Perry began his career working for a Chicago newspaper, as well as a stint at the Gotham Gazette. He makes his way to the Daily Planet as a reporter and earns a Pulitzer Prize for a piece on Superboy. He becomes the editor when George Taylor resigns.
Perry White was born in the slum area of Metropolis. He never had a father figure, his dad going to war overseas. He worked as a copy boy at the Daily Planet where he would commit to this newspaper company, working his way up to editor. Perry also was friends with Lex Luthor when they were both young.
First written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Joe Shuster in 1940.
Perry White has stayed fairly consistent throughout his depictions in each age. He has two famous and common quotes which he usually shouts out:
- "Great Caesar's Ghost!"
- "Don't call me chief!"
Major Story Arcs
While working as a shoe shine boy in Chicago in the 1920s he meets Cyrus Martin, publisher of the Chicago Journal, who agrees to make him a reporter if White can bring him a scoop. With the anonymous help of a time traveling Superman, White gets his first headline story: 'Untouchable Stranger Foils Capone Mob!' for the Chicago Journal.
Early in his career as a reporter he investigates a string of racial related murders. Here, he meets Franklin Stern who had missing family members in the region. They get off to a rocky start, though Perry saves Franklin from a group called the Aryan Brotherhood. There were rumors that the Brotherhood experiments with genetics. Soon they find the Brotherhood's hidden lair and several black men who had been experimented on, as well as evidence of a plan to create a race of super men. Perry beats Franklin to getting published by getting the story first to the Daily Planet and wins the Pulitzer Prize for doing so. Perry and Franklin, howver, remain good friends.
When Lex buys the Daily Planet to expand LexCorp's holdings, he offers Perry a job, which is turned down. Perry finds an investor to save the Daily Planet, as long as Perry is promoted to editor.
Perry marries a woman named Alice Spencer. They have a son, Jerry White, and later, when he grows into an adult, Perry learns that Lex was Jerry's biological father. Lex had seduced Alice when Perry was reporting for a war and was thought to be dead. After Jerry White dies from a gunshot, Perry leaves the Daily Planet for a period of time. Perry and Alice later adopt an African-American child named Keith Robert, who later changes his name to Keith Robert White.
Lois Lane impresses Perry when she was fifteen. He hires her though she lied about her age to get her employment at the Daily Planet.
At one point, Perry has sick leave due to lung cancer, though after many months of chemotherapy, he gets better.
The paper continues to struggle, and the owner, Franklin Stern, sells it to Lex Luthor. Lex disowns the paper, firing everyone employed there except Lois, Jimmy Olsen, and two others who were to work at his company. Lex sells it to Bruce Wayne and Perry is hired back to his old position, the rest being hired back as well.
Perry suspects that Clark and Superman are the same person, but he has never been able to confide in anyone about it.
Powers and Abilities
It is usually not very necessary for him to have any powers or abilities in his role. He is an accomplished journalist and at some point in his past, White was a golden gloves boxer.
In The Adventures of Superman radio program of the 1940s and early 1950s, Perry made mention that he 'got his start' at a paper in Colorado. There he met 'Comanche' Joe, a native American oil baron who became a close friend.
The first appearance of Perry in visual media was in the animated Superman series from 1941 to 1943. His appearances in these animated shorts closely mirrored his comic book character, though in the animated series he was at best a minor character. He was voiced by Jackson Beck.
Perry's next appearance was in Columbia Pictures' 1948 serial Superman (and the subsequent 1950 return of the serial, Atom Man vs. Superman). This 15 episode serial had Pierre Watkin as Perry. Again, Perry's character had no major changes.
The Adventures of Superman series ran from 1952 to 1958 with the inimitable John Hamilton playing the part of Perry White. To date this was the most successful portrayal of Superman in visual culture, with certain aspects of John Hamilton's portrayal carrying through to other, future incarnations of the character--Hamilton portraying a far more hands-on Perry than previous iterations of the character.
In his next appearance, Perry would return to animation for The New Adventures of Superman in 1966 voiced by Ted Knight, which ran for one season.
A 5 episode Superman series ran in 1988 with Stanley Ralph Ross playing Perry.
The next significant appearance of Perry White would be in Lois and Clark: the New Adventures of Superman from 1993 to 1997. Lane Smith played a more personable, southern-inspired (though still demanding) Perry White.
While Lane Smith was playing Perry in live action, George Dzundza began voicing Perry White for the 1996-2000 Superman animated series.
The most current incarnation of Perry White was seen on Smallville, where it should be noted that in keeping with the prequel nature of the entire series, McKean plays a younger Perry than has been seen in roughly 20 years.
In 1978 the first of four Superman films came out all starring Christopher Reeve. The character of Perry White was played by Jackie Cooper in all four films.
Perry White's most recent film appearance was 2006's Superman Returns played by Frank Langella, where we almost see a return to the kinder, gentler Perry.