Saturday, July 11, 2015

Jay Emmett, negotiated Siegel and Shuster’s Superman settlement, 1928-2015

Twice in a two-week period, I was too late.

My list of pop culture figures to track down and interview was reduced by two with the deaths of actress Amanda Peterson and former Warner Communications (now Time Warner) executive Jay Emmett, who passed on 6/22/15. (Yes, this is the world
s only post that mentions both of them.)

I’ve already quoted Jay here (in 2014), and that quotation is worth reposting at any time, not just in light of the circumstances. In 1975, when Jay was Executive VP of Warner Communications, he said of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster: “Legally, nothing has to be done. Morally, I think something should be done, and we will do it out of compassion.”

And they did. And ever since, fans have debated how fair the settlement was. In one of my earliest blog posts, I sketched out ways (according to me) in which Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were “right” and “wrong” and the ways in which the company that is now DC Entertainment was “right” and “wrong.”

When I quoted Jay last year, I also asked out loud where he had gone. Then I immediately tried to answer my own question, surprised that it took me that long to think to do so. Thanks to fellow Superman author Larry Tye, I did reach out to Jay with an interview request, but did not hear back. I followed up, but again, no reply. I now know that he was not well of late, though perhaps he would not have responded in any case; another Superman author/friend, Brad Ricca, said it’s possible Jay was bound by a NDA.

Whatever you think of the Siegel and Shuster settlement, it was something—far more than Bill Finger got. If you’re a Superman fan, you owe Jay a debt of gratitude. Apparently he was a heckuva guy in his own right.

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