A super celebration

WOOLSTOCK – The role of “Smallville” was played by Woolstock on Sunday.

The little Wright County town is the birthplace of actor George Reeves, who was famous for his role as Clark Kent and Superman in the 1950s TV serial, “The Adventures of Superman.”

A celebration of his 100th birthday was held Sunday afternoon, complete with cake, ice cream, and the TV show going constantly on one screen.

The event, scheduled for last week, had to be put off due to the cold.

Of course, Superman isn’t all that Reeves did. Another screen showed a biography of his life, while a third showed “The Letter” and other films starring Reeves.

Gaylord Victora, of Webster City, had fun watching his era’s Superman.

“I was born in 1953,” Victora said. “This ran from ’51 to ’58 or ’59. I remember watching it all the time.”

Brad Harris, of Cedar Rapids, said Reeves is the Superman he remembers as well.

“I used to watch it as a teenager,” Harris said. “I remember in ’78 seeing the Christopher Reeve movie, but as I get older George Reeves is still my favorite.”

Harris was in the area to do some camping and fishing, and decided he’d better stop by and check out the event.

Reeves first major role was in “Gone with the Wind,” said event organizer Veronica Guyader, where he played one of the Tarleton twins. He also starred in several films when he was in the Army during World War II, designed to instruct the soldiers about topics such as hygiene, education and how to set up a will.

Guyader said Reeves only lived in Woolstock about two years, when his parents’ divorce prompted his mother to move out to Pasadena, Calif. He had a complicated life, she said, and for many years did not know his real father.

Reeves was also a humanitarian, she said.

“There was so much good he was able to do because of his exposure as Superman. He was a charitable man, and often would donate his whole Superman salary to different organizations,” said Guyader. “He continued to play Superman for events at children’s hospitals and other fundraisers because he knew it would help, not only to give life to those causes, but also to bring cheer to the kids.”

He also became chairman of the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America, which fought the debilitating muscular disorder, and would often visit inner-city kids and play games or bring toys.

“Several years ago, the Friends of the George Reeves memorial tried to save his birth home, but we could not for various reasons,” Guyader said. “Now The Friends of the George Reeves memorial have no real project to raise money for. So for the next six months, we will be celebrating different aspects of his life and career.”

From now until June – the 55th anniversary of his death – there will be an event each month in various towns around the area, she said. One may focus on Reeves’ personal life, while another could be more for kids – a chance for parents or grandparents to show off their generation’s Superman. There will also be one focusing on the World War II films, and a “Gone with the Wind”-themed event.