Jack Larson, Of “Superman” Fame, Is Dead

Jack Larson has died. He was known to the world from his portrayal of cub reporter Jimmy Olsen in the 1950s TV incarnation of “Superman.” But I met him through Virgil Thomson. After Virgil did my musical portrait in 1984, he sometimes invited me to his Chelsea Hotel apartment, where he lived in quite baronial splendor, for drinks. On one such occasion: there was Larson. He wrote the libretto for Virgil’s third and last opera, “Lord Byron,” commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in New York. It had its premiere in 1972 at the Juilliard Theater, and some critics compared Larson’s work unfavorably with that of Virgil’s previous collaborator, Gertrude Stein. I asked Virgil about the slight. He rolled his eyes. “What do critics know?” he said. Virgil, in case you’re illiterate, was the leading music critic in New York in the postwar period. Pace tua, Jack.

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