original film, and also that over 50% of the sequel was already filmed, Superman II was released in the United States on June 19, 1981. Like the first one, Superman II was another huge success, grossing $190.4 million worldwide on a $54 million budget.
Superman II had Christopher Reeve returning as “The Man of Steel” and was highlighted by his battles against three Kryptonian villains who escaped the Phantom Zone. The three villains were General Zod (Terence Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O’Halloran). In all of super hero film history, the three Kryptonian villains would become film icons and the actors would be in demand for festivals around the world ever since.
Jack, who last appeared at the Celebration in 2001, also engaged in an enjoyable Q&A session before the fans on Friday from 1:30-3:00 PM with the producer of the Superman films, Ilya Salkind and actor Aaron Smolinski, who portrayed Clark Kent as a toddler in the 1978 movie.
Besides Jack, another prominent guest was Brandon Routh, who portrayed “The Last Son of Krypton” in 2006’s Superman Returns film. Routh is also famous for playing the Atom (Ray Palmer), in 20 episodes of Arrow, 2 episodes of The Flash and on three seasons of Legends of Tomorrow, which all air on the CW Network. There will be more of the Atom for fans to see next year since Legends of Tomorrow was recently renewed for a fourth season.
Routh, who last appeared at the Celebration in 2011, was a huge hit with the fans on hand as engaged in a Meet and Greet, posed in front of the 15 ft. Superman statue in the town square, and did a Q&A with the audience on Saturday at noon on Saturday.
This year was not only the 40th anniversary of the Superman Celebration, it was also the 40th anniversary of the Superman movie, the 80th anniversary of Superman’s debut in Action Comics, and the 30th of the Superboy TV series.
On hand from the Superboy TV series that ran on syndication from 1988-1992, compiling 100 episodes, was actor John Haymes Newton, who portrayed “The Boy of Steel” in the first season of 26 episodes. Like O’Halloran and Routh, Newton was also a popular celebrity with the thousands of fans that turned out.
Other celebrities included two actors from the popular new Kryptonseries that runs on the Syfy Network and was just renewed for a second season. Shaun Sippos, who portrays Adam Strange and Blake Ritson who plays the villain Brainiac on the series arrived at the Superman Celebration on Saturday and had four autograph sessions and a Q&A.
Rounding out the guest list were Ilya Salkind, producer of Superman, Superman II, Superman III and the Supergirl movies, along with the Superboy TV series, Jeff East, who portrayed a teenage Clark Kent and Aaron Smolinksi, who played the toddler Clark Kent who lifts up Pa Kent’s truck in the famous scene in the Superman movie.
It is not just the celebrities that fans congregate to Metropolis from all corners of the Earth, it is also the wonderful free activities that are going on from Thursday to Sunday.
A fan favorite is the Superman Jeopardy Game that is sponsored by The USA Boxing News and is hosted by the publication’s editors John and Alex Rinaldi, along with Janine Rinaldi, Alexander R. Rinaldi, Joseph Rinaldi, Juliann Rinaldi and Ron John Rinaldi.
This year’s Superman Jeopardy Game was packed to the rafters with fans and the winning champion on the game that took place on Friday was Patrick James O’Neal, of Maryland, and the champion in Saturday’s game was Daniel Layne, of Arkansas. The Superman Jeopardy Game not only gives prizes to the contestants that take the stage, but also to those hundreds in the audience.
The Rinaldi Twins discovered years ago, that everyone wants test their Superman knowledge, along with having a chance to answer a question for a prize, which is why the audience gets even more chances to win as more and more questions are continuously thrown their way. Prizes included various designs of t-shirts, backpacks, earphones, fans and drawstring bags. Besides questions to the adults on hand, there are special Kids Questions, where youngsters have a chance to win toy prizes by answering Superman questions. If that is not enough, those who are unable to answer a question, are provided with prizes following the Saturday game.
The Superman Jeopardy Game has lasted for 18 years because fans leave with super prizes and get a chance to test their mastery of “The Man of Steel” history and legacy with other like minded super hero fans.
The Metropolis Chamber of Commerce headed by President Mindy Harris and Director Amanda King, Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel, the city officials of Metropolis, and the Superman Celebration volunteers that include Karla Ogle and Lisa Gower, perform a herculean task of putting on such a jam-packed and fun-filled weekend of activities and enjoyment.
It is not just the activities and guests, but there are terrific street vendors selling affordable memorabilia, clothing, drinks and food down the town street in the shadow of the Superman statue that add to the delight of the four days of festivities.
At any event, people love to purchase souvenirs and Metropolis has plenty to offer. Between the wonderful items available at the Metropolis Chamber of Commerce and the wide selection of Superman items sold at the Super Museum, an individual patron, or especially one with a family, will find a super bang for their buck with the amazing reasonable prices that can be found in Metropolis. This is not just during the Superman Celebration, but all year round.
On Saturday night at 5 PM was the Save the Massac Benefit Auction to raise funds to bring back to life the historic Massac Theatre that was built in 1938, the year Superman came out. The head of the organization, Lisa Gower and her staff have been working hard to restore the structure. It is a worthy charity to donate to at www.savethemassac.com. The auction featured many fabulous items to bid on for such a meritorious cause.
Friday featured the Superman Birthday Cake Eating Contest hosted by Karla Ogle, who also is one of the head volunteers of the Superman Celebration. Ten people’s names were pulled from a box and whoever finished the birthday cake honoring Superman’s 80th birthday won a prize bag. And for the second time, the winner was The USA Boxing News’ own John Rinaldi!
Jim Hambrick, who has the largest Superman collection on the planet, is one of those special individuals who help put the Superman Celebration and the town of Metropolis on the map. With the help of his daughter Morgan Siebert and his son-in-law Adam Siebert, fans have two sensational museums to visit during their time in Metropolis, the Super Museum (supermuseum.com), and the Americana Hollywood Museum.
The Super Museum features the original Superman outfit worn by the legendary George Reeves, who starred as the title character in the classic The Adventures of Superman series that ran from 1953 to 1958 for a total of 104 thrilling episodes, along with the show’s original set pieces. Reeves not only was a terrific actor, but was previously a talented amateur light heavyweight boxing champion.
Besides George Reeves being showcased in a few sections of the museum, are other areas featuring Christopher Reeve’s Superman films, Kirk Alyn’s Superman and Atom Man vs. Superman movie serials, Dean Cain’s Lois and Clark TV series, the Superboy TV series featuring John Haymes Newton and Gerard Christopher, Brandon Routh’s Superman Returns film, Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Justice League movies, and even Helen Slater’s Supergirl film. Besides those sections, the museum is filled with Superman memorabilia over the past 80 years. A visitor can spend hours touring the magnificent museum.
The Americana Hollywood Museum is another treasure, with original Elvis Presley outfits and memorabilia, Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein shoes, screen-worn John Wayne and Clint Eastwood items, the Batshield from the Batman TV series all the way from the 1960’s, Lost in Space props, The Forbidden Planet set pieces, original Harry Houdini magic equipment, and rooms featuring Marilyn Monroe, classic movie westerns, super hero toys, horror movies, and other genres. It is another building where visitors can occupy their time with and soak in the wonder of it all.
The annual Superman Celebration has events for everyone and every hour. The Celebration kicks off Thursday with the opening of the Sonshine Carnival and later the Superman Road Race is held at the Ft. Massac State Park, where proceeds go to the United Way charity.
