Real Name: George Reeves
Case: Suspicious Death
Date: June 16, 1959
Location: Beverly Hills, California
Details: George Reeves was a well-known and well-liked Hollywood actor known for making Westerns, but the one role he could never shrug off was that of TV's first Superman, one for which he was so connected to, he believed he'd never get serious work again. When he was found shot in the head in his Beverly Hills home, police quickly ruled his death a suicide. However, many people believe that he was murdered.
Prior to George's death, he had been dating Tonni Mannix, even though she was still married to her husband, Eddie. He was vice president of MGM; for unknown reasons, he was fine with Tonni and George's relationship. Then, in 1958, he broke up with her. She was devastated, but he moved on quickly; he soon began dating Lenore Lemmon, who had a notorious reputation; she was known for causing many fights and altercations. They were reportedly engaged in 1959.
George apparently had financial problems prior to his death; Tonni and Eddie apparently gave him large amounts of money while he and Tonni were dating. Once they broke up, however, he had little money to spend on his lavish lifestyle. He had little income because he hadn't filmed a new Superman episode in two years.
On the night of his death, George had several friends over. By midnight on the night of June 16, 1959, only Lenore and writer Robert Condon were still at his house with him. Two neighbors stopped by, hoping to join the party. He got angry at them for being very loud. Lenore was allegedly upset at the way he was handling the situation.
One theory is that after this altercation, George told Lenore that he did not plan to marry her. She became angry and pulled out a gun, which they struggled over. The theory suggests that he was then accidentally shot by her.
According to reports, the guests took over half an hour to call the police. When examining the .30 caliber gun used to kill George, authorities found no fingerprints. The shell casing was found beneath his body, even though if it was a suicide, it would've fallen away from there.
While some researchers believe that Lenore killed George, others believe that Tonni and/or Eddie killed him. One theory suggests that Eddie, tired of hearing Tonni lament over the breakup, hired someone to kill him. The theory claims that his house was an "open house" and that people could easily walk in and out without anyone else noticing.
However, other researchers believe that the murder theory is unlikely; although the "suicide" believers point to the lack of powder burns on George, it is known that if a person puts a gun directly to their skin, the powder will go inside the body. Also, if he held the gun a certain way, the shell casing could have falled underneath his body. Finally, Jack Larson, one of his costars, believes that he killed himself because he was unable to get a job and had no access to money.
To this day, there is still a debate as to whether or not George committed suicide.
Suspects: Lenore Lemmon, Tonni Mannix, and Eddie Mannix are all considered possible suspects. However, they each have since passed away: Lenore died in 1989, Tonni died in 1983, and Eddie died in 1963.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the December 8, 1995 episode.
Results: Unresolved. In 1999, publicist Edward Lozzi claimed that Tonni Mannix had confessed to him that she had hired someone to kill George. However, Jack Larson, along with others, have disputed his claims; they have found no corroborating evidence to substantiate the confession. They note that Tonni had suffered Alzheimer's in the years prior to her death, which would have made any alleged confession from her to be unreliable. To this day, the case remains officially a suicide.
George's former home is now included in Paranormal Tours of Hollywood. Later owners have seen his ghost in the Superman costume on the second floor where he died. The haunting activity was reported in "Hollywood Ghost Stories" in 1986. The events of Reeves's death was dramatized in the 2005 film, Hollywoodland, starring Adrian Brody, Ben Affleck and Diane Lane. It speculated that while plenty of suspicion and suspects abounded he eventually killed himself over frustration with his career and his inability to attract quality parts.