“A reporter’s lot is not easy, making exciting stories out of plain, average, ordinary people like Robin and me.” – Batman
It’s been over two weeks since the death of Adam West, the actor who portrayed Batman (and his alter-ego Bruce Wayne) on the popular television show that ran for 3 seasons in the mid-1960s. The campy crime series was a memorable part of my childhood. I distinctly remember running home from a neighbor’s yard in the summer to watch, cutting short our jumping off his swings while pretending to be paratroopers in Vietnam.
What was it that made Adam West such a memorable, beloved crime fighter? Was it his level-headed, deductive reasoning, topped off with that smooth voice? The classic, silent blinking red “Batphone” on the dark wood desk in the study of millionaire Bruce Wayne? His latex cowl with the painted-on eyebrows? Or was it his “Bat Bulge”? The way his filled out his Bat Briefs was controversial, prompting outcries from some religious and conservative groups.
I contend that its popularity and staying power are due in part to its just sheer goofiness – from the nettlesome Aunt Harriet and the loyal and discreet Alfred the Butler to the earnestness of the Boy Wonder and Adam West’s ability to deliver his silly lines with a straight face.
Then there were the villains, The Joker (Caesar Romero), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith), The Riddler (Frank Gorshen), and Cat Woman (the foxy Julie Newmar and sultry Eartha Kitt), all well known. But which of you readers remembers Mr. Freeze (George Sanders, Otto Preminger, and Eli Wallach) Professor William McElroy / King Tut played by Victor Buono or Vincent Price as Egghead? Even Milton Berle showed up as “Louie the Lilac,” a gangster who smoked cigars and had a flower fetish.
The show was filled with vexing questions that went unanswered. Why were the villains’ hide-outs always on a slant? What was Batman’s real relationship with The Boy Wonder? Why did every single one of Batman’s adversaries try to kill him in elaborate ways instead of simply shooting him? Alas, some of life’s mysteries are beyond our comprehension.
Here are a few of my favorite clips from the show:
“Bruce Wayne/Batman Has a Conversation With Himself”
“Risk is our business, Mr. Wayne!”
“The Batusi” – or Batman Is Slipped A Mickey
Batman and the Joker Hang Ten
Batman and Robin Turned Into Toads!
“What Kind of Trickery Is This?”
Holy Bat Boner!
“If I were to kiss you, would you think I was a bad girl?”