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The Evolution of Superman

March 7, 2014

#1 1940 - Ray Middleton

Ray Middleton ) was born in Chicago, Illinois, and he was the first man to ever play Superman in public. Ray Middleton donned the Superman outfit on July 3, 1940, during the New York World's Fair's "Superman Day" as the "Man of Tomorrow" Exhibition. A live Superman radio broadcast was performed from the fairgrounds and DC also published a special edition "World's Fair Comics" for sale exclusively at the fair. It is interesting to note Superman's costume, including his "Superman" emblazoned chest emblem, cape, tights and lace-style boots. Ray Middleton was chosen for this exciting role due to his fame and talent as a performer at the time.

#2 1948 - Kirk Alyn

Actor Kirk Alyn will always be remembered for starring in the first television appearance of Superman. Kirk Alyn began his show business career as a chorus boy on Broadway. Although the actor had starred in some minor movie roles, his first big break came with the title role in the serial 'Superman'. 'Superman' was well received by fans, especially the younger ones, and this also led to Kirk Alyn gaining a starring role in another television series - 'Atom Man vs. Superman'. Unfortunately after both of these movies, the actor surprisingly found it difficult to land other major parts, so he soon retired in Arizona.

#3 1951 - George Reeves

George Reeves has been hailed as the most popular actor to ever portray Superman and his alter-ego Clark Kent, due to his charismatic nature. Reeves was offered the role of Superman in the television series titled 'Adventures of Superman' in June 1951. What most people don't know, however, was that the actor was initially reluctant to take the role because he considered television unimportant and believed few would see his work. This was during a time when theater remained hugely popular and influential. George Reeves began his Superman career with the film 'Superman and the Mole Men', and he then began production for the series 'Adventures of Superman'. The series aired in 1952, and Reeves was amazed at becoming a national celebrity so quickly.

#4 1966 - Bob Holiday

Bob Holiday is most famous for his role as the first ever singing Superman. What some also find surprising is the fact that the actor has played Superman more than any other actor (over 140 performances), as well as several live appearances in character. He is also the eldest surviving, live-action Superman, making him one of the most memorable actors to have ever played the role. The musical titled 'It's a Bird…It's a Plane…It's Superman' began in 1966 and despite its popularity, it closed after only 129 performances. Bob Holiday was an extremely likable and popular choice of Superman because of his generosity, outgoing personality, and of course, his superior singing and acting ability.

#5 1978 - Christopher Reeve

Christopher Reeve was a talented all-around athlete. Portraying the role of Superman would be a stretch for the young actor, but he was tall enough for the role and had the necessary blue eyes and handsome features. However, his physique was slim. He refused to wear fake muscles under the suit, and instead went through an intense two-month training regimen supervised by former British weightlifting champion David Prowse, the man under the Darth Vader suit in the Star Wars films. The training regimen consisted of running in the morning, followed by two hours of weightlifting and ninety minutes on the trampoline. In addition, Reeve doubled his food intake and adopted a high protein diet. He added thirty pounds (14 kg) of muscle to his thin 189 pound (86 kg) frame. He later made even higher gains for Superman III (1983), though for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) he decided it would be healthier to focus more on cardiovascular workouts.

#6 1993 - Dean Cain

In 1993, Dean Cain took on his biggest role to date as Superman in the television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. At the height of its popularity, it would bring in an average of at least 15 million viewers per episode. The series ran for four seasons, ending in 1997. He returned to the Superman franchise when he also portrayed Dr. Curtis Knox in the TV series Smallville.

#7 2001 - Tom Welling

Tom Welling was asked to play the role of Clark Kent in the hit series Smallville (2001). What many people probably don't know is that Tom turned down the role twice. He said that the reason he turned down the role wasn't because the story wasn't good, but it was because he thought the role was bigger than he was and he didn't want people to think that he wasn't a good enough actor. Even so, Tom ended up taking the role because he had the feeling that the show was going to be a great hit and he would be a fool not to take it. Tom even said he felt some sort of connection between himself and his character, Clark Kent. Therefore, Tom made himself a household name.

#6 2006 - Brandon Routh

Routh, then 24, was spotted by Singer after he viewed Routh's videotaped audition. Singer, who since noted Routh as being the embodiment of "our collective memory of Superman," was impressed by his resemblance to the comic book icon and found the actor's humble Mid-western roots perfect for the role, as well as his "combination of vulnerability and confidence" Singer said reminded him of Christopher Reeve. Singer decided to cast Routh after the two met on August 13, 2004, but did not tell Routh until two months later, when Routh's casting was announced in October 2004,[8] making him an "instant celebrity". Before filming began, Routh bulked up for the role, gaining 22 pounds to reach a high of 218 pounds. Filming for Superman Returns began in Sydney in February 2005. The film was released in the U.S. on June 28, 2006 and impressed critics, but was a box-office disappointment, grossing only $200 million in the US compared to its estimated budget of $270 million. Routh was signed on to appear in two potential sequels to the film, but due to low box office results it never happened.

#8 2013 - Henry Cavill

Henry Cavill is the most recent actor to join the iconic Superman evolution. With the movie, 'Man of Steel' comes a few changes: a modified costume and the first Superman movie to be available in 3D. Cavill was born on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands. The actor had been set to play Superman in McG's 2004 film, 'Superman: Flyby', however, McG pulled out of the project and direction was taken over by director Bryan Singer, who chose to recast Brandon Routh as the lead in 'Superman Returns'. On 30 January 2011, it was announced that Cavill had been cast in the role of Superman in director Zack Snyder's production, 'Man of Steel'. The director stated that Henry Cavill was the most perfect choice for the role.

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