The actress who brought Lois Lane to the screen for the first time has passed away. Her manager and biographer Larry Ward said Noel Neill died Sunday at age 95 at her home in Tucson, Arizona, after battling a long illness, according to BBC News. Ward opened up about Neill’s life embracing the character of the Daily Planet reporter in Superman, saying she cherished Lois as much more than a role, and that explains why just a few of her fans knew her real name.

Ward noted that Neill was still making personal appearances into her 90th year and even attended book signings. She will be paid a public memorial later this year.

Noel Neill dies
Noel Neill, the original Lois Lane, died at 95 after battling a long illness. Credit: Youtube

“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,” Ward said, as quoted by BBC News.

Neill was born on Nov. 20, 1920, in Minnesota. Her father, Minneapolis Star Tribune news editor David Neill, wanted her to become a reporter and even though she preferred to go into acting she did interpret a reporter. Her mother was LaVere Neill, a New York vaudeville performer.

She started dancing and singing as a little girl and throughout the mid-west in the 1930s Neill performed at county and state fairs. At age 18, she moved to Hollywood, where Bing Crosby found her and helped her get a contract with Paramount Pictures. She signed up to it in 1941.

The young actress was hired to sing at Crosby’s Turf Club at the race track in Del Mar, California. She played in the 1940s “The Teenagers” musical series as high schooler Betty Rogers. At the end of that decade, Sam Katzman thought Neill was the one who should play Lois Lane in the Superman serial for Columbia Pictures, and in 1948, she became the first Daily Planet reporter to appear on screen alongside Kirk Alyn, who played Superman.

The two worked together again in Atom vs. Superman, another serial. She took over the role as Lois once again in 1953 when she started acting in the Adventures of Superman TV series along with George Reeves. The series ended in 1958.

In 1978, Neill appeared in the Christopher Reeve Superman film as Ella, Lois Lane’s mother. She also appeared in a TV series called Superboy in 1992 based on the hero’s younger years.

Neill briefly appeared as Gertrude Vanderworth in the 2006 Superman Returns film, starring Brandon Routh. Her character signs her money over to Lex Luthor.

She made almost 100 films and worked with directors like Cecil B DeMille and Vincent Minnelli and actors Bob Hope, Gene Kelly, and Crosby.

Lois Lane after Neill

The character of the award-winning journalist and Superman’s primary love interest went on to be portrayed by Margot Kidder in the four Christopher Reeve Superman movies in the 1970s and 80s and Kate Bosworth in Superman Returns (2006).

On TV, Teri Hatcher played Lois Lane in the ABC series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures in the 1990s. And in Smallville, Erica Durance took over the role from 2004 to 2011.

Most recently, Amy Adams played the beautiful reporter in the latest Superman movies Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Man of Steel and she is now filming Justice League.

Source: BBC