1. Although the series debuted on January 6th 1966, Batman nearly made it to the screen two years earlier. Ed Graham Productions were planning to produce a more dramatic series, similar in tone to that of The Lone Ranger, to air on Saturday mornings. Former American football linebacker and actor Mike Henry was lined up to star as Batman, even posing for publicity photographs in costume, but when negotiations with CBS broke down, DC Comics re-obtained the rights to the character.
2. In 1965 ABC executive Yale Udoff attended a screening of "An Evening With Batman And Robin", a 4 hour back-to-back marathon that consisted of all 15 episodes of the Caped Crusaders 1943 debut on-screen adventure. Impressed with the reaction from the crowd, Udoff was interested in bringing the Caped Crusader to his network and reached out to fellow ABC executives Harve Bennett and Edgar J. Scherick about the idea. They were already considering developing a television series based on a comic strip action hero and had just completed some market research. The public were surveyed about which comic book character they'd like to see a TV series based on; Superman, Dick Tracy, The Green Hornet, The Phantom, and even Little Orphan Annie all came above Batman in the survey! However, Batman was the highest placed character whose rights were currently available. A call was put into DC Comics and the rights obtained, with ABC then farming out the rights out to 20th Century Fox to produce the new series
3. When it came to finding the Dynamic Duo, two sets of screen tests were filmed for the series, one with Lyle Waggoner (who you may remember as Colonel Steve Trevor, Jr. on Wonder Woman) as Batman and Peter R.J. Deyell as Robin, the other with Adam West and Burt Ward. I think we all know which pair were successful?
4. ABC initially ordered the series for the 1966-67 TV season, but before going on the air Batman was shown to test audiences, a common practice both then and now. The opening episode received the worst audience test scores in the history of ABC. According to Adam West, a nervous ABC required the producers to hold two additional test screenings of the show, one with a laugh track added, the other with additional narration. Neither alteration made any difference to the results. In the two factors resulted in Batman actually making it to broadcast. Firstly, ABC had already invested so much money into it, and secondly thanks to a number of cancelled series in the 1965-66 TV season they found themselves in desperate need of programming, so the network decided to add the show as a mid-season replacement in January 1966.
5. Batman was to be seen on 2 different nights a week, Wednesdays and Thursdays. This resulted in a frantic production schedule, with 34 episodes produced in the space of four months. Burt Ward later revealed he was paid $350 per week, which included filming at least two episodes.
6. The rotating blur that appears just before the opening theme song is actually a rotated picture of the "START BUTTON" on the Batmobile's instrument console.
7. The character of Aunt Harriet was introduced in the comics in 1964, some eighteen months before the show first aired. Her appearance coincided with the killing off of Alfred the Butler. But when the producers of the series revealed they were going to be including Alfred on the show he was resurrected in the comics. Prior to his being cast as the Butler to Master Bruce, Alan Napier had never heard of Batman and had no idea who the character was.
8. "Pow!" - A total of 352 "Holy" words were used by Robin from "Holy Agility" to "Holy Zorro". "Zok!!" - In addition to that 84 different word overlays were used during the fight scenes. "Eee-Yow!"
9. In all the scenes of the villains' hideouts, the camera filmed at an angle or "crooked". This was employed to give a sense of something being wrong because all the villains were also crooked.
10. Certainly not the biggest of Batman's comic book foes, the Riddler was surprisingly chosen to be the first villain featured on the series, and it was his depiction here by Frank Gorshin that would turn him into one of the most popular villains in Batman's rogues gallery. Initially dressed in a skin-tight outfit, Gorshin disliked wearing it so much that he insisted the costume be changed, and so a Riddler business suit was designed for him to wear. This suit was later incorporated into the Batman comics.
11. Because of a further dispute Gorshin did not return for Season 2, and so The Puzzler was created to fill his place in the episodes The Puzzles Are Coming/The Duo Is Slumming. John Astin was then briefly cast as the Riddler for Batman's Anniversary/A Riddling Controversy, with Gorshin returning for one episode in the final season.
12. The second story would feature the Penguin. Mickey Rooney turned down an offer to play the part, as did Spencer Tracy. He said he would only take the role if he could kill Batman! Burgess Meredith then came on board and quickly defined the character. Meredith had quit smoking some 20 years earlier and found that the cigarettes were irritating his throat, this gave him the distinctive squawking sound for the character. As for Penguin's waddle, it was largely a result of improvisation on Meredith's part.
13. Only one other villain would appear in as many TV stories as the Penguin, and we'll get to the Joker next. They both featured in 10 stories, the majority of which were multi-part adventures. However when it comes to individual episodes the Joker narrowly wins at 22 to 21.
