Superman’s first onscreen Lois Lane, Noel Darleen Neill, passed away at her home in Tuscon, Arizona, on Sunday at age 95 following an extended illness, her official biographer Larry Ward confirmed on Facebook via editor Jim Nolt.
The actress first played Lois Lane in 1948’s Superman, 1950’s Atom Man vs. Superman, and in the TV series The Adventures of Superman opposite George Reeves. (Head here for details on Neill’s time as Lane.) She also played Lane’s mother Ella in 1978’s Superman and Lex Luthor’s wife Gertrude Vanderworth in 2006’s Superman Returns, among other Superman-related credits.
“She was kind, selfless, hardworking, funny with a quick wit, and assertive — all the same qualities that embodied the character of Lois Lane,” Ward writes of Neill. “Noel truly was Lois Lane, and for many of us, she was the first working woman seen on television. Few of her fans actually knew her real name, almost always simply calling her ‘Lois’ to which she would unfailing answer with a bright smile and a kind word. It was more than a role to her. ‘Lois’ was someone she believed in and a character she happily and warmly embraced.”
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Before her time with the man in the red cape, Neill worked on a number of Western films, including Adventures of Frank and Jesse James, The James Brothers of Missouri, and Whistling Hills, and she also sang with Bing Crosby’s band at the Del Mar Racetrack.