Television's first Lois Lane, groundbreaking actress Phyllis Coates, has passed away.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Coates' daughter revealed that she died Wednesday of natural causes at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills. Born Gypsie Ann Evarts Stell in Wichita Falls, Texas, the actress attended Los Angeles City College before snagging a seven-year contract with 20th Century Fox in July 1944 at just 17.
Coates was discovered in a Hollywood and Vine restaurant by vaudeville comedian Ken Murray and appeared as a dancer and comedienne in skits for almost a year before touring with USO's production of Anything Goes in 1946.
While appearing in classic films like I Was A Teenage Frankenstein (1957) and Blood Arrow (1958), she also graced the screens of popular Westerns and crime dramas. Coates made three guest appearances in Perry Mason and Gunsmoke episodes and was cast in an episode of Rawhide as Elizabeth Gwynn.
It wasn't until the debut of the first season of Adventures of Superman that the actress began her golden path to stardom. In the comic book series, Coates portrayed Lois Lane opposite George Reeves. However, it wasn't her first time playing the award-winning journalist and Superman's love interest. She and Reeves both played the characters in the 1951 movie Superman and the Mole Men.
For 26 episodes, Coates brought power to Lois Lane, filming four to five episodes at a time.
"We were nearly blown up, beaten up, exploded and exploited — I guess it was because we were young and dumb, but we put up with a lot of stuff," Coates said in Tom Weaver's 2006 book, Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes.
Coates was asked to return for season two of the series but signed to do a pilot for a series with Jack Carson and Allen Jenkins, which never aired.
She was 96.
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