I’ll be the first to admit it: I am a child of pop culture, raised in the the 70s and 80s. I have consumed more than my fair share of comic books, and at an early age discovered the classic radio serials of the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. My father had grown up on them and constantly hunted for the old stuff on LP or tape.
As a result The Shadow and Superman in particular became favorites for me, imbued with a sense of traveling in time by the anachronistic commercials (which even then I found often as entertaining as the serials themselves). At one point I had most of the original run of the Superman radio serial (1940-1951) on cassette.
In honor of the place these audio adventures have held for me, some of the first important radio experiences of my youth, I would like to take a moment to mourn the passing of the original Lois Lane.
The spunky female reporter has become an archetype largely due to the early portrayals done by Ms. Stanton over the course of a decade.
You wont hear the name Joan Stanton in the credits if you listen to those old episodes. In the 40’s she performed under the name of Joan Alexander, and voiced the iconic reporter throughout the series’ run.
Bruce Webber at the New York Times writes:
The show began in 1940, two years after Superman was introduced in comic-book form, and continued on the radio in various formats until 1951, doing much to establish the character as the quintessential American superhero. Lois Lane first appeared in the seventh episode, and though most sources indicate that Mrs. Stanton was not the first actress cast — Superman was played by Bud Collyer — she landed the part early in the show’s tenure and was heard in hundreds of episodes, becoming the identifiable radio Lois of lore.
It is hard to think of a more universally recognized image than Superman. Even if you have never read the comic, heard the radio show, seen the movies, etc., you recognize the outfit. You probably also know who Lois Lane and Lex Luthor are. This is because these heroes are part of the fabric of our cultural tapestry, taking the places once held by myths and legends by treating the classic archetypes in a modern way.
The era of the radio serial was instrumental in helping this come about. I am sorry to hear of Ms. Stanton’s passing and have only the best wishes to her surviving family: her daughter Jane Stanton Hitchcock, a writer who lives in New York and Washington, her son, Tim, of Manhattan, and a grandson, Liam.
You will be missed!