Despite the countless movies, cartoons, and comics the character has appeared in over the years, the Man of Steel’s first big break came with the debut of The Adventures of Superman radio show in 1940. This helped propel the character into the national spotlight and introduce him to an audience of kids and adults who didn’t know about his comic-book roots. The show invented many aspects of Superman lore that have since become unimpeachable facts, such as the characters of Perry White and Jimmy Olsen, along with Superman’s only weakness: kryptonite.

Actor Bud Collyer provided both the meek voice of Clark Kent and the authoritative bellow of Superman himself. Joan Alexander played Lois Lane to perfection. The radio show hit its peak in 1946 when an activist named Stetson Kennedy infiltrated the ranks of the KKK and gave information on the group to the writers of the show, who then created a story arc featuring the Man of Steel doing battle with the Klan. It brought the Klan into the national spotlight and was a huge blow to its image. This was the first example of Superman not only influencing pop culture, but American society at large.