Superman's Ghost and The Comic

An encounter with George Reeves' spirit

george-reeves-superman.jpg

Jeff DeHart is a comedian who has had a life-long passion for The Adventures of Superman TV show and its star George Reeves. Little did he know that it would lead to a series of remarkable coincidences and events connected to Reeves -- including contact with the ghost of the Superman star himself. This is Jeff's story.

For the past 25 years, I've been an actor and stand-up comedian, having performed everywhere from comedy clubs and colleges to cruises and Carnegie Hall.

I've had the good fortune to have met many wonderful and famous people over the years. Of all the celebrities I've gotten to meet and know, four particularly stand out in my mind. Their names are Robert Shayne, Jack Larson, Phyllis Coates and Noel Neill. If these names are familiar to you, it is because you are old enough to remember one of the greatest television shows of the 1950s called starring George Reeves as Superman.

I grew up with that show, as did many other people my age, and I loved it dearly. I also had a great admiration and love for the star, George Reeves. I guess it was this feeling I had for him that brought him to me on the morning of December 1, 1990 and eventually led to my getting to meet the other stars of the Superman series. Yes, I did say "brought him to me," for as you know, George Reeves died on June 16, 1959.

As I said before, I've always loved Superman and George Reeves since I was a kid.

My wife and I were living in Encino, California in an apartment complex where most of the residents were quite elderly. We liked it because it was quiet and peaceful there. In the 3½ years we were living there, we had never heard any noises of any kind from our neighbors. It was the week after Thanksgiving and I just arrived home from a gig on the road.

It was the beginning of a week full of events happening to us relating to George Reeves.

STRANGE COINCIDENCES

First of all, while I was away, I had my wife tape a Superman festival that Jack Larson, the actor who played Jimmy Olsen, used to host every Thanksgiving on New York station WOR. Later in the week, I had to go into Beverly Hills to buy a tuxedo for a show I was going to be doing with Merv Griffin in Atlantic City. On our way to the store, my wife and I got a bit lost and noticed we had stumbled onto Reeves Drive. Finally, we arrive at The Malibu Clothing store, and while shopping for my tux couldn't help but notice the photos of all the famous people on the walls who had been customers over the years. Suddenly my wife said, "Honey, look at this photo." There was an autographed photo of my childhood hero, George Reeves in his Superman costume. I remember offering the salesman $200 to buy the picture, but they declined.

Later that week, while I was working at a comedy club on Sunset Blvd., I watched the comic on stage doing a routine about famous Hollywood ghosts. He talked about Ozzie Nelson and then about George Reeves. He had a booklet with him that showed the location of George Reeves home and I asked him if I could look at it.

Naturally, I wanted to see where George lived, so the next night my wife and I took the ride up Benedict Canyon to take a look at my hero's former residence.

We made our way up the long and winding hill until we finally reached the address. We stopped the car across the street to view the house. My wife, who is 14 years younger than I, knew nothing about George's death and very little about the Superman show, other than having seen some episodes that I had on tape. I was explaining to her how he died, having been shot in the head. I pointed to the bedroom above the garage and told her that was his bedroom where he died. My wife isn't psychic, but she is a very intuitive person. She'll say to me things like, "Watch out for that person, he's no good" or "that guy's cheating on his wife" and she's always right.

As we were getting ready to leave, out of nowhere, she said to me, "You know, honey, the way you love George, wouldn't it be something if he could do something for you?"

I looked at her kind of funny and she said, "Why did I say that?" We both laughed about her strange statement and drove home.

Next page: The Music Mystery

THE MUSIC MYSTERY

Fast-forward to Saturday morning, 2 a.m., December 1, 1990. We went to bed, but after two hours of tossing and turning, I got up and went to the living room to read. About an hour and a half went by. I finished reading Variety and was lying on the couch reading a pamphlet that AFTRA puts out that contained the obituaries for the year. Just then, I saw my wife standing in the hallway.

She told me something woke her up. She hardly ever gets up in the middle of the night, but that night something got her up. She asked me what I was doing and I told her I couldn't sleep and decided to come out in the living room to read. She made her way into the kitchen when suddenly we heard a thump outside of our door. It was the neighbor's paper being thrown up the steps.

Immediately after the thump, we heard music in our apartment. When I say "music," I don't just mean soft background music, I mean loud, blasting music that should have awakened all of Encino. The music sounded like a harpsichord, the kind of instrument you'd hear a minuet played on. My wife came running out of the kitchen and we found ourselves both looking down at our triangular-shaped glass coffee table, because the music was actually coming from the table, as if it had huge speakers in it!

Then the music started to sound like it was coming from the wall where our wall unit is and then the music just surrounded the living room, filling it with this very loud harpsichord music.

