Perry White

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Perry White
Jimmy Olsen and Perry White, from Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #22 (August 1957). Art by Curt Swan.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Superman #7
(November 1940)
Created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster
In-story information
Team affiliations Daily Planet
Galaxy Communications
Supporting character of Superman
Lois Lane
Jimmy Olsen
Abilities None

Perry White is a fictional character who appears in the Superman comics. White is the Editor-in-Chief of the Metropolis newspaper the Daily Planet.

White maintains very high ethical and journalistic standards. He is an archetypal image of the tough, irascible but fairminded boss. White's most well known catchphrases are "Great Caesar's ghost!" and "Don't call me chief!".

According to post-Crisis comic-book continuity, White was an award-winning journalist who served a term as Mayor of Metropolis. He worked as an assistant editor on the Metropolis Daily Star under George Taylor[1] before becoming editor of the Planet.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Radio serial[edit]

The character of Perry White was created for the radio serial, The Adventures of Superman and portrayed by actor Julian Noa. The character made his initial appearance in the second episode of the series, which aired February 14, 1940. The character transitioned into the Superman comic book later that year.

Golden and Silver Age history[edit]

The earliest Superman comics present Clark Kent and Lois Lane as working for the Daily Star for an editor named George Taylor. However, this was soon changed, with Perry White first appearing as the editor of a newly renamed Daily Planet.[2]

In the 1960s and 1970s DC Comics, after the multiverse method of continuity tracking was implemented, the above inconsistency was explained away by declaring that on Earth-One (the Silver Age universe), Perry White is Clark and Lois' employer at the Daily Planet, while on Earth-Two (the Golden Age universe), George Taylor is that world's editor-in-chief of the Daily Star. The Perry White of Earth-Two is a lead reporter for the Daily Star and, according to a Superman Family tale, has "filled in" as editor from time to time while Taylor was away.

Prior to the changes detailed in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Perry begins his career as a freelance reporter for various newspapers, including a Chicago newspaper[3] and Gotham City's Gotham Gazette.[4] He eventually goes to work at the Daily Planet as a reporter, and earns his first Pulitzer Prize by being the first to write about Superboy's extraterrestrial origins, thanks to an exclusive interview with the Boy of Steel.[5]

Later still, Perry's reporting skills earn more praise after being the first to discover that Superboy has moved to Metropolis from Smallville. (Superboy had intended to keep his move quiet for an undefined period of time, so as not to alert anyone to Superboy and Clark Kent leaving Smallville around the same time.)[6]

Finally, during Clark Kent's junior year of college, Perry is promoted to editor-in-chief of the newspaper, after the retirement of the paper's previous editor, the Earth-One version of George Taylor.[7]

In the early 1970s, the Daily Planet is bought by Morgan Edge, president of the media conglomerate Galaxy Communications, with much of Perry's power in running the paper overtaken by Edge.[8] In the months just prior to the Crisis "reboot" in 1985, it is implied that Perry White is beginning to succumb to Alzheimer's disease, manifesting in increased forgetfulness and confusion.

Modern Age history[edit]

With writer John Byrne's post-Crisis on Infinite Earths revamp of Superman's origin in the Man of Steel miniseries and his subsequent Superman comics, Perry's history was fleshed out more fully.

Post-Crisis, Perry is born in Metropolis' Suicide Slum area, growing up with a father missing after heading off to war overseas. He becomes a copy boy at the Daily Planet, beginning a lifetime career that will take him up the newspaper's career ladder. Perry goes to school with Lex Luthor while they are children (Luthor was also born in Suicide Slum).

After Luthor becomes a successful businessman, he begins diversifying his holdings in his newly founded LexCorp company, which includes buying the Daily Planet. Luthor soon sells it after deciding to pursue technology and television investments. Turning down an offer from Luthor to become part of Luthor's new television station WLEX, Perry finds an investor who saves the Daily Planet on the condition that Perry is promoted from reporter to managing editor. The entire episode, not the least of which is what Perry felt as having been forced out of his active writing career, leaves Perry bitter and angry with Luthor.

Perry marries Alice Spencer and has a son, Jerry White. Much later, after Jerry is fully grown, Perry learns that Lex Luthor is Jerry's biological father. Luthor briefly seduces Alice while Perry is overseas reporting on a war and thought to be killed.

Perry White's two greatest moves as editor are hiring Lois Lane and (later) Clark Kent. When she was 15, Lois had impressed Perry with her persistence in trying to get employment at the newspaper (by lying about her age). After Jerry White dies from a gunshot, Perry and Alice grieve for some time, resulting in Perry taking a leave of absence from the Daily Planet.

Later, Perry and Alice adopt an orphaned African-American boy named Keith Robert Parks, who soon has his name changed to Keith Robert White. At about this time, Perry takes another leave of absence for lung cancer treatment, putting Clark Kent in charge as the Planet's temporary editor. After many grueling months of chemotherapy, the cancer goes into remission.

