Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lola Lane and Lois Lane

Lola Lane was one of the famous Lane sisters. She played a girl reporter named "Torchy Blane" in the movies and it is thought that the character of "Lois Lane" is named after her. The name "Lola Lane" was even used for a daughter of Lois Lane and Superman in an "imaginary story" that was not part of the usual continuity.

Priscilla Lane, Rosemary Lane, Lola Lane, Gale Page


Torchy Blane was a girl reporter in a 1930's movie series. Jerry Siegel, who created Lois Lane and Superman with illustrator Joe Shuster, was so smitten with Torchy’s feisty charms that she became a model for Lois’ rough-and-tumble, no-nonsense attitude. He said as much in a letter to Time magazine that was meant to give credit where credit was due.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Torchy Blane is a fictional female reporter who appeared in a series of light "B" films during the late 1930s, which were mixtures of mystery, action, adventure and fun.
During the pre-war period, the job of newspaper reporter was one of the few movie role models that portrayed intelligent, career-oriented women. Of these role models, Torchy Blane was perhaps the best known. The typical plot has the resilient, very-fast-talking Torchy solving the crime before her less-than-perceptive beau, the loud mouthed police detective Steve McBride.
Torchy was loosely based on the male character Kennedy in the MacBride and Kennedy stories by Louis Frederick Nebel, although Torchy was more compatible with the Hays code than the drunkard Kennedy.
In all but two of the films, Torchy Blane was played by Glenda Farrell, and Steve McBride by Barton MacLane.
Lola Lane played Torchy in Torchy Blane in Panama with Paul Kelly as McBride. Torchy Blane was Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel's inspiration for the personality of the character of Lois Lane.[1] Siegel based Lois Lane's name on Torchy actress Lola Lane.
In the final film of the series, Torchy Plays with Dynamite, Jane Wyman was Torchy, and Allen Jenkins Lt. Steve McBride.
The character of Torchy Blane appeared in the following Warner Brothers and First National films:
ReleasedFilm titleRun timeStarring as
Torchy BlaneSteve McBride
1937Smart Blonde59 minGlenda FarrellBarton MacLane
Fly-Away Baby60 min
The Adventurous Blonde61 min
1938Blondes At Work63 min
Torchy Blane in Panama59 minLola LanePaul Kelly
Torchy Gets Her Man63 minGlenda FarrellBarton MacLane
1939Torchy Blane in Chinatown58 min
Torchy Runs for Mayor60 min
Torchy Blane ... Playing with Dynamite59 minJane WymanAllen Jenkins


  1. ^ Letters to the Editor, Time magazine (May 30, 1988), pp. 6-7.

 External links

As of 2009, Turner Classic Movies have made a number of original trailers freely available online at their web site.

Also on wikipedia, under "Cultural References" on the "Lane Sisters" entry:

Lois Lane, Superman's girlfriend, was named after Lola Lane, who played "Torchy Blane" a fictional reporter who inspired Lois' character, in one of the 1930s films ( Footnote: Letters to the Editor, Time magazine (May 30, 1988), pp. 6-7. )  This presumably is the letter by Jerry Siegel that is mentioned above.

 Glenda Farrell had actually played about the same girl reporter character in the movie MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM in 1933, some time before the Torchy Blane series began.

Fay Wray at left, Glenda Farrell center, Lionel Atwill at right.

Lola Lane as Torchy Blane

Lola Lane in the 1930's.

Autographed picture of Lola Lane at the Brown Derby.

Lola Lane later married Roland West, who had been the partner of Thelma Todd in her sidewalk cafe and continued to operate it after her death. After his death in 1952, Lola Lane became the owner of the sidewalk cafe.

Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Cafe

Thelma Todd at the Sidewalk Cafe.

Interior of Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Cafe.


The original Lois Lane by the original artist, Joe Shuster.

My brother Dale has said they used to draw Lois Lane to look like Judy Garland.

After Noel Neill started playing Lois Lane, they drew the character to look like her.

MAD parody of Superman with art by Wally Wood.

Here we see Noel Neill in the same costume Wally Wood drew Lois Lane in.

