Hollywood Kryptonite: The Bulldog, The Lady, and the Death of Superman

Hollywood Kryptonite Cover Art  Hollywood Kryptonite: The Bulldog, The Lady, and the Death of Superman (St. Martins’ Press, 1996).

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When George Reeves, who had achieved international fame by playing Superman for five years on TV, was found dead by gunshot in 1959, the death was officially recorded as a suicide. According to Kashner and Schoenberger (A Talent for Genius), however, unanswered details about Reeves’s demise shroud what in truth was foul play. In this page-turning hybrid of bio and murder mystery, the authors entertainingly pick at the loose ends and point their pens at a killer. Reeves, they show, was hardly as wholesome as his TV image implied. His life was filled with hard-drinking men, manipulative women, mafiosos and a career that plummeted like a comet after The Adventures of Superman went off the air. The authors set down this B movie-style tale with hard-boiled relish. They introduce archetypal sleazebag characters with an entertaining terseness?”Eddie was a tough guy with a heart of tungsten”; “Leonore Lemmon wore the reddest lipstick in New York”?that occasionally veers into cheap Hammett imitations. The well-articulated backdrop of low-budget TV production only enhances the cheesy milieu, however. By laying out Reeves’s life before solving the mystery of his death, the authors present the equivalent of a crisp black-and-white TV docudrama, and manage to evoke all the irresistibly creepy nostalgia of a bygone era.

From Booklist

George Reeves is not unique among Tinseltowners for dying in strange circumstances. What makes his death of greater lasting interest than other dubious Hollywood suicides is his fame, then and still, as star of the lovably low-tech 1950s syndicated TV series, Superman. And it must be admitted, the circumstances are tantalizing. His fiancee gave a nearly perfect account of his death as it occurred, even though they were on different floors of the house. There were three other people in the house when Reeves died, all apparently too drunk to make sense when questioned. And so forth. Kashner and Schoenberger dig deep to re-create Reeves’ death and the events that led to it. Their detective work is convincing, and their solution to the mystery plausible. They tell their story entertainingly and bring its characters to life. In evoking the milieu of 1950s Hollywood and providing a provocative perspective on the Reeves suicide story, their effort is truly more powerful than a locomotive. Mike Tribby

About the Author

Nancy Schoenberger and Sam Kashner are a married writing team who have co-authored the biography of Oscar Levant (A TALENT FOR GENIUS, recently optioned for film by Ben Stiller and Dreamworks) as well as HOLLYWOOD KRYPTONITE (a source for Focus Features movie HOLLYWOODLAND, starring Ben Affleck and Adrien Brody). Schoenberger’s 2001 biography of Lady Caroline Blackwood (DANGEROUS MUSE) was published by Nan A. Talese Books/Doubleday. The couple also contribute articles to Vanity Fair.