Christopher Dennis, who entertained tourists for more than 25 years as Hollywood Boulevard’s Superman, has died. He was 52.
According to TMZ, which first reported the news, Dennis was found dead Saturday in the San Fernando Valley. His cause of death is currently unknown, and Los Angeles County authorities declined to offer any further information.
Dennis was one of many performers who roam Hollywood’s Walk of Fame dressed as iconic pop culture characters. Speaking to The Guardian in 2017, he claimed to be the first person to do so.
“I came up with an idea while I was waiting tables. These people that I’m waiting on keep saying how much I looked like Christopher Reeve, or Superman,” he said. “So I jimmy-rigged an outfit. They loved it.” Dennis also appeared multiple times on Jimmy Kimmel Live and was featured in the 2007 documentary Confessions of a Superhero, which focused on Hollywood Boulevard’s costumed performers.
Dennis became homeless in 2016 when his motor home was towed. “While I was homeless, one of the homeless guys, he beat me down with golf clubs, stole my outfit, and left me for dead,” he told The Guardian. “I felt like I was dead because I was now without a job. I lost my dignity and my pride. So I found myself panhandling on a corner.” A successful campaign for donations allowed Dennis to buy a new Superman costume and find a temporary place to live.
“When I put on this suit, I am Superman,” he told The Guardian. “No matter how little, I’ve got people that say, ‘Hello, Superman, how are you today?’ After meeting me, they walk away with that feeling, ‘My God, we just met Superman. That’s the real one.’”
The Super Museum in Metropolis, Illinois, dedicated to Superman history and memorabilia, posted a tribute to Dennis on social media, writing, “We’ve known Chris for many years. Many years ago he married the love of his life here in Metropolis in front of the Superman statue. He spent time with our family and showed lots of support for our museum and the Superman Celebration.
“Chris has had many struggles and ups and downs over the years. We hope that he is at peace now,” the statement continues. “And we pray for comfort to those who loved and cared about him.”