After ABC canceled the series, the producers waited to see if anyone else would pick it up, then bulldozed the Batcave set when it appeared nobody would. Two weeks later, NBC offered to pick it up, unaware that the set had already been dismantled; unwilling to invest in the high cost of rebuilding the entire set, NBC ultimately declined to acquire the series.
Burgess Meredith had not smoked in twenty years when he was cast as the Penguin. He came up with the Penguin's distinctive squawking sound because the cigarettes were irritating his throat. Like his trademark "quack", the Penguin's waddling was largely a result of improvisation by Burgess Meredith, as he found it difficult to stand and walk straight while wearing the rubber padded fat suit that was part of his costuming.
Cesar Romero's Joker laugh was created almost by accident. Shortly after being cast, Romero met with producers to discuss his role on his series. While waiting to meet with them, Romero happened to see conceptual art of Joker's costuming. Romero felt the pictures almost looked absurd, and as a result spontaneously broke out into a playfully loud and almost manic laughter. A producer overhearing it responded by telling Romero "That's it, that's your Joker's laugh!"
The "Giant Lighted Lucite Map of Gotham City" is a reverse image of St. Louis, right down to Forest Park, Fairground Park, Tower Grove Park, Lafayette Park, and Horseshoe Lake on the Illinois side, as well as the other river and road networks.
Eighty-eight unique word overlays were used during the fight scenes, alphabetically from "!ox?-eth!" and "Aieee!" to "Zzzzzwap!". "Kapow!" was used 54 times, "Boff!" and "Pow!!" were tied at 53 times each, and 32 overlays were used only one time each. In all, these overlays appeared 832 times, with a total of 1,120 exclamation points. The most exclamation points used in one overlay was in "Biff!!!!". The most overlays in one episode (18) occurred in Batman: The Great Train Robbery (1968). Batman: The Great Escape (1968) and Batman: Minerva, Mayhem and Millionaires (1968) have the most overlays in a single bat-fight (15 each).
The Shakespeare bust used to slide open the bookcase and expose the Bat-poles had an electric switch that couldn't open the bookcase, but it did turn on a light behind the set to signal the crew to slide it open.
Burt Ward has stated that he was badly injured several times while filming the show. He asserts that on numerous occasions he was burned and or struck by shrapnel when ill-conceived pyrotechnic effects went awry. In at least one other memorable incident, he was flung out of the Batmobile after his door flew open during a high speed turn.
The Batcave set was built on the exact spot where the Skull Island Gate was located in King Kong (1933). This was pointed out by a visitor to the set who had served as a technician on "Kong". The gate had long since been destroyed, having been burnt down to simulate the burning of Atlanta during the shoot of Gone with the Wind (1939).
When the series premiered, Alfred had been "killed off" a few years earlier in the comic book series. However, when the producers announced that they intended to make Alfred a regular character, he was brought back to life in the comic book as well.
The scene of the Batmobile leaving the Batcave was filmed at Bronson Cavern in Hollywood Hills. A problem run into when filming the scene was that the Batmobile was just about the same width as the cave entrance. To keep from ripping the fenders off of George Barris' creation, they undercranked the cameras so it could come out slowly and then later sped up the film to give the illusion of speed.
In all of the scenes of the villains' hideouts, the camera filmed at an angle or "crooked". This shot is known as an "oblique" or "dutch" angle. This was because all the villains were also crooked, and it gave a sense of something being wrong in the scene/shot.
This was one of the "in" shows to appear on if you were a big name in Hollywood during the 1960s, and many top names guested on the show, including many who didn't do much television otherwise. Those performers who weren't cast as guest villains could frequently be seen popping their heads out of windows to exchange a few words with Batman and Robin when the latter would be climbing up a building wall. Frank Sinatra, Natalie Wood, and Cary Grant were all fans of the show, and wanted to be on it, but the producers were never able to come up with the right roles for any of them. During the run of the series, this show crossed over with The Green Hornet (1966). The Green Hornet (Van Williams) and Kato (Bruce Lee) teamed up with the Dynamic Duo in one episode, and did a window cameo in another.
Famously, Otto Preminger was kept locked out of his house by his grandchildren until he agreed to be cast on the series as Mr Freeze. Likewise, Eli Wallach successfully sought his guest role on the series at the urging of his children, and Tallulah Bankhead saw appearing on the series as an opportunity to entertain her grandchildren. Julie Newmar was visiting her brother at his College in New York when first contacted with the offer to play Catwoman. A group of her brother's friends were regular watchers of the series and after consultation convinced her to take the part.
