Episode 022 - The Suspicious Death of George Reeves


George Reeves exploded into the American mainstream when he donned the red cape and blue tights playing Superman on the 1950's television series The Adventures of Superman. Almost instantly he became synonymous with the superhero as well as his alter ego, mild mannered Clark Kent.

Off the screen, Reeve's life was much more complicated and hardly mild mannered. George had been engaged in a nearly ten year romance with Toni Mannix, wife of MGM executive Eddie Mannix known all around Hollywood was the kind of man whose bad side you didn't want to be on. By all accounts, it was an open secret, with Eddie being well aware and even approving of his wife's extra curricular activities.

All of that changed in 1958, when Reeves left his older lover for the younger Leonore Lemmon, a New York socialite known for her fiery temper and enchanting looks. Their relationship was a tumultuous one, with Lemmon described as a heavy drinker with a mean temper and a controlling personality. She was known for seducing rich and powerful men, and leaving when she'd gotten what she wanted. George's career hit a slump, and while he was frustrated both financially and feeling typecast as Superman, his relationship began to breakdown despite a recent engagement and plans to marry.

Then, in 1959, things seemed to be looking up. George was offered a job directing a sci-fi movie, Superman producers offered him a substantial raise and he had a media tour planned which would carry him to Australia and net him a large sum of money. In the final months of his life, Reeves became the subject of late night phone calls which began as an annoyance and slowly became violent and threatening. Three motor vehicle incidents nearly ended his life, the last of which came as the result of someone draining the break fluid from his Jaguar. Shaken and concerned, Reeves filed a report with the Los Angeles District Attorney and named his ex-girlfriend, Toni Mannix, as a possible suspect.

Then, on the night of June 15th, 1959, George and Lemmon returned home late and went to bed. Several late night visitors came knocking around 1am, and an annoyed George expressed his disinterest in their company. He shared a nightcap with the group before going back upstairs to get some sleep. Moments later, a gunshot rang out and the Superman actor lay dead in his bed of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. For the LAPD, it was an open and shut case of suicide, but the evidence would suggest a much more sinister event had taken place.

Did George Reeves succumb to depression and alcohol and choose to end his own life? Did his fiancee, Leonore Lemmon, follow him to the bedroom that night and shoot him either out of malice or as the result of a drunken argument? Did his ex-girlfriend, Toni Mannix, hire someone to take out the man who had betrayed her love or did her husband, powerful and corrupt film executive Eddie Mannix choose to strike back against the man who had not only scorned his wife, but also damaged his reputation among the Hollywood elite? Join host Steven Pacheco as he digs beneath the glitz and glam of 1950's Hollywood into one of its most controversial and tragic stories: The Suspicious Death of George Reeves.

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