“I grew up with the ‘Adventures of Superman,' the TV show with George Reeves,” Stark said. “I watched them every day after school. It was a big part of growing up.”
Artist Curt Swan had meanwhile become the main artist of Superman, drawing a lithe, mature figure.
“I always figured Superman to be 45-50 years old, more like your father,” Stark said. “As a kid I imagined him as Cary Grant or Rock Hudson. He was an adult, and Curt Swan drew him that way.”
Believing a man can fly
Superman's comic book adventures continued in the 1960s and 1970s, as did animated programs including “Super Friends.” But the character was less ubiquitous before Superman was reinvented for the 1970s and 1980s by Christopher Reeve in “Superman: The Movie.” Directed by Richard Donner, the film showed that comic-book tropes could be modernized and in part, taken seriously.
Since then, Superman has starred in two more live-action series and four more movies, the last starring Brandon Routh in a 2006 Bryan Singer film.
The character was rebooted by writer/artist John Byrne in 1986. Byrne provided a TIME magazine cover in 1988 celebrating Superman's 50th anniversary.
In 1992, the character was killed in the comic books, in an issue that sold a reported three million copies.
In 1996, Clark Kent married his longtime paramour Lois Lane in the comics and on the television show “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.”
Tom Welling played a younger Clark Kent — minus the cape and tights — for The CW television series “Smallville” from 2001 to 2011.
Looking to the future
In 2011, DC Comics again relaunched its comic-book line, with writer Grant Morrison creating a new start for the Man of Steel.
DC will celebrate the character with a Free Comic Book Day issue on May 4, and with a new series by writer Scott Snyder and artist Jim Lee launching in June called “Superman Unchained.”
Also in June, Superman returns to the movie theaters in “Man of Steel,” a Zack Snyder-directed reboot of the Superman film series starring Henry Cavill. The Toy and Action Figure Museum will celebrate with Superman events each weekend; a variety of Superman figures are already on display.
“He's one of my favorite characters,” Stark said. “I love when he'd rip open his shirt and say, ‘This is a job — for Superman!' I still say that today.”