Hollywood is in mourning this week after it was revealed that Noel Neill, the first woman to play Superman’s love interest Lois Lane, died on Sunday. She was 95 years-old.
According to the New York Times, Neill’s death was confirmed by her biographer Larry Ward, who told reporters that she died at her Tucson home following a long illness.
At 28 years-old, Neill had already been in over 40 films when she was cast as Lois Lane 15 episodes of the movie serial “Superman” in 1948. She starred opposite Kirk Alyn, and reprised her role two years later in the serial “Atom Man vs. Superman.”
When “Adventures of Superman” was brought to television in 1952, the role of Lois Lane was recast with the actress Phyllis Coates. However, she left after one season and Neill was brought back to play Lois. She stayed with the show until it ended in 1958.
Born in Minneapolis on Nov. 25, 1920, Neill began her Hollywood career in 1940. When “Adventures of Superman” was cancelled, Neill basically retired from acting and began working in public relations in the United Artists television department.
In the 1970s, she was rediscovered by fans and began appearing at fan conventions. She was given a cameo in the 1978 film “Superman,” in which she played the mother of a school-aged Lois Lane. Neill later appeared in a 1991 episode of the television series “The Adventures of Superboy,” in the superhero film spoof “Surge of Power” (2004) and, as a dying woman, in “Superman Returns” (2006).
Though women often told Neill that her portrayal of Lois Lane inspired them to go into journalism, the actress saw her character as mild-mannered and a reflection of the prefeminist 1950s.
“It was a man’s world, and you didn’t want to be too cranky,” she said in a 2002 interview. “When I played her, I could relate to her more if she wasn’t bossy.”
Rest in peace, Noel Neill!