A year and a half after “Superman III,” and a full two years before the disaster that was “Superman IV,” Christopher Reeve hosted “Saturday Night Live.” And the Juilliard grad took to the sketch format like a pro, opening up proceedings with a skit that immediately poked fun at his most famous character. It saw Reeve — who did originally have some stiff competition for the role — bungle a Superman audition after proving himself incapable of catching bullets in his teeth or accurately aiming his heat vision. But that wasn’t the only Superman-themed sketch in the show.
In his 1999 autobiography, “Still Me,” Reeve recounted his experience at the “SNL” studio in 30 Rock, recalling how he had “never poked fun” at Superman, but had devised a sketch that he found “irresistible.” The idea involved the actor playing an elderly Supes, who sits in a nursing home alongside one of Billy Crystal’s old Jewish guy characters. As Reeve reminisces about his time as the Man Of Steel to an incredulous Crystal, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ nurse tends to the residents. As Reeve recalled it:
“I wore a bathrobe with the Superman costume underneath. The leotard was wrinkled and baggy, but the famous red-and-yellow ‘S’ was still featured prominently on my chest. Silver hair and bifocals completed the picture. As I talked about the old days I said, ‘I used to be faster… faster than… uh…’ Then Billy would finish the line. Then I’d go on, ‘And I could leap… um… tall…’ and the sentence would trail off.”
Evidently, Reeve was quite taken with his own idea. It featured in the original broadcast but for some reason isn’t part of the version currently available on Peacock, the streaming home of “SNL.”