The chief protagonist of the Superman chronicles is in one sense really two men. He is, of course, Superman, the world's mightiest hero, but he is also Clark Kent, mild-mannered journalist, for more than thirty years the star reporter of the Daily Planet, more recently a full-time newscaster for Metropolis television station WGBS-TV (S No. 233, Jan 1971: "Superman Breaks Loose"; and many others).
Clark Kent has black hair and blue eyes. He is 6'2" tall, with a chest measurement of 44" and a waist measurement of 34" (Act No. 297, Feb 1963: "The Man Who Betrayed Superman's Identity!"; S No. 178/1, Jul 1965: "Project Earth Doom!").
The identity of Clark Kent was conferred upon the infant Superman by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who adopted the orphan from the doomed planet Krypton soon after the rocket that had brought him safely to Earth had landed in an open field (Act No. 141, Feb 1950: "Luthor's Secret Weapon") on the outskirts of Smallville (WF No. 57, Mar/Apr 1952: "The Artificial Superman!"; and others). The proud foster parents named their new son Clark, which was Martha Kent's maiden name (S No. 146/1, Jul 1961: "The Story of Superman's Life!"; and others).
Clark Kent's early childhood years were spent on his foster parents' farm outside of Smallville (S No. 152/2, Apr 1962: "Superbaby Captures the Pumpkin Gang!"; and others). By the time Clark was old enough to attend elementary school, the Kents had sold their farm and moved to Smallville, where Jonathan Kent opened up a general store (S No. 146/1, Jul 1961: "The Story of Superman's Life!"; and others).
According to Superman No. 46/3, Clark Kent attended high school at Metropolis High School, where he was nicknamed "Specs" and became known as his class's quietest boy (May/Jun 1947: "That Old Class of Superboy's!"). However, numerous other texts assert, far more plausibly, that Clark Kent grew up in Smallville, attending Smallville High School (WF No. 69, Mar/Apr 1954: "Jor-El's Last Will!"; and others) and working afternoons after school in his foster father's general store (S No. 116/2, Sep 1957: "Disaster Strikes Twice"). His high school principal thought of him as "the shyest boy in our graduating class" (S No. 125/2, Nov 1958: "Clark Kent's College Days"), but his senior class yearbook describes him this way: "highest grades--boy most likely to become famous--" (S No. 144/2, Apr 1961: "Superboy's First Public Appearance!").
Following his graduation from Smallville High School, Clark Kent attended college at Metropolis University (S No. 125/2, Nov 1958: "Clark Kent's College Days"; and others). He lived in a dormitory, joined a fraternity (S No. 129/3, May 1959: "The Girl in Superman's Past!"), and yelled his heart out as a cheerleader for the college football team (S No. 125/2, Nov 1958: "Clark Kent's College Days").
He had already decided upon a career in journalism (Act No. 144, May 1950: "Clark Kent's Career!"). Nevertheless, he studied advanced science under Professor Thaddeus V. Maxwell (S No. 125/2, Nov 1958: "Clark Kent's College Days") and took courses in biology, astronomy, art, music, and other subjects. In his senior year he had a bittersweet romance with Lori Lemaris (S No. 129/3, May 1959: "The Girl in Superman's Past!").
Following his college graduation, Clark Kent returned to Smallville. Not long afterward, both his foster parents passed away. It was a bereaved Clark Kent who departed Smallville to embark on his chosen career as a newspaper reporter in Metropolis (S No. 146/1, Jul 1961: "The Story of Superman's Life!").
Working as a reporter for a major newspaper enables Clark Kent to "investigate criminals without their suspecting that [he's] really Superman" (S No. 133/2, Nov 1959: "How Perry White Hired Clark Kent!") and provides him with the best opportunity for being free to help people as Superman without having to explain his frequent absences from his place of employment (Act No. 144, May 1950: "Clark Kent's Career!"; and others). "As a reporter," notes Kent in December, 1949, "I have a hundred underworld and police contacts that make it easier for Superman to fight crime!" (Act No. 139: "Clark Kent...Daredevil!").
Over and above his usefulness to him in his career as Superman, it is clear that Clark Kent values his career in journalism purely for its own sake. "Just remember," exclaims Kent to newsboy Tommy Blake in Summer 1945, "A good reporter gets the news—and gets it first! But there's more to being a reporter than that!"
"He lives by the deadline! The thunder of the presses is the pounding of his heart! And most important—all his personal feelings remain in the background! It's his story that counts! Always remember that!" (WF No. 18: "The Junior Reporters!").
