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A Visual Guide to All 37 Villains in the Batman TV Series

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Here they all are with a little extra Bam! Pow! Zap! for good measure. 

1. THE RIDDLER (FRANK GORSHIN)

SEASON 1 (EPISODES 1, 2, 11, 12, 23, 24, 31, 32), SEASON 3 (EPISODE 2) 

The quintessential (and first) Batman villain to star in the ’66 series, Frank Gorshin would end up playing The Riddler in all of the character’s appearances in the series except for a two episode span during season two when John Astin stepped into the green tights.

2. THE RIDDLER (JOHN ASTIN)

SEASON 2 (EPISODES 45, 46)

Perhaps best known for playing Gomez Addams in ABC’s 1964 TV series The Addams Family, John Astin donned The Riddler’s costume for a short two-episode arc during Batman’s second season.

3. THE PENGUIN (BURGESS MEREDITH)

SEASON 1 (EPISODES 3, 4, 21, 22, 33, 34), SEASON 2 (EPISODES 17, 18, 27, 28, 37, 38, 39, 42, 43, 44), SEASON 3 (EPISODES 1, 4, 5, 20)

Burgess Meredith’s portrayal of The Penguin may be the most iconic (at least in appearance) of the entire series. With his purple top hat, monocle, and long cigarette, Meredith’s Penguin would appear in more Batman episodes (20) than any other villain. 

4. THE JOKER (CESAR ROMERO)

SEASON 1 (EPISODES 5, 6, 15, 16, 25, 26), SEASON 2 (EPISODES 21, 22, 37, 38, 39, 47, 48, 57, 58), SEASON 3 (EPISODES 10, 16, 17, 24)

Second only to Burgess Meredith as The Penguin, Cesar Romero appears in Batman as The Joker in 19 episodes in total. Known for his bright green hair, stark white makeup, and wide smile, Romero’s Joker would become one of the show’s most memorable villains. The actor famously refused to shave his signature mustache and you can see it under the white face paint particularly well on the high-definition transfers included on this Blu-ray box set. 

5. MR. FREEZE (GEORGE SANDERS)

SEASON 1 (EPISODES 7, 8) 

Appearing as Mr. Freeze for only two episodes during the show’s first season, George Sander’s Mr. Freeze is quite low tech compared to the getups that Otto Preminger and Eli Wallach would wear during season two. When he does eventually don his signature suit, Sanders looks more like an astronaut than a villain with super freezy powers. 

6. MR. FREEZE (OTTO PREMINGER)

SEASON 2 (EPISODES 19, 20)

Legendary, groundbreaking director Otto Preminger (Laura) took over the role of Mr. Freeze for two episodes during Batman’s second season and gives perhaps the most bizarre (and cool) performance of the three actors that would play the character.

7. MR. FREEZE (ELI WALLACH)

SEASON 2 (EPISODES 59, 60)

Eli Wallach (who passed away in June 2014 at the age of 98) played the frigid villain for the final two episodes of season two. His Mr. Freeze, who discovers an instant ice formula, is easily the most mustache-twirlingly and villainous of the three versions. It is also likely to be the most memorable.

8. ZELDA THE GREAT (ANNE BAXTER)

SEASON 1 (EPISODES 9, 10)

The great Anne Baxter (All About Eve, The Razor’s Edge, The Ten Commandments) plays Zelda the Great in a two-episode arc that includes the kidnapping of poor Aunt Harriet. This isn’t, however, the last time fans would see Baxter on the series... 

9. MAD HATTER (DAVID WAYNE)

SEASON 1 (EPISODES 13, 14), SEASON 2 (EPISODES 35, 36)

Screen and stage veteran David Wayne plays The Mad Hatter in four episodes spread over two seasons of Batman. The villain, obsessed with getting his hands on Batman’s cowl, conceals a Super Instant Mesmerizer in one of his many hats in an attempt to get the job done. The Dynamic Duo, of course, has other plans. 

10. FALSE FACE (MALACHI THRONE)

SEASON 1 (EPISODES 17, 18)

Malachi Throne was a staple of geek TV throughout his career: He made appearances in Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Lost in Space, The Six Million Dollar Man, Babylon 5, and many more nerd-centric shows. We don’t even really get to see his recognizable face in Batman, however, as he plays a villain named False Face, who looks different nearly every time we see him.

