This is an online encyclopedia of personalities of Old Time Radio. It is designed for educational and entertainment purposes.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bud Collyer (1908-69)

Clayton Johnson Heermance, Jr., was born June 18, 1908, in New York City into a show business family, well, the family would become a show business family. However, he didn't get involved in acting until he was a law student at Fordham University (his father was a lawyer). For acting, he decided to use the nickname his family always called him, Bud, plus his mother's maiden name, Collyer. His sister, June Collyer (born Dorothea June Heermance), did the same thing when she went into acting. His brother, Richard (Richard V. Heermance), used his original birthname.

In the mid 1930s, he was out of law school and working as a law clerk. Still working in radio, he earned as much in one month on radio has his earned in a year as a clerk. In 1940, he went into acting full time.

Bud became Superman in the early part of that year. The original idea of Superman was very different than what he became. Originally, he couldn't fly. He could leap (jump) tall buildings. He hadn't been adopted by the Kents but, when his flying saucer from Krypton landed on earth, a rich man saw the baby in the road and sent him to an orphanage in Metropolis.

Some of Superman's vulnerabilities happened on account of radio. When Bud Collyer decided to take a couple of weeks off to take a vacation with his family, it was explained that Superman had been exposed to kryptonite and it would take some time to recover. They never recorded shows and did reruns back in those days.

Superman and Clark Kent had two different voices. Superman had a deep voice while the mild mannered newspaper reporter, Kent, has a high squeeky voice. Bud pulled this off exceptionally well.

It should also be pointed out that the producers of Superman didn't want anyone to know who the actor was who was playing him. The broadcasts were open to the public, so Bud wore a mask. Sometimes, the cast went to various grocery stores and other venues. Bud had to wear a mask when he went.

Besides performing on the radio program, he also acted in the Superman cartoon series, produced by Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. Bud would move to Los Angeles for that part of his life. When the cartoons were finished (mid 1940s), he returned to New York.

After radio, Bud Collyer was a TV game show host. His most popular shows included Beat the Clock, To Tell the Truth, Break the Bank, and Winner Take All. He continued working in television, which included a new Superman cartoon series for Saturday morning TV, until his death on September 8, 1969, at the age of 61. He died of blood circulation problems at his home in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Bud Collyer was married twice. First, to Heloise Law Green from 1936 to 1951. They had a son. The second, to actress Marion Shockley, had two daughers and a son. Bud was a Sunday school superintendent and recorded the audio version of Good News for Modern Man, the New Testament in Today's English Version, for the American Bible Society in 1968. Those recordings are still available from the American Bible Society.

The original sponsor of Superman was Kellogg's. The usual featured cereal was Kellogg's Pep. Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, and other products manufactured by the Battle Creek, Michigan, cereal company were often mentioned on the show.

1 comment:

Michael J. Hayde said...

Actually, all of the Collyer children - there were three: Patricia, Cynthia and Michael - were from his first marriage to Heloise Law Green. It's unclear exactly when or why their marriage ended, but Collyer and Marian Shockley were married on the ABC series Bride and Groom in October 1946. The three Collyer kids lived full time with their father and step-mother.

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