One of Perry's proudest moments is attending the wedding of Lois and Clark. He sits in the front row beside Lois' parents (Lois considers him as close a relative as her own family).[9]

As the paper continues to struggle, the Planet's owner Franklin Stern sells the paper to Lex Luthor. Luthor, acting out of pure malice, dismantles the paper. He fires everyone except Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and two others who are relocated to Lexcom, Lex' new Internet-based news company. Fortunately, shortly thereafter, Lex sells the Planet to Bruce Wayne for $1 (thanks to a secret deal with Lois Lane). White is hired back as editor-in-chief, and the entire former staff are hired back as well.

Though Perry's knowledge of Clark's alter ego is uncertain, it is known that he has found a dusty suit of his star reporter's clothes in a supply closet, including his passport. For this reason, Perry may well suspect that Clark and Superman are the same person, but due to his personal admiration for both Clark and Superman, he has never confided this suspicion or knowledge to anybody. Bruce Wayne believes that because of White's superior skill as a reporter, he knows that Clark is Superman ("Perry White is too good a reporter not to have uncovered Clark's secret. And yet, he acts otherwise... reminding me how good a detective Jim Gordon is back in Gotham City..." -Batman: Hush).

Perry's editorship keeps the Daily Planet as one of the few newspapers that dare to heavily criticize Luthor (even after Luthor's successful election as President of the United States).

Because of the changes in Superman's history in recent years, including 2003-2004's miniseries Birthright, much is not certain about Perry's history.

In Final Crisis #2, Lois and Perry are caught in an apparently fatal explosion triggered by Clayface at the Daily Planet. As of Final Crisis #3, it was revealed that Perry is alive, but on life support. Perry has since then recovered however, and is now back to running the paper.

When the world begins to grow increasingly more paranoid towards the new population of Kryptonians, Lois begins to investigate the conspiracies executed by the US Government, and her father General Lane in particular. However the government becomes aware of Lois' actions, and attempt to shut her down. As a result, Perry is unable to print any of Lois' stories because of General Lane's power. Unwilling to let this slide, Perry suggests that Lois 'quit' the paper so as to continue her investigation.[10]

Other Versions[edit]

DC Universe Online: Legends[edit]

In the limited comic series, DC Universe Online: Legends, Perry White was captured, alongside Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, in the Daily Planet by Brainiac, but was saved by Superman, with Lex Luthor in possession of the canister containing them.[11][12] Later, Perry became one of the people who have gained metahuman abilities from Braniac's Exobytes, transforming his body into a being of Ice and granting him Ice powers, which has surprised him.[13] Later he adopted the code name Frost.[14]

In other media[edit]

Live action[edit]

Kirk Alyn serials and The Adventures of Superman[edit]

Pierre Watkin was the first actor to play Perry White, in the two Superman serials starring Kirk Alyn from 1948 and 1950. In the 1950s television and radio series, as played by John Hamilton, Perry typically barked "Great Caesar's ghost!" when angry, exasperated or surprised. His other trademark line was "Don't call me 'chief'!" Both of these lines eventually became staples in the comics. In at least one episode, it is revealed that Perry has served a term as mayor of Metropolis before becoming editor-in-chief on the Planet.

Christopher Reeve films[edit]

In the 1978 film Superman: The Movie (and its three sequels from the 1980s), Jackie Cooper played Perry as a tough character, who never let his reporters forget he had worked for the Planet nearly all his life. The "don't call me 'chief'" line was worked into a gag about ordering coffee, and became "don't call me 'sugar'!" (when he orders a coffee with sugar, and Jimmy Olsen calls him chief and he tells him not to call him "sugar"). Cooper's Perry was also fond of aphorisms such as "A good reporter doesn't get great stories — a good reporter makes them great." In the commentary track for Superman, director Richard Donner reveals that Cooper got the role because he had a passport, and thus was able to be on set in a few hours, after Keenan Wynn, who was originally cast, suffered a heart attack.

Superboy[edit]

Perry White's son, T. J. White, was a supporting character in the Superboy television series. Perry White himself never appeared in the show; however, he did appear in the second issue of the tie-in comic book series, in which T.J. was kidnapped by an organized crime family on which Perry did an exposé.

Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman[edit]

In the 1990s television series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, as played by Lane Smith, Perry was a Baby Boomer with an abiding fondness for rock and roll, particularly Elvis Presley. Instead of "Great Caesar's ghost," he sometimes said "Great shades of Elvis!" and the comics briefly followed suit. In a subplot that carried over many episodes, Perry is portrayed as having marital difficulties with his wife Alice due to his dedication to the paper. The couple later reunite just before the series finale.

Smallville[edit]

Smallville, the successful TV series about the life of a younger Clark Kent before being Superman, featured their version of the character. In the season-three episode "Perry", Perry is portrayed by Michael McKean. In this, he is a former Daily Planet reporter who gets reduced to tabloid television after attempting to expose Lionel Luthor's corrupt dealings. He attempts to regain some of his old reputation by exposing Clark's powers, but his plan backfires when sunspot activity temporarily nullifies Clark's abilities, although Clark's subsequent heroism despite his currently-powerless status prompts Perry to both abandon the idea that Clark has powers and cause him to consider turning over a new leaf, even offering to give Clark a recommendation if he looks into journalism as a career in future. The phrase "don't call me Chief" was worked into this episode, when White calls Sheriff Nancy Adams "Chief".