11. CATWOMAN (JULIE NEWMAR)

SEASON 1 (EPISODES 19, 20), SEASON 2 (EPISODES 3, 4, 10, 29, 30, 33, 34, 40, 41, 49, 50)

Appearing in 13 Batman episodes over the show’s first two seasons, Julie Newmar’s Catwoman tussles with The Dynamic Duo more than any other female villain in the series. Not only did her appearance on the show make her the object of many a young man's affections, but it also helped establish the general look of the character on screen for years to come.

12. CATWOMAN (EARTHA KITT)

SEASON 3 (EPISODES 14, 16, 17)

Julie Newmar left some mighty big paws to fill when she didn’t return to the role of Catwoman for Batman’s third season. But, if you’re going to try to fill them, you might as well do it with a legend like Eartha Kitt. The singer, actress, and all-around dynamo donned the cat suit and purred her way into the hearts of Batman fans everywhere. I don’t know about you, but we can’t help but think of Catwoman every time we hear “Santa Baby” (which Kitt famously recorded) come on the radio during the holiday season.

Lee Meriwether played Catwoman in the 1966 movie.

13. KING TUT (VICTOR BUONO)

SEASON 1 (EPISODES 27, 28), SEASON 2 (7, 8, 53, 54), SEASON 3 (6, 23)

Ever the performer, Victor Buono’s over-the-top performance as Batman original villain King Tut earned him appearances in eight separate episodes over the show’s three seasons. The actor reportedly loved playing the character because it allowed him the opportunity to overact, one of the aspects of the character that makes King Tut so beloved (and if there’s ever a place to overact, the Batman series seems like a great place to do it). 

14. BOOKWORM (RODDY MCDOWALL)

SEASON 1 (EPISODES 29, 30)

Between film, TV, and theater, Planet of the Apes star Roddy McDowall’s resume is a mile long—so it should come as no surprise that he was able to sneak in two episodes as an original villain named Bookworm on Batman. Committing crimes inspired by literary works, Bookworm was created for the show, but would later come to figure in the Batman comic books as well. 

15. THE ARCHER (ART CARNEY)

SEASON 2 (EPISODES 1, 2)

Once you realize that The Honeymooners veteran Art Carney is playing Batman villain The Archer in the first two episodes of the show’s second season, you should immediately know that the character is mostly going to be played for laughs. Based on the classic Robin Hood character, The Archer does his own brand of robbing the rich to feed the poor along with two henchmen (and one henchwoman) cleverly named Maid Marilyn, Big John, and Crier Tuck. 

16. MINSTREL (VAN JOHNSON)

SEASON 2 (EPISODES 5,6)

Minstrel only appears in two season-two Batman episodes, but he’s a tough one to forget because Van Johnson’s performance is so mesmerizing. The villain is about as milquetoast as one gets—he abhors violence and sings songs about the crimes he’s committed (or is about to commit)—but it’s still hard to get Minstrel out of your head.

17. MA PARKER (SHELLEY WINTERS)

SEASON 2 (EPISODES 9, 10)

Season two villain Ma Parker is all about Shelley Winters' hilariously evil performance. Full of bravado and a pun a minute, the character is a simple country mother who has an affinity for powerful guns. Along with her three sons Pretty Boy Parker, Machine Gun Parker, and Mad Dog Parker, and one daughter named Legs Parker (that Ma really can’t stand), they give The Dynamic Duo a run for their money.

18. CLOCK KING (WALTER SLEZAK)

SEASON 2 (EPISODES 11, 12)

Tony Award-winning actor Walter Slezak suits up as Clock King for two season-two episodes of Batman using an antique clock to loot a jewelry store before Batman and Robin are on his tail. Though Clock King actually has pretty deep roots in the DC Comics universe, this version is a wonder all its own with Slezak’s trademark expressions and villainy leading the way. Oh, and one really big hourglass.

19. EGGHEAD (VINCENT PRICE)

SEASON 2 (EPISODES 13, 14), SEASON 3 (EPISODES 8, 9, 15)

It’s hard not to love Vincent Price’s hilariously campy portrayal of Egghead during five episodes in Batman’s run. With his signature white and yellow suit and enormous bald head, Price overacts to perfection as the extremely intelligent, eggcentric (get it?) villain. The character has a lair decked out with bacon and egg drawings on the wall and tosses laughing and tear gas eggs at his foes. Egghead is, quite possibly, the most lovable of all Batman villains.

