Name: Rufus Carnahan
Other Names: Mr. Carnahan
First Appearance: Action Comics (vol. 1) #24 (May 1940): "Carnahan's Heir"
Number of Appearances: 1
Clark Kent was curious about an ad placed in the classified sections of every newspaper in Metropolis. The ad read: "Superman! I urgently need your assistance! Address: Box Y-84." Speaking with his editor, George Taylor, Clark said, "I'll bet there's a humdinger of a story behind that ad!"Taylor replied, "I should say there is! It was placed by one of the wealthiest men in this town: Rufus Carnahan, a retired industrialist." Taylor then assigned Clark Kent to dig up more information about why Carnahan placed the ad.
Clark Kent went to Carnahan's mansion and found the butler unwilling to let him in. But as Superman he forced his way past the butler and met with a Carnahan himself, an elderly man who was very grateful to Superman for coming.
Carnahan told Superman, "I suppose you would call me a successful businessman. I built up a huge fortune thru long years of sweating and planning. But now, when I am about to die from old age, I've suddenly discovered that I'm a failure! I've learned that Peter, the son I've neglected and indulged thru the years, is a weak-kneed sop and spendthrift -- that he suffers huge gambling losses! I've heard of your great sense of humanity! Assist me, I implore you! Straighten out my son's character so that he will be a man! I'll pay you any amount!"
The elder Carnahan's words essentially echo those of President David O'McKay, who in 1954 famously said, "No success can compensate for failure in the home."
Carnahan was very wealthy, but in his old age he realized that his son Peter was completely irresponsible. The elder Carnahan simply wanted Superman's help in reforming his son. Carnahan even offered to pay Superman, but of course the noble super-hero refused. Although this case wasn't typical of the problems Superman usually tackled, he agreed to take it on as a challenge.
Rufus Carnahan died soon after his meeting with Superman, but Superman worked hard to fulfill the dying man's last wish. Ultimately Superman was able to help the wealthy man's errant son become a responsible person who used his inheritance to build the "Rufus Carnahan Home for Youth," a charitable place to help wayward underprivileged youths.
Rufus Carnahan was financially a wealthy and successful man, but he realized late in life that in giving his son everything he had failed to be a good father. By reaching out to Superman for help, Rufus Carnahan succeeded in finally giving his son what he really needed: values and character.