Starring Ben Affleck, Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Bob Hoskins
based on the investigation into the death of actor George Reeves
August 15, 1972
Birthplace: Berkeley, California, USA
January 5, 1914
(as George Keefer Brewster)
Birthplace: Woolstock, Iowa, USA
Died: June 16, 1959 (disputed suicide)
January 22, 1965
Birthplace: New York, New York, USA
February 19, 1906
Died: September 2, 1983
(complications from Alzheimer's disease)
October 26, 1942
Birthplace: Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England, UK
February 25, 1891
Birthplace: Fort Lee, New Jersey, USA
Died: August 30, 1963
June 19, 1972
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA
May 11, 1923
Birthplace: Fort Lee, New Jersey, USA
Died: approx. December 30, 1989
(body was found January 4, 1990)
Jimmy Olsen: "Golly, Mr. Kent, you'll never know how wonderful it is to be like Superman." George Reeves (as Clark Kent) responds: "No, Jimmy, I guess I never will."
-Final Episode, Last Scene, The Adventures of Superman, 1958.
Questioning the Story:
Was Adrien Brody's character, Louis Simo, based on a real person?
"No," says Hollywoodland director Allan Coulter. "He's a creation inspired by real people but really a completely fictitious character..." In real life, Reeves' mother, Helen Bessolo, did hire Hollywood lawyer Jerry Giesler and private detectives from the Nick Harris Agency to conduct an investigation. However, Adrien Brody's character in the film is not
specifically based on any of those individuals. -darkhorizons
Did George Reeves really have an affair with Toni Mannix, wife of the MGM studio mogul?
Yes. In real life George Reeves did have an affair with Toni Mannix (together in pic on left), who was the wife of MGM executive Eddie Mannix.
George and Toni's affair lasted for over seven years. Eddie Mannix, despite his mob connections and fearsome reputation, didn't seem to mind his wife's relationship with Reeves.
It helped him get Toni off his back while he carried on his own extra-marital affairs.
Did Toni, George, Eddie and his mistress really go on double dates together?
The movie shows Toni Mannix and George Reeves having dinner with her husband Eddie and an asian mistress. Strangely enough, according to friends these double dates did happen. Eddie openly approved of his wife and George.
One friend recalled being at the Mannix Beverly Hills home when George strolled in the backdoor. Eddie was sitting in the kitchen eating his breakfast in his pajamas. Eddie and George said hi to each other,
and George proceeded to the refrigerator and helped himself to a glass of milk.
Is it true that Toni Mannix bought George Reeves a house?
Yes. This is true. In real life, Toni, unhappy in her own marriage, took a strong liking to George. She bought him a house (pictured here)
up in Bendedict Canyon at 1579 Benedict Canyon Drive (Google Map). George's bedroom (where his body was found) looked out over the backyard of the property.
Toni also bought him a car and paid many of his bills. It has been disputed whether or not she helped him with his career. Pictured left (click pic to enlarge) is George with the 1953 Alvis TA-21-100 Convertible that Toni Mannix bought George. This hand built uni-body car was reportedly one of only five total ever made. However, it was not the car that Reeves drove as Clark Kent in
The Adventures of Superman television series, as some have come to believe. In fact, George did not drive any of his own cars in the series. -supermanhomepage.com
I don't remember George Reeves being in Gone With the Wind?
George appears at the beginning of the 1939 classic Gone With the Wind view trailer. He plays one of Scarlett O'Hara's suitors, Stuart Tarleton (pictured here), in the early party scene.
Look for the one dressed in a southern confederate uniform. George is incorrectly listed as Brent Tarleton in the opening credits of the film.
Did Eddie Mannix murder his previous wife, as suggested in the film?
Eddie Mannix was in fact accused of staging the murder of his first wife Beatrice. She died in 1937 in what many believe was a "make believe" high speed car crash. The incident also raised questions because mobster Al Wertheimer was involved in the accident. -thedesertsun.com
How did actor Ben Affleck prepare to play the role of Reeves?
In an interview for the film Hollywoodland, Ben Affleck claims that to prepare for the role, his research included watching 104 episodes of Reeves' television show The Adventures of Superman, 52 episodes in color and 52 in black and white. The series originally aired from 1952 until 1958. -About.com
Did George Reeves really almost get shot by a young boy while speaking to a group of children?
This is likely untrue. Reeves often spoke to groups of children to help promote the Superman TV series.
As the story goes, once when he appeared to speak at a department store wearing the Superman costume, a boy who had taken his father's gun almost shot Reeves. The boy explained that he wanted to watch the bullets bounce off Superman. Luckily,
the situation was apparently averted, and thereafter Reeves continued to speak to groups of children, only without the Superman costume. This is believed to have been a story made up by Reeves, so that he wouldn't have to wear the costume at public appearances.
In costume, children would often kick him and throw rocks at him to test his Superman abilities. -fragmentsfromfloyd.com
Was the TV show The Adventures of Superman the first time that Reeves played the role of Superman?