I was trying to be logical, wondering what in the room could be causing this music to play. I was so intent on figuring out where the music was coming from that I wasn't paying that much attention to what I was listening to. My wife, on the other hand, knew it was nothing in the apartment and was able to concentrate on what she was hearing.

After about 45 seconds, the music ended. My wife said, "Oh my God! Do you know what that music was? It was the theme to Superman!" That's right, the famous theme to Superman played on a harpsichord at 5:25 a.m. in our apartment!

When it was all over, my wife had goose bumps all over and I had this wonderful feeling that something very special had just happened. I think what made it all so real, was the fact that she recognized the music instead of me. If I had said it was the Superman theme, she might have said, "Oh, you just wanted to hear that." But it was she who recognized the music, not me. This was just the beginning of our experiences with George Reeves, as you will soon see.

GEORGE REEVES' APARTMENT

After this happened, we immediately went across the hall to our next door neighbors, a lovely older couple whom we loved as if they were our grandparents. Being early risers, they were both up and when we asked them if they heard anything coming from our apartment, and they said no. Hard to believe they didn't hear anything, even if their hearing wasn't the greatest because this music was so loud, I could swear that it would have awakened the entire complex, if not all of Encino.

A few days later, while I was shaving, I had a feeling that I must contact Jack Larson and tell him about what happened to us.

I found out that he had an agent in New York, so we made up our minds that when we went back east to work with Merv, we'd take a side trip to the big apple to visit with Jack's agent and hopefully get a letter to him.

In the meantime, we thought we'd like to talk to the present owners of George's house and ask them if they had experienced any unusual occurrences while living in his former home. I had heard stories of ghostly happenings there that caused former owners to sell the place. We drove back to the house and parked across the street once again. As we walked to the front door, I thought of the many times George himself walked up the sidewalk to enter his home. We rang the bell, but there was no answer. I had a letter pre-written, just in case there was nobody home, so we left the letter and proceeded back to our car.

As we reached the driveway, a car pulled into the driveway and a young lady got out. We approached her and, hoping she wouldn't think we were a couple of escaped loonies, told her who we were and what had happened to us. As it turned out, she worked as a secretary for the owner, who was a producer. She told us that the night before she went to his house to interview for the job, she had a dream that she was flying through the air like Superman. The next day, during the course of the interview, she learned who the former owner was and almost fell off her chair. She said that strange things do happen in the house. Lights go on and off by themselves and the dog sits and barks at nothing.

According to her, her boss doesn't take much stock in ghostly happenings, so we thanked her for her time and decided not to attempt to talk to the owner.

Next page: Attempt at Contact

A month later, we were back east and in New York to visit with Jack Larson's agent. After waiting a short time in the lobby, she came out, greeted us and asked us to tell her our story. We no sooner got about two or three minutes into the tale, when she asked us to come into her office. I think it didn't take long for her to realize that we weren't two nuts and that we were quite sincere. She agreed to pass on the letter to Jack, thanking us for sharing our story with her.

A few weeks later, while we were in Atlantic City doing the show with Merv, I received a letter from Jack Larson. He thanked us for our letter and said, "Of course I believe it, but I wouldn't know what to make of it." He told us that after George had died, Toni Mannix, George's former girlfriend, would call Jack in the middle of the night and wake him up saying that she had just seen and heard George. He told me to remember him to Merv, saying that they once did a movie together.

ATTEMPT AT CONTACT

Around this time, almost as a joke, we thought we'd try our hand at contacting George through a Ouija board. As I said, my wife has that intuitive way about her and, believe it or not, we were very successful in talking to George. When we'd work the Ouija board, I'd keep my eyes closed and my wife would read the board. It started out slowly. We'd ask him questions, such as, "What actress did you think was very sexy?"

He said, "Paulette Goddard."

My wife never even heard of Paulette Goddard.

Back in the early 1940s, Paulette Goddard did a movie with Bob Hope called Ghostbreakers. In one scene, they refer to the smell of sulfur while speaking of ghosts. Apparently, the smell of sulfur or rotten eggs is quite often associated with ghosts.

Well, my wife and I had been experiencing that odor at various times, not realizing its meaning, always wondering what the heck that smell was and where it was coming from. It wasn't until after we heard the music that I read a book about ghosts and learned about the sulfur odors.

While I was doing the show in Atlantic City, I was having some problems with my ex-wife, whom we shall call Karen. My wife and I had taken a long walk up and down the boardwalk, talking about Karen and the problems she was causing. That night, after spending some time on the Ouija board talking to George, we were sitting in bed watching Superman on the TV at one in the morning. (I had brought my VCR and tapes with me.)

All of a sudden, the bed filled up with the sulfur, rotten eggs smell. My wife turned to me and jokingly asked if it was me. We figured it was George, so we went back to the board. We asked him what was up and he said, "Don't worry about Karen."