Bill Ward's blonde bombshell was named "Torchy", too. And her last name was "Todd". But she was really like another version of the "Irma" character that Marie Wilson played. Still, I wonder who she was named after.
 Trailer for TORCHY BLANE IN PANAMA, with Lola Lane as Torchy Blane:


Before Lois Lane, Torchy Blane Got The Scoop:

Discussion of origins of Lois Lane:


Lane Sisters at wikipedia:

Priscilla Lane fan club:

My fan club for Noel Neill:


  1. While Lois Lane was indeed named after Lola Lane, she was based on Glenda Farrell's portrayal of Torchy Blane, not Lola Lane's. Jerry Siegel confirmed this in the letter to TIME Magazine that you mentioned that Wikipedia had cited. Here it is:

    "Thank you for saying "Happy Birthday" to Superman [SHOW BUSINESS, March 14]. Joe Shuster and I, the co-creators of Superman appreciate it. My wife Joanne was Joe's original art model for Superman's girlfriend Lois Lane back in the 1930s. Our heroine was, of course, a working girl whose priority was grabbing scoops. What inspired me in the creation was Glenda Farrell, the movie star who portrayed Torchy Blane, a gutsy, beautiful headline-hunting reporter, in a series of exciting motion pictures. Because the name of the actress Lola Lane (who also played Torchy) appealed to me, I called my character Lois Lane. Strangely, the characterization of Lois is amazingly like the real-life personality of my lovely wife.
    Jerry Siegel
    Los Angeles"

    Note that he said:

    "What inspired me in the creation was Glenda Farrell, the movie star who portrayed Torchy Blane"

    He is specifically citing Glenda Farrell's portrayal of Torchy Blane as his inspiration, not just the Torchy Blane character. He also said:

    "Because the name of the actress Lola Lane (who also played Torchy) appealed to me, I called my character Lois Lane."

    This specifies that he based only the name of Lois Lane on Lola Lane.

    When Joanne Carter Siegel (Jerry Siegel's wife and the original art model for Lois Lane) was asked if Jerry Siegel had gotten the inspiration for Lois Lane from Rosalind Russell's performance in "His Girl Friday", she replied:

    "He got the inspiration for Lois Lane from a movie star before Rosalind Russell. Her name was Glenda Farrell and she played a girl reporter, very fast- talking, and she always got the story."

    I'm not sure if Lois Lane was ever drawn to look like Judy Garland. Originally, Lois was drawn to look like Joanne Carter (who later married Jerry Siegel and thus became Joanne Carter Siegel). In fact, the pencil sketch of Lois that you posted is a drawing of Joanne Carter. Lois looked like Joanne Carter in the comics for several years, and in all the Fleischer Superman cartoons. Later on, different artists began to draw her differently. I'm not aware of whether or not she was ever drawn to look like Judy Garland.

  2. Thanks, hbenthow. I don't know if I've actually read that letter to TIME, although I remember references to it. I can believe that Glenda Farrell's performance was more of an influence on the character of Lois Lane as she was the one who most often played Lois Lane, but that wasn't in the wikipedia article that I used here.

    It's not hard for me to believe that Lois Lane might also have been drawn of Judy Garland as my brother thought, but I don't really know anything about that, except that the character does appear to be similar to Judy Garland in some of the comics. - Benny Drinnon

    1. "I can believe that Glenda Farrell's performance was more of an influence on the character of Lois Lane as she was the one who most often played Torchy BLane, but that wasn't in the wikipedia article that I used here."

      Glenda Farrell played Torchy Blane in seven movies, while Lola Lane and Jane Wyman were each in only one. Glenda Farrell was replaced with Lola Lane because her Warner Brothers contract had expired. Audiences didn't accept Lola Lane as Torchy, and "Torchy Blane in Panama" was less than successful. Glenda Farrell was brought back, and starred in several more Torchy Blane movies. She was then replaced again, this time by Jane Wyman (who had previously played a bit part in the first Torchy BLane movie). Like Lola Lane, Jane Wyman was not accepted in the role by audiences, and as the studio could not get Glenda Farrell back, "Torchy Blane..Playing With Dynamite" is reputed to have killed the series.

      Here are a few clips from the first Torchy Blane movie:

      And here is the trailer to the one starring Lola Lane:

    2. I added the trailer for TORCHY BLANE IN PANAMA to the blog, that's the one with Lola Lane. I think that greatly improves the blog. - Benny Drinnon

  3. I should have said Glenda Farrel was the main one that played Torchy Blane, not Lois Lane. - Benny Drinnon