This week, MSN reported the sad news that Noel Neill, the “original” Lois Lane, passed away on July 3 at the age of 95. She was the first actress to portray Superman’s love interest in the 1948 15-episode serial The Adventures of Superman, created by Columbia Pictures. Neill played opposite Kirk Alyn. In 1950, Neill reprised her role for another 15-episode serial, Atom Man vs. Superman.
While some argue that Neill was the best Lois Lane (who continued to appear in different Superman-themed projects over the years), she certainly hasn’t been the only one chasing the man in the red cape.
In 1951, Phyllis Coates played Lois Lane in 1951’s Superman and the Mole Men opposite George Reeves. The two went on to play their roles for the TV series Adventures of Superman in 1952. However, Coates was replaced by Neill in 1953 who continued to play the heroine until 1958.
On Broadway, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark may go down in history as one of the biggest flops, but it wasn’t the first Broadway show to be based on a superhero. In 1966, Patricia Marand played Lois Lane for the musical, It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman. The role earned her a Tony nomination for Best Supporting or Featured Actress in a Musical. The musical came to the small screen in 1975 where the role was portrayed by Lesley Ann Warren. The stage show was briefly revived in 2013 as part of the Encores! series where Jenny Powers played the news reporter.
In 1978, Superman came back to the big screen with Christopher Reeve playing the man in tights. Lesley Ann Warren tried out again for the role of Lois Lane but lost to Margot Kidder. Neill played a cameo role in the film as Lois Lane’s mother. Kidder played the role three more times for Superman II (1980), Superman III (1983), and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).
While the character of Lois Lane did not appear in the TV series Superboy, which ran from 1988-1992, Neill played a small role as an office work at the Bureau for Extra Normal Matters.
In 1993, ABC gave Lois Lane a lot more screen time with the series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Teri Hatcher played the role opposite Dean Cain for four years. During the show’s first season, Phyllis Coates played Lois’ mother, Ellen Lane.
In the Smallville TV series, which ran from 2001-2011, Lois Lane didn’t show up until the show’s fourth season with Erica Durance assuming the role. During the show’s run, Christopher Reeve appeared in two episodes to play Dr. Swann with Margo Kidder by his side playing Dr. Bridgette Crosby. She was asked to play the role a third time, but since it was after Reeve’s death, she thought her appearance would have been distasteful.
In 2016, Superman will appear in the CW TV series Supergirl, but Lois Lane is not slated to appear — yet.
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When it comes to animation, many different actresses have lent their voices to bring the ace reporter to life in various TV series and straight-to-DVD productions, but Dana Delany has the played the part the most often beginning with Superman: The Animated Series in 1990. Other actresses who have voiced Lois Lane include Anne Heche (Superman: Doomsday), Kyra Sedgwick (Justice League: The New Frontier), Sierena Irwin (Battle of the Superheroes!), Christina Hendricks (All Star Superman), Grey DeLisle (Justice League: Doom), Pauley Perrette (Superman vs The Elite), Stana Katic (Superman: Unbound), Maria Bamford (Tales of Metropolis), Juliet Landau (Justice League: Throne of Atlantis), and Paget Brewster (Justice League: Gods and Monsters).
[Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]