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Q: In the "Adventures of Superman" series on TV in the 1950s, Clark Kent's mother was called Sarah. I thought that her name was Martha in the comic books and movies. Am I wrong?
A: You are not wrong, although the name of Clark's mother took many forms, as Larry Tye points out in his book "Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero." For example, one early, unpublished draft had Superman's adoptive parents named Sam and Molly. In the first issue of the "Superman" comic book, it's Mary and the dad has no first name. In a 1948 comic, the names were John and Mary, but a year later John became Silas. A "Superman" novel had them as Sarah and Eben, names that carried over to the TV series. Tye says, "It would take until the 1950s for the couple to settle in as Jonathan and Martha" — unless you count, say, the John and Mary Kent on a parallel Earth in stories.

Mysteries mystery

Q: I have read Sue Grafton's alphabet mysteries ("A is for Alibi," etc.). But she died before writing "Z Is for Zero." Is there a draft or something her estate could publish posthumously? And I keep thinking these mysteries would make a great "Masterpiece" serial; is anything happening?
A: Before Grafton's death from cancer in December 2017, she had written alphabetized books featuring detective Kinsey Millhone through the letter Y. A book called "Z Is for Zero" was announced, but Grafton had not started it, and the family said that Grafton absolutely did not want a ghostwriter using her name. So, the family said, "The alphabet now ends at Y."

As for adaptations, Grafton had refused to sell screen rights to the alphabet novels. In one published interview, she said, "I don't want an actress' face superimposed on Kinsey's. Most of her fans have a very clear sense of what she looks like, so the minute an actress steps into the role, 50% of my readers would be up in arms, claiming she was wrong for the part."

But in 2021, Grafton's husband, Steve Humphrey, announced a deal with A+E Studios for adaptations. He said that his wife, who had written scripts in Hollywood in the 1980s, was concerned that her stories and characters would be diminished by adaptations. "But as the power of television has transformed over time, so too has the quality from writing and acting to the production values and viewing experience." So we'll have to wait and see.

'Side' effects

Q: In the early 1960s, there was a program called "East Side/West Side" with George C. Scott. Is it available anywhere?
A: The drama series aired on CBS for a single season in 1963-64. Scott played a social worker in New York City; the cast included Cicely Tyson and Elizabeth Wilson. Audiences did not take to its grim stories, but it was nominated for eight Emmys, including for best drama series; it won for best drama directing. I have found the episodes on YouTube; the picture and sound aren't great, but it is watchable.

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