Phyllis Coates

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Phyllis Coates

Phyllis Coates in her most famous role as Lois Lane
BornGypsie Ann Evarts Stell
(1927-01-15) January 15, 1927 (age 85)
Wichita Falls, Texas, USA
Years active1948-1996
Spouse(s)Norman Tokar (?-?)
Richard L. Bare (1948-1949) (divorced)
Robert Nelms (1950-1953) (divorced) 1 child
Dr. Bernard Press (1962-1968) (divorced) 3 children
 
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Phyllis Coates

Phyllis Coates in her most famous role as Lois Lane
BornGypsie Ann Evarts Stell
(1927-01-15) January 15, 1927 (age 85)
Wichita Falls, Texas, USA
Years active1948-1996
Spouse(s)Norman Tokar (?-?)
Richard L. Bare (1948-1949) (divorced)
Robert Nelms (1950-1953) (divorced) 1 child
Dr. Bernard Press (1962-1968) (divorced) 3 children

Phyllis Coates (born Gypsie Ann Evarts Stell on January 15, 1927) is an American film and television actress. She is perhaps best known for her portrayal of reporter Lois Lane in the 1951 film Superman and the Mole Men, and during the first season of the Adventures of Superman television series.

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Early life and career

After graduating from high school in Wichita Falls, Texas, Coates went to Los Angeles, intending to study at UCLA. However, a chance meeting with entertainer Ken Murray resulted in her working in his vaudeville show as a chorus girl. She later performed as one of Earl Carroll's showgirls at his Earl Carroll Theatre.

She signed a movie contract with Warner Brothers from 1948 to 1956, and she co-starred with George O'Hanlon in the studio's popular Joe McDoakes short-subject comedies in what can be considered the "first sitcom." She married the series' director, Richard L. Bare, and continued to appear in the films after their divorce.

In 1955, Coates played Madge, a neighbor of child psychologist Dr. Tom Wilson, played by Stephen Dunne, in the CBS sitcom Professional Father. Joseph Kearns (1907–1962), later the first Mr. Wilson on CBS's Dennis the Menace, played Coates's television husband, Fred. Barbara Billingsley and Beverly Washburn also starred in Professional Father.

Lois Lane

Coates played a strong-willed Lois Lane in the first 26 episodes of Adventures of Superman, where she was given equal billing with George Reeves (insisted on by Reeves), even for episodes in which she did not appear. Her powerful "damsel in distress" scream was used to good effect in several episodes.

After shooting for the first season, the Superman producers suspended production until they found a national sponsor. When it came time to film more Superman episodes, Coates had already committed herself elsewhere. Noel Neill, who had played Lois Lane in the 1948-1950 serials opposite Kirk Alyn, succeeded her and became far more identified with the role.

Later years

Coates generally tried to distance herself from the Superman series, fearing it might limit her roles. She did make a guest appearance as Lois Lane's mother in the first season finale of the 1990s TV series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.[1]

Her Superman fame has obscured the fact that Coates was one of Hollywood's most dependable actresses of the period. She freelanced steadily, appearing in low-budget features, westerns, serials, and the "McDoakes" shorts. Her best-remembered films of the 1950s are Blues Busters with The Bowery Boys (in which she has a musical number), Panther Girl of the Kongo, a jungle serial in which she starred, and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein.

She accepted the role in 1957's The Incredible Petrified World (1957), a science fiction film starring John Carradine, as a favor to its director, Jerry Warren, who was a former boyfriend. The actress originally cast in the lead couldn't do it and Warren couldn't find anyone else in time. He persuaded Coates to do it by telling her that the film would not be shown in California. However, after it was completed, she found out that Warren did indeed release the film in California, and she was told by at least one studio executive at Columbia that the film was so inferior and shoddy that the studio would not be hiring her again. On top of that, Warren never paid her. It was only theatrically released on April 16, 1960, on a double bill with "Teenage Zombies".

Her other television appearances included two appearances on the Perry Mason episodes, "The Case of the Black-Eyed Blonde," (1958) and "The Case of the Cowardly Lion" (1961), The Cisco Kid, The Adventures of Kit Carson (twice as June Sanders), It's a Great Life, Frontier, The Abbott and Costello Show, The DuPont Show with June Allyson (as Penny in the 1960 episode "The Trench Coat", along with David Niven and Lyle Talbot), Leave It to Beaver, Gunsmoke (as a duplicitous villainess trying to have her husband murdered), Rawhide (Season 1/20 as Nora Sage), General Electric Theater, The Lone Ranger, The Untouchables (in Season 1 as a two-timing showgirl playing opposite Cameron Mitchell), and The Patty Duke Show.

References

  1. ^ Dan Levine (writer); Alan J. Levi (director) (1994-05-08). "The House of Luthor". Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. episode 21. season 1. ABC. 

External links