Saturday, April 17, 2010
This episode was originally scheduled for the week of Wednesday, March 31, 2010 for April Fool's Day. I can't say I have a real copy of the Daily Planet. Actually, it's more like the Weekly Planet. What I can say is that it is a real newspaper published in the real town of Metropolis, Illinois. The city newspaper is the Metropolis Planet, published every Wednesday.
Thanks to Betsy at the Planet, I was able to learn a brief history of the newspaper. It began as the Promulgator in 1865. Over the decades, with various changes in ownership and name, it would eventually be called the Metropolis News. In 1972, as part of the town's adoption of Superman, the newspaper changed its name to Metropolis Planet with the permission of DC Comics.
I received a copy of the Thursday, June 28, 1973 edition of the Metropolis Planet around the end of January of this year, when I visited my local comic book store, Acme Comics http://acme-superstore.com/ in Longwood, Florida. They buy collections of comics, toys and other collectibles for resale, and apparently this copy of the newspaper was part of a recent purchase. It was a tabloid sized newspaper, and had the title Superman Souvenir Edition under the masthead. The rest of the cover was a full page picture of Superman. Although the artist was not credited, it was clearly a Curt Swan Superman. The edition commemorated the opening of The Amazing World Of Superman museum. As I noted back in episode #26 of this podcast, which featured the town of Metropolis, this museum would be open for only a year.
The first picture inisde the newspaper was of then Presidential candidate Sen. George McGovern, who accepted a Superman Of Metropolis award during a campaign stop. History would show that Superman's endorsement was not enough to keep Sen. McGovern from suffering one of the largest landslide defeats in Presidential election history. On the same page was a short article about a replica of Superboy's Smallville home on display at the town's Superman museum. The model showed the interior, including Superboy's secret lab and robots, and his Kryptonian rocketship.
Mayor J. P. William's Superman Day Proclamation was reprinted. He declared Friday, January 21, 1972 as Superman Day. That day would be the town's first Superman Celebration.
Next was an article about the first female Metropolis resident to receive a Superman Of Metropolis award. She was Helen Lynn an employee of the Metropolis News, who was called the Lois Lane of the newspaper. She received the award in her hospital room at the Massac Memorial Hospital, and died soon after receiving the award on August 24, 1972.
There was another article about a hospitalized Superman fan, a five year old boy named Jimmy who suffered from lukemia. He had written a letter to Superman in Metropolis. The letter was answered by Bob Westerfield, chairman of the Superman Governing Board. After the boy's letter was published in the then Metropolis News, a special letter to Jimmy was written by Larry Davis, manager of a local telephone company, who had portrayed Superman when then Governer Richard Ogilvie was given the first Superman Award, on February 9, 1972. The letter reached Jimmy in the hospital on the same day he died.
A picture showed Superman, portrayed by Mike Forbes, blowing out the candles on a birthday cake at the Amazing World Of Superman Exhibition Center, on May 25, 1973. Next, an article detailed the history of the Superman Project. At a meeting of the Metropolis Chamber Of Commerce in January 1972, the members decided to take advantage of their name as the "home" of Superman, since Metropolis is the only city by that name in the United States. As mentioned earlier, the first Superman Celebration took place on January 21, 1972. The article noted that about 3,000 people attended, and the event was covered by the local media.
The first local citizen to portray Superman was Rev. Charles Chandler, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Metropolis. Carmine Infantino, who attended, described him as the perfect Superman. The mayor presented the key to the city to the Man of Steel. Roger Mudd reported on the event for the CBS Evening News on the January 29, 1972.
During the summer of 1972 Metropolis Recreation, Inc. was formed to finance a Superman promotion project. The initial stock offering of $250,000 sold out. It was during May of 1972 the Metropolis News changed its name to the Metropolis Planet, with the permission of DC Comics.
In May of 1973 the Amazing World Of DC Comics Exhibition Center held its grand opening. As part of the opening ceremonies a birthday party was held for Superman, protrayed by Mike Forbes as noted before, and was attended by about 600 people. A special Metropolis edition of the DC comic book The Amazing World Of Superman was on sale at the museum. It included a story of the development of the interest in Superman by the real Metropolis, and another article about how comic books are produced. The special issue also included a map of Krypton.
Among the exhibits were artwork from DC Comics, valued in the article at $1 million, a large collection of Superman memorabilia and comic books from around the world. Also included was the previously mentioned Smallville home of Clark Kent, his Metropolis apartment, and Superman's Fortress of Solitude. Of course there were samples of the various types of kryptonite (Superman probably didn't go near this part of the museum). The exhibition center also had a 25-foot Superman mural.
The end of the article detailed a proposed Superman theme park somewhere near Metropolis. It would be divided into different areas for each era of Superman,s life, from Krypton, to Smallville, Metropolis and his Fortress of Solitude. A Neal Adams sketch of the proposed attraction was included with the article. Above the entrance was a giant statue of Superman, and customers walked into the attraction between Superman's feet.
At the end of the first section of the paper was a picture of this first Superman museum, which was in a building that formerly housed a skating rink. Superman's homecoming speech at the grand opening was also reprinted. In the second section were various pictures of Superman at different public ceremonies, and a picture of a reconstruction of the original Fort Massac, the earliest settlement in the area. The replica fort was built on part of the state of Illinois' oldest state park. Also included was an aerial view of Metropolis as it existed in the early 1970's. At the end of the second and final section was a brief biography of Mike Forbes, who was the official Superman of the superman museum. He was a shot putter at Murray State University, and taught at the Marion Illinois High School before he was hired to portray Superman full time.
Sadly, this original Superman museum lasted only a little over the year before it closed, and the Superman Celebration would be revived around the release of Superman: The Movie in the late 1970's. It continued annually up to this day. The dates for the 32nd Superman Celebration are June 10 - 13, 2010. For more information about featured guests, etc., go to http://www.supermancelebration.net/. A new Superman museum would open as well. You can find more information about it at http://www.supermanmuseum.com/.
The proposed Superman theme park was never built. A recession and a fuel crisis forced developers to scrap their plans. To learn more about this proposed Superman amusemaent park go to: http://superman.nu/sites/superworld/ or http://comiccoverage.typepad.com/comic_coverage/2008/06/a-superman-theme-parkwith-plenty-of-parking.html. I first read about this park in the pages of one of DC's Treasury Editions: Limited Collector's Edtion presents: Superman #C-31, October/November 1974.
To learn more about the history of Metropolis, Illinois, the Superman Celebration and the Superman Museum, go to episode #26 of this podcast, Metropolis, Illinois! http://supermanfanpodcast.mypodcast.com/2008/07/Episode_26_Metropolis_Illinois-206412.html.
Next Episode: Reign Of The Supermen Part I: The Eradicator!
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