Actress Who Played Lois Lane Has Passed Away
Actress Phyllis Coates is probably better known as the first woman to play the part of Lois Lane on television. In 1951, she was cast as Lois Lane in the film “Superman and the Mole-Men.” She played the same character on TV during the first series of the show “Adventures of Superman.” She appeared in 24 episodes and was only paid $375 per episode. Even though she was offered much more to return for the next season, she decided to walk away from the show. However, she wasn’t done with Superman after all.
In 1994, in a full circle experience, Coates played Lois Lane’s mom in an episode of “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.” She once remarked on how different the character was portrayed in the new series, saying that actress Teri Hatcher, who played Lois Lane, had a completely different wardrobe than she’d had. She explained, “I saw Teri in this beautiful dress with her boobs pushed up and I thought, “That’s Lois Lane?!?!” I had a suit up to my collarbone. I felt like a horse with a bit in my mouth.”
Besides playing Lois Lane, Coates had a wide range of other roles throughout her acting career. Notable credits include “The Incredible Petrified World,” “Science Fiction Theater,” “This Is Alice” and “The Duke.”
Born in Texas, Coates spent her final days living in a retirement community for actors called the Motion Picture Home. She died on October 11, 2023. Her cause of death is listed as natural causes. She was 96 years old. Coates’ daughter, Laura Press, described her mother’s death to PEOPLE as “very peaceful.”
Prior to her death, Coates was the last living cast member of the show “Adventures of Superman.” Actress Noel Neill, who replaced Coates as Lois Lane on the show, died in 2016.
Coates once explained that the cast on “Adventures of Superman” put up with a lot, probably too much. In an interview for the book “Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes,” Coates told Tom Weaver, “We were nearly blown up, beaten up, exploded, exploited — I guess it was because we were young and dumb, but we put up with a lot of stuff.”
One time, Coates was actually even punched and knocked unconscious. It was an accident that happened during the filming of the episode “Night of Terror.” The actor who accidentally punched her apologized, but ultimately, the footage was used in the episode since there wasn’t time to reshoot it. Yes, she definitely did her own stunts!
Coates was married four times, and all of her marriages ended in divorce. Her first marriage was to Richard L. Bare from 1948 to 1949. Her next marriage was to Robert Nelms from 1950 to 1953. She third marriage was to Norman Tokar from 1955 to 1960. Her final and longest lasting marriage was to Dr. Howard Irving Press from 1962 to 1986. She had three children, one each with Nelms, Tokar and Press.