Following the Save the Massac Benefit Auction on Saturday, later that evening starting at 7:30 was the 25th Superman Collector and Collectibles Auction that is put on by Tim Gardner and Zach Curtis. Zach also promotes Superman collectibles on his wonderful Superman Collectibles Buy/Sell/Trade/Share FACEBOOK page, that is worth checking out. The auction run by Tim and Zach at the Superman Celebration features items that range from as little as $1 to over $1,000. There are plenty of things to bid on for people of all ages and price levels. Before the auction, there is complimentary pizza and soda and it is a lot of fun to bid on such cool items. It is worth checking out each year. The two hosts are friendly and willing to share their knowledge with anyone who asks. Besides being a champion collector, Zach Curtis is also a former Superman Jeopardy Champion, so he sure possesses of plethora of Superman information.
On Sunday, the day closes out with the MSC Heroes and Villains Costume Contest. Before that is the Stump The Superman Expert Game hosted by Chris and Helen Brockow. Chris Brockow was a former Superman Jeopardy champion, who after winning for nine straight years, earned a reputation as a “Superman Expert” with those who attend the Celebration. Eventually he decided to host his own game with his wife Helen and gives out prizes of graphic novels, comics, DVDs, t-shirts and books. You have to be a Superman expert to win this game because the questions cover anything involving Superman, from obscure comics to the movies and TV shows.
There were also Meet and Greets to attend. The first one was sponsored by the informative Superman Homepage (www.supermanhomepage.com) and was hosted by the site’s owner Steve Younis, who ventured all the way from Australia to attend, at Hardees at 10:30 AM on Friday. Later that morning at 11:30, Neil Cole, the owner of the Superman Super Site (www.supermansupersite.com) hosted his Meet and Greet at Fat Ed’s Roadhouse. They were both enjoyable events to attend to meet fellow Superman fans and there were plenty of chances to win Superman DVDs or other prizes. Both hosts were very friendly and each packed their respective venues.
During the course of the 3-day celebration, other activities included, Super Friends Bowling, Artist Alley and Writer’s Way, Super Silly Games, Superhero Training Academy For Kids, The Great American Puzzler Team Competition, Superman vs. Batman Tug of War, Muley and Friends Puppet Show, Super Cruise-In Classic Car Show, Kids Superhero Costume Contest, Costume Parade, The Music of Corey Evitts, U.S.A. Championship Wrestling, Superman Classic Push/Pull Competition, Puppet Making Workshop, NASA and the Science of Superman Presentation Lecture, Color A Cape, Superdog Show, Beautiful Baby Contest, Entertainment by Jamie Kelley, Supermen: World War II Fan Film, Helicopter Ride Adventures, Superboy 30th Anniversary Screening, Superman Scavenger Hunt, Superhero Gameshow, the Superman Radio Show, Supergirl & Superboy Pageant, Kids Karaoke & Color a Giant Comic, and 80 Years Looking Super – live models showcasing the ever-changing “Man of Steel” through the years.
Another nice touch that was added to this year’s Celebration were various designs of Superman “S” shields that were placed on the street, along with the year and brief description of the Superman that wore them at the time. The symbols started from the first Superman “S” in 1938 to the “S” worn by Henry Cavill in 2013’s Man of Steel movie. The “S” shields were an imaginative idea that only added to the fun during the super event.
Remember, the Metropolis Chamber of Commerce, the Super Museum, the Americana Hollywood Museum are open all year round to visit. Fans can take photos at the famous 15 ft. tall Superman statue and at the Noel Neill “Lois Lane” statue every day of the year.
So 2018 was a nice mixture of Boxing and Superman. It is worth the trip to attend the Annual Superman Celebration. Up in the sky! Is is a bird? Is it a plane? No, it is the 2019 Superman Celebration to look forward to!
An Everlasting American Icon
By Alexander R. Rinaldi
Known worldwide as The Caped Crusader, The Bat, The Dark Knight, or The World’s Greatest Detective, whatever you want to call him, for almost eighty years the Batman has emerged and evolved as one of the premier super heroes and icons of the 20th and 21st centuries. From the waning years of the Great Depression, through four military wars, including a World War, continuing past 9/11 and its aftermath, the only constant has been Batman and the people’s reliance upon him as a savior.
His metamorphosis over the various stages of his numerous incarnations has both mirrored western heroes and anti-heroes, as well as reflected the life and times he was confronted with, much like a chameleon able to change and reflect the changes around him.
Born from the violent deaths of his parents, and as a twisted epitaph to their memories, Bruce Wayne re-invented himself as an alter-ego avenger fighting crime and saving his local community of Gotham City. Whatever the time period or the political unrest or social upheaval of the various eras, ever since Bob Kane and Bill Finger first created him in 1939 for Detective Comics, Batman has remained the only stable and steady force of goodness and heroism. More importantly, he has always been there if you needed him.
As our society continued changing over the years, so did Batman. From his outfit, to his colors, to his gadgetry, up to his technology and vehicles, Batman has been analogues to the changes in the world around him. Still, Batman has continued to remain in America’s lives like a living and breathing sentinel, sent to protect, stand up and keep watch over the lives of the citizens of Gotham and the world.
Batman is more than just another superhero, “Batman has become an icon to understand the changes in American society through its portrayal of the justice system and social values, also creating a historical context to his mythos.” (Kendrick). A myth of something or someone will only hold value if there is a meaning behind it, though the meaning can be achievable through the structure. Myths are structured in conditions of binary oppositions and when the world is split into restricted groups, the meaning is then created.
John Storey explains that the function of structuralism, “is to make explicit the rules and conventions (the structure) that govern the production of meaning (acts of parole).” (119). Essentially, structuralism in terms to myths, means that they can only be true or hold real meaning if the myth is proven to have value through social, cultural and historical context. Levi-Strauss argues, “that all myths have a similar socio-cultural function within society. That is, the purpose of myth is to make the world explicable, to magically resolve its problems and contradictions.” (Storey 120).
To truly look into the meaning of the myth of the Batman, we will focus our study on four of the men who donned the costume of the masked vigilante.
Will Wright went on to use Levi-Strauss’s structuralist methodology to examine Hollywood Western movies and he believes that a lot of the narrative power of the Western films are obtained from its structure of binary oppositions. Though, Wright differs from Levi Strauss in that his theory, “is not to reveal a mental structure but to show how the myths of a society, through their structure, communicate a conceptual order to the members of that society.” (Storey 120). Still both men could not come to an agreement since, “while Levi-Strauss’s primary concern is the structure of the human mind, Wright’s focus is on the way the Western ‘presents a symbolically simple but remarkably deep conceptualization of American social beliefs.’” (Storey 120).
In essence, the structuralism in the Batman movies are very similar to those in Westerns, as they both tie in various and often times conflicting representations of societal values as reflected by the way their lead actor is able to portray their particular role. Therefore, we will discuss both the social and cultural context of the portrayal and character of the Batman, with a focus on the actors, Adam West, Michael Keaton, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck, as well as drawing upon the parallels between Batman and certain iconic and famous Western film characters.
In the end, the synergy of the two types of characters, whether they are superheroes or cowboys, will demonstrate, in no uncertain terms, how they can impact a film based on how they choose to portray a character within the reference of the society they derive from.
In the mid to late 1950s, the Pop Art Movement exploded into the British and American cultures, “Pop reveled in cartoonish characters, cheap industrial tools, gimmicky special effects, a flattened-out and exaggerated use of colour, repetitious imagery, and factory-like production.” (Brooker 181).
