Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Episode #64: Happy Birthday, Perry White!

Perry Jerome White, Jr. was born on March 12, according to . He is a member of the quartet of main characters in Superman stories for almost seventy years. When the name of the Metropolis newspaper was changed from the Daily Star to the Daily Planet, the name of the editor was changed from George Taylor to Perry White. Like Jimmy Olsen, Perry first appeared on the Superman radio show, in an episode which first aired on February 14, 1940, voiced by Julian Noa. His first comic book appearance was in Superman #7, Nov./Dec. 1940, published on September 10, 1940. He was only referred to by his last name in all four stories, created by Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster and Wayne Boring. His full name was first revealed in the second story of Superman #10 (May/June 1941, first on sale on March 5, 1941), originally untitled but referred to now as The Talent Agency Fraud.

According to , Perry's background has been inconsistent. In one story he started out running a shoe shine stand in 1920's Chicago. That story appeared in Superman #142, January 1961 issue, first on sale November 30, 1060. It was titled Superman Meets Al Capone, written by Otto Binder, pencilled by Wayne Boring and inked by Stan Kaye. Perry's father was named Josiah White. This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman vol. II.

In one panel at the beginning of The Three Tough Teenagers, Perry mentions that as a boy he attended P. S. 84 in Metropolis. This story appeared in Superman #151, February 1962, approximately on sale December 19, 1961. It was written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Al Plastino. Showcase Presents: Superman vol. III reprinted the story.

Perry White the boy lived at one point with his grandfather, steamboat captain Josiah White, in the story Luthor - Super Hero from Superman #168, April 1964, published around February 6, 1964. The story was written by Edmund Hamilton and Leo Dorfman, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein. I could find no reprint information for this story. A note on the Metropolis Mailbag letter column in this issue at mentioned that instead of letters, the column reprinted a N.Y. Times article on a Superman story that would co-star then President Kennedy. After his assassination that story was pulled out of respect for the late President. A reproduction of the original cover was also featured in the letter column. That story would be published in issue #170, supposedly at the request of President Johnson.

Perry's wife Alice first appeared in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #42, Jan. 1960, published on November 19, 1959, although her first name was not given in the story. Perry White, Cub Reporter was written by Robert Bernstein, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by John Forte. In the story Perry and Jimmy switch jobs for the Boss-For-A-Day program. Jimmy sends Perry on a series of physically demanding asignments for a man of Perry's age. The next day Jimmy expects to be fired, but Perry has found out that the reason for the tough assignments was because Perry's wife wanted Jimmy's help in getting Perry to lose weight. Jimmy succeeded in making Perry lose twenty pounds (but it's a wonder Perry didn't have a heart attack, today).

Perry and Alice had three sons in the silver age, Will (with red hair), Perry, Jr. and Hank. Will White appeared in Superman #72, Sept./Oct. 1951 issue, on sale around July 6, 1951. The story, The Private Life Of Perry White was written by Edmund Hamilton and drawn by Al Plastino. Will applies for the job of cub reporter on the Daily Planet staff as Will Whitman, as part of an agreement with his father Perry not to use his father's name to influence getting the job. Another part of the agreement was to sccop a major story in 24 hours. Will earns the job by uncovering the information Superman needs to capture a group of protection racketeers. I could find no reprint information on this story.

Perry, Jr. was not as humble. He appeared in Superman #108, Sept. 1956, published around July 26, 1956 in the story Perry White, Jr. - Demon Reporter. It was written by Alvin Schwartz, pencilled by Wayne Boring and inked by Stan Kaye. When Peryr, Jr. started as a reporter he thought he could teach the veteran staff of Clark, Lois and Jimmy how to be journalists. Circumstances lead Perry, Jr. to suspect Clark is secretly the criminal Mr. Wheels. Clark can't refute the assumption without threatening his real secret identity. Superman eventually brings about the arrest of Mr. Wheels and his gang by the Metropolis Police, and Perry, Jr. learns that he doesn't know everything after all. The only reprint I could find of this story was in Superman Family #175, Feb./March 1976, on sale around November 6, 1975, so you might find it in the back issue bin of your local comic book shop.

In the early 1980's there were some stories that explored Perry White, Sr.'s career as a reporter. Two stories involved Superboy. In issue #12 of The New Adventures Of Superboy, the December 1980 issue, on sale on September 25, 1980, Perry scoops the story of Superboy's Kryptonian origin in the story titled The Day of the Alien Scoop. In the second story of Superman #366, Dec. 1981, on sale Sept. 10, 1981, Perry White's Superboy Scoop, Perry scoops the story of Superboy moving to Metropolis. Clark Kent is understandably concerned that people, especially in Smallville, might find both Clark Kent and Superboy moving to Metropolis more than a coincidence.

Perry White was mistakenly assumed to be Superman's secret identity in Action Comics #302, July 1963, published on May 29, 1963. Curt Swan and Stan Kaye created the cover featuring the story The Amazing Confession of Super-Perry White. The writer of this story is unknown but the artist was Al Plastino.

