Bud Collyer was an American radio actor/announcer who became one of the nation’s first major television game show stars. He is best remembered for his work as the voice of Superman/Clark Kent in three media: radio, film and television.
Collyer was born Clayton Johnson Heermance, Jr. in New York City to Clayton Johnson Heermance and Caroline Collyer. He originally sought a career in the law, attending Williams College and Fordham University law school. Though he became a law clerk after his graduation, making as much in a month of radio as he did in a year of clerking convinced him to make broadcasting his career, changing his surname and becoming a familiar voice on all three major radio networks by 1940. Among others, his radio roles as Terry and the Pirates, Renfrew of the Mounted, and Abie’s Irish Rose, not to mention announcing for a number of radio soap operas?including The Guiding Light and The Goldbergs, which was actually a serial comedy with dramatic overtones.
Collyer’s best-remembered radio role arrived in early 1940: the title role in The Adventures of Superman on the Mutual Broadcasting System, a role he did in the 1940s radio drama and subsequent Superman cartoons. Collyer supplied the voices of both Superman and his alter ego Clark Kent. A highlight of every Superman episode was the moment when Clark Kent transformed into Superman, an effect which Collyer conveyed by shifting voices while speaking the immortal phrase “This is a job for SUPERMAN!!”
Collyer got his first helping of game shows when he co-hosted ABC’s Break the Bank with future Miss America Pageant mainstay Bert Parks; and, when he was picked to host the radio original of the Mark Goodson-Bill Todman team’s first game, Winner Take All?the latter also becoming, in due course, the first hosting seat for another game show titan, Bill Cullen.