By the time the 1960s rolled around, American society and art was immersed in a brassy stylishness dashed with vibrant, bright colors. When television producer William Dozier was eventually approached about taking on the new Batman television series, he was all aboard with keeping the Pop Art Movement continuing in full force and effect. In a stroke of genius that mirrored the age, Dozier created a unique, multi-colored show filled with live action and special effects that included both comic and cartoon art such as the “POW” and other comic action devices.
To round out his vision, Dozier was able to find the perfect leading man in the actor Adam West, who fully embraced his new role for both the television series that ran from 1966-1968 and in the Batman character’s first full length theatrical film in 1966.
Adam West’s Batman became the new poster boy for the “campy” culture that involved high fashion and the use of brilliant colors. Even his car – the Batmobile, was sleek and curved similar to the famous muscle cars of the era. As one reviewer of the show said, “the pop art fad . . . made Batman almost flop proof.” (Brooker 194). Writer David Gardner agreed, “Holy smokes, Batman – it’s Adam West! Whether you’re a fan of the ‘60s TV series or not, it’s impossible to argue that West’s campy take on the superhero didn’t leave a mark on American culture.” (Gardner 18).
The Batsuit West wore for the series and film even strayed from the traditional dark colors, as it was now light gray and purple with a bright thick yellow belt and adorned with a yellow ellipsed bat emblem to embrace the times. Immediately and forever more, Adam West became viewed as the loveable and likeable hero, with no apparent psychological undertones, that both the public and police embraced, similar to Gary Cooper’s character in High Noon (1952).
The film High Noon was produced by Stanley Kramer and directed by Fred Zinnemann, and it focused on a man named Will Kane, a marshal of a small New Mexico town who stands strong alone while the townspeople around him refuse to help. (Fontana). Like Gary Cooper, Adam West was a tall impressive, but also a likeable hero, whose very presence bled both respect and intimidation to the others.
After Adam West’s rise as the Caped Crusader ended, the Batman film industry hit a dry spell for over two decades. Then in 1989, Batman premiered, directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton as the Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker. After the long period off, the creative team decided they had to go back to the dark and lonely roots of superhero. One way they decided to get back to the roots, was by establishing Bruce Wayne’s back story of growing up as an orphan after watching his beloved parents get murdered by Jack Napier, who later turns into the Joker. This leads to Michael Keaton taking on the role of the vengeful hero who seeks revenge, and in fact, becomes the first Batman to deliberately kill and actually remained as the only till our latest in Ben Affleck’s portrayal of the Bat.
In Keaton’s Batman’s case, his outfit was pure black with the exception of the yellow utility belt and the yellow background around the black bat symbol. In essence, it was a darker and more rigid costume than Adam West’s Batman and it was also replete with built in armor and rubber costume material. The rigid suit was similar to the rigid times during the Reagan era America where no one took a backward step and the country, after the malaise of the Vietnam War era, came back onto the world stage with a vengeance – so did its Batman.
The 1980s was also the height of the era of the Cold War, that revolved around two nations – the United States and the Soviet Union, waiting to push the button to begin the descent into nuclear Armageddon. Though there was no visible war going on, the society was still aware of what was happening in places they could not see. It was similar to Keaton’s style of attack as Batman, hitting the sewers at the darkest of night, and seeking out the creatures that murked below.
In a way, Keaton’s Batman was similar to the avenging and solitary character the actor Clint Eastwood’s portrayed in the film, The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), as they both embraced the role of the vengeful hero after personally witnessing brutal murders in their immediate family. In Keaton’s Batman’s case it was against criminals in general and the Joker, played by actor jack Nicholson, in particular; while Eastwood’s Josey Wales went after the red-legged Union soldiers and its leaders who massacred his family.
Like the Joker in Adam West’s time, Nicolson’s Joker was also mean, but his meanness never had the edge that was displayed later by Heath ledger. Though still a killer, referring to himself as “the world’s first fully functioning homicidal artist,” (IMDB). Nicholson’s meanest remark in the film was “You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?” His Joker was also funny, smart, and shrewd compared to Ledger, whose Joker was mentally and emotionally unbalanced.
Also replete with the times, the mood was dark, but the colors and costumes, like the clothes and fashion of the 1980’s were colorful and garish and the women were sleek and sexy, like the famous singers of the time like Linda Ronstadt, Pat Benatar, and Stevie Nicks.
Though one major theme of the 1980s came after the premiere of the Batman; that was the skyrocketing of the Batman brand as a whole after the film became so immensely popular. So huge was this film that nearly every one who viewed it entered the movie theaters wearing shirts featuring a bat symbol. After the sequel, Batman Returns in 1992, director Tim Burton decided to not continue with the superhero series and Michael Keaton hung up his cape, as they watched the next two Batman films become one flop after another.
Christopher Nolan felt that it was his turn to revamp, not just the Batman movies, but superhero movies as a whole when he became the director for Batman Begins that premiered in 2005. Nolan would go on to make two more Batman movies, The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), subsequently referred to as the Dark Knight Trilogy. Christian Bale became the new Prince of Gotham for all three films and The Dark Knight Trilogy is now the gold standard of superhero cinema.
The Trilogy took on a whole new meaning when thinking about displaying realism in a movie. In the films, Nolan and Bale brought a new significance to the role of Batman, exploring the social and cultural concerns of the post 9/11 world and the fight against terrorism, “Nolan’s trilogy, particularly The Dark Knight, is on one level about how far it is moral to go when fighting a ‘war on terror.’” (Tranter). Though the focus will be mainly on the second film, The Dark Knight, all three films expressed similar realism.
“Batman Begins, displays an overt preoccupation with terrorism. From the use of fear as a weapon, to the plot to destroy Gotham’s most iconic skyscraper, the film allegorizes 9/11 in a way that is jarring in its bluntness.” (Feblowitz). Strong symbolism was even used on a promotional poster for The Dark Knight, “This imagery is hauntingly familiar. The flaming wing-shaped hole in the side of the building, the smoke-darkened sky, and flaming debris all conjure up painful memories. ‘Welcome to a World Without Rules,’ the caption reads dramatically.” (Feblowitz). Christian Bale’s Batman literally and figuratively took on the war against terrorism. The realism of the film truly peaked though, anytime the late Heath Ledger stepped onto the screen, for arguably the best portrayal of a villain or character in any film. In his role as the Joker Ledger revolutionized the super hero villain.
Heath Ledger’s Joker truly embodied what it meant to bring fear and terror to a city. The Joker’s plan in the film to bring down the city of Gotham was simple, “Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos.” (IMDB). Joker further explains that once social structures are brought down, everything else will then crumble. In effect, Ledger’s Joker represented the greatest forms of evil that takes place in our society and culture. As Alfred put it, “some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.” (IMDB). Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker became a reality of our darkest fears, a man with no morals and his only goal in mind blowing, mass destruction.
Bale’s portrayal of Batman was also complex due to the realism shown in the movies. He was the brooding hero, depicted as a villain to both the public and police. In The Dark Knight, Police Lieutenant Gordon described the Batman as, “the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight.” (IMDB). With Gotham in ruins and its citizen’s growing disloyalty for their city’s masked man, Bale’s Batman saw no other option but to take on the terrorist attacks, in hopes of defending his city.
