Holy 55th Anniversary To Batman ’66!

Friends, earlier this afternoon one of my esteemed colleagues of the Super Blog Team-Up, Dave’s Comic Heroes Blog, shared the exciting news that today is a rather special day. It turns out that on January 12th of 1966 – the very first episode of the Batman television series aired on ABC. Fifty-five years ago, what would become a campy pop culture juggernaut was released with the first half of a two-part story featuring the Riddler entitled Hi Diddle Riddle. Giving DC Comics fans their first live-action comic book television series since The Adventures of Superman ended back in 1958, in addition to cluing in the audience that this adaptation of DC Comics’ Caped Crusader was going to be a whole lot of fun. Of course it didn’t hurt that the first episode featured the talents of Frank Gorshin as the Riddler – the legendary comedian and impressionist who all but steals every scene he is in – equal parts zany and menacing. To say nothing of being quite a snappy dresser, right?

The Batman TV series would last from January 12th of ’66 to March 14th of ’68, producing 120 episodes in total as well as a feature length film, which actually debuted just two months after the first season had ended. The popularity of the show was thanks in no small part to the way the series leads, Adam West and Burt Ward, approached their characters of Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder with an earnest and straightforward manner. Which allowed the guest stars on the show, who almost always played the villain of the week, to ham it up and have fun with their roles. Just a few of the stars featured as foes of the Dynamic Duo included Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family), Cliff Robertson (Spider-Man), Roddy McDowall (Fright Night), Vincent Price (The Last Man on Earth), and Victor Buono (What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?).

Although it is fair to say that the core and perhaps most memorable villains in the Batman TV series included not just Gorshin but the Joker as played by Cesar Romero, the Penguin who was portrayed by Burgess Meredith, and Catwoman – who was played by Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, as well as Lee Meriwether.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY BatEnciclopdia.

You might be interested to know that the genesis of the series began in the early half of the ’60s – as I understand it, the original intention was for it to be part of the CBS Saturday morning lineup. At around the same time though, it appears that ABC was in the market to adapt a comic book character or perhaps a popular hero from newspaper comic strips for a spot in their prime-time schedule. The negotiations for the proposed live action series on CBS fell through and DC Comics took back their rights and decided to go with the pitch by ABC.

Here is another interesting bit of trivia you might not be aware of – we came very close to having the likes of Lyle Waggoner (Wonder Woman) and Peter Deyell (Mr. Novak) as Batman and Robin. As I’ve read online, ABC as well as showrunner William Dozier (The Green Hornet) felt so strongly that both pairs of actors could pull off the roles – they had them each perform a special screen test. Obviously at the end of the day, it was West and Ward who were rightfully deemed to be the perfect choice.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY justwondering50.

If you feel like joining in on the fifty-fifth anniversary celebration of Batman ’66, I have some very good news for you – I believe that you can watch the entire series on Roku at this very second. In closing out this article, let us raise a glass of milk to toast the ’60s Batman television show – for providing untold laughs and comic book fun for 55 years!

1966 Interviews With The Cast Of Batman: The Movie!

Friends, earlier this week I was informed by Ashley Thomas that today just so happens to be Batman Day. That fluid date in September where all the fans of the Dark Knight around the World can join together and celebrate our love of the iconic comic book character – who has managed to go on and conquer film, television, and video games since his debut in the pages of Detective Comics # 27 on March 30th of 1939.

Since Batman first took on the “Chemical Syndicate” in that 1939 story – the Dark Knight has managed to amass a Rogue’s Gallery of some of the greatest villains in comic book history. While the maniacal Joker might indeed be the Caped Crusader’s most dangerous foe – over the years, the protector of Gotham City has bested the likes of the Riddler, the Penguin, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, Ra’s al Ghul, Posion Ivy, Two-Face, and The Scarecrow to name a few.

And while the popularity of Batman began with the comic books – it wasn’t long at all before the character was leaping to other forms of entertainment. Starting in 1943 when Columbia Pictures released the first of a 15 chapter serial entitled The Batman – although it was just two years later when both Batman and Robin began to show up as frequent guests on the popular The Adventures of Superman radio series. It was in 1949 when a second 15 chapter serial featuring the Dynamic Duo was released by Columbia Pictures – a storyline that had Batman and Robin taking on The Wizard and his goons.

Batmania really swept the Nation however when Batman hit television on January 12th of 1966 – a series that would not only have celebrities clamoring to be featured as the villain of the week – but would produce a feature length film just two months after the first season of the show ended. The premiere of the film took place on July 30th of ’66 in Austin, Texas – because as I understand it, the headquarters of the manufacturers of the Batboat were located there. Thanks to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image – to celebrate Batman Day – we can enjoy these vintage interviews with KTBC’s Jean Boone featuring the cast of Batman: The Movie. Starting off with Adam West as well as William Dozier who was not only the creator of the television series but acted as the narrator for the series too.

Videos and Article Image Provided by Texas Archive of the Moving Image.

Next up is the esteemed Cesar Romero – who talks a bit about his character from the TV series and why he feels he is too old to dance.

Video Provided by Texas Archive of the Moving Image.

Last but certainly not least is Lee Meriwether who stepped in to fill the role of Catwoman for the Batman: The Movie.

Video Provided by Texas Archive of the Moving Image.