Condolences to the family, friends and fans of actor, playwright and librettist Jack Larson, who passed two days ago at age 87. I didn’t know him outside of party encounters and a one-hour phone interview we did six and a half years ago, but Larson was always a spirited, good-natured guy who often wore yellow and whose role as cub reporter Jimmy Olsen on the 1950s Adventures of Superman series did him no favors in the long run as it typecast him as a naive dork. I’m sorry for that unfair association, but if I’d called this post “Adieu to Jack Larson” no one would read it.
Larson was the partner of director James Bridges for 35 years (’58 until Bridges’ death in ’93), and before that was involved in some kind of semi-regular thing with Montgomery Clift. (Larson-Bridges photos abound but I can’t find one of Larson-Clift.)
I’ve always been a huge fan of Bridges Mike’s Murder (’84) and six or seven years ago became interested in trying to persuade Warner Home Video to release a DVD of Bridges’ original, somewhat longer “flashback” cut of that film. Warner Bros. recut the drama into a linear narrative form that works rather well, but I’ve always presumed that the Bridges version would be better or darker or more intense or whatever. I did a phone interview with Larson in early ’09 about this, and he assured me that all the materials exist to create Bridges’ original cut.
Then again when we spoke Larson seemed light or hazy on specific information about where the materials were actually stored and in what condition they were and whether releasing the longer cut had ever been discussed, etc. He kept digressing and after a while I stopped trying to pull it out of him.
There’s definitely an interesting connection between Adventures of Superman, Montgomery Clift, From Here to Eternity and George Reeves, who famously played Superman from ’51 until his suicide death in ’59. Reeves had a smallish supporting role in Eternity as Sgt. Maylon Stark, a former lover of Deborah Kerr‘s Karen Holmes. (Reeves’ footage was rumored to have been reduced due to audiences laughing or chortling when Superman appeared as a Schofield barracks noncom). Clift, of course, starred in Eternity. And then sometime during that era (I don’t know the timeline) Clift and Larson became steady lovers.
You can half-imagine Clift, Larson and Reeves having a drink together in ’53 or ’54 and laughing at the concept of Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt fucking Jimmy Olsen while Maylon Stark/Clark Kent looks on disapprovingly.