This depiction of the hero draws some parallels to the rag tag, but talented and seasoned group of fighters seen in the film, The Magnificent Seven, made in 1960 and remade in 2016. The film depicts a group of gunmen who were hired in hopes of defending a small village from a group of bandits. Though the men were initially unwelcomed by the other villagers, they held their ground and won back the land, defeating the bandits. More importantly, these men that assembled to fight were not your average choir boys or members of the cloth. Instead, they were a group of gun fighting and gun slinging heroes and killers determined to defend the land and the townspeople. Bale’s Batman and the shootists in The Magnificence Seven showed similar moral character as their true hero inside comes out, as exemplified by their actions in helping and fighting for the disenfranchised and the underdogs. Christian Bale’s Batsuit for the Trilogy was an armored suit with the only real color coming from the bronze utility belt, while the rest of the costume was dark gray and black, making this the ideal suit for the hero known as the Dark Knight.
The theme of the fight against terror does not stop in regards to the most recent Batman films, but expands to the actual global effect of terrorism. Batman was only a reflection of the times he lived in.
Ben Affleck took on the role of the Batman in the latest films, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017). The people of Gotham turn their heads to Affleck’s portrayal of the aging superhero, who after years of fighting villains and crime, is depicted as a broken down shell of the man and hero he used to be. He is aging just as our society today is living older and lasting well beyond generations that preceded it. Batman, likewise, is seeing in America that, in addition to a human body aging and slowly fading away, common beliefs and intrinsic and moral values can also fade as well.
It is readily apparent just by looking at Affleck’s Batman, that the decades of battling bad guys and injustice has taken a toll on him. He is looking at America and the world, much like him, breaking down badly in both its values and culture; notwithstanding, the world still wants to rely on him to save the day. Almost sadly, Affleck’s Batman has realized that he cannot do it alone anymore, like back in his heyday, and that the world has gotten more complicated and significantly evil. In society now, there is no sense of respect and decency anymore. Respect has gone out the window and instead, everyone is looking out for themselves, leaving Batman alone to pick up the pieces, As he declares in the film, “We’ve seen what promises are worth. How many good guys are left? How many stayed that way?” (IMDB).
The Batsuit that Affleck’s Batman wears even displays the aging process with its almost canvas type looking material, and it is suited with more armor than we have seen in the past, indicating that this Batman needs more protection when fighting crime. The colors of the suit also show the worn out emotion of the man underneath, with its dull, faded gray coloring along with an even faded black for the bat symbol, mask and cape.
John Wayne was a Western movie hero for over 30 years, and by the time he starred in the film, True Grit (1669) he had become the broken down, one eyed, gun fighter of the aging U.S. Marshal Rueben “Rooster” Cogburn, in which he portrayed, with physical pains and limitations similar to that of Ben Affleck’s Batman. He also appears, like Batman, as a symbol of the Old West and culture that was disappearing swiftly and permanently from the landscape. Both him and Batman exist as nothing but aging dinosaurs on the dawn of extinction.
In Batman v Superman and Justice League, the enemies are not only from within, like the common criminals in the Lex Luther’s, but they are also from outside of this world. This could be analogy of what the world is like now because of with the technology and the internet, villainy has extended beyond cities, beyond states, and beyond countries. It is like a world wide net capable of destruction and evil deeds. For instance, in society, terrorist groups have fully taken advantage of the world wide net to aid in their recruitment and extend their violent, criminal activities to cities around the globe. Unlike the Adam West days, when the crimes and villains were localized to Gotham city, the criminals now are global in character and realization.
Basically, the world and society today is lacking a hero. There are no heroes nowadays and no confidence in politics, pubic figures or politicians and, once again, it takes the aging hero to come to the rescue the day again. “American audiences seem to want to watch movies in which gritty superheroes restore order, justice, and hope to imperiled societies. The resurgence of the campy superhero and waning of interest in superheroes will likely come again, but at this point, Americans may be too concerned about crime, terrorist attacks, and financial crises to begin laughing at such symbols of law, order, and justice.” (Bosch 51). It almost harkens back to the Simon and Garfunkel song, “Mrs. Robinson” referencing Joe DiMaggio because there were no more heroes. “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you … What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson, ‘Joltin Joe’ has left and gone away.” (AZLyrics). The songwriter has to transcend back to Joe DiMaggio because there are no more noble heroes left that could take his place. Similarly, as to Affleck’s Batman, society was forced to go back to the aging hero because there were no heroes left. He is the last vestige of the last of the true heroes, who happens to be just a mere mortal, “He is a man whose parents were killed, who swore to fight a war on crime armed only with his intellect, his physical abilities and his financial resources. He is a superhero with no superpowers.” (Tranter). “Batman has always been a liminal character suspended between the human and the superhuman, social as well as psychological normalcy and deviance, dystopian social realism and the fantastic.” (Cortiel and Oehme 10).
Through this discussion, I believe that Batman does in fact live up to his myth. The myth of Batman does have meaning seen through the structuralism used in the Batman films and the portrayal of the character. Adam West, Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, and Ben Affleck were able to represent social and cultural context through their portrayal of the character or the Batman, while also being able to make parallels between Western Movies and their main roles. Batman has been an icon of American culture for more almost eighty years, and what we have seen with the success of the character on the motion picture and television screens, it will not be ending anytime soon.
“As a man, I’m flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed; but as a symbol…as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.” (IMDB).
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Tranter, Rhys. “Batman Unmasked: Analyzing A Cultural Icon.” RhysTranter, 13 Dec. 2016.
Memories of the legendary and great caped crusader Adam West
Though Adam West, whose straight-faced portrayal of Batman in a 1960s TV series lifted the tight-clad Caped Crusader into the national consciousness, died at age 88 on June 9, 2017, his memory and legend lives on in the hearts and minds of super hero fans all over the world, especially those who flock to Metropolis, Illinois each year for the annual Superman Celebration.
West played the legendary superhero straight for kids and funny for adults. He initially chaffed at being typecast after “Batman” went off the air after three seasons, but in later years he admitted he was pleased to have had a role in kicking off a big-budget film franchise by showing the character’s wide appeal.
“You get terribly typecast playing a character like that,” he told The Associated Press in a 2014 interview.“But in the overall, I’m delighted because my character became iconic and has opened a lot of doors in other ways, too.” He returned to the role in an episode of the animated “The Simpsons.”
After serving in the Army, he went to Hollywood and changed his name to Adam West, and began appearing on a number of television series, including “Bonanza,” ”Perry Mason” and “Bewitched.”
The Batman television show, just like the comics that bear the same name, centered around two crime-fighting heroes who defend Gotham City from a variety of arch villains. It was known for its colorful characters, upbeat theme music, and its intentionally humorous, simplistic morality (aimed at its largely teenage audience). This included championing the importance of using seat belts, doing homework, eating vegetables, and drinking milk. During its heyday there was not a child in America who was not glued to their television sets when Batman aired.
When Adam West was a guest at the Superman Celebration he was one of the friendliest and warmest celebrities who ever appeared there. He was icon and a wonderful person and his legion fans have never forgotten him.
Superman Dean Cain, the volunteers of Metropolis, and The USA Boxing News take flight during the annual Superman Celebration
Story by Alexander J. Rinaldi and John Rinaldi
Photos by Janine Rinaldi, Juliann Rinaldi and Alex Rinaldi
If there ever is a great weekend of fun and festivities where a family can get the most of their fistful of dollars, it is at the annual Superman Celebration that is held the second weekend in Metropolis, Illinois. It is a 4-day event where people can participate in wonderful activities, purchase super hero merchandise at reasonable prices, meet celebrities, and have a simply wonderful time.
