'Batman' Television Series Facts You May Not Be Aware Of
Interesting details about the iconic dynamic duo.
The television series Batman aired on ABC from January 1966 until March 1968. The 120 episodes encompassed three seasons. It was an immediate hit with viewers, airing cliffhanger shows on Wednesday that ended with the stars in life and death situations, where the announcer said to tune in to the next episode at "the same bat time", on " the same bat station." The conclusion would be shown on Thursday, and Batman and Robin always got the best of the villains. Not everyone, however, who wanted to watch the heroes had the same experience. Adam West portrayed the caped crusader who was really billionaire Bruce Wayne. Burt Ward was Wayne's teenage ward Dick Grayson, who was also Batman's sidekick Robin. Only their trusted butler Alfred(Alan Napier) knew about the duel roles.
Where I lived in Botetourt County, Virginia the ABC station WSET was in Lynchburg which was about 30 miles away. The reception was pretty bad but we got great audio. Many young people gathered around their black and white television sets to listen to the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder, but could only see snow or blurry outlines of the action. I recall my grandma and others in our neighborhood putting tin foil on the TV rabbit ears or rather Reynolds Wrap on the antenna in an attempt to get better reception from the ABC affiliate. Unfortunately, it did not do much good.
According to 66batmania.com, ABC was looking for a show to boost ratings and producer William Dozier had just the right idea. He proposed an “over-do” for the DC Batman comic book character to make the show appealing to both children and adults. This included Robin’s many expressions with the word holy in front of them. “Holy catnip Batman, holy crime fighting. or holy penguins etc. The overdo also included the wacky words that appeared on screen during fight scenes: Sock, thwack, blam, powie, wham, etc. This is why many today consider the series to have been campy and at times tongue in cheek.
Ratings dropped during season 2 and the show was canceled in the third year. Fans of the dynamic duo can currently catch episodes on various retro and oldies television stations like Decades and METV. During it's run, Batman was known for famous actors portraying villains which included Frank Gorshin as the Riddler, Caesar Romero as the Joker, and Burgess Meredith as the Penguin. Yvonne Decarlo was Barbara Gordon, AKA Batgirl beginning in season 2. Julie Newmar portrayed Catwoman for the first two seasons and Eartha Kitt was the feline foil for the third. Lee Meriwether was cast as Catwoman for the 1966 Batman movie.
There have been quite a few movies that followed over the years. Michael Keaton started in the first two, “Batman,” in 1989, and “Batman Returns,” in 1992. Val Kilmer donned the cape and mask in 1995’s “Batman Forever,” 1995, “Batman and Robin,” in 1997, had George Clooney in the lead role.“Batman Begins,” in 2005, starred Christian Bale who returned for “The Dark Knight,” in 2008 and “The Dark Knight Rises,” in 2012. “The Batman,” is scheduled for release on June 25, 2021, with Robert Pattinson as Batman.
For baby boomers, who grew up with the campy dynamic duo from 1966-1968, Adam West and Burt Ward will always be the only Batman and Robin. Some fans might be turned off to find out about the hijinx that were going on during taping of the popular show. In later years, West and Ward both admitted that there was a lot of promiscuity on the set. In an article by Page Six, the actors admiited to having quickie's in between sets and that women would be throwing themselves at the actors. Ward said he was a young inexperienced 20 year old who had only dated a couple of women prior to the TV show. West was in his 30's and introduced the young actor to the world of orgies.
When Julie Newmar portrayed Catwoman she was always trying to start a romance with Batman. When Eartha Kit took over the role, the romantic banter was discontinued because she was black. During 1960's television interacial dating on television was simply not done. Ironically, Eartha Kit was married offscreen to John William McDonald, who was white. Adam West admitted that they were playing their scenes for 3 different audiences at the time. The first being the nostalgic parents who grew up on DC comics, the second was the innocent children who enjoyed the show and the third was teenagers who were catching double entendres in the lines that were being spoken. Both actors believed their tight fitting costumes were the attraction for the ladies.