He looked like Christopher Reeves. I could’ve sworn he’d passed already. I was at a funeral: Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Old North Church. This man was dead and he was known as Hollywood Superman. Wow, he could pass for Christopher Reeves.
This was my first funeral as press but not my first funeral. My mom had passed this past July 2019. If you go to the Detroit Coles’ Funeral Home website you can find a page for her memorial: Jacqueline Davis. Doing memorial websites is very popular nowadays. I wondered if there might be one for this man, but this funeral was different; not like any funeral I’d been to at all. I didn’t really see pallbearers or ushers. There was an obituary and there was a sign-in book for guests. I wondered if this was a Protestant funeral; I’m used to funerals in funeral homes. It was much likely. I didn’t see much for the sights of Catholic memorabilia and other religions like Druidism, Hinduism and such were not seen, but perhaps there was a slant towards Lutherism (the use of flowers were lovely); again though Lutherism is some form of Protestantism. It was a quaint church (Old North Church). I’d never been to Forest Lawn Memorial Park before; it was very Hollywood. There were many other services on the grounds happening as well. It looked like at least 6-7 other funerals or memorials. There were also many visiting grave sites. Usually services on the grounds of the cemetery usually denotes some other journey to perhaps where a shorter service might be held for internment (such as final farewells to the casket prior to cremation). I wouldn’t know what was in store here for Hollywood Superman until perhaps finding some form of coverage on the event as I wasn’t planning to stay for the service. It didn’t seem appropriate for me at this time, but I did try to say my condolences to the family at the front pew. I didn’t take an obituary. I must be honest: his obituary pic on the outside looked horrible. These are like programs. You must go strong on that. My mom’s obit was an amazing piece inspired by my Nana’s obit which was very beautiful. With the exception of a horrible picture my dad selected for the inside my Mom’s obit was lovely. However such are things as I was brought up when it came time to doing funeral planning.
At any rate my mom taught me an appreciation for the study of Death & Dying as she had studied Psychology and Death & Dying in school. She was also a fashion designer but this wasn’t what I drew upon much to work the memorial. I wanted to talk fame. He was a Superman ‘look-alike’. Was he involved in Cosplay? I truly wondered. During his active years it was likely just called ‘signing autographs’. Nowadays it’s an entire Industry. Was he a forebear of this? Hollywood (and it was often known doubles were sought out for public appearances) uses of doubles and stunt doubles filled my thoughts and even mysterious stories of a possible ‘second twin’ ran through my mind. Something of a prince in hiding. Now the prince had passed on. His former having gone on ahead in earlier days. Here lies a man who helped to lead and create an industry of fandom: known as cosplay in modern days, autographs sessions in bygone days for those in costume/superhero dress of course. This is my take as one who attends comic book conventions and looks at the evolution of that industry. I thought it fantastically startling. I’d never seen someone like this up close, but I was honored to have been invited. I often covered many comic book conventions and expos. It was something to think about. The end of days.
I went to grab a cover of Action Comics to insert into this piece. It seemed to fit. The ‘end of Hollywood Superman’. His ‘end of days’. Check out my image of the church below. Can you see him? He looks just like Superman classic circa ’78 (Christopher Reeves). There’s even an homage in his stance to George Reeves (Superman circa the ’50s from the Adventures of Superman’); at least in my own opinion based on my eye.
He certainly had the ‘Hollywood’ coverage. Many photographers were there and many were there to just honor the service. It was very nice. Solemn. Thoughtful. I wondered at the use of ‘Somewhere in Time’ themed music for him it played softly in the foyer of the church. I would’ve thought something more along the lines of the ‘Superman’ Movie theme by John Williams might be more appropriate. It made me wonder though had he perhaps been a stand-in on the ‘Somewhere in Time’ film with Christopher Reeves? One never knew. More amazing things can have happened. It was Hollywood.
If you get a chance look up the service. There’s many ‘angles’ to take. Look up the man, look up Hollywood’s take on him, but look at Hollywood’s take on Superman. There are many. This obviously includes references to the ones that came after the ’78 and of course Christopher Reeves did a few other flicks in the guise. Check out your local comic book store. Go to a comic book convention or a book signing or even a Cosplay/autograph signing of your favorite actor portraying a character of anime or comic book fame. Then take a break and remember these are men. They do die. Even Superman as the comic book cover attests to. There is Kryptonite. There are Lex Luthors. How this man died literally isn’t the point. How he lived is apparent: He was Superman for Hollywood. You can likely visit his grave site at Forest Lawn Memorial Park.
‘Nuff said. (Marvel/DC cross-over be cool and say you get it.)