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C Entries
Edward L. Cahn
James Cameron
Lewis John Carlino
Richard Carlson
John Carradine
Helena Bonham Carter
Leo G. Carroll
Maurice Cass
Lon Chaney
Lon Chaney, Jr.
John Cho
Arthur C. Clarke
Phyllis Coates
Joan Collins
Sir Sean Connery
Roger Corman
Buster Crabbe
Richard Crane
Tom Cruise
Peter Cushing
 
COATES, PHYLLIS
(Gypsie Ann Evarts Stell 1927– ). American actress.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in: Superman and the Mole Men (Lee Sholem 1951); The Adventures of Superman (tv series) (1951-1953); Invasion U.S.A. (Alfred E. Green 1952); "The Doomed Safari" (1953), episode of Ramar of the Jungle; Panther Girl of the Kongo (Franklin Adreon 1955); "Barrier of Silence" (1955), episode of Science Fiction Theatre; The Incredible Petrified World (Jerry Warren 1957); I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (Herbert L. Strock 1957); "Thompson's Ghost" (1966), episode of Vacation Playhouse; "The House of Luthor" (1994), episode of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman; Hollywood: The Movie (video) (Joseph Allen 1996).
 
Noel NEILL may have come first, but Phyllis Coates is the actress who forever defined the role of Lois Lane. In keeping with the celluloid tradition of lady reporters, she was the classy lady who was tough enough to survive in a man's world, always willing to assert herself and, if necessary, employ her sexuality as a weapon to get what she wants. After a fine performance in the short film Superman and the Mole Men, she shared top billing with George REEVES during the first season of The Adventures of Superman, and she deserved it, for she was more than capable of holding her own in the company of authoritative men like John Hamilton's Perry White, Robert Shayne's Inspector Henderson, and Reeves's Superman. It is not only the heightened violence, but Coates's distinctive presence, that make the first-season Superman episodes seem more exciting; and the later actresses who portrayed Lois Lane—Margot KIDDER, Teri HATCHER, and Kate Bosworth—all solidly based their performances on her confident, assured model. Thus, although the producers of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman later cast another tough old broad—Beverly GARLAND—as the mother of Hatcher's Lois Lane, the first person they hired to play the part, appropriately, was Phyllis Coates.

Born in Wichita Falls, Texas, Coates came to Hollywood in the 1940s with greater ambitions than starring in a kids' television show, and The Adventures of Superman undoubtedly seemed more or less equivalent to the now-forgotten "Joe McDoakes" comedy short subjects that had previously been her specialty. Accordingly, when she was given the opportunity to star in a promising television pilot, Coates happily abandoned the Man of Steel and company after one season. In retrospect, given the producers' plans to make the series more juvenile, one cannot really regret her decision, since it would have been saddening to see the mature, independent Coates coping with some of the nonsense that her sweet, simpering successor Neill was better suited to endure.

Although that promising pilot never did become a series, Coates kept herself busy on film and television throughout the 1950s and 1960s, in large part because the era's most popular genre, the western, regularly required women like the Texan Coates who could function in a man's world. In the realm of fantasy and science fiction, she played a small role in an obscure film very much worth searching for, Invasion U.S.A.; kept her cool in the tropical settings of Ramar of the Jungle and Panther Girl of the Kongo; and stood out in two films that, without her performances, would be entirely unwatchable —The Incredible Petrified World and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein—giving the stolid Whit BISSELL the best support he ever had in the latter film Her final bid for stardom came in 1966, when she resolved to return to her comedy roots as one of the straight men to Bert Lahr's clownish ghost in another promising pilot, Thompson's Ghost, that also never became a series, though the pilot was at least aired during the summer. She essentially retired in 1970, though she accepted a few small parts in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and she seemed content to let Noel NEILL posture as the original Lois Lane for all the nostalgic fans of the series. But those who remember the first season of The Adventures of Superman will never forget the greatest Lois Lane of them all.

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