14. When it came to cast the Joker, Gig Young and José Ferrer were both initially considered for the role, with Ferrer being offered the part. After initially accepting he turned it down shortly after. Co-incidentally, Ferrer was an uncle by marriage to George Clooney who played Batman/Bruce Wayne in Batman & Robin.
15. When Cesar Romero took the part he did it under the condition that he wouldn't have to shave off his mustache, so make-up simply painted over it. Romero met with producers to discuss his role on his series and was shown some conceptual art of Joker's costume. He felt the pictures almost looked absurd, and as a result spontaneously broke out into a playfully loud and almost manic laughter. One producer responded by telling Romero "That's it, that's your Joker's laugh!"
16. Frank Sinatra expressed an interest in playing the Joker if Romero should ever tire of the part.
17. Mr. Zero was set to make an appearance in the seventh and eighth episodes of Season 1, but the producers didn't like his name so it was changed to Mr. Freeze, and the name change eventually made its way into the comics as well.
18. Of all the villains portrayed on the television series, Mr. Freeze had the most actors portraying him: George Sanders, Otto Preminger and Eli Wallach. Some years later Otto Preminger revealed that he had initially turned the part down but was kept locked out of his house by his grandchildren until he agreed to be cast on the series as Mr Freeze.
19. Catwoman also had three different actresses portray the role, with Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt in the TV series, and Lee Meriwether in the spin-off movie version. Eartha Kitt only took over the role of Catwoman in the final season because Julie Newmar was contracted to film Mackenna's Gold. It was a casting that caused much controversy at the time, with the race issue causing some of ABC's southern affiliates declaring they would not broadcast the episodes. The show's producers released a statement that they stood behind their decision and that they felt it really shouldn't be an issue.
20. Famously three major villains from the Batman comic books were never used in the television show; Scarecrow, Two-Face and Poison Ivy (although Poison Ivy was actually only introduced in the comics during the show's run). If Season 4 had gone into production there were plans to introduce Two-Face. His origin story had been the sticking point, if you don't know 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, and this was considered too gruesome for television at the time. But a new origin had been created for him, instead of a District Attorney, Harvey Dent would now be a TV commentator who has a TV tube blow up in his face.
21. At the end of Season 2 Batman was facing cancellation, so the producers put together a promotional short film for their proposed third season, including both 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. ABC even went so far as to broadcast the short between seasons under the title, "Batgirl".
22. Yvonne Craig has stated that although she did have a stunt double, she did most of her stunts herself. She actually operated the Batgirl Cycle as she was an accomplished biker.
23. At the end of Season 3 ABC planned to cut the budget by eliminating Chief O'Hara and Robin. Their idea was that Batgirl could become Batman's full-time partner. Both creator William Dozier and star Adam West were firmly opposed to the idea, voicing their concerns to ABC. A short time later, after 120 episodes and a spin-off movie, the show was canceled.
24. The producers then began shopping the series around to see if any other network were interested in picking it up. After several months, and having given up hope, sets were destroyed and the Batcave was bulldozed. Typically, two weeks later NBC expressed an interest in continuing the series! Initially unaware that the set had already been dismantled, and then unwilling to invest in the high cost of rebuilding, NBC ultimately decided to not acquire the series.
25. Despite being offered and turning down the part of James Bond, Adam West found it almost impossible to escape the shadow of the bat. Bit parts and guest star roles in shows like Mannix and Police Woman became the staple of West's 1970s career, and in between he could be found working as a Batman for hire at public events. But in the background West was attempting to play Batman again on film, and wrote a screenplay himself for a brand new, very odd sounding Batman movie, which he pitched to multiple studios. West explained the plot to Rolling Stone magazine;
“Bruce Wayne had basically retired to his ranch in New Mexico after having cleaned up Gotham City. Most of the main villains were in madhouses or penitentiaries. So I invented a new supervillain called Sun Yat Mars, who was so heinous he inspired to spring them on one horrible stormy night, making them his minions – Marsies. Moreover he was kidnapping college kids from all over the world, taking them to his Zombie Satellite, which was very Alien looking, and there they marched like Dracula, filing in long lines into these terrible machines that sucked their brains out.
The Picture would've opened with Bruce and his girlfriends out riding horses in the moonlight, and they come across a mutilated cow's carcass surrounded by burned grass. You don't know whether or not a spaceship is involved. It's all very mysterious. Meanwhile, Dick Grayson has become a signing medical intern somewhere/ He's chasing nurses around with his guitar - the Bruce Springsteen of Mercy Hospital. We reunite and end up conquering all those guys again"The plot sounds absolutely Batshit-crazy, but, boy, would I have paid hard cash money to have seen it!
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