1959 was a very good year for me. I was 11 years old and the White Sox were winning their first pennant in 40 years. But one day in that year was terrible. On the morning of June 17, 1959, my mother had sent me to the corner store for a gallon of milk. While in the store, I looked down at the newspapers and there was a terrible headline and some sickening photos. George Reeves, the actor who had played Superman in the 1950s television show and a hero to millions of kids, had killed himself. I was horrified and sickened by the story, and I could not bring myself to believe it.
In 2006, Hollywoodland was produced starring Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, and Ben Affleck. The film takes an intriguing look at Reeves' death and considers three possible scenarios: 1) that Reeves was killed at the behest of his former mistress; 2) that he was killed accidentally by his then girlfriend; and 3) that he had deliberately taken his own life. Brody does an excellent job playing the role of Louis Simo investigating the death at on behalf of Reeves' mother. Lane is superb playing Toni Mannix, Reeves' mistress. And Affleck is outstanding playing "the Man of Steel," George Reeves.
The movie can be depressing, but it is very thought provoking. After viewing the movie, I considered other possibilities besides murder or suicide. Neither the movie nor other reports I have read considered the possibility that Reeves may have accidentally killed himself. Both the official reports and the movie show that Reeves had been drinking heavily at the time of his death. Could he have shot himself with a gun that he thought was unloaded? If he had thought he had previously unloaded the gun, and forgotten that he had reloaded it, or if some other person had reloaded it, that would make it an accident, not suicide or murder. I doubt we will ever know, but for kindness sake, I choose to believe he did not realize the gun was loaded at the time of his death.
Ordinarily I don't like sad movies, but this one is excellent and it opened up a possibility that I had not considered.
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