We said, "Okay, anything else?"

He said, "No, goodnight. Don't let the bedbugs bite."

We got back in bed and continued to watch Superman. About 20 minutes later, the bed filled up with the rotten egg smell again, and back again we went to the Ouija board.

We asked George if he had something else to tell us and he said, "Yes, I love how you watch me."

I was so overcome with emotion that I found myself sitting at the board at 1:30 in the morning crying my eyes out.

One time we were talking to George and he had quite a bit to tell me. He began by saying, "It's not easy to say this to such a good friend, but you're too nice a guy. It's a cruel world and people can mistake my being so nice as a weakness and take advantage of me."

I said to George, "But I always heard you were a nice guy."

He said, "Back then things were different and I did more acting off stage than on." He advised me to "be like a clam, soft and true to yourself on the inside and hard on the outside. You can always open up." I always thought that was good advice. George communicated to me that he was my guardian angel.

Wow! Who could ask for more than that?

Another strange thing we'd experience would be street lights going on and off as I passed under them, either driving or walking. It's something that happens to people once in awhile, but not often. It happened to me three times in one week, which struck me as unusual. On our way home from a gig in Santa Barbara, my wife and I were talking about the lights and I said, "I just know it's George trying to contact me." At the exact moment I said that, the light we were going under went out and the car filled up with the sulfur, rotten egg odor.

Next page: George's Ghost Appears

GEORGE'S GHOST APPEARS

After finishing the show in Atlantic City, we returned to California. I had learned that Robert Shayne, the actor who portrayed Inspector Henderson, was living in Thousand Oaks, California, so I sent him a fan letter, saying that I had an interesting story to tell him. To my great surprise and delight, I received a phone call from Bob. I was thrilled. After telling Bob my story, I suggested that my wife and I would love to meet him and take him and his wife out to dinner.

We arranged to meet them on a Friday. Two nights before we were to meet Bob and his wife, I awoke at exactly 3:05 a.m. I looked out in our hallway and there I saw George Reeves standing there in his Superman costume with his arms folded across his chest! I stared at him for about seven minutes. He appeared just as a ghost would appear in the movies, with kind of a fuzzy outline, but clearly recognizable as Superman.

Then, from where George's head was, I saw these large balls of light coming toward me. Then there appeared the left profile of a man's head wearing a fedora hat, coming at me, getting bigger and bigger. It was Robert Shayne as Inspector Henderson wearing the fedora hat he always had on in the show. It was as if George was saying to me, "Say hi to Bob when you see him."

Shortly after that, George faded away. I walked out to the spot where I had seen him, and when I reached the spot, an icy chill ran down my spine.

I felt as if I had stepped into a freezer. I got back in bed and nudged my wife. I said, "I saw something, honey." She said, "Tell me about it in the morning." I went back to sleep.

About an hour and a half later, she woke me up. "Get up, I saw something," she said. "Before I tell you what I saw, what are the colors in George's costume?

Are they red, yellow and blue?"

"Yes," I said. She had just seen three busts of George in his Superman costume, one on top of the other. The one in the middle was all in color and the other two were in black and white.

GEORGE IS ALWAYS THERE

A few years later, while I was working on a cruise ship, I went to a show in Nassau with the magician and his wife. While we were waiting to enter the showroom, I told the magician about my experiences with George. After telling him the story, we decided to go to the men's room. On our way there, as we walked down the hallway, I smelled the sulfur, rotten egg odor. It was so bad that I was shocked that none of the other people walking around us smelled it. When we got into the men's room, the magician turned to me and said, "Did you smell that?" When we got back to the ship, we were walking along the pier and the magician asked me if I thought George might turn off any of the lights on the pier? I said, "You never know." Sure enough, he turned off lights as we walked under them.

Since then, I've had continual contact with George, mainly through street lights turning on and off and every so often a burning sulfur, rotten egg odor. The lights seem to be most frequent when something very special is happening in my life.

The night my wife went into labor with our son, he turned about six lights on and off as I drove to and from my gig that night. The night I learned about a show I'd be doing in Atlantic City, which would last for six months, he turned about 15 or more lights on and off.

It's gotten to the point now where I can quite often predict when he will turn a light on or make a light go off. Many a night as I make my way home from a late-night gig, I see the lights going on and off and I know that George is with me. It's such a comforting feeling, especially when you're dog tired or not feeling so good.

That's my story. It's all true. It really did happen and I thank my lucky stars everyday that it did happen. I know that when we leave this life, the spirit goes on. You'd be surprised how many people have ghost stories to tell after they hear my story.

I think many people have had ghostly experiences, but may be reluctant to talk about it, fearing that other people might think they're a little crazy. This doesn't bother me because to be a comedian, you have to be a little crazy.

Jeff DeHart's website