20. CHANDELL (LIBERACE)

SEASON 2 (EPISODES 15, 16)

For two episodes, the piano virtuoso plays both Chandell (the piano player) and his twin brother Harry (who, it turns out, is the real villain here), and the results are a lot of fun. If only we could have seen Liberace play more villains throughout his career, TV would have been a far more interesting place. 

21. MARSHA, QUEEN OF DIAMONDS (CAROLYN JONES)

SEASON 2 (EPISODES 23, 24, 42, 43, 44)

Here’s a bit of cool trivia for you: Carolyn Jones, who plays the diamond-loving villainess Marsha, Queen of Diamonds in five season-two Batman episodes, also played Morticia Addams in ABC’s The Addams Family. We already told you about John Astin’s connection to that series, but there’s also a brief appearance by Ted Cassidy (who played Lurch in that show) during one of Batman’s iconic Batclimbs. How’s that for synergy!

22. SHAME (CLIFF ROBERTSON)

SEASON 2 (EPISODES 25, 26), SEASON 3 (EPISODES 21, 22)

Clearly a spoof of the classic 1953 Western movie character Shane (from the movie of the same name), Cliff Robertson’s villain Shame appears in four Batman episodes with two different posses. In the first, he’s joined by Okie Annie (Joan Staley)—an obvious riff on Annie Oakley—and, in the second, he’s got Calamity Jan (Dina Merrill) by his side.

23. PUZZLER (MAURICE EVANS)

SEASON 2 (EPISODES 31, 32)

Not to be confused with The Riddler, Maurice Evans as Puzzler also likes to keep Batman and Robin confused with his clever puzzles, word games, and tricks. He’s often seen reciting Shakespeare and has a thing for aviation. According to Wikia, Puzzler’s appearance only came about because Frank Gorshin no longer wanted to play The Riddler during season two, so the show slotted Puzzler into these two episodes instead. Of course, John Astin would play The Riddler later in season two and Gorshin would return to the green tights in season three.

24. SANDMAN (MICHAEL RENNIE)

SEASON 2 (EPISODES 33, 34)

Portrayed by veteran actor Michael Rennie, Sandman’s two-episode appearance during Batman’s second season is often overshadowed by the fact that he’s working alongside the beautiful Julie Newmar as Catwoman. But fans should give the shifty Dr. Somnambular his due—the guy does have sleep powers after all!

25. COLONEL GUMM (ROGER C. CARMEL)

SEASON 2 (EPISODES 51, 52)

Roger C. Carmel’s performance as Colonel Gumm is mostly remembered for the villain’s penchant for wearing pink, being surround by pink, and being obsessed with stamps. The real memorable thing about Colonel Gumm’s two-episode arc, however, is the fact that the episodes feature crossover appearances by Green Hornet (Van Williams) and Kato (Bruce Lee).

26. BLACK WIDOW (TALLULAH BANKHEAD)

SEASON 2 (EPISODES 55, 56)

The most tragic thing about the great Tallulah Bankhead’s fantastic performance as season two villainess Black Widow in Batman is the fact that this would be her final on-screen role. Decked out in her signature black and red outfits, the character is unforgettable, whether it’s stealing from a bank or hanging out in her stunning spider-themed lair. 

27. SIREN (JOAN COLLINS)

SEASON 3 (EPISODES 2, 3)

Siren, played by Joan Collins, begins her entrance into the world of Batman as a bit of a sidekick in The Riddler’s devious plan to take over Gotham City’s boxing game. By her second episode, however, the singing Siren makes a plan to uncover Batman’s true identity all by herself. Memorable for her beauty, luxurious outfits, and her ability to mesmerize men with her high-octave tunes, Siren makes an indelible mark on the series in the span of only two episodes. 

28. LOLA LASAGNE (ETHEL MERMAN)

SEASON 3 (EPISODES 4, 5)

Despite the charming and talented Ethel Merman’s performance, Lola Lasagne is one of Batman’s least interesting and memorable villains. For one, her weapon of choice is the parasol. Secondly, she mostly plays in the shadows of one of the show’s most memorable villains, The Penguin. If it weren’t for Ethel Merman, we might not remember Lola at all.

