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  1. #1
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    CA - George Reeves 'Superman', 45, Los Angeles, 16 June 1959

    George Reeves - Actor 1914-1959

    Born George Keefer Brewer in Woolstock, Iowa on January 5, 1914, George Reeves was probably best known for his acting career in the hit Superman TV series during the 1950's. George was a well accomplished film and play actor as well. He starred in numerous leading and supporting roles in a variety of famous films dating back to 1939 including the blockbuster "Gone with the Wind" where he portrayed one of Scarlet's suitors.

    George Reeves was 45 years old on June 15, 1959 when he was found dead in his home from a single gunshot. Many people speculate that he was murdered but his death was ruled a suicide.

    The circumstances of his mysterious death and the investigation that followed left many unanswered questions and speculation.

    On the evening of his death, George was entertaining his fiance, Lenoir Lemmon and a few friends in his lavish Hollywood home when he reportedly went upstairs by himself to his bedroom. After about a half hour the guests heard a single gunshot and found George lying dead on his back across the side of the bed with his feet still on the floor. George was killed instantly by a German Luger pistol bullet that went through his skull and lodged in the wall above his bed near the ceiling. The shell casing from the bullet was found after the police picked him up, he had been lying on it. It is still unknown as to how the casing got there and how George could of been lying on the shell casing if he would have taken his own life. No suicide note was found, and there was never the slightest indication from George that he might be in a depressed state. This is one of those mysteries that we may never find out the real truth.

    "The Adventures of Superman," sponsored by Kellogg's cereal, began airing late in 1952. The TV series was very successful and was renewed for six seasons. Although there was no color television in those days, this was one of the first TV series filmed in color, so if you see it nowadays it hasn't been "colorized," you are actually seeing the original form.
    When the series ended in 1957, George Reeves had a career problem. He was typecast, and it was difficult to find good roles.

    In 1959, the producers of "Adventures of Superman" decided to film another season's worth of shows in 1960, so seemingly his career slump was over and he was feeling good about life.

    Reeves was scheduled to shoot a film in Spain, and was to be married to Lenore Lemmon. The wedding date set for June 19, 1959.

    Then, in the early morning hours of June 16, 1959--three days before the wedding--Reeves was found in his bedroom, shot to death.

    The suicide angle focused on how he had been typecast and couldn't get acting jobs. He was know to have been a party animal, and late night boozing was pretty common with his friends.

    He had been involved in a long-term romantic affair with Toni Mannix, the wife of Eddie Mannix, an MGM executive with alleged mob ties. Eddie Mannix was in ill health but knew about their relationship. Reeves broke off the relationship in 1958. Lenoir Lemmon said that Toni Mannix harassed Reeves for months after the break-up, so much so that Reeves sought an attorney's advice.

    The night of June 15, Reeves and Lemmon and a few other guests were drinking and partying at his home until after 1 AM. Reeves went up to bed, a shot rang out, and he was found dead, sprawled nude on his bed, with a bullet hole in his right temple. The death was ruled suicide, largely since the houseguests all said there was no other explanation, and there was no sign of an intruder or forced entry.

    Reeves had a high alcohol content (.27, well above the intoxication point), and was taking narcotics (painkillers for injuries suffered in a car accident).

    However, Reeves' mother and a few others thought the whole thing was suspicious. The cremation of the body was held up for three years while she had people investigate.

    The case was revived in the 80s, when costars Noel Neill (Lois Lane) and Jack Larson (Jimmy Olsen) claimed Reeves was a victim of foul play.

    Jim Nolt, probably the world's expert on George Reeves, appeared on the 1995 TV show "Unsolved Mysteries" with Jack Larson dealing with the question of Reeves' death. Much of this information is taken from his Website.

    The evidence (or lack of evidence) against suicide:

    - No fingerprints were found on the gun.

    - There were no powder burns on the head wound, which would imply the gun was held several inches from the head at the time it was fired, pretty unusual for a suicide.

    - His hands were NOT tested for gunpowder residue, so that's no help one way or the other.

    - The spent shell was found under his body.

    - The gun was found between his feet.

    - The police were not called for at least half an hour after the death (although probably so the houseguests could sober up and get their stories straight).

    - The supposed "slump" was over. His friends agreed he was happier than had been in years, looking forward to his marriage and to another season of the popular TV show. Money wasn't a problem either; he got residuals from the reruns

    The common theories:

    (1) Reeves was killed by Lenore Lemmon, in a fit of passion or argument ... possibly over whether they would marry. But why would the houseguests risk their own reputations to cover for her?

    (2) Reeves was murdered by Toni or Eddie Mannix ... or by a mob killer (hired by them?) who threatened everyone, so they kept quiet about what really happened.

    (3) It really was a suicide, as reported at the time.

    Toni Mannix and Lenore Lemmon are both now deceased.

    There are many good sources of information about Reeves' life and death, including these Web sites:

    www.jimnoltenterprises. com/

    usatoday.c om/life/enter/books/leb581.htm (review of book offering murder theory)

    www.outofthenight .com/george.html (mostly photos)

    www.nationalenquirer.com/mod03/mod03-story-911.html (the National Enquirer's take on the whole thing)

    There are also several books for the dedicated: Serial to Cereal, by Gary Grossman; Speeding Bullet, by Jan Hendersen; and Hollywood Kryptonite: The Bulldog, the Lady, and the Death of Superman, by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger.

