Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper  Mersey Beat

Batman TV Series

‘Batman’ was one of the most popular television series of the Sixties, a tongue-in-cheek treatment of the adventures of a costumed superhero who had made his debut in Detective Comics in 1939 and had previously been the subject of two Columbia Pictures’ series, ‘Batman’ and ‘Batman and Robin'. ABC television was interested in featuring a series based on a comic strip character in their 7.30 pm slot. They’d drawn up a list of five possible choices, based on popularity: Dick Tracy, Superman, Batman, The Green Hornet and Little Orphan Annie. As the rights to the first two characters on the list weren’t available, they decided to go ahead with a ‘Batman’ project.

The producers initially attempted to hire actor Ty Hardin for the part, but he was busy making a ‘spaghetti western’, so they selected Adam West. For his accomplice, Robin, they hired Burt Ward. ‘Batman’ ran for 120 episodes over three seasons and eventually came to an end because of the high costs of production and shrinking audiences. The NBC network was interested in taking over the series, but they made the approach to ABC two weeks after the entire Batman set had been destroyed, which would have resulted in a new series being prohibitively expensive. When originally screened in America, the first two episodes of the show earned the highest ratings since The Beatles had originally appeared on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’ After the series was wrapped up, it became a popular item on syndication and has continued to be screened throughout the world ever since. Its popularity at the time ensured that numerous stars requested guest appearances in the series as villains.

Batman’s adversaries were a colourful collection of eccentric ‘baddies’ and included: The Archer (Art Carney); Black Widow (Tallulah Bankhead); The Bookworm (Roddy McDowell); Cassandra (Ida Lupino); Catwoman (Eartha Kitt/Lee Meriwether (film)/Julie Newmar); Chandell (Liberace); Egghead (Vincent Price); The Joker (Cesar Romero); King Tut (Victor Buono); Lord Fogg (Rudy Vallee); Ma Parker (Shelley Winters); Minerva (Zsa Zsa Gabor); The Minstrel (Van Johnson); Mr Freeze (Otto Preminger/George Sanders/Eli Wallach); The Penguin (Burgess Meredith); The Riddler (Frank Gorshin/John Astin); Sandman (Michael Rennie); Shame (Cliff Robertson); The Siren (Joan Collins) and Zelda the Great (Anne Baxter).

The popularity of ‘Batman’ led to a flood of merchandise ranging from posters and tee shirts to models of the Batmobile. There was even a hair style based on Batman’s cowl and a discotheque called Wayne Manor. ‘Batman The Movie’ was a cinema feature film released in 1966 which saw Batman and Robin battling with the combined forces of Catwoman, The Joker, The Penguin and The Riddler. For many years after the series was completed, the Batman character was presented in a light-hearted manner due to the camp treatment it had received. In the Eighties the comic book character was re-presented as a dark avenger in a Batman comic series called ‘The Dark Knight’ and there have since been several major feature films featuring the character, portrayed by several actors including Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale.

Batman TV SeriesYvonne Joyce Craig (Batgirl) May 16th, 1937 – August 17th, 2015The Batmobile

Also see the Sixties City feature page on the Batman Film and TV series

Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

Article Text Bill Harry               Original Graphics SixtiesCity     Other individual owner copyrights may apply to Photographic Images

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