It should go without saying that actress Dana Delany has a knack for playing strong female characters. Right now Delany can be seen starring as Edith Roosevelt, wife of 26th president U.S. Teddy Roosevelt, in the new HBO Max mini-series The American Guest. A quarter of a century earlier though, Delany portrayed another influential American female icon when she voiced intrepid reporter Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated Series.
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the show, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has released Superman: The Complete Animated Series on a remastered Blu-ray, which is now available. The Beat had the chance to speak with Dana Delany about her experience working on such a groundbreaking animated series. During our conversation, Delany not only recalled how much Lois Lane meant to her as a child but also discussed the recent DC Comics publishing news that Jon Kent, the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, would be coming out as bisexual which made national headlines.
Taimur Dar: I was watching a retrospective on the new Superman: TAS Blu-ray and voice director Andrea Romano revealed something I didn’t know before. Apparently you actually cried when you auditioned for the role because Lois Lane was a character you dreamed about playing. I really want to know when and how your love of Lois Lane began and why the character means so much to you.
Dana Delany: God, it’s so funny I had forgotten that! Just hearing you say that made me cry again! [Laughs]. I love Andrea. I kind of grew up with Lois. When I was a kid, if you could imagine in the 1950s, I used to watch when I was four years old the TV series with Phyllis Coates and then Noel Neill playing Lois. Every Sunday we’d go to church and my reward would be that I’d get to go to the drugstore and buy a comic book which was 10 cents! Lois had her own comic book. Yeah, I read the Superman comics too but I always got my Lois Lane comics because she was really my idol. She was a career girl who was really sassy and no-nonsense [and] was in charge of her own life. When I auditioned for the part of Lois Lane I was so thrilled to get to say, “My name is Dana Delany and I’m reading for Lois Lane.” Just to say that was exciting to me.
Dar: A lot of the cartoons I watched growing up featured the “damsel in distress” trope like Daphne in Scooby-Doo or April O’Neil in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I think we’ve definitely seen a shift in entertainment away from that cliché.
In Superman: The Animated Series, Lois was definitely captured a fair amount of times but I felt she still retained her inherent inner strength. How did you want to defy the image of Lois simply being a mere damsel in distress through your performance?
Delany: I have to say that really was in the writing. I think that Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, and Bruce Timm created that right from the first episode. Lois was very tough-talking and in charge. I watched a few episodes last night and it really brought it home to me that Superman only saved her when all other options failed. It was almost only when she was falling out of a window and he had to catch her. She was clever, witty, and would punch somebody out when she needed to. She was very much her own person. She definitely was not a damsel in distress.
Dar: Completely agree! In the last few years, comic writers seem to have honed in on Lois Lane in regards to how truth and journalism have been under attack in the last few years. Do you think the importance of Lois Lane has grown in this modern era?
Delany: To me, she’s always been important so I don’t think that’s changed in my mind. [Laughs]. Superman has always been political. The comic was originally drawn and created in response to the political world of the time with anti-Semitism and Nazism. I feel like Lois Lane’s character was always political. When we did the series the Gulf War had just happened and we very much dealt with that. We were dealing with Lex Luthor and his weapons of mass destruction. So I feel like it’s always been timely. It’s right in whatever time we’re in that Lois and the investigative reporter should always reflect that. I remember when Watergate happened in ‘72/’74 that character also reflected that. It’s always been of our time.
Dar: Voice director Andrea Romano always preferred to record actors ensemble even though it wasn’t always possible for Tim Daly towards the end of the series as his on-camera work prevented him from recording together with the other actors. What was the ensemble recording experience like for you?
Delany: It was fantastic. As actors we don’t get to do that a lot these days. Andrea insisted if people could be in the room, they should be in the room. It was like old time radio theater. I just imagined I was in the Mercury Theatre with Orson Welles. It was so much fun to do that. And to get to work with these great actors that I had idolized my whole life like Malcolm McDowell, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Ed Asner, and Olivia Hussey. These are people that I grew up watching. So for me it was a huge thrill. I would get in the room and just be in awe.
Tim and I had the hardest time because we would start laughing so hard because we always had to make these grunts and groans, especially Tim. One great thing about the Superman that these guys created is that he was human in many aspects. He had to struggle when he was lifting a ship or something. It was not easy for him. And I thought it was really smart of them to do that. Superman had to show some effort. But poor Tim, he was always grunting and groaning. We used to joke that it sounded like he was on the toilet!
Dar: A few weeks ago, DC Comics publishing announced that Jon Kent, the son of Superman/Lois would be coming out as bisexual. While the usual detractors came out of the woodwork to voice their opposition, you actually praised the storyline through a Twitter post. It actually made a big impact for fans, regardless of their sexuality, to hear positive affirmation from the voice of Lois Lane herself. Could you talk more about positive messaging in regards to Jon Kent bisexual story?
Delany: I think it’s great! Also, I love that when I posted I got it wrong and said, “Jon Kent is gay.” Pretty quickly people said, ‘No, he’s bisexual.” I said, “Of course I got it wrong. Mothers always get it wrong!”
Think about it. He’s the son of a man who wears tights. People could accept that. It should reflect the times. I think it’s a great example for young people. It’s a great example of where we are in the world. Superman has always been about acceptance. Always. I really do not fathom why people have a problem with it.
Bi-sexual. Moms are the last to get it right.
— Dana Delany (@DanaDelany) October 11, 2021