Clark Kent is his paper's star reporter (Act No. 25, Jun 1940; and others). Renowned for his ability to root out local news (S No. 44/3, Jan/Feb 1947: "Shakespeare's Ghost Writer!"; and others), particularly stories dealing with crime and corruption (S No. 83/3, Jul/Aug 1953: "Clark Kent--Convict!"; and others), he has performed in numerous other capacities for the Daily Planet, including that of war correspondent (Act No. 23, Apr 1940), lovelorn editor (S No. 18/3, Sep/Oct 1942: "The Man with the Cane"; and others), editor of the newspaper's Bombay edition (Act No. 203, Apr 1955: "The International Daily Planet"), and editor of the entire newspaper in the absence of editor Perry White (Act No. 297, Feb 1963: "The Man Who Betrayed Superman's Identity!").
In pursuit of a news story, Clark Kent has worked as a private detective (WF No. 45, Apr/May 1950: "Lois Lane and Clark Kent, Detectives!"), a fireman (S No. 129/3, May 1959: "Clark Kent, Fireman of Steel!"), and a policeman (S No. 84/3, Sep/Oct 1953: "Lois Lane, Policewoman!"; S No. 133/1, Nov 1959: "The Super-Luck of Badge 77"); he has joined the Marines (S No. 179/2, Aug 1965: "Private Kent, the Fighting Marine!"); and he has even become a skid row bum (S No. 89/2, May 1954: "Superman of Skid Row!"). He has been a police commissioner (Act No. 37, Jun 1941), a department store clerk (S No. 21/3, Mar/Apr 1943: "The Robber Knight"), a sheriff (WF No. 30, Sep/Oct 1947: "Sheriff Clark Kent"), a vacuum cleaner salesman (S No. 79/2, Nov/Dec 1952: "The End of the Planet!"), and a disc jockey (S No. 84/1, Sep/Oct 1953: "Superman's Other Life!"). Clark Kent has even gone to prison voluntarily to investigate a series of prison riots (S No. 83/3, Jul/Aug 1953: "Clark Kent--Convict!") and to learn where a hardened convict hid his $1,000,000 in stolen loot (Act No. 323/1, Apr 1965: "Clark Kent in the Big House!").
To the readers of the Daily Planet, the name of Clark Kent signed over a story means integrity and honesty. His newspaper reporting on crime has won him countless awards (S No. 98/2, Jul 1955: "Clark Kent Outlaw!").
In addition to wearing ordinary street clothes and slightly altering his facial appearance with eye-glasses to conceal the fact that he is secretly Superman, Clark Kent exhibits qualities of personality far removed from the ones he displays as Superman. The chronicles repeatedly describe Clark Kent as "meek" (S No. 7/1, Nov/Dec 1940; and many others), "timid" (WB No. 1, Spring 1941; and many others), "mild-mannered" (Act No. 169, Jun 1952: "Caveman Clark Kent!"; and many others), "sickly" (S No. 106/2, Jul 1956: "The Thefts of Clark Kent"), "weak" (S No. 155/1, Aug 1962: pts. I-II—"Superman Under the Green Sun!"; "The Blind Superman!"; and others), "cowardly" (Act No. 322/1, Mar 1965: "The Coward of steel!"; and others), "submissive" (S No. 155/1, Aug 1962: pts. I-II—"Superman Under the Green Sun!"; "The Blind Superman!"), and even "spineless" (Act No. 1, Jun 1938; and others).
Clark Kent is afraid of dogs (S No. 31/2, Nov/Dec 1944: "A Dog's Tale"), afraid of heights (S No. 136/3, Apr 1960: "The Super-Clown of Metropolis!"; and others), and willing to let almost anyone push him around (Act No. 1, Jun 1938; and many others).
In his own words, "My meek behavior is the perfect disguise for my real identity as Superman" (Act No. 166, Mar 1952: "The Three Scoops of Death!").
Clark Kent lives in apartment 3-D at 344 Clinton Street (S No. 112/1, Mar 1957: "Superman's Neighbors"), a high-rise apartment building (WF No. 92, Jan/Feb 1948: "The Boy from Outer Space!"; and others) in the midtown area (S No. 8/2, Jan/Feb 1941) of Metropolis (S No. 15/2, Mar/Apr 1942; and many others). A fake wall in the apartment, which slides open at the touch of a secret button mounted on the apartment wall, conceals a secret closet housing a number of Superman's sophisticated robots, several numbered boxes of Superman trophies and samples of kryptonite, and various other Superman mementos. When he is not wearing his Superman costume, Clark Kent sometimes hangs it in this secret closet. Clark Kent's Social Security Number is 092-09-6616 (Act No. 340, Aug 1966: letter column).
Because Clark Kent is widely known as Superman's best friend, people often contact Kent, usually at the Daily Planet, as the most reliable means of getting in touch with Superman.
In January 1971, the president of the Galaxy Broadcasting System, which owns the Daily Planet, removes Clark Kent from the Planet staff and installs him as a full-time newscaster on another Galaxy property, Metropolis television station WGBS-TV. (Adapted from TGSB)
There are many situations in which Superman judges it inappropriate to appear in costume. Instead, he remains Clark Kent in order to handle them more subtly (SF, various: "The Private Life of Clark Kent").
(See also Clark Kent of Earth-2)