An irony is that Bob Holiday died not long after Dick Gautier. As far as Broadway is concerned, both were forgettable hunks, each known for merely supplying some beefcake for a musical hunk of hash.
Gautier died January 13th, and Bob Holiday died on January 27th (he was born in Brooklyn, November 12, 1932).
Bob Holiday was the 4th guy to become famous as Superman. There was Bud Collyer on radio (and in the theatrical cartoons), Kirk Alyn (in movie serials), George Reeves (on TV) and then, on Broadway, Bob Holiday.
“It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman” didn’t last very long on Broadway. The music and lyrics were from Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, who reached their peak with another pop musical some years earlier, “Bye Bye Birdie,” with Dick Gautier.
Unlike Gautier, who managed to stay in show business, Holiday didn’t hang around all that long. Realizing that there was no shortage of rugged and handsome stage singers (from John Raitt to Robert Goulet and back), and knowing there was a limited amount of time for him to play Prince Charming or Lancelot, he formed his own business, and did very well for over 30 years.
Bob was only five when he first appeared in a talent show. It was up in the Catskills, a tedious 3 hour ride from Brooklyn. He sang “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.” He later tried “The Ted Mack Amateur Hour,” and then after Army service, worked nightclubs. His good looks got him work singing and being a stooge for Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren, both attractions in nightclubs. A neat bit of trivia: Bob once worked as an MC for “The Colony Club,” owned by Lee Harvey Oswald assassin Jack Ruby.
He parlayed a role in “Fiorello” into the part of Superman, and was almost larger than life (6’4”) on that Broadway stage. As you’ll hear below, there was room for both the Zap Bang Wallop camp of a singing superhero, and the angst of a lonely guy with an alter ego. The show arrived in March of 1966, so yes, you’ll hear in the music a dash of campy “Batman” antics, and almost cliche-type action music in the overture.
While the show didn’t last on Broadway (just 129 performances) there was enough curiosity for him to take the show on the road, and play Superman in summer stock productions. He turned up in Los Angeles for a production of “Promises Promises,” but eventually found a lucrative business as a home builder in Lake Wallenpaupack, Pennsylvania. Quite a few home owners got a kick out of being able to say, “Superman built my home!” And Bob got a kick out of the original cast album still being around, and Superman fanatics begging for his autograph. He even made some appearances at Superman memorabilia events.
There’s more info at Bob’s website, SupermanBobHolliday.
BOB HOLIDAY Overture and 2 SUPERMAN songs