Shortly after the series began to air in England, several children were hurt while "flying" out of windows trying to emulate Batman. An announcement by Adam West in the role of Batman was filmed to discourage children from the practice, and made it clear he himself could not "fly".
According to Adam West, because of the show's popularity, he was offered the role of James Bond for On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969). He declined because he felt the role should go to a British actor. Ironically, the role wound up going to Australian actor George Lazenby.
According to Adam West, then U.S. Attorney General (later Senator) Robert F. Kennedy was a fan of the show. Attempts were made to have him make a cameo as a character named Attorney General, but details could not be worked out.
The National Safety Council brought up the safety issue in the Batmobile. They wanted to know why the Batmobile was not fitted with seat belts. The producers answered that question by having Batman and Robin "buckling up" before they tore out of the Batcave. While this was originally intended by the producers as a joke with the idea of the characters being so goody two-shoes that they would take such a precaution, the effect was lost as the show was highly praised for encouraging the use of such auto safety equipment.
Because of a contract dispute, Frank Gorshin missed one episode and was replaced by John Astin. Also, the episode featuring the villain "The Puzzler" was originally written to feature The Riddler. Gorshin did return as The Riddler for one episode in the final season.
The Batmobile turntable in the Batcave was not powered, as watching the show would have you believe. It did rotate, but only with the help of six crewmen out of camera range. They pushed the car around one hundred eighty degrees on the platform. As with most of the effects, they only had to shoot the scene one time then added it where needed.
Frank Gorshin disliked wearing the Riddler's skin-tight outfit and a Riddler business suit was designed for him to wear. This suit was later incorporated into the Batman comics and it largely became the character's standard look.
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 cancelled, the character's comic series took on a dark and deadly serious tone that was reminiscent of the original comics in the late 1930s as a reaction to this show's light touch.
Batman was not the first, or only, choice of character when producers decided to do a television series based on a comic book or strip. Producers surveyed the public about which character they'd like to see a television series based on, and other options included Superman, Dick Tracy, The Green Hornet, The Phantom, and Little Orphan Annie. Batman finished highest on the list among characters whose rights were available and obtainable at the time.
Prior to his being cast for the show, Alan Napier had never heard of Batman and didn't know who the character was. As such, Napier was highly reticent to the idea of playing Alfred in a television series that sounded ridiculous. However, when his agent mentioned the role could pay over one hundred thousand dollars, Napier immediately changed his mind and accepted the role.
Some of the jokes in modern-day culture about Batman being gay started with Dr. Fredric Wertham's book in 1953 that claimed that comic books were teaching immorality to children and targeted Batman and Robin as symbols of homosexuality. Adam West strongly railed against these insinuations and insisted that it was never on any of the show creators' minds.
The Joker and the Penguin are tied for the most stories written for them (ten each, with multi-episode stories counted as a single story). Nineteen villains, on the other hand, appeared in only one story.
At the end of season three, ABC planned to cut the budget by eliminating Chief O'Hara and Robin. Batgirl would then become Batman's full-time partner. William Dozier and Adam West were opposed to the idea. ABC cancelled the show a short time later.
Yvonne Craig has stated that she briefly did have a stunt double, but did most of her stunts herself. She actually operated the Batgirl Cycle herself as well. She was an accomplished biker at the time, and actually owned a bike.
Despite the show's popularity, it was not released on DVD until late 2014. This was supposedly due to a rights dispute between 20th Century Fox, who produced the show, and Time Warner, who owned the character's publisher, DC Comics.
Burgess Meredith made a brief cameo appearance as The Penguin in The Monkees (1966) season two, episode twenty-five, "Monkees Blow Their Minds". However, he wore a black top hat instead of the purple one, and his prosthetic nose wasn't worn.
The role of Mayor Linseed, played by actor Byron Keith on ten episodes of the series, was a play on the name of John V. Lindsay, who was the Mayor of New York City during the time this show was on the air.
Three major villains from the comic book were never used in the television show: Poison Ivy (who was only introduced in the comics during the show's run, and was thus not one of the "major villains" at the time) Scarecrow, and Two-Face, although the latter was almost used. He was considered for the show before its cancellation. The theme of the character was to be a television commentator who has a television tube blow up in his face (as the character's original origin, Gotham D.A. Harvey Dent has a vial of acid hurled at his face in court by volatile mob boss Salvatore "The Boss" Maroni during his trial, would have been too gruesome for television at the time). Ultimately, the character did not appear on the series. Eventually, all of them would see live-action incarnations: Ivy in Batman & Robin (1997); Scarecrow in Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012); and Two-Face in Batman Forever (1995) and The Dark Knight (2008). In contrast, Adam West's version of Batman would finally meet Two-Face in the animated sequel, Batman vs. Two-Face (2017), West's final role.
