Sunday, February 20, 2011

In Memoriam: Joanne Siegel 1918-2011

Model forLois Lane, later married co-creator Jerry Siegel.

"Situation Wanted — Female ARTIST MODEL: No experience."

--Cleveland Plain Dealer classified ad, 1935.

"Joe [Shuster, the other co-creator] was taking art lessons and felt that he needed someone to pose as the Lois Lane character for the Superman story. So I posed...I remember the day I met Jerry in Joe's living room. Jerry was the model for Superman. He was standing there in a Superman-like pose. He said their character was going to fly through the air, and he leaped off the couch to demonstrate."

--Joanne Siegel, in a 1996 Plain Dealer interview.

"One of the things [Shuster and Siegel] were particularly interested in is how would a woman look like if she was being carried in the arms of someone flying through the air. So they set up a chair that had arms on it, and my mom draped herself across one arm and her legs across the other arm, and Joe drew her in that position."

--Laura Siegel Larson, Joanne and Jerry's daughter, in a Los Angeles Times interview.


  1. I love people who work hard to present their art realistically!

  2. What fun to know the background of the Lois Lane character. My boys were huge Superman fans and I made many costumes for them to act out their super powers, but carrying Lois around wasn't included in any of their make-believe feats.

  3. as always, a fascinating look into people's lives. i've been hooked on obits for years; your blog takes it up a respectable notch.

  4. I'm with Kass... what fun to know the background of Lois Lane,
    I remember sometimes watching Superman on the TV but I didn't watch TV much so it must have been at a time when I was allowed or sick at home.

    cheers, parsnip

  5. Let me just say this, and then I'll answer everyone individually.

    I don't consider Joanne Siegel to be the most important person who ever lived or anything like that. Even within the world of comics, I can't help but think had she not modeled, some other female would have, and given Joe Shuster stylized approach to drawing, whoever that female happened to be, Lois Lane still would have looked like Lois Lane, circa 1935, though the fact that Joanne ended up marrying the guy who helped create Superman's girlfriend adds a bit of charm to the whole thing.

    Here's the real reason I provided all the quotes and links. I find it fascinating that Superman, one of the most famous fictional characters on the planet, and a phenomenon that by itself spawned a multi-billion dollar superhero industry that has spread far beyond comic books to toys, TV and, more than ever, movies, should have such humble, even mundane, beginnings. A high school girl in Cleveland puts out an ad offering to be a model, and goes to a house in a working-class neighbor to meet two boys barely out of high school themselves, one of whom jumps off a couch to demonstrate how this new character of theirs would behave. Priceless!

    I hope to some day write a novel about comic strips and comic books, so I find this kind of thing particularly interesting.

  6. That should be "working-class neighborhood". I think I was exposed to some Kryptonite.

    @Leslie--Given that this is about a man who's faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and can leap tall buildings with a single bound, they damn better work hard to present the art realistically!

    @Kass-I think for most boys, Lois Lane is best appreciated after they've reached puberty.

    @Dreamfarm--Good to hear from you again. It's been awhile. Speaking of obits, did you ever get around to reading what I wrote about Elisabeth Edwards?

    @parsnip--For the purposes of this post, it's not really important whether you've watched Superman or not, only that you're aware of the character, and how famous he, and Lois, have become over the years.

  7. One last thing. I had Joanne and Siegal's daughter as Julie. Her name is actually Laura. I've since changed it.

    I don't know where the hell I got Julie from. Lex Luthor must be behind this.

  8. it strikes me that they must have had great fun doing all that, and whatever came after.

  9. @rraine--Wish that were true, but Seigel and Shuster, Superman's creators, were fired from DC comics sometimes in the 1940s for demanding ownership of their own character. For a time, they were blackballed by the entire comic book industry. Eventually, Jerry Siegel did get to write for Superman again, but he no longer had any creative control over the character's direction. Finally, in the late '70s, negative publicity on the eve of the first Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve, forced DC comics, now owned by the same giant conglomerate that owned Warner Brothers, to give both men a pension, and a "created by" credit that's appeared on every Superman comic book and movie ever since.


In order to keep the hucksters, humbugs, scoundrels, psychos, morons, and last but not least, artificial intelligentsia at bay, I have decided to turn on comment moderation. On the plus side, I've gotten rid of the word verification.