Superman's creators once lived in University Heights

This fall, Cleveland will celebrate Superman, the world’s first comic book superhero, with Superman’s Cleveland, Sept. 6 through Nov. 2. Scholars, comic book lovers, and fans can partake of almost two months of Superman-focused book discussions, comics-making workshops, live interviews with creators, and more. 

The city of University Heights shares in the legacy. Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, Superman's creators, moved from Glenville to University Heights in the 1940s, as they began to achieve some success.

Shuster and Siegel created Superman in 1933, as high school students in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood.

In 1938, their Superman story was chosen as the cover feature of National's Action Comics #1. In January 1939, Siegel and Shuster initiated a daily newspaper comic strip. A separate Sunday strip was added in November 1939. By 1941, the McClure Newspaper Syndicate had placed the strip in hundreds of newspapers. The strips ran continuously until May 1966.

In December 1941, the Shuster family purchased the perhaps unfinished house being constructed at 3866 Tyndall Road. Siegel and his wife, Bella, purchased a lot at 2402 Glendon Road in February 1940, as that neighborhood was being developed. Tax records indicate that they were the ones who built the house.

At its peak, the Superman comic strip appeared in more than 300 daily newspapers and 90 Sunday papers, with a readership that exceeded 20 million. But, Siegel and Shuster did not profit further from their creation. As part of their 1938 deal with Action Comics, they had sold the rights to their Superman character for $130.

The Shusters lived in their University Heights house only until September 1943. In June 1943, Siegel, then 28, was drafted into the U.S. Army and stationed in Hawaii. His wife and son continued to live in the house until he and Bella divorced in 1948. The property was placed in a trust and purchased by Herbert Rebman, a photographer, in November of that year.

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Deanna Bremer Fisher

Deanna Bremer Fisher works in the mayor's office at the city of University Heights.

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Volume 16, Issue 9, Posted 12:06 PM, 09.02.2023