There have been a number of stories where Perry White wears a disguise. One example was Mental Man, who appeared in Action Comics #196, Sept. 1954, published around July 29, 1954. I could find no details about this story, or repring information at or

Perry appeared as Masterman in Action Comics #278, July 1961, published May 31, 1961. The cover, featuring this story, was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kay. the Super Powers Of Perry White was written by Jerry Coleman, with art by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye. Perry gained super powers after eating a piece of fruit from a tree in his yard, not realizing the tree was actually an alien plant intelligence. It gained control of Perry through the fruit. this story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman vol. III.

Perry became Anti-Superman in World's Finest Comics #159, Aug. 1966 issue, published on June 9, 1966. The cover featuring the story The Cape & Cowl Crooks was done by the story's crative team of penciller Curt Swan and inker Stan Kaye. It was written by Edmund Hamilton. Commissioner Gordon became Anti-Batman as well when he and Perry are accidentally exposed to a gas in Superman's Fortress Of Solitude that temporarily turns both of them evil. superman is able to expose them to the antidote when he and Batman deduce who the Anti- villains are. This story was reprinted in World's Finest Comics #227, Jan./Feb. 1975, published around October 17, 1974.

Professor Von Schultz was the identity Perry took on in Superman#157, Aug. 1966, on sale on June 9, 1966, in the story The Super Genie Of Metropolis. It wasthe second story of the issue, written by Robert Bernstein with art by Al Plastino. Perry was posing as an archaeologist,working in cooperation with Superman and the FBI to trap a foreign spy.

Probably the biggest change to the Daily Planet came during the 1970's, during the tenure of Superman editor Julius Schwartz. Galaxy Communications president Morgan Edge (who first appeared in Superman #241, Aug. 1971, published on June 15, 1971 and reprinted in Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore) buys the Daily Planet and eventually makes Clark Kent a TV news reporter.

According to Wikipedia, in the last months of the original continuity before the two part story Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, a continuing plotline in Superman stories seemed to imply that Perry was beginning to show early signs of Alzheimer's disease. In Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, originally published in Superman #423, released on June 12, 1986, and Action Comics #583, published on June 26, 1986, both cover dated Sept. 1986, Perry and Alice are having marital problems, possibly separated and contemplating divorce. while Superman's "final" battle rages outside the Fortress Of Solitude, inside Perry and Alice rethink their reelationship and make up.

The post-crisis Perry White grew up in Suicide Slum in Metropolis, and was a boyhood friend of Lex Luthor. As a youth Perry got a job at the Daily Planet as a copy boy, eventually working up to the job of Editor-In-Chief. In World Of Metropolis #1, August 1988, published on April 12, 1988, Perry White returned from an extended period overseas as a foreign correspondent. Not only does he find that Lex Luthor plans to close the Daily Planet in favor of an internet news business, but that his friend seduced his fiance Alice Spencer. Perry pull strings until an international cartel buys the Daily Planet from Luthor. Their only stipulation in the deal is to make Perry the E-I-C, which was not Perry's goial when trying to find a buyer. Perry and Alice work through the pain of their situation and decide to marry.

They have only one child, a son named Jerry. As a teen he is a troubled youth who eventually dies from a gunshot wound in Adventures Of Superman #470, Sept. 1990, published on July 31, 1990. Perry learns that Lex Luthor was actually Jerry's father. Perry takes a leave of absence from the Daily Planet. Later, he and Alice take care of an African-American orphan named Keith Roberts whose mother died of Aids. They eventually adopt him, giving him the name of Keith Robert White.

Later Perry undergoes chemotherapy treatment for lung cancer, taking another leave of absence and placing Clark Kent in charge.

Some time after Perry's return, the current owner and publisher Franklin Stern sells the Daily Planet to Luthor, who shuts down the newspaper and hires Lois, Jimmy and a few others for LexCom. Perry begins teaching journalism at the University of Metropolis. Eventually, after Lois makes a secret deal with Luthor, he sells the Daily Planet to Bruce Wayne for $1.00, and the newspaper resumes publication again, rehiring all of the old staff, including Perry White.

In Superman: The 10 Cent Adventure, Perry White confronts Clark about his passport Perry found in a storeroom. Clark begs off claiming he and Jimmy are late for an assignment and he'll get back to him, but never does about this subject. Bruce Wayne, in volume I of the Batman story Hush tells Clark that Perry White is too good of a reporter not to know that Clark Kent is Superman, but pretends not to know, reminding Bruce of Commissioner Gordon. Does Perry White know or suspect that Clark Kent is Superman? The world may never know.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at . The host web site is back on line. I will be reposting the first thirty episodes which were lost in their recent shut down as soon as possible. Send e-mail about this podcast to .

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Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics.

Thanks for your patience and for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

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