It's later implied in the season 4 episode "Gone" that Perry is working his way back up with an article on Lionel's conviction.

He reprised his role in the season 9 episode "Hostage" as the new boyfriend of the returning Martha Kent, who had moved to the Senate in Washington. In the series finale, it is shown that Perry White became the editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet. Michael McKean provided the voice of Perry White in the very last scene of the final episode but the actor himself wasn't seen on screen, although "Great Caesar's Ghost" was famously heard.

Saturday Night Live[edit]

Phil Hartman also played Perry White in a Superman spoof on Saturday Night Live in 1992. The sketch took place at Superman's funeral folllowing the events of The Death of Superman.

Superman Returns[edit]

In Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, Perry White was originally going to be portrayed by Hugh Laurie. But when it was determined that there would be a schedule conflict involving Laurie's TV series House (which was, incidentally, executive produced by Singer), Laurie was forced to drop out and Frank Langella stepped in to play Perry White. In this movie, Perry has a nephew, Richard White, who is engaged to Lois and serves as a father figure to her son Jason, although it is implied over the course of the film that Jason's biological father is Superman himself.

Man of Steel[edit]

Laurence Fishburne portrays Perry White in Man of Steel, making him the first African American to play Perry White in a live action film. While his position and personality doesn't deviate from the comics, his view of Superman is a tad different. Rather than seeing the existence of a powerful alien as a major scoop, he believes such a discovery will warrant a negative reaction to the people of Earth. At the film's climax, he and Steve Lombard aid a reporter named Jenny Jarwich when she was trapped under large debris. At the end, White introduces Lois and Lombard to Clark.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice[edit]

Fishburne will reprise his role in the sequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.[15]

Animation[edit]

The Superman Fleischer cartoons from the 1940s featured a Daily Planet editor without name, because at the time Perry White was used in the radio serial and George Taylor was featured in the comics.

The 1966 series The New Adventures of Superman featured the talented Jackson Beck providing the voice of the character.

Perry also appears in Super Friends, in the episode "Superfriends, Rest In Peace" of Challenge Of The Superfriends, when Superman tries to rescue him and Lois Lane from Luthor and Solomon Grundy.

The Superman 1988 TV series showed a Perry White modeled after his comic book counterpart but with a tough attitude, similar to the movie series, and was voiced by Stanley Ralph Ross.

DC animated universe[edit]

The 1990s Superman: The Animated Series featured Perry White played by voice-actor George Dzundza, that only interacted with the characters in the Daily Planet. This version of the character had cameos in the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited animated series. Dzundza reprised his role as Perry White in the video game Superman: Shadow of Apokolips and in the 2006 direct-to-video animated film Superman: Brainiac Attacks.

Superman: Doomsday[edit]

In Superman: Doomsday, Perry White is played by voice-actor Ray Wise. Here, he is bald, but shares the same characteristics as the comics-counterpart.

All-Star Superman[edit]

Perry White appeared in All-Star Superman, voiced by Edward Asner.

Batman the Brave and the Bold[edit]

Perry White appears in the episode "Battle of the Superheroes" saying his lines "Great Caesar's ghost" and "Don't call me Chief" voiced by Richard McGonagle.

Superman: Unbound[edit]

Perry appears in Superman: Unbound voice by Wade Williams.

Video games[edit]

Perry White's only video game appearances are Superman for the NES and Superman: Shadow of Apokolips for the GameCube and PlayStation 2, voiced again by George Dzundza.

References[edit]

  1. ^ ""Who's Who in the Superman Comics: The Daily Star," The Superman Homepage". Supermanhomepage.com. 2010-12-20. Retrieved 2010-12-25. 
  2. ^ Superman (volume 1) #7 (November–December 1940)
  3. ^ Superman (volume 1) #142 (January 1961)
  4. ^ World's Finest Comics #80 (January–February 1956)
  5. ^ New Adventures of Superboy #12 (December 1980)
  6. ^ Superman (volume 1) #366 (December 1981)
  7. ^ Superman: The Secret Years #4 (May 1985)
  8. ^ Superman (volume 1) #233 (January 1971)
  9. ^ Superman: The Wedding Album (December 1996)
  10. ^ Action Comics #884 (February 2010)
  11. ^ DC Universe Online Legends #2 (April 2011)
  12. ^ DC Universe Online Legends #9 (August 2011)
  13. ^ DC Universe Online Legends #10 (August 2011)
  14. ^ DC Universe Online Legends #20 (February 2012)
  15. ^ "SDCC '13: Zack Snyder Announces BATMAN/SUPERMAN; Check Out The Official Logo". July 20, 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 

External links[edit]