This campy, cult series debuted on January 12, 1966 to March 14, 1968, on ABC, for one hundred twenty episodes. It was one of few television series to be seen on two different nights a week: 7:30 PM EST/6:30 PM PST, on Wednesdays and Thursdays. It remained there for a season and a half (January 1966 to August 1967) until it was moved back once a week (Thursdays 7:30 PM EST/6:30 PM PST) for its final season. The episodes were generally two-parters: Wednesday's episode was a cliffhanger, resolved in Thursday's episode. The 1966 to 1967 season had two three-part episodes (Batman: The Zodiac Crimes (1967), Batman: The Joker's Hard Times (1967) & Batman: The Penguin Declines (1967) and Batman: Penguin Is a Girl's Best Friend (1967), Batman: Penguin Sets a Trend (1967) & Batman: Penguin's Disastrous End (1967)) which left cliffhangers that would be solved the following week. When the series was reduced to (mostly) one part episodes during season three, the cliffhanger death traps and threats were still used, but greatly scaled back and occurring at the middle commercial break.
Madge Blake became seriously ill just before filming on the third and final season commenced, causing her to leave the series. However, she is briefly seen as Aunt Harriet Cooper in the Batman: Ring Around the Riddler (1967) and in Batman: The Bloody Tower (1967). Aunt Harriet was written out during season three for several reasons; one was declining health of Blake, who was also continually frustrating producers and directors with stammering or forgetting her lines. Blake was also let go due to the budgetary cutbacks that occurred for that season. For the most part, Aunt Harriet was said to be away on various overseas vacation trips during season three.
In 1974, Yvonne Craig and Burt Ward reprised their roles as Batgirl and Robin, and William Dozier returned as narrator, for a U.S. Department of Labor PSA advocating Equal Pay for Women. Adam West, wishing to distance himself from the role, turned the PSA down, and Batman was played by Dick Gautier.
In some episodes, references are made to an unseen Governor Stonefellow, who at times Commissioner Gordon is seen on the phone with, or having said to have been in contact with him. Governor Stonefellow's name was a play on that of then Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York, as Gotham was based on New York City.
The three primary cast members of The Addams Family (1964) each made appearances on this show. Carolyn Jones played the villainess Marsha, Queen of Diamonds, and John Astin played the Riddler during season two. Additionally, Ted Cassidy had a window cameo, appearing in his part as Lurch from The Addams Family (1964). Interestingly, Cassidy's cameo took place in a story involving the Penguin, with whom Jones' character Marsha teamed up in one of the three-part stories.
Chief O'Hara was a creation of the producers for this show. DC Comics would eventually adapt O'Hara for use in the Batman comics as well. DC Comics adapted King Tut, created for the television series, for use during the 2000s. In addition, King Tut likely inspired Maxie Zeus, a villain introduced in the comics during the 1980s.
While most of the villains were from Batman comics, a handful originated as enemies of other heroes. The Archer and The Puzzler were villains from Superman stories, and Clock King was originally an enemy of Green Arrow.
No origin story was shown as Batman and Robin were portrayed as established crime fighters from the start of the series. The pilot and a couple of other early episodes made references to Batman's origin story (his parent's being "gunned down by dastardly criminals"), though never to that of Robin.
Burt Ward often complained about personal safety issues, as he was often located near explosive effects and other pyrotechnics, with his costume offering little protection from any debris related to the effects. Ward also claimed that the flash from one on-set explosion almost left him permanently blinded. Producers downplayed Ward's injury claims, feeling he was immature, and saying he would milk any injuries he suffered during the making of the series. Producers also believed that Ward's concerns about any damage to his body (particularly his face) were connected more to personal vanity rather than personal safety.
Chief O'Hara's first name was never revealed on the series. According to some sources, his first name is either Miles or Clancy. Likewise, Commissioner Gordon's first name (James) is never used. Alfred's last name was never revealed on the show. In the comics, and other adaptations, his last name is established as Pennyworth. The real names of the Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman (Edward Nigma, Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot, and Selina Kyle respectively) were never used or referred to. The only villain who was ever called by his real name (Jarvis Tetch) was the Mad Hatter.
The steps leading to Commissioner Gordon's office, seen in every opening of every show, was shot on the Warner Brothers lot and are still standing. It is a façade of a triangular shaped building attached to a soundstage. The triangular shaped building houses every wardrobe that Clint Eastwood has worn in every one of his movies.
