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Julian Noa

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Juliannoa

Julian Noa on the Suspense episode "Post Mortem"

Julian Noa (February 8, 1879 – November 26, 1958) was a New York-based radio character actor who originated the role of Perry White on The Adventures of Superman. He had the distinction, in fact, of being the first to play the role in any medium (predating even the comics) and remained in the part for the series' entire run, from the 1940 syndicated version until 1951.

Defining Perry

Noa's initial performance in the early syndicated episodes is that of a busy but otherwise fairly staid newspaperman (who takes on new reporter Clark Kent with no experience and praises his initial reports). However, as the series developed, Noa's portrayal of the Daily Planet editor grew louder, angrier, and blusterier, prone to firing employees (and then rehiring) and outbursts such as "It's my gasket and I'll blow it if I want to!" In essence, Noa "was able to develop the character independent of a pre-existing comic book history. It was Noa's portrayal of the hot-headed White that became the character's standard for his personality in comic books."[1]

In addition to Perry White, Noa often doubled in other roles, usually beleagured authority figures or old men, but he also recurred during the first syndicated year as the Yellow Mask, one of Superman's chief adversaries.[2] In the 1939 audition discs which preceded the series proper, Noa played the contentious Kryptonian council head Rozan in the first media adaptation of Superman's origin.[3]

Other work

Like many of the New York radio contingent, Noa began his career on stage, as part of William Fox's Academy of Music Stock Company, serving as a member for the life of the company (1910-1914). He had featured roles in several short-lived Broadway plays between 1925 and 1930 (most notably 1927's A Lady in Love, with Sydney Greenstreet and Peggy Wood). He was heard on such wartime dramatic series as This Is Our Enemy and Words at War, as well as The Eternal Light, NBC University of the Air (in a chapter of its 1943 slavery saga "Lands of the Free"), and the historical series The American Story (1944). On soap operas, Noa played authoritative or paternal neighbors or advice-givers. He was a regular/recurring player on The O'Neills (Judge Scott), The Right to Happiness (Mr. Kramer, father-in-law of the oft-married heroine), and Valiant Lady (regular from 1941 though the early 1940s, as Dr. Malcolm Donaldson, friend of heroine Joan Barrett's troubled husband).

In 1943, Noa served as interlocutor (or host) on The Blue Network Minstrels, a minstrel show with black-face comedians. Though Superman came to dominate his schedule, he continued to act occasionally on other radio series through the late 1940s and early 50s, such as You Are There (as Captain Walter Clifford, who arrested Sitting Bull, in a dramatization of the event), Cavalcade of America, and Inheritance (1954).

Noa was also active in the early days of television, working on Studio One, Hallmark Hall of Fame, and Out There. Most notably, Noa made multiple appearances on the "video" version of Suspense, beginning with the first season episode "Post Mortem." The show aired on May 10, 1949 (during the regular season of Superman). In a familiar characterization, Noa played the irritable head of an insurance investigation department, whose relationship with his impulsive operative mirrors that between Clark and Perry.

Sources

  1. The Superman Radio Scripts. Compiled and edited by DC Comics. Watson-Guptill Publications, 2001. p. 96
  2. Tollin, Anthony. Superman on Radio. Booklet to Smithsonian Historical Performances audio set. Radio Spirits, 1997.
  3. Tollin, Anthony. Superman with Batman & Robin on Radio. 1999

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