No. Reeves first portrayed Superman in 1951's feature film Superman and the Mole-Men, released prior to the television series. The movie is included on the DVD release of
The Adventures of Superman - The Complete First Season.
The main cast was the same for both the film and the TV series.
Did preview audiences really exclaim "There's Superman!" upon seeing Reeves in the 1953 film From Here to Eternity, resulting in Reeves being cut from the movie?
This has been disputed and is likely false. From Here to Eternity director Fred Zinnemann, screenwriter Daniel Taradash, and other crew members have insisted that they did not cut any of Reeves' scenes from the film, despite reports that
preview audiences could be heard uttering "There's Superman!" at Reeves appearance on the screen. Director Zinneman made clear that there was no preview screening, nor were there any post-release cuts. Reeves still had a brief appearance in the film. However, an edited-for-television version excluded Reeves entirely.
More than likely, Reeves did not have a very large part in the film to begin with. He went uncredited for his role.
Did George really meet his fiancee Lenore Lemmon while in New York?
Yes. George met Lenore at Toot's Shores restaurant in New York City somewhere in the vicinity of September 1958. Eventually, the two met up again in Florida while George was on a publicity tour for the Superman TV series. -newyorksocialdiary.com
In real life, did George's relationship with Toni Mannix come to an end because he met Lenore?
No. George's breakup with Toni happened before he left California and met Lenore. Prior to George leaving to go on tour for Superman, Toni had wanted to build a house further up in the canyon. George liked the idea only if she would leave her husband Eddie and marry him. Toni refused, citing that Eddie was in poor
health and did not have much time to live. George decided it was time to move on. -jimnolt.com
Was Toni Mannix really as distraught over the end of her affair with Reeves?
Yes. The movie Hollywoodland even downplays this somewhat. Reeves received up to 20 phone calls a day where the person on the other end, whom he believed was Toni, would hang up. Reeves filed a complaint with the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office and suggested that the caller may be Toni Mannix.
Some also believe that Toni Mannix was behind the abduction of Reeves' Schnauzer Sam. The dog was stolen from a car at 1627 Vine St (Google Map).
The dog was under medical care for the loss of an eye as the result of an auto accident. -jimnolt.com
Did George's dissatisfaction with being typecast into the Superman role really cause him to take his own life?
Although this is one of the angles that the film Hollywoodland takes, it is not necessarily the truth. The film fails to mention that even though production had ceased on the Superman television series on November 9, 1957, due to its popularity the producers had decided to shoot another two seasons worth of shows for release in 1960.
Reeves had agreed to return and was given a substantial pay raise. -About.com
After Superman ended, did George Reeves really make an audition tape to become a professional wrestler, as shown in the film?
No. In reality, Reeves was scheduled to go on tour dressed as Superman and box former light-heavyweight champ Archie Moore in an exhibition match. Reeves, who had aspired to become a boxer in his youth, was excited about the match. "The Archie Moore fight will be the highlight of my life," Reeves told reporters. "Immediately after the fight I will be married to the
most wonderful girl in the world. We'll fly to Spain, then Australia for six weeks." -moviepoopshoot.com
Had George Reeves really been in a suspicious car accident?
In the film, Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) discovers that Reeves had been in a suspicious car accident, which is true. On April 8, 1959, Reeves was involved in a questionable car accident on Benedict Canyon Drive near Easton Street. In the accident, he sustained a mild concussion and a gash on his forehead.
He was taken to Cedars of Lebanon Hospital (now Cedars-Sinai Hospital). He had been taking painkillers for his injuries up until the time of his death (jimnolt.com). It was discovered that all of the brake fluid was gone from Reeves' car.
Yet a mechanic found that the brake system was in perfect working order. "When the mechanic suggested that someone had pumped out the fluid, George dismissed the notion," said Arthur Weissman, Reeves' friend and business manager (prairieghosts.com).
Could alcohol have played a part in George Reeves death?
Yes. On the night of his death, Reeves' blood alcohol level was .27, well beyond the point of intoxication. In addition, he was taking painkillers for injuries that he had sustained in a recent car accident. -tvparty.com
Was the movie's portrayal of the crime scene accurate?
Yes. Reeves was pronounced dead in the early morning hours of June 16, 1959 (view the death certificate pic). There were in fact no powder marks or burns from the gun's discharge found on Reeves' head wound. These marks are usually present with a suicide. The bullet that killed Reeves was recovered from the bedroom ceiling. Reeves was found lying on his back on top of a spent shell casing, as the movie portrays. The gun was found on the floor between his feet.
His hands were never tested for powder residue or none was ever found. The police determined that there was no sign of forced entry. As seen in the film, they did find two additional bullet holes in the bedroom floor, which were discovered at a later date. They had been covered over with a rug on the night of Reeves' death, a rug that Gene LeBell claims did not belong there. A further examination revealed that the same Luger automatic that killed Reeves had fired them. -Sacramento Bee
How did Lenore Lemmon explain the additional bullet holes found in Reeves' bedroom?
