TV Legends Revealed: Why Lois Lane Couldn't Appear in Kellogg's Ads

TV URBAN LEGEND: Lois Lane could not appear in Kellogg's commercials because it was too sexually suggestive.

Noel Neill has a fascinating connection with the history of Lois Lane. She was the first actress to play Lois Lane in a live action film, playing the role in two Superman serials before being replaced by Phyllis Coates for the Adventures of Superman TV series. However, Coates had to leave that series after the first season, so Neill stepped in to the role and played Lois again, this time for five seasons.

Until Margot Kidder came around, it is likely that Noel Neill was pretty much what people thought of when they thought, "Lois Lane." I have actually no idea who people think of nowadays. Probably still Kidder, right? Or would it be Teri Hatcher, Amy Adams or Erica Durance? Sorry, Kate Bosworth, no one thinks, "Oh, Kate Bosworth!" when they think Lois Lane.

Anyhow, the reason why Coates left the series is that the first season was actually finished and just sat for a year, since the producers couldn't find anyone to sponsor the show to put it on television. Finally, Kellogg's, the cereal company who sponsored the Superman radio series for years, agreed to sponsor the show. Coates, by then, had taken other gigs.

Kellogg's let the show air on ABC for the first season, but then thought that they could do better on first-run syndication, which is how the show ran for the rest of its run.

Anyhow, while George Reeves ultimately ended up making some good money on the series, the other actors got paid a relative pittance. Luckily, that money could be supplemented with public appearances as their characters.

In addition, Kellogg's naturally wanted to have their hit TV characters appear in their ads, so the actors from the show did numerous Kellogg's ads. Reeves played Clark Kent in them, with the rather odd bit where he just walks around and uses his powers to eavesdrop on people in their homes...

Reeves would be joined by Jack Larson in some of these ads, as Jimmy Olsen would come over to Clark's place to share some cereal...

One weird ad had Clark and Jimmy share cereal with John Hamilton in Perry White's office...

You might notice a couple of actors missing from these commercials. One was Robert Shayne's Inspector Henderson. His ex-wife had accused him of being a Communist and so Kellogg's wanted him fired. The producers managed to save his job mostly by the fact that the episodes were shot out of order and so lots of episodes would need to be re-filmed to replaced Shayne. However, Kellogg's wouldn't let him appear in any commercials. That was a big deal as the ads paid more than the show itself!! Jack Larson and Noel Neill made less than $400 an episode. Larson would beat that on the commercials.

That made it all the more strange, then, that Neill never appeared in an Kellogg's ad as Lois Lane.

Jake Rossen has the answer in Superman Vs. Hollywood: How Fiendish Producers, Devious Directors, and Warring Writers Grounded an American Icon. Neill explained, "I couldn't do the Kellogg's commercials. The men all did theirs and I said, 'Where's mine?' They said, 'Well, we just don't think it would look so good with you being a single lady with a single gentlemen you work with at breakfast.' How things have changed."

Yep, if we saw Lois sharing some Frosted Flakes with Clark at the breakfast table, little kids would all know that they clearly had just been having sex. Ahhh...the 50s.

The legend is...


Thanks to Jake Rossen and the late Noel Neill for the information!

Be sure to check out my archive of TV Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of TV. Click here for more legends specifically about superhero TV shows.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

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