29. LOUIE THE LILAC (MILTON BERLE)

SEASON 3 (EPISODES 7, 18)

Louie the Lilac, on the other hand, makes a huge mark on Batman by being such a bright, colorful character (with such a recognizable face behind it) that two episodes are more than enough to make fans remember him. There’s a whole lot of Milton Berle himself in Louie’s demeanor, even down to the actor’s signature cigar, which is part of what makes the character (created specifically for the show) work. Louie the Lilac also went on to appear in five episodes of the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold

30. OLGA, QUEEN OF THE COSSACKS (ANNE BAXTER)

SEASON 3 (EPISODES 8, 15)

Remember how we told you that Zelda the Great would not be the last you’d see of Anne Baxter in Batman? That’s because she’s the show’s only guest villain to ever return to play a different villain on the show later. This time around, she portrays Egghead’s main squeeze Olga, Queen of the Cossacks. The showy villainess mostly sits back while Egghead and his henchmen take care of business, but she’s a memorable character nonetheless. 

31. LORD MARMADUKE FFOGG (RUDY VALLEE)

SEASON 3 (EPISODES 11, 12, 13)

The coolest thing about Lord Marmaduke Ffogg (who appears in three episodes as the co-villain alongside his sister Lady Penelope Peasoup) is easily his Pipe of Fog. All the venerable lord has to do is light that thing up and the room starts filling with a white, puffy smoke—perfect to conceal his getaway. Played by Rudy Vallee, the villain also wore a special cast on his foot to make people think he had the gout and was, therefore, incapable of pulling off his crimes. Clever man.

32. LADY PENELOPE PEASOUP (GLYNIS JOHNS)

SEASON 3 (EPISODES 11, 12, 13)

Though Lord Marmaduke Ffogg appears to be the main villain in this three-episode arc, his sister Lady Penelope Peasoup actually comes across as more interesting and charismatic. Despite being relegated to mostly taking charge of the female criminals in their charge, Lady Penelope (played by Glynis Johns) makes her mark on the series.

33. NORA CLAVICLE (BARBARA RUSH)

SEASON 3 (EPISODE 19)

It’s almost a shame that someone as talented as Barbara Rush (It Came from Outer Space) was saddled with another of Batman’s least memorable villains. In her one appearance on the show, Nora Clavicle uses her wits and charm to convince Mayor Linseed to give her the Commissioner job, which is all part of a devious plan to destroy Gotham City and collect on an insurance claim. How does she plan to do it, though? With mechanical mice. Since she replaced the police force with housewives, they’re all afraid of mice. Pretty sexist, right? Ahh, those crazy 1960s. 

34. CALAMITY JAN (DINA MERRILL)

SEASON 3 (EPISODES 21, 22)

It’s a shame that Batman doesn’t really let Dina Merrill’s Calamity Jan be much more than arm candy for their western spoof villain Shame, but at least the actress does the best she can with the material she’s got. Calamity Jan comes across as adorable and silly, but just smart enough to probably be able to ditch Shame and bring Batman and Robin to their knees. Sadly, we’ll never know if that’s true since she’s mostly playing second fiddle to Cliff Roberston’s Shame. 

35. DR. CASSANDRA SPELLCRAFT (IDA LUPINO)

SEASON 3 (EPISODE 25)

Ida Lupino helped pave the way for female directors of our time, so it should come as no surprise that she’s very much the leading power in the villainous duo that headlines Batman’s penultimate episode. Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft comes from a long line of female alchemists, but she’s determined to be the only successful one. So she uses her power to bring down the Bat. Or tries, at least. She’s a bright, colorful character in many ways, but the way she puts her silly husband Cabala in his place is the very best thing about her.

36. CABALA (HOWARD DUFF)

SEASON 3 (EPISODE 25)

After a few episodes that feature female villains mostly relegated to storylines dominated by male power (Nora Clavicle and Calamity Jan), it’s great to see one where the man completely and utterly does anything he can to make his wife happy, right? Played by Howard Duff, Cabala is less a villain and more a sidekick to Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft. He’ll do anything to please her, calls her “Doccy Baby,” and can often be caught checking himself out in the mirror rather than plotting villainous schemes.

37. MINERVA (ZSA ZSA GABOR)

SEASON 3 (EPISODE 26)

Batman’s final villain is also one of its most glamorous. Played by Zsa Zsa Gabor, Minerva opens a health spa in Gotham City and uses her Deepest Secret Extractor to run amok. She’s pulling off robberies left and right, and even Alfred gets involved going undercover to help The Dynamic Duo. What makes Minerva so memorable, however, is the star power of Gabor. Sure, she’s mostly just saying “Darlings…” a lot, but her appearance as the platinum-dressed villainess will likely never be forgotten. 