Frank Gorshin once said in an interview that he developed the Riddler's high pitched laugh at Hollywood parties, where he said the funniest jokes brought out the laugh. He further stated that he came to realize that it wasn't so much about how he laughed, but what he was laughing at that created a sense of menace.
Throughout the series, some of the regular villains had various multiple encounters with Alfred. However, whenever Alfred posed as a different identity doing undercover work for Batman, he was never recognized by villains from previous encounters.
According to Adam West a sudden and severe illness forced him to miss filming one episode. Producers were able to work around it by using West's stunt double to film his scenes. West was able to recover in time in order to dub his voice and film close-up and reaction shots during post-production.
In 2013, DC Comics published Batman '66, a series of Batman comic book stories set in the continuity of this show. Some stories included the first comic book appearances of villains who had been first created expressly for this show.
In two episodes, Catwoman appeared to fall to her death, only to appear in future segments as if nothing ever happened. In the comics, it came to be a longstanding routine for The Joker to be presumed dead at the end of a story, and reappearing later as though nothing happened.
During the show's run on The Hub, season two, episode thirteen, "An Egg Grows In Gotham", season two, episode fourteen, "The Yegg Foes In Gotham", season three, episode twenty-one, "The Great Escape", and season three, episode twenty-two, "The Great Train Robbery" were not aired by the network. This was likely due to sensitivities regarding the depiction of Native American characters in the episodes.
Originally conceived by ABC as a serious dramatic show, at one point, Mike Henry (best known as one of many actors to play Tarzan) did publicity photographs in the role. According to Adam West, a nervous ABC required the producers to hold test screenings of the show, one with a laugh track added, the other with additional narration. Neither alteration was successful.
Before season three, a promotional short was filmed with Yvonne Craig as Batgirl and Tim Herbert as Killer Moth. The short was convincing enough for ABC to pick up Batman for another year with the thought being that Batgirl would attract more female viewers.
At 6'3" (one hundred ninety centimeters), Cesar Romero was the tallest actor to play the Joker on-screen. Jack Nicholson is 5'10" (one hundred seventy-seven centimeters), Heath Ledger was 6'1" (one hundred eighty-five centimeters), and Jared Leto is 5'9" (one hundred seventy-five centimeters).
Debuted as part of ABC's "Second Season" promotional campaign for four new series that replaced recently cancelled ones. However, it was the only one of the four to be renewed for another season. The other three series were The Double Life of Henry Phyfe (1966), Blue Light (1966), and The Baron (1966). All four series were presented in color.
Two-Face was not a recurring villain on the show, because it was felt he would be too frightening for younger viewers and was dropped. The character of Two-Face had never been played on-screen, Batman Forever (1995), where Tommy Lee Jones took the role of Two-Face/Harvey Dent and was succeeded in the role by Aaron Eckhart in The Dark Knight (2008). Billy Dee Williams had played Harvey Dent in Batman (1989), prior to the District Attorney becoming the criminal.
Commissioner Gordon's often mentioned but never seen secretary Bonnie was named after executive producer William Dozier's secretary Bonnie Paterson, who eventually married the show's unit production manager and sometime director, Sam Strangis.
ABC initially ordered the series for the 1966 to 1967 season. However, finding themselves in desperate need of programming, the network decided to add the show as a mid season replacement in January 1966.
Contrary to some belief, Neil Hamilton is not related to John Hamilton, who played Perry White on Adventures of Superman (1952). In the comics, Comissioner Gordon and Perry White were often seen as counterparts in the respective Batman and Superman supporting characters.
Lyle Waggoner worked for producer Douglas S. Cramer during their stint on ABC's Wonder Woman (1975). Show producer Cramer was aware of Waggoner not just from his work on the The Carol Burnett Show (1967), but also from Batman. Cramer was also a producer on ABC's Batman show in the 1960s, ten years before ABC's Wonder Woman. Waggoner had auditioned for him and his production team for the role of the Caped Crusader, and had lost out to Adam West circa 1965 and 1966 when they were casting the show.
This series was the only piece of Batman media co-creator Bill Finger received official credit for during his lifetime. Finger passed away on January 18, 1974. He finally received retroactive credit when the Finger family appealed DC Comics to cite him as the creator of Batman, becoming effective in 2015 with Batman and Robin Eternal #3 and Batman: Arkham Knight Genesis #3; both released in 2015. The credit now reads as 'Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger'.
Carolyn Jones played the villain Marsha, Queen of Diamonds, five times on Batman (1966). The character's signature line was "Relax, and worship me". Jones was so fond of this phrase she would use it on her friends as a gag.
