Batman, the TV series, made its debut as one of TV's first mid-season replacements on January 12, 1966. Featuring Adam West in the lead role and Burt Ward as Robin, his co-crime fighter, the show became a breakout hit.
Batman was everywhere, and the show quickly developed into the biggest marketing campaign in television history up to that time. Not only was every kid in America talking about Batman, but Batman magazines, T-shirts, costumes, posters, banners, records, etc., were everywhere—the biggest marketing craze since the Beatles themselves. The series success was short-lived, however. The fad quickly burned itself out, like a meteor shooting through the sky.
Now, though, Batman holds its rightful place in TV history as a genuine campy TV classic.
Let's take a look at some facts you may not know about Batman...
Before going on the air, Batman received the lowest test score ratings from test audiences in the history of the ABC network.
Batman was originally planned to be a very serious show. Prior to the show's debut, ABC held 2 test screenings: one with a laugh track dubbed in and one with additional narration. According to Adam West, both fell flat, and the "campy" approach was eventually decided upon instead.
Comic Book Savior
Batman's success as a TV series actually saved the Batman comic book from cancellation. Bob Kane, Batman's creator, has said the show's success gave the slumping Batman comics a much-needed boost in sales. Diehard Batman fans, however, never liked the series because of its campiness. After the show was cancelled, the Batman comics deliberately took a much more serious turn to placate upset fans.
Alfred's Return from the Dead
Alfred the Butler had already been killed off in the comic book 18 months before the TV show originally aired. He was brought back to life for the show and was played by Alan Napier. After the show's huge success, Alfred was resurrected in the comics as well.
Alan Napier was the show's only cast member who had never heard of Batman and had no idea who the character was before the show began filming.
The Role of Aunt Harriet
There is an urban myth that the Aunt Harriet character (played by Madge Blake) was added to the show to fend off viewers from thinking Batman and Robin were gay. According to most reliable sources, though, this story is indeed just a myth.
The Bulge in the Crotch
In the guy equivalent of Barbara Eden having to "hide her navel" on I Dream of Jeannie, there was a huge controversy about both Adam West's and Burt Ward's "bulge in the crotch" during the show's run. Several different methods of crotch "inhibition" were used on West and Ward during the series' run to fend off complaints from complaining conservative and religious organizations.
Adam West has admitted that Julie Newmar as Catwoman caused "strange stirrings in my utility belt." Burt Ward also admitted that Lesley Gore (as Catwoman's assistant, Pussycat) caused him a great deal of intense male feelings because she kept rubbing up against him.
The Value of a Sidekick
Burt Ward reportedly earned just $350 a week for the first season of Batman.
"Quick! To the Batmobile!"
The Batmobile was actually several vehicles: 5 different Batmobiles were used during the series' run. (The iconic car was a customized 1955 Lincoln Futura.)
Quack, Quack, Quack
When Burgess Meredith took the role of The Penguin, he hadn't smoked in 20 years. His trademark cigarette (in holder) irritated his throat, which caused him to ad-lib his trademark "Quack, quack, quack" croaking voice.
Batgirl, Harbinger of Doom
During the show's third and final season, a new character, Batgirl, was added. The character never quite fit in and helped toll the death knell of the show.
What Could Have Been...
Lyle Waggoner was the other actor considered to play Batman, but ultimately lost the role to Adam West.
Mickey Rooney was originally offered the role of the Penguin, but turned it down.
Frank Sinatra was a big fan of Batman and supposedly expressed interest in the Joker role.
Because of his great success as Batman, Adam West was offered the role of James Bond in the 1969 movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service. West declined, saying the role should be played by a British actor. George Lazenby, an Australian, got the role instead.
Eddie Deezen has appeared in over 30 motion pictures, including Grease, WarGames, 1941, and The Polar Express. He's also been featured in several TV shows, including Magnum PI, The Facts of Life, and The Gong Show. And he's done thousands of voice-overs for radio and cartoons, such as Dexter's Laboratory and Family Guy.
Read all Eddie's mental_floss stories.