The 2017 Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois, was no exception as they celebrated the greatest super hero of all-time – Superman!
Superman is given a lot of space in our newspaper and website because it is the only super hero with major connections to boxing. The favorite Superman actor of all-time, George Reeves, who portrayed “The Man of Steel” during the classic The Adventures of Superman television series that aired from 1952 to 1958 with 104 spectacular episodes, was a former amateur boxing champion, who was also considered a prime light heavyweight professional prospect. Due to the pleadings of his mother, he reluctantly traded in his gloves for the footlights, which turned out to be boxing’s loss, but the Superman fans’ gain. If one would watch the first two seasons of the series, where there was more physical violence, George Reeves threw his punches just like those of a well-trained fighter with his fists turned in as he blasted away at villains on the memorable TV series.
Another mighty boxing connection is Jack O’Halloran, who played Non, one of the trio of Kryptonian villains (along with Terence Stamp (General Zod) and Sarah Douglas (Ursa) as the other two super villains), who terrorized the planet Earth and Superman in the classic Superman (1978) and Superman II (1981) films. Not only was O’Halloran part of the Kryptonian trio, who are not only the best villains to ever appear in a super hero film, he was a heavyweight contender during one of boxing’s golden ages in the 1970’s.
The USA Boxing News has been publishing his interview series in its newspaper with many more segments to come. O’Halloran was not only a talented heavyweight, who would easily be a champion today, he is a terrific actor and a Superman icon.
Another Superman connection was in 1978, when DC Comics published the epic Superman vs. Muhammad Ali jumbo comic book. In the 72-page comic, Superman joined forces with heavyweight king Muhammad Ali to defeat a species of aliens called the Scrubb (on the cover of the comic they are referred to as The Star Warriors) from destroying Earth. The story was by Dennis O’Neil and was adapted to the comic book by Neal Adams, who also did the pencil work, and the inking was completed by Terry Austin and Dick Giordano. On the cover, many celebrities from 1978 are in attendance, such as President Jimmy Carter, Bob Hope, John Wayne, Woody Allen, and many others. Boxing promoter Don King and trainer Angelo Dundee are also prominently featured on the iconic cover.
The celebrities on hand at the 2017 Superman Celebration were Dean Cain, who played Superman in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman from 1993-1997, Sarah Douglas, one of the Kryptonian villains stated earlier, Margot Kidder, who portrayed Lois Lane in Superman, Superman II, Superman II and Superman IV from 1978 to 1987, and James Marsters, who portrayed Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, along with playing Brainiac/Milton Fine in the great Smallville series.
Cain was a legendary football star at Princeton University and was drafted by the Buffalo Bills, but suffered a career-ending knee injury. The former Superman actor has always been a boxing fan, who told The USA Boxing News, “I always liked the sport of boxing and admire the great athletes who participate in it. I may not have boxed myself, but I was sure in a lot of scrapes when I was younger, where I handled myself pretty well.”
Besides the celebrities on hand, who were a joy to meet, there were the activities, food stands, super hero merchandise booths and shops, and of course, the giant 15-foot Superman statue that stands in the town square.
Jim Hambrick is another looming figure for the Superman Celebration, who erected two unbelievable and fantastic museums in the town. The Super Museum (http://www.supermuseum.com) is a wonderful place to see various Superman props, merchandise, photos, posters, video games and original screen-worn costumes from the 1930’s to the present day. Reasonably priced, a visitor can spend hours fascinated by all the items on display.
If that museum were not enough, the enterprising Jim Hambrick also owns the massive and expansive Americana Hollywood Museum (http://americanahollywood.com), which not only has Superman memorabilia, but also items such as The Lost and Space robot, the Batboat and Batshield from the Batman series, the shoes worn by Boris Karloff in the classic 1931 Frankenstein film, original Elvis Presley outfits, Superman toys, and tons more to see. It is another museum where the patron can walk through the various rooms and spend hours of enjoyment with all the rare artifacts on display. Is is a marvelous museum for the film, entertainment and toy enthusiasts.
Both the Super Museum and American Museum have an admission price of only $5.00, which is unheard of in today’s world of high-priced museums. They are both well worth the look and time.
The activities at the 2017 Superman Celebration began on Thursday with the very popular Superman Road Race held at the Fort Massac State Park. It is a mostly flat, 2-mile walk and 4-mile running race, which goes along the Ohio River and through the streets of Metropolis, Afterwards, there is an awards ceremony and raffles are held. Each runner receives a colorful Superman shirt and towel and portions of the proceeds go to charity. It is fun experience and a great event to start off the Superman Celebration Weekend.
Friday is the day the the population of fans begin to rise and the celebrities start to meet the throng and later participate in a Q&A panel with the crowd. Events of note were various Superman Meet and Greets held by Superman web sites, a Superman Radio Show that featured live actors and sound effects, films of George Reeves played at the Baymont Theater, Muley and Friends Puppet Show, DC vs. Marvel Tug of War, Super Cruise-In Classic Car Show, USA Championship Wrestling, Kids Super Hero Costume Contest, and a restored International version of Superman – The Movie on view at the town’s Baymont Theater.
Another highlight included the Lemon Lane eating contest at the Man of Steel tent that featured home-made lemon pies and was hosted by Karla Ogle. Each participant received a free super hero apron, along with a mouthful of wonderful pie!
Another big event of the day was sponsored by The USA Boxing News and it is the popular Superman Trivia Game hosted by the Rinaldi Family. It is based on the Jeopardy Game, but in this instance, the audience are also asked questions, where there is a series of Superman questions, Smallville questions and questions aimed at the kids. Hundreds of prizes, such as t-shirts, toys, backpacks, earphones, hats, capes, bags and other awards are given out at each game.
The Superman Trivia Game is hosted by the Hall of Fame editors of The USA Boxing News – John and Alex Rinaldi. Smallville questions were given by Janine Rinaldi, Kids questions were presented by Juliann Rinaldi, and Alexander Rinaldi handled the management of prizes and threw out Superman Jeopardy footballs to the delighted audience. Questions in the past have also been handled by Joseph Rinaldi and Ron John Rinaldi.
In the first game at 12:00 PM, the contestants on stage were John Ray Perez, of Linton, IN, Zach Curtis, of Columbus, OH, Chris Brockow, of Medord, NJ, Kaman Stowell, of Cleveland, OH, Mackenzie Howell, of Cleveland, OH, and Daniel Layne, of Paragould, AR. Sheri Jewell, of Benton, OH, was the scorekeeper and Melody Morse, of Murray City, OH, was in charge of crossing out the categories when a question was asked.
The categories on the Superman Jeopardy board were: SMALLVILLE, SUPERMAN ON TELEVISION, SUPERMAN I, II, III AND IV, 21st CENTURY SUPERMAN MOVIES, SUPERGIRL AND SUPERMAN POTPOURRI.
Saturday was the day that Dean Cain and James Marsters appeared to greet the fans and participate in the popular Q&A sessions before a packed audience.
Other fun Saturday activities featured the Superman Classic Push/Pull Competition, Super Silly Games, Kiwanis Superman Trek Bike Ride, Washer Pitching Tournament, Artists’ Alley & Writers’ Way, Jason Lindsey with Hooked on Science, the Sonshine Amusements Rides, Color a Cape, Beautiful Baby Contest, Supergirl & Super boy Pageant and the Superdog Show.