In 2016, the year of the show's 50th anniversary, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) featured the Superman villain Doomsday, who battled Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. The narrator of this show was ironically named "Desmond Doomsday".
The business about adding the character of Aunt Harriet to the cast of the Batman Comics series in 1964. By this time, two occurrences converged to give a shot in the arm to the comic strip, and put Batman on top of the popular culture world. First of all, an editorial change by Batman's publisher and copyright owner, National Comics/Periodical Publications (now known as DC Comics), was initiated, with the object of revitalizing Batman's slumping performance and sales at the newsstands. Longtime editor Jack Schiff was relieved of his duties with the feature in the two publications in which it appeared, namely the monthly anthology Detective Comics, and the eight times a year Batman Comics, which featured all of its stories as adventures of Batman and Robin. One incredibly severe change came very early by having longtime confident and supporting character, Alfred the butler killed. In that same story, Dick Grayson's Aunt Harriet arrived on the scene to take up residence, and to put a female character in the hallowed house of stately Wayne Manor; thus defusing the accusation of a "homosexual dream" that was advanced in the 1950s by boneheaded psychiatrist Dr. Fredric Wertham in his anti-comic book diatribes in the book, Seduction of the Innocent (1954). The second great external force on the Batman feature came from Hollywood. Having obtained the rights to do the now famous series, producer William Dozier's Greenway Productions, 20th Century Fox and ABC apparently found in their researching the comic strip that they needed some of the recently excised elements of the comic book stories. This included the Batcave, the Bat Signal, and Alfred. Through the magic of the comic book story, Alfred's demise was found to have not really happened. But Aunt Harriet remained in the cast, with those accusations of latent homosexuality continuing to haunt the feature.
Carolyn Jones, Frank Gorshin and Roddy McDowall all appeared on both Wonder Woman (1975) and Batman episodes. Carolyn played two queen roles :Marsha the Queen of Diamonds on Batman and Hypolitta, the Queen of the Amazons on Wonder Woman, Roddy Mcdowall played Henry Roberts on Wonder Woman and the Mad Hatter on Batman; and Frank Gorshin played the Riddler on Batman and Olich Hoffman, a scientist on Wonder Woman. All the parts were essentially villains except for Carolyn Jones' Hypolitta character. This makes sense since both shows were ABC productions and were Douglas S. Cramer productions.
Interestingly, Alfred had been killed off saving Batman in the comic books but when it was announced that he would become a regular in the television series he was brought back to life in the comics as well with the explanation that he was brought back to life by a scientist. However, he woke up with pasty skin and circular marks on his body as well as superhuman strength and telekinetic powers and became a villain known as the Outsider. Interestingly, that villainous side of Alfred never appeared on the show.
A year prior to this series premiere, Columbia Pictures had new prints struck of their 1943 wartime serial Batman (1943) and released it to theaters, promoting it as "An Evening with Batman and Robin" (1965) All 15 chapters were shown intact in a single sitting. The presentation ran almost 4 1/2 hours.
Byron Keith played the mayor in 10 episodes of the show. Decades later, Adam West would find another running TV role voicing the Mayor (of his same name) on the long-running hit show, Family Guy (1999).
Staff writer Stanley Ralph Ross worked on Wonder Woman (1975), also adapted from DC Comics. In addition, Ross voiced characters on Super Friends (1973), which featured Batman and Robin as regular characters.
Dick Grayson was never directly involved in a deathtrap cliffhanger in the first two seasons. The closest was in season two, episode thirteen, "An Egg Grows in Gotham", where he was forced to watch Egghead try and extract information from Bruce Wayne's mind in his special machine because Egghead suspects that Bruce Wayne might be Batman. Ironically, it was Dick Grayson who stopped the device before both were rescued. In season three, episode eighteen, "Louie's Lethal Lilac Time", Bruce and Dick are held hostage by Louie the Lilac, but there was no cliffhanger deathtrap, because it was only a single story episode.
Batman had more celebrity guest stars than any other superhero show; more celebrities than almost any other show in the history of television; (with the exception of celebrity-heavy shows like The Love Boat (1977), Law & Order (1990), Will & Grace (1998) and I Love Lucy (1951)).
It has been noted that Poison Ivy never appeared on the series. However, the character debuted in the comics only shortly after the series began, and didn't come into prominence among Batman's villains until after the show was canceled.
The bookcase that slid open to reveal the batpoles was not activated by a switch as the show made out. The button instead turned on a light backstage to indicate to the men behind the scenes to slide it open. Adam West revealed sometimes the light didn't work and he and Burt Ward would often run into the bookcases.