Jack Larson - Jimmy Olsen - Superman

Jack Larson, the original TV Jimmy Olsen, is dead

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Sep 22, 2015, 8:34 AM EDT

Actor, producer and playwright Jack Larson, best known for playing reporter Jimmy Olsen on The Adventures of Superman, has passed away.

Larson died at his home in Los Angeles on Sunday at the age of 87. A native of the city, he acted in a few films early in his career before landing the role of Jimmy opposite George Reeves as Superman and initially Phyllis Coates and then Noel Neill as Lois Lane on the first TV show to feature the Man of Steel. 

The show ran for six seasons, from 1952 through 1958, and when plans to continue it in 1959 were scuttled by the death of Reeves, the producers reportedly suggested relaunching the show by featuring Larson more and using stock shots of Reeves or a body double. But Larson found the idea unpleasant and plans for extending the series were scrapped for good.

Larson had trouble getting acting jobs after that, thanks to typecasting, so he switched to writing plays and opera librettos as well as producing films. He produced several movies, such as Mike's Murder (1984) and Perfect (1985), that were directed by James Bridges, Larson's life partner from 1958 until the latter's death in 1993.

Although Larson tried to distance himself from playing Jimmy for years, he did appear in both an episode of the 1991 series Superboy and a 1996 segment of ABC’s Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman as an older version of the character. He also made a cameo as a bartender in Bryan Singer's 2006 movie Superman Returns. His last screen appearance of any kind was a 2010 episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Although other actors played the role of Jimmy Olsen after him -- including Marc McClure (the Superman films starring Christopher Reeve), Sam Huntington (Superman Returns), Justin Whalin and Michael Landes (Lois & Clark) and Aaron Ashmore (Smallville) -- Jack Larson was the first.

(via Variety)