Bob Holiday, Broadway's First Superman
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The Revivals

What One Important Moment Has Been Written Out of the Revivals of "It's A Bird It's A Plane It's Superman©"?

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Superman Alone

Great Find in
Superman on Broadway

Staff at has just found confirmation of a 50-year-old memory! As you can imagine, we've seen a lot of revivals of "It's A Bird It's A Plane It's Superman©". And one scene kept bothering webmaster Toni Collins. It simply wasn't what she remembered.

In modern revivals, when Superman sings "The Strongest Man in the World," Lois Lane has discovered him at Clark Kent's apartment. He sings, there's some dialogue. He sings another verse, there's some more dialogue. In other words, Superman is singing to Lois, and she tries to cheer him up. OK, fair enough.

But on Broadway, Superman was alone, sitting on his (er, Clark's) naugahyde recliner. He is alone, utterly alone. He's accidentally smashing Clark's (er, his) furniture in his grief. And he sang. He sang so that your heart was ripped right out of your chest.

He was singing to us, to us in the audience. We felt his pain. It was excruciating for him and for every person watching.

But in the revivals, the pathos is lost, the audience are mere observers, and we fail to care. Plop, every aspect of the show can now be classed as campy satire. (One revival actually staged this scene with a hair roller in Superman's forehead curl.) The verisimilitude is gone.

But look at what Walter Kerr said in 1966:

So he's sitting at home, in his lonely furnished flat, dressed in his basic blue, reading the newspapers. And while the mayor of New York may not care what they say about him in the newspapers, Superman does. Superman is crying. And Superman doesn't care who knows it. He bellows forth ... thoughtlessly bending a stand-lamp like a crumpled-up pipe cleaner and inadvertently cracking a coffee-table in two under the stress of his tears. It's a very homey image, and those who have never stopped to think about how deeply a hero can be hurt are given cause to pause and ponder.

No mention of Lois. Thoughtless breaking of furniture. Superman is crying. It was the kind of a moment that makes eight-year olds cry. It was the kind of moment that makes you sit down four decades later and write a fan letter.

It was a moment you never forgot.

Photos courtesy the Estate of Bob Holiday
Text ©2019 Toni Collins and
©1966, Walter Kerr, New York Herald Tribune, March 30, 1966
as quoted in Superman on Broadway, ©2003 Bob Holiday and Chuck Harter, page 54.
SUPERMAN and all related elements are the property of DC Comics. TM & © 2019
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