Without A Net

Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Happy 75th birthday, Superman: The Man of Steel and his Los Angeles connections

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It’s Superman’s 75th birthday, but he’s still looking good for his age. (Though wait, didn’t he used to look like this?)

Thursday, April 18 marks the 75th anniversary of Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman, hitting newsstands. While Superman made the cover, he wasn’t even the only story in that comic, taking only 13 pages of that first issue — but he soon took over, with the first issue selling 130,000 copies and later issues hitting the million mark.

Los Angeles has its own connections with the iconic hero. You’ll often notice a Superman planted squarely on Hollywood Boulevard, posing for tourists — this was even documented in the 2007 film, “Confessions of a Superhero.” Legendary Superman actor Christopher Reeve made his home in L.A. for a while and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

If you want to experience a bit of what one of Superman’s flights is like, you can head up north a little to Six Flags Magic Mountain and take a ride on Superman: Escape From Krypton.

A local Superman enthusiast even made a remote control Superman to fly around the coast:

Thursday is also the anniversary of another iconic character that appeared in that first issue of Action Comics — Lois Lane. Fellow supporting cast members Perry White and Jimmy Olsen don’t make their debuts until later.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson declared Thursday to be “Superman Day” in the city. Superman’s creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, were from Cleveland, and now the city is using that fact to try to claim ownership over the iconic hero as the brand new motion picture “Man Of Steel” prepares to fly into theaters.

“The Man of Steel in a steel town, the strength that he had, that’s all part of what Cleveland is,” Cleveland Mayor Jackson told NPR. “We’re a tough community that has overcome many challenges and obstacles, and Superman is a good representative model of Cleveland.”

The city marked the occasion by raising a Superman flag, passing out special cupcakes at the airport, offering a birthday card at the airport’s Superman Welcoming Center and turning the lights at City Hall and skyscraper Terminal Tower blue, red and yellow.

Superman is a native of the fictional Smallville, Kansas, but the closest to a real-life home for him has been Metropolis, Illinois — though the comics are always careful not to mention exactly which state the iconic city is in. It’s not the high-rise city of the Metropolis of the comics world, which has drawn strong inspiration from both New York City and Chicago, but it does feature a giant Superman statue.

And President Obama even posed with it back in the day.

The Siegel and Shuster Society raised $150,000 to fix up Siegel’s childhood Cleveland home, and its owner has labeled it “Superman’s House.”

Think you’re a real Superman fan? Celebrate with this quiz by Superman superfan/comic book writer Mark Waid. A sample question: What’s Clark Kent’s Social Security Number?

You can also check out this BBC interview from 1981 with Superman’s creators:

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