Jack Larsen (1928-2015)


He (as Jimmy Olsen) was probably one of my first exposures to writers writing for a living, and one of my childhood dreams – a journalist for a newspaper. It doesn’t seem that long ago even though it’s a million miles away.

A life well lived deserves a rest.

Rest in peace, Jack.

NY Times Article
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I’d like to share this tribute from actor, writer, playwright, and overall super human being, Jim Beaver:

I’ve been working on a biography of actor George Reeves for decades now. It’s what brought me to Hollywood, and it has been both an albatross about my neck and an enormous blessing, lo, these many years.

Chief among the blessings have been the people I met in the course of my research who became friends. And most certainly, chief among those friends was Jack Larson. Jack played Jimmy Olsen on Reeves’s SUPERMAN TV series in the 1950s, and it is for that iconic role that he will always be remembered. But he was much, much more than that. He was a playwright, the first ever to be given a Rockefeller Foundation grant. He was a librettist, creating the text to the great Virgil Thompson’s last opera, LORD BYRON. He knew EVERYBODY. His bosom friends and lovers included Montgomery Clift, Leslie Caron, James Dean, John Houseman, Christopher Isherwood, Salka Viertel, and Libby Holman, and, especially, director James Bridges, with whom Jack shared a life for 35 years. They lived in a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Brentwood, where they were neighbors of mine for many years. I would see Jack walking his beloved dogs daily, and we often stopped to chat.

I got to know Jack because he was a figure in the story of the subject of my book project, but when I think of him, I think of him as a friend. I had interviewed him once or twice without any particular connection arising, but the combined subsequent facts that I had plays produced at Actors Theatre of Louisville and had a fling with a staffer he knew well there (he was the Rockefeller Foundation’s scout for interesting playwrights at the time) led him to feel close to me. Indeed, for the next 35 years, he never failed to ask me how that girl from Louisville was, though I hadn’t seen her in years. I was enamored of him and fiercely envious of his style, his grace, his congeniality and his place among brilliant, thoughtful, fascinating people. Most of all, I appreciated his friendship and his abiding friendliness and good nature. I loved him. Not because he was Jimmy Olsen on my favorite childhood show. Indeed, I rather rarely think of him in that way. I loved him because he was everything a man ought to be – smart, kind, gentle, gracious, giving, talented, funny, and just damned nice.

I will miss him forever.

Jack Larson (1928-2015)

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