‘M*A*S*H’: One Actor Was the First Person To Appear in Public as Superman

by Taylor Cunningham

During its time on television, M*A*S*H hosted countless guest stars who had notable fame in Hollywood history, including one who, years prior, appeared as the first-ever in-person Superman.

In 1981, the classic TV series aired an emotional episode titled Blood Brothers. In it, Father Mulcahy prepares to host the highly-respected Cardinal Reardon to the 4077th.

When the Cardinal arrives, Father Mulcahy gives a passionate sermon on the duties of brotherhood during wartime before handing over the stage. And when Cardinal Reardon introduces himself, he notes that the father is “a tough act to follow.”

If DC fans look closely, they may realize that cardinal’s actor, Ray Middleton, has that chiseled handsomeness that only a hero like Superman has. And that face was something that didn’t go unnoticed during his younger years.

On July 3, 1939, Middleton made the world debut as the first out-of-disguise Clark Kent during Superman Day at the New York World’s Fair.

The First Superman Failed to Wear his Giant ‘S’

As the Des Moines Register reported in 2006, the M*A*S*H actor “made history as the legendary hero,” when he greeted children as Superman. Though, his costume failed to properly represent the character because it notably missed the giant “S” on his chest.

When Ray Middleton was pegged to play the “Man of Tomorrow” in the “World of Tomorrow” exhibit, the costume designers didn’t know how to dress him.

The first Superman comic was printed one year earlier. And in it, he already donned his famous tight-fitting blue, red and yellow garb. But for some reason, the designers never thought to reproduce that look for their hero in the flesh.

“Because the Superman costume was the first ever produced, no one was certain how it should look,” The Register wrote. “The outfit Middleton wore during his personal appearance had Superman written across the chest field emblem, trunks that were on the large size, tights, and lace-style boots.”

‘M*A*S*H’ Episode Featuring First Superman Also Starred Kevin Bacon

The first live-action Superman wasn’t the only notable star in Blood Brothers, either. The episode also starred Kevin Bacon years before he became an A-list celebrity.

While Father Mulcahy was panicking over the arrival of the cardinal, Hawkeye was dealing with another issue in the episode. As he was trying to find a blood donor for a hurt soldier, he asked Pvt. Gary Sturgis to offer him. But the Pvt. refused.

As it turned out, doctors had recently diagnosed him with terminal leukemia and he couldn’t help the soldier in need.

The appearance was Bacon’s third credited part ever. And we’d like to think it played a part in his casting as greaser Darrel Curtis in The Outsiders two years later.