SIEGEL, JEROME (October 17, 1914 - January 28, 1996), was a comic book writer who co-created Superman alongside JOSEPH SHUSTER. Siegel, the youngest of six children, was born in Cleveland, Ohio. His parents, Michel and Sarah Siegel, were Jewish immigrants who fled from anti-Semitism in their home of Lithuania and started a small clothing store. As a child, Siegel immersed himself in stories from newspapers, and consistently wrote in to be featured in local columns. Siegel first experienced the thrill of being published at age 12, with a short letter in the "Seckatary Hawkins" page in the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER in 1926.
When the family moved to GLENVILLE in 1928, a teenage Siegel spent much of his time writing stories on his typewriter or with a nose buried in a science fiction magazine. In his first year at Glenville High School, Siegel devoted himself to the school’s local newspaper, The Glenville Torch, where he practiced writing short and captivating short stories and serialized crime dramas for a young audience. Around 1930, Siegel met classmate Joseph Shuster, and the two bonded over movies, science fiction, and of course - comic books. Shuster’s penchant for drawing paired with Siegel’s storytelling proved to be a harmonious combination, and the duo became prolific contributors to The Torch. In 1933, Siegel aimed to expand his reach by self publishing a magazine titled Science Fiction. Within it, Siegel and Shuster unveiled their newest short story collaboration: “The Reign of Superman.” Beginning in 1935 the pair began selling comics to National Allied Publications, and spent years attempting to make Superman a daily comic strip.
Finally, in 1938, Superman was featured by DC Comics as a storyline in Action Comics #1. Soon after as part of their initial agreement, Siegel and Shuster sold the rights of Superman to the publisher for $130 and continued working at DC. This would soon initiate a decades long legal battle between the publisher and the creators. In 1939 Siegel met Bella Lifshitz, and the two married June 10, 1939. Siegel’s career and comfortable life and home were interrupted amidst the turmoil of WWII, when the writer was drafted and shipped off to Hawaii in 1943. Entering the Army as a technician, Siegel’s skill with words saw him quickly assigned to the Pacific edition of the major military publication Stars and Stripes. His popular comedic column “Take a Break with T/5 Jerry Siegel” saw Siegel making witty observations about the war.
Siegel returned to Cleveland after the war to meet his firstborn, Michael. While receiving decent pay writing comics, bills and debts still racked up. Siegel soon became disenchanted with his treatment at DC Comics, and left the company with Shuster to pursue the unsuccessful comic strip Funnyman. In 1948 he separated from Bella Siegel, but quickly remarried Joanne Carter - the original model and inspiration behind Superman character Lois Lane. In 1951, the new couple welcomed a daughter, Laura, into the family. Siegel continued to fight to claim the rights of Superman, even returning to DC Comics shortly in 1959, but found no legal success. Only in 1975 after a publicity campaign did Siegel settle for a stipend, thus ending his unsuccessful bid for ownership of his childhood creation.
In 1968, Siegel and his family moved to California where he struggled with debt and an inability to find work. Siegel never gave up on the comic book industry, and continued to search for positions with other publishers while enjoying life with his wife. Shuster later joined Siegel in San Diego, moving in across the street and harkening back to their high school days. Jerry Siegel died January 28, 1996 of a heart attack and was buried in the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. Siegel and Shuster are now credited on all Superman-related products.