Updated: July 25, 2013
ADAM WEST PHOTO GALLERY #02
Batman is a thrilling 30-minute action series based upon the
characters created by Bob Kane in 1939 appearing in Batman and
Detective Comics Magazine published by National Periodical
Publications, Inc. During his long career he was featured in the
Superman radio series and in two movie serials produced during World
War II. In 1966 the ABC network decided to produce the first Batman
television series and it became an immediate hit.
Starring Adam West, Burt Ward, Alan Napier, Stafford Repp, Neil Hamilton,
Madge Blake, and (in the third and final season) Yvonne Craig as
"Batgirl," and narrated/executive-produced by William Dozier, it was
one of few TV series to be seen on 2 different nights a week: 7:30
Wednesday and Thursday evenings. The episodes were generally
two-parters: Wednesday's episode left a cliffhanger, which was
usually resolved in Thursday's episode. The 1966-1967 season had 2
3-parter episodes ("The Zodiac Crimes/The Joker's Hard Times/The
Penguin Declines" [1/11-12 & 18/1967] and "Penguin is a Girl's Best
Friend/Penguin Sets a Trend/Penguin's Disastrous End" (1/26/, 2/1 &
2/1967) which left cliffhangers that would be solved the following
week. These cliffhangers closely followed the tradition created by
Kane in the comic books.
The television series also followed the comic books' plot. Bruce
Wayne (played by Adam West) was orphaned in his teens when criminals
killed his parents. He inherited a huge fortune and, obsessed with
fighting the evil-doers who plagued Gotham City, became Batman, the
Caped Crusader. Under his mansion, Batman constructed the Batcave,
an elaborate laboratory used to fight crime. His young ward, Dick
Grayson (played by Burt Ward), also orphaned due to evil-doers,
became Robin, the Boy Wonder, under Batman/Wayne's tutelage.
Together they defended the city against the sick minded criminals
that populated the underworld. The only person who knew their
identity was Alfred Pennywirth (Alan Napier), Wayne's butler who
raised Bruce after his parents were killed. In the Batlab, and at
the Batcave, Batman and Robin were helped by the most advanced
technology to fight their enemies. The Police Commissioner James W.
Gordon (Neil Hamilton) could ask Batman for help either through the
use of a searchlight, the Batsignal, or the Batphone, a direct line
between the Police Station and Bruce Wayne's mansion. To defeat
their enemies, Batman and Robin also used the Batmobile, their
utility belts and other Batdevices.
The success of the series attracted several famous actors and
actress to play the villains. Among the most famous enemies were The
Riddler (played first by Frank Gorshin and then John Astin), The
Penguin (Burgess Meredith), The Joker (Cesar Romero), King Tut
(Victor Buono), Egghead (Vincent Price) and Catwoman (played at
different moments by Julie Newmar, Lee Ann Meriwether, and Eartha
The series spawned a feature film version released by 20th
Century-Fox in July 1966. Batman incorporated the expressive art and
fashion of the period in its sets and costumes. It also relied
excessively on technological gadgetry transforming the show into a
parody of contemporary life. It was this self-reflexive parody-camp
of the comic character that boosted the ratings of the program to
the top ten during its first season. The show was not to be taken
seriously. The acting was intentionally overdone and the situations
extremely contrived. In the fight scenes animated "Bangs," "Pows,"
and "Bops" would fill the screen every time a blow was struck. These
characteristics, besides displeasing the "organized vocal Batman
fans," were not enough to save the show (Boichel, 1991).
Batman came to television under a massive advertising campaign
followed by heavy merchandising placement. Directed towards adults
and children this campaign reached the millions of dollars (McNeil,
1991). Originally scheduled to start at the fall of 1966, the show
debuted earlier in the middle of the Spring season, and it aired on
ABC for 2 1/2 seasons and 120 shows between January 12, 1966 and
March 14, 1968. By fall 1966, ratings were already falling. To
offset this trend, in the fall season of 1967, the show was cut to
once a week and Batgirl was introduced. This time she came to save
the show from falling ratings and not to protect Batman and Robin
against accusations of a homoerotic relationship, as was the case
for her creation by the comic book writers in the mid-1950s. Batgirl
(Yvonne Craig), the daughter of Commissioner Gordon and a librarian,
fought crime on her own and was many times paired with The Dynamic
Duo. Her debut, however, was not enough to save the series. The
producers tried to spice the plots with the new sexy heroine, but it
did not work and Batman went off the air in mid-season in the spring
of 1968, replaced by the sitcom The Second Hundred Years. It
nonetheless has maintained a huge cult status in the TV rerun
circuit ever since.
Batman creator Bob Kane noted that this series saved the Batman
comic series from cancellation when the show revived the character's
popularity. Despite this, most comic fans despised this series for
stereotyping superheroes and comics as campy nonsense. Furthermore,
soon after the show was canceled, the character's comic series took
on a dark and deadly serious tone that was reminiscent of the
original comics in the late 1930's as a reaction to the TV show's
The Batmobile is a modified 1955 Lincoln Futura.
Most of the actors who appeared in Batman also appeared in many of
Elvis Presley's movies such as Alan Napier (Alfred Pennyworth)
portrayed Professor Joe B. Larson in "Wild in the Country" (1961).
Burgess Meredith (The Penguin) portrayed Charlie Lightcloud in "Stay
Away, Joe" (1968). Yvonne Craig (Batgirl/Barbara Gordon) acted with
Elvis in 2 of his movies, "It Happened at the World's Fair" (1963)
as Dorothy Johnson and in "Kissin' Cousins" (1964) as Azalea Tatum
(His leading lady) and Carolyn Jones (Marcia, Queen of Diamonds)
portrayed Ronnie in "King Creole" (1958). These are just a few of
the actors and actresses that appeared in both Batman episodes and
Elvis Presley movies.
The props used in the show and the movie (such as the computers and
guns) also were used in Lost In Space (CBS, 1965-68), The Time
Tunnel (ABC, 1966-68), Land Of The Giants (ABC, 1968-70), and Voyage
To The Bottom Of The Sea (ABC, 1964-68).
Some of the above info duped from the article in the Museum of
Broadcast Communications: Batman page, written by Antonio LaPastina.
Episode info gleaned from The Official Batman Batbook by Joel
Eisner, The Batman Episode Guide link in Sci-Fi Channel's Batman
page (which, surprisingly, still hasn't been taken down!), and Dave
W. Sutton's The 1966 Batman TV Tribute Site.