Most Superman fans know that Jerry Siegel’s wife Joanne was the model for how Lois Lane looked in the early comics, but Lois’s attitude and personality were often mistakenly attributed to a classmate from Siegel and Shuster’s Cleveland high school.
However, Siegel himself set the record straight with a letter to the editor of Time Magazine April 1988, a publication that had also printed the erroneous classmate story.
Our heroine was, of course, a working girl whose priority was grabbing scoops. What inspired me in the creation was Glenda Farrell, the movie star who portrayed Torchy Blane, a gutsy, beautiful headline-hunting reporter, in a series of exciting motion pictures.
Siegel added, “Because the name of the actress Lola Lane (who ironically played Torchy later) appealed to me, I called my character Lois Lane.” Torchy, like Lois, did the requisite snooping, cajoling, and physically dangerous stunts to get a scoop and she also had her own non-super powered version of Superman in the person of Detective Lieutenant Steve McBride. She called him “Skipper” as an endearment, not unlike Lois calling Clark Kent “Smallville.” Yet it was Siegel’s final comment that perhaps best summed up the real energy and fire behind Lois Lane, “Strangely, the characterization of Lois is amazingly like the real-life personality of my lovely wife [Joanne Siegel].”