Jerry Siegel is the father of Superman - the superhero that made comics great and inspired a whole new generation of supernaturally endowed characters. Siegel created Superman in 1933 with his childhood friend Joe Shuster, who did the artwork. Initially, they wanted to sell Superman as a newspaper strip, but since no one was interested it was not until 1938 that Superman was published for the first time, in a comic magazine. His appearance boosted the ailing comic business into a popularity that might not have occurred, had the newspapers taken the initiative in printing this highly successful character.
Most of Superman's contemporaries are human beings who are transformed into superheroes - the thing that sets Superman apart is that he has a secret identity. On one hand, he is mild-mannered journalist Clark Kent, who repeatedly fails to show up at the right moment; on the other, he is the last son of Krypton, always in time to save the world. Comic philosophers have mused that it is this psychological twist that accounts for Superman's great success.
Unfortunately for Superman's creators, their story was less glorious. Jerry Siegel entered into a long and nasty legal fight with National over the rights to his character. Disillusioned, Shuster retreated from the comic scene completely. None of Siegel's other creations, such as 'Funnyman', 'Reggie van Twerp', 'Ken Winston' and 'Tallulah', was ever successful in the long run, which he claimed to be due to his being black-balled from the comic industry. Eventually in 1977, after getting a lot of publicity for his case, Siegel got DC Comics, the successor to National, to award him and Shuster a lifetime annuity. During the 1970s, Siegel wrote several stories for the Italian Disney magazine Topolino. He lived quietly in Los Angeles, until his death in 1996.