The USA Boxing News’ second sponsored Superman Trivia took place at 2:00 PM and featured Daniel Layne, of Paragould, AR, Neil Cole, of Conway, SC, David Scheuer, of New York City, NY, Bill Roberts, of Indianapolis, IN, Chris Brockow, of Medford, NJ, and Dale Rehm, of Madison WI. The scorekeeper was Helen Brockow, of Medford, NJ.
As seen by the contestants and participants, the Superman Celebration attracts fans from all over the country, and from places all over the planet.
In another thrilling game, where over 105 t-shirts alone were given to those in the audience, long-time contestant Daniel Layne pulled off an upset to capture the championship, holding off a tough challenge by former Superman Jeopardy champ Chris Brockow. After years of playing, this was the first win by Daniel Layne, who won in a terrific battle of Superman knowledge!
The Saturday Superman Trivia Game hosted by John and Alex Rinaldi was packed to the rafters at the Metro Tent and, along with the Celebrity Q&A sessions, the Superman Trivia Game were the top attractions of the Celebration in terms of the number of fans who attended the events.
During the evening there was the Save the Massac Benefit Auction hosted by Lisa Gower, the President of the organization, and other members of the Save the Massac Committee. It is an important event because all of the items for the auction were donated and the entire funds went toward the renovation of a once proud theater that was built in 1938 with a total of 727 seats – 542 on the main floor and 185 in the balcony. In the days before television, boxing events were seen live at the venues and listened to over the radio. The only other way to see the fights was later through the fight films that played in such town theaters as the Massac in Metropolis, IL. From 1938 to the late 1950’s, movies of memorable championship battles, such as Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling II, Joe Louis vs. Tony Galento, Joe Louis vs. Billy Conn I, Rocky Marciano vs. Jersey Joe Walcott I and II, Rocky Marciano vs. Ezzard Charles I and II, Rocky Marciano vs. Don Cockell, Rocky Marciano vs. Roland LaStarza, Rocky Marciano vs. Archie Moore and plenty of other famous bouts were seen by boxing fans at the Massac Theater. For those interested of helping restore the wonderful theater, go to the website: http://www.savethemassac.com. Any amount given towards the great cause goes 100% towards the project. Everyone on the staff is a hardworking volunteer. It is a worthy project to donate funds to.
Later that evening, Tim Gardner and Zach Curtis sponsored another Superman Auction event that drew a nice crowd and there were plenty of incredible items to bid on.
At 12:30, Chris and Helen Brockow hosted the popular Stump the Superman Expert Game at the Metro Tent. This event has been held over the past few years and attracts a big crowd. Prizes such as Stump The Superman t-shirts, Superman DVD movies, Superman books, and other prizes are handed out.
After that event, was the Parade of Characters along Market Street, the WMOK Super Mannequin Challenge at the Superman Statue area, the MSC Heroes and Villain Costume Contest at the Metro Tent, and the final event was the Superman Scavenger Hunt at the Smallville Tent.
Another fun thing at the Superman Celebration are all the people who stroll around the town square dressed in various super hero and super villain costumes. They are always friendly and great to pose for photographs with. The costumed characters are another special attraction during the fabulous Superman Celebration.
Next year will be the Celebration’s 40th Anniversary and who knows what memorable events will be planned.
So next year, if you are looking for adventure, set your sights and take to skies (or the road) to attend the Annual Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois.
Superman Celebration June 8-11 – Metropolis, Illinois
2016 Superman Celebration
Story by John and Alex Rinaldi
The 2016 Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois, opened on a somber note, due to the sad fact that 230 miles away in the city of Louisville, located in the neighboring state of Kentucky, the great Muhammad Ali was being laid to rest in his hometown.
As a tribute to Muhammad Ali, on display in the Super Museum owned by Jim Hambrick, nestled in the center of Metropolis, is the statuette of the epic battle between Superman “The Man of Steel” and Muhammad “The Greatest” Ali. The item is based on the famous 72-page, 1978 Superman vs. Muhammad Ali comic book that was penned from an original story by Dennis O’Neil, adapted by Neal Adams (who also did the pencils and figure inks) and background inks by Terry Austin. The story featured heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali being recruited by the Earth’s greatest hero Superman to save the world from an alien invasion.
Also exhibited at the Super Museum are plenty of items related to former amateur boxing champion George Reeves, who portrayed “The Last Son of Krypton” in the 1950’s television series The Adventures of Superman. Reeves’ Superman costume, Clark Kent suit, fedora, glasses and original set pieces from the iconic, groundbreaking series are on display for fans to enjoy. To make the Superman boxing connection even more complete, on the actual typewriter used by Clark Kent (George Reeves) in his Daily Planet office, sits a copy of The USA Boxing News showcasing Reeves’ career.
As usual, there was also an abundance of activities and fun events on hand to entertain the huge crowds that make a yearly pilgrimage to the banks of the Ohio River on the southernmost part of Illinois. One such activity on Saturday night was a charity auction to raise funds to restore Metropolis’ historic Massac Theatre, a 1930’s era art-deco theater that not only played memorable movies through the years, but also post-fight championship films featuring many classic Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano battles. In fact, On January 20, 1970, the Massac was one of 1500 theaters that premiered the one night-only viewing of the Rocky Marciano vs. Muhammad Ali computer fight that was shown in theaters in the United States, Canada and throughout Europe, grossing a whopping $5 million.
Lisa Gower, who heads the Save the Massac Benefit, said that the auction earned $3,068.64. It is a great cause and The USA Boxing News was more than happy to donate some items to help raise funds to renovate a bygone era building that hopes to entertain a new generation of movie and theater goers well into the 21st Century.
There were similarly a plethora of fun events for people of all ages such as The Superman Radio Show, illusionist Morgan Strebler, Superman Homepage Meet & Greet, Superman Supersite Meet & Greet, Kids Superhero Costume Contest, Super Silly Games, Comics Workshop with Josh Elder, Superman Road Race, Superman Film Festival, Super Friends Bowling, Kiwanis Superman Trek Bike Ride, Jason Lindsey Hooked on Science, Super Cruise-In Classic Car Show, Freestyle BMX Bike Show, Superman vs. Batman Tug of War, Artists Alley and Puppet Making with Kevin Williams and Muley, among the many other events in store for visitors and Superman enthusiasts.
In addition to the other events, The USA Boxing News each year sponsors a Superman Trivia (Jeopardy) Game, which is performed on Friday and Saturday afternoon to packed houses. Hosted by the editors of The USA Boxing News, John and Alex Rinaldi, trivia questions are given out not only to the contestants onstage, but also to the audience in attendance. If that is not enough, at the end of the second game on Saturday, prizes are also given out to anyone who did not win during the Friday and Saturday games. Just like the fourteen previous years, this year featured plenty of fun and high drama as Patrick James O’Neil surprisingly edged out perennial champion Chris Brockow in both games to become once again a Superman Trivia Champion! With the pair of victories in both 2015 and 2016, O’Neil is now a 4-straight Superman Trivia Champion and is without question the man to beat in 2017. So fans and future contestants, be on the lookout for him next year!
One of the Superman Trivia contestants and former champion, Zach Curtis, hosted a Superman Collectibles Meet and Greet, which he followed up with a fascinating auction of his own. Zach’s Superman Collectibles can also be followed on FACEBOOK.
Longtime Superman Celebration head Karla Ogle hosted the “Superhero Serial” Eating Contest, where contestants had their choice of either the Superman or Batman cereals. The event filled up the Man of Steel tent and produced a lot of laughs and thrills for both the participants and the audience. The first contestant to finish her/his large bowl of cereal was declared the champion. To the surprise of many of hand, the winner was none other than The USA Boxing News’ own Editor and Publisher, John Rinaldi!
