Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and fourth week of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, it’s all Superman legends!
In the initial script for “Superman”, Kojak was going to appear.
One of the biggest problems with the initial “Superman” film, in the early stages of the film, was that the producers, Ilya and Alexander Salkind, were seemingly more interested in the hype behind the project than the project itself. This meant lots of rumors about major stars being involved in the film. It also involved a lot of money being thrown around in the pursuit of WOOING big names, including the initial writer of the “Superman” screenplay, famed novelist Mario Puzo, who wrote “The Godfather”.
Where it made SENSE to hire Mario Puzo to write a screenplay for a Superman movie is a whole other question. However, that’s what the Salkinds did and the end result was a bit of a mess – and at the cost of “only” $600,000 (and that’s in the mid-1970s!). It was over 500 pages long for two films intended to be filmed back to back and then released as “Superman” and “Superman II” (much longer than a standard film script, even for two films).
So David and Leslie Newman were brought in and they revamped the script a lot, reducing the size. Still, the end result of the Puzo/Newman screenplay was a very campy movie. So Tom Mankiewicz was brought in and his re-writes were what gave us the ultimate screenplay that was used for the hit film.
Mankiewicz was brought in by Richard Donner, who really did not like the Puzo/Newman screenplay. One of the areas that Donner had a particular problem with, as a sort of symbol of the whole campy approach that he did not like, was a cameo by actor Telly Savalas in his popular Kojak character from the “Kojak” TV series.
You see, at one point, Superman was looking for Lex Luthor and he sees a bald guy and goes to grab him and, surprise! It’s Kojak, complete with his trademark lollipop and he was even to say his catchphrase, “Who loves ya, baby?”
Now, this cameo has long been put on Puzo, but I don’t know about that. It appeared in the Newman rewrites, so it very well could have been a Newman addition. Does anyone know for sure?
Anyhow, naturally, that was cut from the end script.
OK, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
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See you all next week!