Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Phyllis Coates, Original Lois Lane in ‘Adventures of Superman,’ Dead at 96

Phyllis Coates, Original Lois Lane in ‘Adventures of Superman,’ Dead at 96

Phyllis Coates, the original Lois Lane, has passed away. She was 96. 

Coates died of natural causes on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital, her daughter Laura Press told People. Press shared that her passing was “very peaceful.”

“She gave a lot to the industry,” she added. “And her career passed through so many genres.” 

Fans know Coates for being the first to portray Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane on television. She first played the role in the 1951 film Superman and the Mole Men. She then went on to star as Lane the following year in The Adventures of Superman. However, she only stayed with the series for one season. 

In an interview with Tom Weaver, which appeared in his book Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes, Phyllis Coates explained that she earned $350 for each of the 26 episodes she starred in. She believed the pay was too low considering the dangerous stunts she and the cast did on set. 

“We were nearly blown up, beaten up, exploded, exploited,” she explained. “I guess it was because we were young and dumb, but we put up with a lot of stuff.” 

Phyllis Coates Walked Away From Superman After 1 Season

The Adventures of Superman ended its freshman season as a massive hit. Coates was offered about five times her salary to sign on for another year, but she wanted to expand her career, so she turned it down. 

Coates, born Gypsie Ann Evarts Stell, went on to spend five decades in Hollywood. During that time, she played in 145 projects of all genres, including I Was A Teenage FrankensteinThis Is Alice, and Panther Girl Of The Kongo. She was so iconic that a fictionalized Phyllis Coates was a character in the 2006 film Hollywoodland starring Adrien Brody and Ben Affleck. 

One of Coates’ final projects was appropriately in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, where she played Lois Lane’s mother, Ellen Lane. 

Phyllis Coates is survived by three children. Press asked fans via People to make a donation to the Humane Society of America to honor her mother’s love of animals.