The Many Faces of Superman

by Alan Rapp on June 26, 2006

in Uncategorized

Many men have played Superman.  How many can you name?  We’ve got the list and a little about each one of these Men of Steel.  Come on and take a peek at these actors who were faster than a speeding bullet and could leap tall buildings in a single bound.


Bud Collyer

Perhaps best known for his role as host on game shows such as Beat the Clock and Break the Bank, Collyer also provided the voice for both Superman and Clark Kent on the radio show and the classic Fleischer Superman Cartoons and would go on to do the voice of Superman in the late 1960’s in various cartoons such as The Batman/Superman Hour, The New Adventures of Superman, and The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure.

Danny Dark

Sadly Collier died in 1969 and was replaced by Dark who provided the voice for Superman on all of the various Super Friends shows in the 1970’s and early 1980’s which were made possible by the popularity of those original 60’s shows.  Dark was also known as the “voice” of NBC television for years as an announcer and did narration for comercials.

Kirk Alyn

Alyn donned the cape in 1948 in a fifteen-episode serial The Adventures of Superman and resumed the role in the sequel Atom Man vs. Superman two years later.  Some critics argue that despite lacking the size and muscularture of later actors that Alyn was the best ever cast in the role.  Alyn did several serials including Blackhawk: Fearless Champion of Freedom and guest roles in televison shows such as Naked City and the original Battlestar GalacticaRichard Donner, in a very cool casting move, also cast him in the first Superman film in the cameo role as Lois Lane’s father (along with actress Noel Neill who played Lois Lane along side our next entry who Donner cast as Mrs. Lane).

George Reeves

Reeves became a national celebrity which led to personal appearances around the country and became a role model for millions of children.  Reeves was the first version of Superman many people saw and he became so sononomous with the role that it typecast him for years after the show ended.  His life ended tragically in an apparent suicide in 1959 just one year after the show ended though many including friends and family point to evidence that contridicts those findings.  Despite the tragic ending Reeves brought joy to millions during his life and his status as “the Superman” would persist for an entire generation until…

Christopeher Reeve

George Reeves was great, but for those of my generation there is only one Superman and his name is Christopher Reeve.  Reeve was chosen in 1978 by Richard Donner for Superman, and its success lead to one good sequel Superman II and two that we’d rather forget.  He was largely hailed for his ability to create two separate and interesting characters in Clark Kent and Superman and to this day remains the marker to which all future Supermen will be measured.  His good looks, his honest face and sense of depth and morality came across even in the silliness of the later films.  Reeve went on to star, direct, and produce many other films, and after his tragic accident became a vocal supporter for stem cell research.

John Haymes Newton & Gerard Christopher

The Superboys.  Newton was chosen for the title role in the 1988 show Superboy.  Newton left after the first season and Christopher replaced him for the final three seasons of the show.  Though the role wasn’t a breakthrough for either star, both continued acting on various TV shows in guest spots (oddly enough they both turned up in Melrose Place).

Beau Weaver

Weaver provided the voice of the Man of Steel for the short lived cartoon put out to celebrate Superman’s 50th Anniversary simply called Superman.  Weaver has worked steadily in voice acting and radio starring as the voice of Mr. Fantastic in the animated The Fantastic Four and The Silver Surfer, and providing the voice of Octane in the Transformers.

Dean Cain

A college football star whose NFL career was derailed by injury Cain popped up in various TV guest roles before he landed the coveted role of Superman in ABC’s new hour drama Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman co-staring with Teri Hatcher.  Since the show’s cancellation, after four years on the air, Cain has starred in the short lived Clubhouse and has made TV appearances in made-for-TV films such as The Perfect Husband The Laci Peterson Story and guest spots on Law & Order SVU and Hope & Faith, and also worked as the host for Ripley’s Believe it or Not

Tim Daly

Most remembered for his starring role as anal retentive pilot Joe Hackett on the sitcom Wings Daly has worked guest starring on several televsion shows (including a reunion of sorts with Tony Shaloub on Monk), starred in the TV remake of The Fugitive, and has worked in several films.  Daly is the younger brother of actress Tyne Daly (Cagney and Lacey).

George Newbern

When Daly was unable to do the voice for Superman on the new Justice League show Newbern took his place providing the voice of Superman for this new super team.  Newbern has worked in various films (Switching Channels, Adventures in Babysitting, Father of the Bride) and several guest roles on TV shows such as Chicago Hope, Providence, and Friends

Tom Welling

The only Superman on the list to never wear (or be drawn in) tights.  A construction woker turned model turned actor, Welling got his big break when he was cast to play Clark Kent on the new WB hour long drama Smallville which centers around Clark’s teen years in Kansas.  Welling has gone on to star in movies such as The Fog, Cheaper by the Dozen, and Cheaper by the Dozen 2.

Brandon Routh

The last of the Supermen (at least for this list).  A relative unknown before he was chosen by director Bryan Singer (who insisted on an unknown for the part)  for the title role in the new Superman Returns.  His early career involves an appearance in a Christina Aguilera music video and guest spots on shows such as Gilmore Girls and Will & Grace, and a short run on the daytime soap One Life to Live.  On screen Routh presents many of the qualities of the Christopher Reeve Superman including a vulnerability and earnestness that Singer believes is crucial to the character.  Routh has already signed on for two sequels; so if this Superman is a hit expect to see more of him in years to come.

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