As in the film, she told police that she had been "fooling around" with the gun at an earlier time (Answers.com). Yet, these two additional bullet holes had been covered over with a rug on the night of George Reeves' death.
Did George's fiancee and the houseguests really wait forty-five minutes to call the police?
Yes. They waited approximately thirty to forty-five minutes before calling the police. They never gave an explanation for their delay. No one is entirely certain who was even at the house that night. George's fiancee Lenore Lemmon claims that in addition to George and herself, the only others at the house were Carol Von Ronkle, William Bliss, and writer Robert Condon.
When the police questioned Lenore Lemmon and the houseguests, the group told the police that George Reeves had committed suicide. None of the houseguests have ever provided public testimony. -tvparty.com
What did Lenore Lemmon do after Reeves' death?
Approximately four days after George Reeves' death, Lenore left California never to return again. After learning that George left his entire estate to Toni Mannix, Lenore replied to the press, "Toni got a house for charity, and I got a broken heart". Though, it wasn't strange that George left his estate to Toni. She had paid for his house, his car, and many of his bills during their relationship.
Lenore Lemmon is pictured here, the image was captured not long before her death in 1989.
When were Reeves and his fiancee Lenore Lemmon supposed to be married?
George Reeves and Lenore Lemmon (a twice-married New Yorker) had set their wedding date for June 19, 1959, just three days after Reeves' supposed suicide. They were to be married in Mexico and honeymoon in Europe (tvparty.com). Prior to Reeves death, it was reported on April 28, 1959 that the romance between George and Lenore had ended. A conflicting report emerged on May 20, 1959 (jimnolt.com).
I heard that George Reeves had been previously married, is that true?
Yes. Reeves had been married to Ellanora (Robinson Needles) Rose, a Cincinnati woman who had come to California to be a star. She met Reeves and married him in 1940, a year after Reeves had starred as Stuart Tarleton in Gone With the Wind. Reeves and Ellanora were married for nine years. -news.enquirer.com
Did Lenore Lemmon really take $5,000 from Reeves bedroom after his death?
Yes, Lenore took the $5000 in travelers checks originally intended for her and George's honeymoon.
Lenore returned to the house with Gwen Dailey and they broke the police seal to get in. She claimed that she went in for the lunchmeat and the kitty (cat). This is most likely when she took the money. After the press reported that the traveller's checks were missing, Lenore turned them over
to her attorney Leon Kaplan, who then turned them over to Reeves' estate. However, only $4,000 in traveller's checks were returned, which leads many to believe that Lenore kept $1,000 for herself. Hollywoodland screenwriter Paul Bernbaum said the following about the "take the money and run" theory,
"I think she was a low-life for sure. I think she was probably told to shut up and get out of town. I think she [stole] money from him. I think she took five grand that was supposed to be for their honeymoon, and there was nothing really keeping her there."
What was the significance of the prayer cards in the movie?
Although it is never explained in the film, Toni Mannix was the one who placed the prayer cards in Reeves bedroom after his death. Jack Larson, who played Jimmy Olsen in the Superman series, accompanied Toni to Reeves' home a few days after his death, where she nailed the prayer cards over the bullet holes in Reeves' bedroom floor. -stfrancis.edu
Was the character of Howard Strickling, Eddie Mannix's "Fixer", a real person?
Yes. Howard Strickling (pictured right) was the Head of Publicity for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios. When MGM stars found themselves in a bad situation, it was Eddie and Howard who took care of them—solved their problems,
hid their crimes, and kept their secrets. Hence the pairs nickname "The Fixers". They watched over legends like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable and Judy Garland.
A dual biography titled "The Fixers" by E.J. Fleming chronicles how a mob-related New Jersey laborer
and the quiet son of a grocer became two of the most powerful men in Hollywood (Amazon). The character of Howard Strickling was played by actor Joe Spano in the movie Hollywoodland.
Does the director feel that Hollywoodland tries to offer an opinion on Reeve's death?
No. Director Allan Coulter responded to this question by stating, "I didn't want to be the person who said to you this is what happened on that night
because I don't know and no one really knows. So it was my idea and (screenwriter) Paul Bernbaum's obviously - that it be an open question at the end of this but with
the detective having his own theory, his own feeling that this was the most likely thing that happened, but I didn't kick the other doors shut either." -darkhorizons.com
Where did the title Hollywoodland come from?
The movie's title is a reference to the Hollywood sign as it was originally erected in 1923 (pictured here) to promote a real estate development. After the original sign began to fall apart, a new sign was erected in 1949. Dropping the last four letters, the new sign was truncated to "Hollywood"
by the Chamber of Commerce, who felt it a fitting nickname for Tinseltown. -Wikipedia
George Reeves Video & Hollywoodland Interviews:
Watch video of the real George Reeves below. Check out the original The Adventures of Superman opening credits and watch Kellogg's commercial that Reeves starred in as Clark Kent. Also, check out a Hollywoodland interview with director Allen Coulter.