Today, sad news broke that legendary actress, Noel Neill, best known for portraying intrepid reporter Lois Lane in The Adventures of Superman, passed away at 95 over the holiday weekend. Since the series ended, Neill has portrayed several characters in Superman-related projects, including Superman (The 1948 serials), Atom Man vs. Superman, Superman (1978), the '80s TV series Superboy, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and 2006's Superman Returns.
Now, to honor her memory and because of the fact that Superman and Lois Lane have been around for almost 80 years (which means they have their fair share of different portrayals), here is a list of the five people that gave the best portrayals of Superman's favorite girl.
1. TERI HATCHER
I will say something right now: I am the biggest Desperate Housewives fan. The amount of time it took me to watch all nine seasons should be recorded in a Guinness World Record book, and a lot of that is because of Teri Hatcher. She brought that same innate charm to the role of Lois Lane in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. It a character that, if not treated carefully, can fall into the "annoying" pit very quickly but Hatcher made Lois a character to admire, not simply a damsel in distress. Ignoring the cheesy music in this clip, you can see that she's brave and selfless, and that's what made Hatcher fun to watch.
Her chemistry with Dean Cain was undeniable and she did her part to make their relationship feel equal, as if they were lovers, friends and partners, rather than just being the girl Superman needs to rescue all the time. Sadly, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman was cancelled after four seasons and we couldn't get more of Teri Hatcher's Lois Lane. Fortunately, all seasons are there for us to enjoy on DVD (That's the old version of the Blu-ray, kids).
2. PHYLLIS COATES
I started watching The Adventures of Superman from its first season, so Phyllis Coates was my introduction to the character in that world. And what an introduction! Phyllis has an undeniable elegance that elevates the role of Lois Lane and makes her a worthy companion to the amazing George Reeves, who was the most well-known actor to portray the Man of Steel until Christopher Reeve came along.
Unfortunately, because of long wait time for filming the second season, she departed the series. When I got the first season of the Adventures of Superman and discovered that was all I would see of Phyllis Coates' Lois Lane, I was disappointed... until I watched the portrayal of the next actress on this list.
3. NOEL NEILL
And here we are, the reason this list was written in the first place. While I wouldn't be surprised if many people aren't familiar with Noel Neill's Lois Lane, she played the reporter in two different Superman movies before even being cast in the TV series. One was in 1948's Superman and the next was two years later in Atom Man vs. Superman, both starring Kirk Alyn as Superman. A few years later, she was cast as Phyllis Coates' replacement in Adventures of Superman. But I want to make something clear: She deserves a spot not because she was runner-up after they had to scramble to find a replacement, but because of her talent and charm.
As I mentioned above, I was a bit apprehensive to watch the second season of Adventures of Superman when I discovered Phyllis Coates wouldn't be grabbing a pen and a notepad again, but boy, was I wrong. Noel Neill came in and completely owned the role, conveying the older-sister-younger-brother relationship she had with mild-mannered Clark Kent and her romantic side when she was with Superman. Her charming and innocent yet tough appearance always made you feel welcome and has made it hold up nicely even to this day.
4. KATE BOSWORTH
I already know you'll break out the pitchforks at this, but I'm saying it, anyway: I love Superman Returns. I think it's one of the best comic book movies ever made and in my opinion, it's even better than The Dark Knight. Ok, pitchforks down? Great. Kate Bosworth had the most challenging portrayal of Lois Lane out of all the other amazing actresses on this list, because she played a facet of the character that we hadn't yet seen on screen: Lois Lane as a mother.
Why did she succeed? Because she managed to play a loving and caring mother while perfectly balancing the toughness and intelligence that Lois Lane needs to have. Let's face it, if it hadn't been for Lois, Superman would have died by drowning, with kryptonite inside him. Like Hatcher, she made Lois Lane more of an equal to Superman.
5. ERICA DURANCE
Smallville, in my opinion, started out as an amazing TV show, focusing on the teenage struggles of the future savior of Earth. Unfortunately, it got crazier and crazier as the seasons went by to the point where it almost completely lost me. What was one of the things that made me stay? Erica Durance's Lois Lane, that's what. She was the perfect blend of sarcastic, funny and lovable and I got excited whenever the show focused on her and Clark's relationship.
The chemistry she and Tom Welling (Clark Kent) shared was incredible. They were open and honest and funny with one another in a way that not many on-screen couples are. One of my favorite scenes in the entire 10 seasons of the show was them reading their wedding vows to each other. That moment alone accomplished an amazing task because, even if you hadn't watched the show before, you could feel the connection these two shared. After watching the scene, tell me if I need to say anything else:
Many great actresses have played the iconic, intrepid reporter and many more will do it as the years go by. Unfortunately, we have to say goodbye to Noel Neill. And while her most iconic role was as Lois Lane, let's not forget that Neill had a long and impressive career and will always be remembered for her charisma and talent.
To be clear, these are the best portrayals in my opinion, so if you have your own favorites, feel free to share them with me!