If you're a Millennial, when you think of Superman, you most likely think of Dean Cain, who played Clark Kent in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman between 1993 and 1997, Tom Welling in Smallville (2001—2011), or Henry Cavill, who first donned the famous red cape in 2013's Man of Steel. For the generations before, not only did Superman look and sound different, the role came with a -- dun-dun-duuun! -- curse.
The Superman jinx started with Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who created the character for Action Comics #1, which came out in June 1938. Not only were the duo not fairly compensated in royalties for the invention of Clark Kent, but Shuster's career flatlined shortly afterwards. By the 1950s, the artist's deteriorating eyesight had forced him out of comic books entirely, and he eventually became almost completely blind.
Max and Dave Fleischer were the next duo to suffer, producing a series of Superman cartoons for Paramount between 1941 and 1943. Not only did the brothers fall out in such a big way during the process that their partnership was permanently severed, but Max -- despite also inventing Betty Boop and producing Popeye cartoons -- ultimately died in abject poverty. After what had been a prolific career in animation, Max only produced five more projects after working on Superman.
Kirk Alyn, TV's first Superman, found brief success playing the character, but was irreversibly typecast afterwards. He failed to find substantial work ever again, despite having been successful on Broadway before taking the role. In 1988, in an interview with the Associated Press, he said simply: "I couldn't get another job."
Misfortune also befell TV's second Superman, George Reeves. The actor took on the role in 1951 and continued to play the superhero on screen and stage until his suspicious death in 1959. Reeves was found dead from a gunshot wound, days before he was due to get married. His death was ruled a suicide, despite the fact that his fingerprints were never found on the weapon that killed him. His tragic story was immortalized in 2006's Hollywoodland. He was just 45.