On Sunday, June 12, the wonderful Superman Celebration concluded with the 30th Annual Metropolis Rotary Club Super Car Show, the USAA Arm Wrestling Tournament, the Parade of Superheroes and Super Villains, the MSC Heroes and Villain Costume Contest and the Superman Closing Ceremony.
Also on Sunday was another crowd favorite, the Stump the Superman Expert Game hosted by Chris and Helen Brockow. Once again, fans were able to test their Superman expertise to outsmart other knowledgeable Superman aficionados.
In Metropolis, other sights and places to visit besides the Super Museum are the fascinating Americana Hollywood Museum and Fort Massac.
Each year the Annual Superman Celebration gathers a large crowd of people from all points on the globe, who enjoy the events, games, attractions, food vendors, souvenir vendors, museums and celebrities. Unlike many attractions across the United States, the prices are either free or extremely affordable. Either way, a splendid and super time is guaranteed for all who attend.
Up, up and away to the 2017 Superman Celebration!
THE USA BOXING NEWS SPONSORS ITS 16TH ANNUAL SUPERMAN JEOPARDY GAME IN METROPOLIS, ILLIONOIS DURING THE SUPERMAN CELEBRATION
THE ANNUAL SUPERMAN CELEBRATION AND ITS SUPER BOXING CONNECTION
George Reeves is honored – a man who traded in his boxing gloves for a red cape
Story by Joseph Rinaldi and Ron John Rinaldi
METROPOLIS, IL. In times like today when families have to squeeze the most out of their hard earned dollars, especially for vacations, an event that always proves to be a mighty one is the annual Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois.
And it is a celebration certainly worth going to.
Although everyone knows the almost biblical tale of the child from another planet who grows up to be a positively super-man among earthlings, many are not aware of the connection between The Man Of Steel and those who fight with fists of steel, namely boxing and boxers. Not surprisingly, Boxing and Superman have always shared a close historical relationship.
Little do people realize that boxing plays an important part in Superman lore. When Max Schmeling was preparing for his fabled 1938 rematch with Joe Louis in 1938, Germany celebrated Schmeling as an “Aryan Superman.”
When the great Rocky Marciano was an unbeatable heavyweight champion during the 1950’s, he was known as a “Superman” in the ring.
Besides the metaphorical comparisons, former title challenger Buddy Baer actually appeared in an episode in the 1950’s classic television show, The Adventures of Superman, and former heavyweight boxing contender Jack “The Giant” O’Halloran, who fought such renowned heavyweights as George Foreman, Ron Lyle, Joe Bugner, Ken Norton, Cleveland Williams and Terry Daniels, appeared as the Kryptonian villain Non in two classic films, Superman The Movie and Superman II.
An even more interesting connection is the comic book story where the legendary Muhammad Ali fought Superman in the famous late 1970’s comic book, Superman vs. Muhammad Ali: The Fight To Save Earth From the Star-Warriors.
In fact, the greatest and most beloved actor yet to play Superman was actually a light-heavyweight fighter who boxed during his college years in the late 1930’s. This boxer was none other than the illustrious George Reeves.
Reeves was born George Brewer Reeves in Woolstock, Iowa in 1914. His parents later divorced and his mother then married Frank Bessolo, who adopted George. The future “Man of Steel” soon took up the name George Bessolo and fought under the same name.
In 1932, a Pasadena, California sportswriter named Mannie Pineta, who once sparred with Reeves, later said in Garry Grossman’s Superman Serial To Serial book, “George was the greatest ring prospect in 1932. His mother wouldn’t let him fight, because she was afraid that he’d get banged up and ruin his budding acting career.”
Although George became a highly talented and gifted collegiate boxing champion, on account of his nose being badly broken in a fight, which was the seventh time it happened, George’s mother eventually begged him to leave the ring. The young man then took up acting, and changed his name back to George Reeves. Within a few short years, this strapping young actor appeared in 1939’s classic film Gone With The Wind.
Twelve years later, Reeves would go from appearing in the biggest film of all-time to playing the biggest part ever in what was to be an iconic role in the soon to be legendary The Adventures of Superman television series.
In 1951, George initially signed on to appear as “The Man of Steel” in Superman and the Mole Men. After the filming of the movie, George then began starring in the television show The Adventures of Superman from 1951 to 1957. If one looks closely at the series, especially the Season One episodes, Reeves’ Superman throws punches just like that of a prizefighter.
In 1959, with the popularity of the show still mounting, George was contracted to film an additional season of 26 episodes as well as go on an exhibition tour with the then reigning light heavyweight champion Archie Moore. Sadly, he was murdered on June 16, 1959. Because of a reportedly corrupt at the time Los Angeles Police Department, his death was wrongly ruled a suicide to shield the real killers, who were either one of the three suspects: (1) his current girlfriend, who had a history of violence, (2)his former girlfriend, who was still infatuated with him, or (3) his former girlfriend’s big shot Hollywood executive husband, who apparently had major underworld and police connections.
Regardless of who the murderer was, George Reeves cruelly met an untimely and tragic death at age 45.
But, though everyone dies, only few survive in the hearts and minds of others long after their death. These are the legends, the icons, the bigger than life characters, celebrities or historical figures who somehow manage to develop a post-life, a shelf-life, a cult existence, so to speak, well beyond what was ever imagined or expected.
Thankfully, in Metropolis, Reeves’ memory still lives vividly on as his costumes and memorabilia are on display at the Super Museum run by the world renowned super collector Jim Hambrick.
Each year the town of Metropolis, which also has a colorful 15 ft. statue of Superman standing directly in the town square, honors the most famous super hero of them all – Superman!
In addition to that, other attractions to see in the magical hamlet known as Metropolis is a life-size statue of Noel Neill, the popular actress who played Lois Lane in The Adventures of Superman from 1953-1958, and the Americana Hollywood Museum, which is wonderful museum filled with priceless show biz memorabilia, including the robot from the legendary Lost in Space series, the shoes of the monster worn by Boris Karloff in the classic horror film Frankenstein, along with a plethora of other exciting exhibits. From Elvis, to Marylyn Monroe, to Harry Houdini, to John “The Duke” Wayne, celebrities and other icons almost magically come to life in this one of a kind museum.
It is widely and often said that “sometimes it takes a village,” and a village Metropolis certainly is. Still, the celebration stemmed from the brainchild of Jim Hambrick, who has the largest collection of Superman memorabilia in the entire world. Beginning originally as a traveling museum, Hambrick eventually took his storied collection with him and settled in Southern Illinois. Located on the border of Illinois and Kentucky, separated only by the Ohio River, Hambrick eventually staked down his flag in the Town of Metropolis. Starting with a permanent Super Museum then later with the Americana Hollywood Museum, the great collector finally found that special home to display not only his vast Superman collection, but also his other priceless and rare movie memorabilia along with various entertainment artifacts.
The U.S.A. Boxing News is also honored in a display in the Super Museum that features the original furniture and props from the classic 1950’s TV show The Adventures of Superman. Other displays include the original costumes of iconic 1950’s Superman TV star George Reeves and Superman movie star Christopher Reeve, along with original items, costumes, and props from Smallville, Superboy, Supergirl and Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
Besides Jim Hambrick, the other heroes of the celebration are Celebration Chairpersons Karla Ogle and Lisa Gower, along with the entire Metropolis Tourism staff, featuring a crew of workers and volunteers who provide a wonderful time for all the visitors who attend from nearly forty states and countries are far off as Australia.
