Monday, June 17, 2013
By Susan Douglass Yates
Actor-comedian Bob Hope, part owner and a die-hard fan of the Cleveland Indians, hams it up and pits his famous sneer against the leotard-wearing Kirk Alyn, the first actor to portray Superman on film. Hope and Alyn are two of many celebrities who supported City of Hope throughout its history. In 1947, Hope entertained at the inaugural dinner of the Philadelphia Committee, an auxiliary chapter of City of Hope. In 1949, the comedian received the Torch of Hope award in recognition of his humanitarian work for the institution. Over the years he made numerous appearances at City of Hope events.
The where and when of this image are unknown, but it is reminiscent of the Movie Star World Series, a fundraising event first held in 1949 that benefited City of Hope and the Motion Picture Relief Fund. The women in the background are wearing jerseys bearing symbols from the Greek theatre, representing the teams the Comedians and the Tragedians. Their role was to serve as bat girls.
Kirk Alyn was not the only Superman to step up to the plate for City of Hope. Best known for his television role as Superman, actor George Reeves was also a longtime supporter, serving as the national sponsor of the Little Helpers, a children's initiative against cancer and leukemia that began in the mid-1950s. Reeves appeared at events dressed as the superhero, and children who enrolled in the program received a membership card signed by Reeves along with a special Little Helper pin.