George Bessolo Reeves lived in a modest house in Benedict Canyon in Los Angeles, California up until the time of his death on June 15, 1959.
The home has not changed much since the mid-fifties. It is located in a fairly modest area, even though the asking price in 1995 was $625,000. Entering the house from the street side, you walk into the living room. To the right is the den and through the living room to the left you find the stairs leading to the guest room and adjoining bathroom which overlook the street. The stairs turn and continue upward to the bedroom where George slept. Those windows overlook the backyard and there is a garage under the guest bedroom. Many photos shown in various magazines in the past indicated that George's bedroom windows could be seen from the street. This is however not the case as it it the guest bedroom that faces the street.
The home is currently a private residence but photos can be easily taken from the street. If you are lucky enough, the homeowners may allow you to tour the home's grounds and possibly the interior as well.
The Night of June 15, 1959
In June of 1959, things started to look up for George. He was getting work as a director, and he had agreed to do another season of Superman, in which he would also direct quite a few episodes of. He was also engaged to Leonore Lemmon, a New York showgirl. Lemmon moved into his house, and they were to be married on June 18.
On June 15, George and Leonore had gone out to a rather boozy dinner, to celebrate the upcoming marriage. During the dinner, they had argued. After, they returned home and continued drinking. George went to bed at 12:30 AM. Around 1, two friends came by for a visit. Reeves usually had an open door policy, but not after midnight. Shortly after they arrived, Reeves came downstairs to find out what the commotion was. Seeing the neighbors, he told them, “Get out. It’s too late for this nonsense.” Leonore asked, “Is this a joke or a shoot?” meaning was he kidding around, or what? Reeves then apologized, and the group sat around talking.
The following is taken from the official autopsy report:
At approximately 1:20 AM, Reeves excused himself, and went upstairs to bed. Miss Lemmon then made the statement, “He is going to shoot himself.” Shortly, they heard a dresser drawer being opened upstairs, and Miss Lemmon commented, “He is getting the gun out now, and he is going to shoot himself.” Moments later, a shot was heard, and they ran upstairs to see what happened.
Reeves was lying across the bed on his back, naked, with a gunshot wound to the head. On the floor between his feet was a .30 caliber German Luger pistol. The police were called, and the guests were instructed to leave the premises. An ambulance arrived and pronounced him dead and removed him from the house out the front door. An autopsy ruled suicide. He was only 45 years old.
Exactly what happened that night was never fully resolved, due to varying drunken accounts. Many felt that Reeves was tired of being known as Superman, and that he killed himself out of anguish. Reeves also enjoyed playing with an unloaded gun. They decided that he was fooling around, not realizing the gun was loaded. Reeves blood alcohol content that night was .27 percent. Everyone involved decided that it had been a suicide.
However, Reeves mother, Helen Bessolo, was convinced that her son had been murdered. She had talked to him days before, and, according to her, he “was in a splendid state of mind.” She had the body exhumed, and a second autopsy was performed. She also hired private investigators to investigate his death. They decided that he had not committed suicide. Reportedly, the police had not been called until at least a half an hour after his death. There were also fresh bruises on the body. Another rumor was that a car was heard speeding away from the house as well. No charges were ever brought against anyone in connection to the case.
George was dressed in a gray Clark Kent Suit from the tv show and his body was taken to Gates/Kingsley/Gates on Sepulveda. A funeral was held on Wednesday, June 30. Honorary pallbearers included Alan Ladd and Gig Young. He was cremated in Ohio, and ashes given to his mother, who then died in 1964. He left the bulk of his estate to Toni Mannix.