In 2005, the editors of The USA Boxing News, John and Alex Rinaldi, were proudly awarded with the SUPERMAN OF METROPOLIS Award in recognition of superior achievement by the Metro-Chamber in the great city of Metropolis, home of Superman, and in the spirit of Superman, by helping to make the world a better place.
In the following year, 2006, which was an exciting one for the Celebration with the release of the popular film Superman Returns, the Rinaldi Family (John, Alex, Janine, Ron John, Alexander, Juliann, and Joseph) achieved the highest honor by being awarded the George “Superman” Reeves Award, which is known simply as “The George” Award. The Award has the same size and look as the Academy Awards’ “Oscar” statuette. But instead of being just a bare, stark statuette, “The George” Award bears the likeness of George Reeves in his famous superman pose.
At the recent 2015 Superman Celebration, events included the Superman Road Race at Ft. Massac State Park, Super Fan Baseball Game, Puppetry for Television Workshop, “Fortress of Jellotude” Eating Contest hosted by Karla Ogle, Super City Crossfit Challenge, K9 Trick Dog Show, Kids Superhero Costume Contest, Costume Parade, Superman v. Batman Tug of War, USA Championship Wrestling with Jerry Lawlor, Superman Classic Push/Pull Competition, Superman Radio Show, Superman Supersite Meet and Greet, Superman Homepage Meet and Greet, Freestyle Connection BMX Bike Show, Superman Scavenger Hunt, Heroes and Villain Costume Contest, and the Stump the Superman Expert Game Show hosted by world-known Superman expert Chris Brockow and his wife Helen, along with many other fun activities.
Even the editors of The U.S.A. Boxing News join in the festivities as they annually present their highly anticipated and popular Superman Trivia Game both on Friday and Saturday afternoon. Hosted by John and Alex Rinaldi, along with assistance from their children Joseph, Ron John, Alexander, Juliann and Janine, the two performances score a knockout every year with the fans. This past year was doubly thrilling when contestant Patrick O’Neal became a 2-time Superman Trivia champion by capturing a pair of come-from-behind victories.
Another fantastic part of the celebration is that there are many people walking along the street dressed up as a Super Heroes or well-known Villains. The Superman Celebration is the only place in the world where it is actually cool to walk around as a costumed hero. In a wholly memorable way, the Super Heroes also bring a sense of imagination to the festivities as the characters actually love posing with fans.
Another popular attraction are the celebrity guests that visit and greet the fans. In the past former Superman actors Kirk Alyn from the Superman Serials in 1948 and 1950, Dean Cain from Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman that ran from 1993-1997, and Brandon Routh from 2006’s Superman Returns (and who is now playing Atom Man in the CW’s Arrow and the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow show) have made their way to Metropolis to wow and excite the crowds.
Besides the actors who played Superman, other guests in the past included such actors from the popular show Smallville as John Schneider (Jonathan Kent and also Bo Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard show), Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor), Allison Mack (Chloe Sullivan), John Glover (Lionel Luthor), Cassidy Freeman (Tess Mercer), Justin Hartley (Oliver Queen/Green Arrow), Sam Witmer (Davis Bloome/Doomsday), Laura Vandervoort (Kara/Supergirl), Alessandro Juliani (Dr. Emile Hamilton and also Officer Sekowsky from 2013’s Man of Steel blockbuster film) and Alaina Huffman (Black Canary).
There were also two actors who played the title character in the Superboy TV series that ran from 1988-1992, John Haymes Newton (Season 1) and Gerard Christopher (Seasons 2-4) who also made visits to the Annual Superman Celebration.
Without a doubt, one of the best celebrities ever to appear, as well as being a major fan favorite, was none other Adam West, who played the title character in the iconic Batman series that ruled the airwaves from 1966-1968. West was generous with his time, was friendly with the fans, and was an all-round wonderful man.
The guests at the 2015 Celebration were Candice Patton (Iris West on The Flash TV program), Caity Lotz (Black Canary on the Arrow TV show), Diane Sherry Case (Lana Lang from Superman: The Movie), Stacy Haiduk (Lana Lang from the Superboy TV series), and John Shea (Lex Luthor from Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman TV show).
The Superman Celebration is also the type of event where one could develop lifelong friendships. The Rinaldi Family can vouch for that.
The celebration is hosted by the Metropolis Area Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by the City of Metropolis and the Metropolis Area Tourism Commission.
Like in the sport of boxing, all of the workers and volunteers of Metropolis are Champions in their own right. They make the early part of summer days – into Super Days, for the guests that arrive from all over the planet.
So next year if you want to go somewhere for a long weekend and have a wonderful time, all you have to do is look up in the sky and fly out to Metropolis, Illinois for the 2016 Superman Celebration. A super time is guaranteed for all!
Information concerning the Superman Celebration can be obtained from the following website: http://www.supermancelebration.net
MUHAMMAD ALI V. SUPERMAN
The Comic Book Fight of the Century
By John and Alex Rinaldi
In 1978, DC Comics rocked the sports and comic book worlds when it published an oversized comic book featuring the popular and iconic heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali facing the mightiest of super heroes – the one and only Superman – in a fight to save the Earth from the Star-Warriors called the Scrubb. Written by Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams and drawn by Adams, Dick Giordano and Terry Austin, the story and likeness not only had to be approved by DC Comics, but also by Muhammad Ali and the Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. Besides the story involving the fantastic pairing of Muhammad Ali and Superman, is the cover artwork that makes the issue so memorable and such a big collector’s item to this day.
Taking a page out of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band record album, the Ali vs. Superman comic features on its cover and back page, comic likenesses of giants in the entertainment and sports arenas, as well as those in the comic book and super hero worlds. Even U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford were prominent at ringside for the battle. Some of the more notable personalities were The Beatles, Cher, Johnny Carson, The Jackson Five, Ron Howard, Noel Neil, Jack Larson, Donny and Marie Osmond, Christopher Reeve, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Woody Allen, John Wayne, Lucille Ball and Dick Clark, to name just a few. Besides that, there were sports celebrities such as Pele and Joe Namath, and even the creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster. Not to be satisfied with real-life people, the cover also includes some legendary super heroes in their secret identity forms, such as Barry Allen (Flash), Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), Diana Prince (Wonder Woman), Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) and Ray Palmer (Atom). Batman and Plastic Man were also ringside, as well as Mad Magazine’s cover boy Alfred E. Neuman. To promote the Ali vs. Superman comic, DC had ads looking like actual fight posters in their line of comic books ballyhooing the upcoming comic superfight. The Comic begins with the aliens Scrubb, from the Planet Bodace, threatening to destroy the planet Earth unless it sends its greatest fighter to face Bodace’s champion Hun‘Ya.
Since it is without question that Superman and Ali are the planet’s most famous fighters, they both agree to a boxing match to determine who gets the honor of fighting Hun’Ya. The only problem for Superman is that he and Ali have to fight on the planet Bodace, which is near the red sun. This in effect diminishes Superman’s powers, thereby making Ali the more complete and compelling fighter when all things are equal. The story features thrills, an action-packed narrative, and surprises. It is not everyday that “The Greatest” faces off in the squared ring against Krypton’s “Man of Steel” with the whole world watching. It was so popular that the comic was later re-released in 2010. It is just another example of Superman’s connection to the sport of boxing.
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