    Source Information:
    Was "Superman" star George Reeves a suicide--or murder victim?http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mreeves.html

    GEORGE REEVES -- UNSOLVED MYSYERIES
    http://www.jimnolt.com/um.htm

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard
    The common theories:

    (1) Reeves was killed by Lenore Lemmon, in a fit of passion or argument ... possibly over whether they would marry. But why would the houseguests risk their own reputations to cover for her?
    (2) Reeves was murdered by Toni or Eddie Mannix ... or by a mob killer (hired by them?) who threatened everyone, so they kept quiet about what really happened.
    (3) It really was a suicide, as reported at the time.
    I can't believe any of the sensational theories above presented by Jim Nolt, even though he is an expert on Reeves.

    Another possible scenario: Reeves was accidently shot by one of the guest. It's possible he went upstairs to show a guest his German Luger pistol. Guest was holding and looking at pistol when it went off. It was an accident.

    The guest list for that night would shed some light on why the cover-up was felt necessary. Intoxication & Gun = Accident (JMO)

  3. #3
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    Accidents do happen...

    Quote Originally Posted by Yaya
    I can't believe any of the sensational theories above presented by Jim Nolt, even though he is an expert on Reeves.

    Another possible scenario: Reeves was accidently shot by one of the guest. It's possible he went upstairs to show a guest his German Luger pistol. Guest was holding and looking at pistol when it went off. It was an accident.

    The guest list for that night would shed some light on why the cover-up was felt necessary. Intoxication & Gun = Accident (JMO)
    You make an excellent point. Firearms and Alcohol are a deadly mix. I wonder, however, why Reeves would be showing a guest his pistol while completely naked.

    The lack of fingerprints on the gun (assuming it was properly handled and dusted by police) would indicate that someone else other than Reeves pulled the trigger. I wonder if it was ever established that Reeves owned the gun.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard
    You make an excellent point. Firearms and Alcohol are a deadly mix. I wonder, however, why Reeves would be showing a guest his pistol while completely naked.
    I thought about that also... but in my mind he wasn't naked when the actual shooting took place, removing his clothes was part of the cover-up possibly.

  5. #5
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    Question

    I have a question about gun shot residue.

    Does the caliber of the gun have everything to do with whether or not gun shot residue is left behind?

    Such as: a small caliber gun may not leave residue but a larger caliber will or does it depend on the distance the gun was held away from the body or a mixture of both.

  6. #6
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    gunpowder residue...

    Quote Originally Posted by Yaya
    I have a question about gun shot residue.

    Does the caliber of the gun have everything to do with whether or not gun shot residue is left behind?

    Such as: a small caliber gun may not leave residue but a larger caliber will or does it depend on the distance the gun was held away from the body or a mixture of both.
    There are several factors which would determine the amount of burned powder residue on a gunshot victim. Probably the main factor would be distance from muzzle to wound.

    A short barreled pistol would tend to put out more burning powder residue than a longer barreled pistol.

    Caliber in and of itself would not necessarily mean more powder, but would be a factor. For instance it would obviously take more powder to propell a .45 slug than a .22. But a .357 magnum might have more powder behind the slug than a .45 automatic slug, hence more powder to leave residue. In the case of Reeves, the caliber was probably .9mm Luger.

    There are also different types of smokeless powder, and some burn faster than others. Normally pistol powders are of a rather fast burning type.

    Powder residue around a wound, means that burning particles of powder have become imbedded in the skin, or even bones, and it usually means that it was a close range shot.

  7. #7
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    A head wound with an exit wound would sep a lot of blood. I think if his clothes were removed after it would be noticeable.

    But the alcohol level with drugs is a dangerous area to be with a gun around.

    Was the bullets projectery traced? Did it line up?
    Could he have stayed in a sitting position long enough for the spent casing to fly beneath him?
    I really do not like the no fingerprints and no gun powder. He may have accidently shot himself and someone from the party wiped down the gun because they handled it.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Becba
    1.A head wound with an exit wound would sep a lot of blood. I think if his clothes were removed after it would be noticeable.

    2. He may have accidently shot himself and someone from the party wiped down the gun because they handled it.
    Could you explain a bit of what you mean in statement 1? Do you mean noticeable on the clothes that were removed or on the bed or etc...?

    I think you have a good theory with statement #2. This is certainly a possibility.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yaya
    Could you explain a bit of what you mean in statement 1? Do you mean noticeable on the clothes that were removed or on the bed or etc...?

    I think you have a good theory with statement #2. This is certainly a possibility.
    Sorry I didn't even spell right.lol I meant blood would likely seep out of the wound and onto any clothes he had on. To remove the clothes after might leave signs of a cover up. And why make him naked?
    As far #2. I don't see anyone intentionally shooting themselves unless they are sure the bullet is going to kill them and not just blow part of their face off and disable them. So I agree you would have powder burns from making sure you would hit the right spot.
    If he were drunk and drugged up he may have handled the gun, even pondered suicide but he may have accidently shot himself. Maybe guests ran into the room and tried to help and moved him causing the bullet casing to be under him? Someone moves the gun out of the way and then replaces it after they wipe off their prints. Maybe they were doing drugs and didn't know what happened but wanted to put things back and give themselves time to sober up.

  10. #10
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    Hollywoodland...

    Well, you saw Superman's case discussed here first. Now it is a movie starring Adrian Brody. I wonder if Websleuths will be mentioned in the credits?


  11. #11
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    Bumping up...

    Hard to believe that the "real" Superman, George Reeves, has been dead for over 50 years now. Murder or suicide?

  12. #12
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    He was naked, right? What if, could it be possible, that he was going to meet someone in the room? I know a lot of guys sleep in their underware, not completely naked though. If one of the invited guests asks him to meet them in his bedroom, or if he invites someone to his room, could the person have murdered him when he got there? Or perhaps his wife notices a little whisper between him and another pretty girl and goes to the bedroom first? How many females were in his home at the time, and can we find a list of everyone who attended that party?

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