Batman: The Complete Series (Limited Edition) is available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD now.

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15 Fun Facts About Yo Gabba Gabba!
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Since its debut on August 20, 2007 on Nick Jr., Yo Gabba Gabba!—a kids’ show featuring a red cyclops, a magic robot, a pink flower girl, a green-striped guy, a blue cat-dragon, and a host wearing orange spandex and a fluffy hat—became one of the biggest draws for the preschool crowd. But thanks to the show's hipster-friendly musical performances and celebrity guest stars, Yo Gabba Gabba! managed to transcend its kiddie roots to become a hit with fans of all ages. On the 10th anniversary of its debut, let's go behind the scenes of the beloved series.

1. THE CREATOR OF NAPOLEON DYNAMITE HAD A HAND IN GETTING YO GABBA GABBA! ON THE AIR.

Longtime friends Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz got the idea for Yo Gabba Gabba! when, as two dads in their mid-30s, they were less-than-enthusiastic about the television shows their kids were watching. It wasn't that the other shows were bad; they were just boring and sanitized.

With their experience as musicians and videographers, Jacobs and Schultz thought they could do something different. So they scraped together about $150,000 and began writing, animating, and shooting demo episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba! in their garage. They posted these videos online and Jared Hess, director of Napoleon Dynamite, happened to see them. Impressed, Hess passed the link onto Brown Johnson, an executive at Nickelodeon, who said, “Lordy. Nothing else looks like this on television.” She quickly contacted the duo and, in a risky move that obviously paid off, gave them complete creative control of their own show on Nick Jr.

2. THE TITLE IS MEANT TO BE MIMIC BABY TALK.

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According to Jacobs, the name of the show is a nonsense phrase meant to be reminiscent of the first words spoken by a baby. However, that doesn't mean Jacobs and Schultz aren't happy the name also pays homage to The Ramones, who used the phrase “Gabba Gabba Hey!” in their song “Pinhead.” But that actually makes it an homage of an homage, as The Ramones were paying tribute to the original source of the phrase, the 1932 cult classic film Freaks. In the film, “Gabba Gabba Hey!” is part of a chant uttered by a group of circus freaks as they welcome a new member into the fold.

3. ITS THEME SONG IS REMINISCENT OF PEE-WEE'S PLAYHOUSE.

The show's intro music seems suspiciously like the intro music from another kinetic kids' show, Pee-wee's Playhouse. Pay close attention to when the trees part on Pee-wee's intro and you'll hear a lot of similarities between the two.

4. THE SHOW BECAME A WORLDWIDE PHENOMENON.

Yo Gabba Gabba! became a worldwide phenomenon, and was broadcast all over the world, including in Italy, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, and Canada.

5. DJ LANCE ROCK REALLY IS A DJ.

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DJ Lance Rock is actually Lance Robertson—and he really is a DJ. Robertson grew up in St. Louis, where he started spinning records in the early '90s before moving to Los Angeles at the age of 29. While in L.A., he played with a band, The Ray Makers, who played a few gigs with a group called Majestic, which counted future Yo Gabba Gabba! co-creator Scott Schultz as a member. When the Yo Gabba Gabba! guys were looking for a host, Schultz thought of Robertson. After Robertson signed on, one of the first things he did was suggest they change DJ Lance's look to the now-iconic orange jumpsuit and fuzzy hat. The original costume included a waistcoat similar to the one worn by Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka.

6. MUNO AND BROBEE EXISTED BEFORE YO GABBA GABBA!.

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While the other characters were created exclusively for Yo Gabba Gabba!, Muno and Brobee were already around as part of the live show for Christian Jacobs's kid-friendly ska/punk band, The Aquabats. Since shortly after their founding in 1994, The Aquabats have dressed in matching superhero costumes, fighting evil under aliases like The MC Bat Commander (Jacobs), Crash McLarson, Jimmy the Robot, Ricky Fitness, and Eagle “Bones” Falconhawk. The lineup has changed frequently over the years (Travis Barker of Blink-182 was briefly their drummer under the name “The Baron von Tito”), but the band still performs live and releases the occasional studio album. Naturally, they made a handful of appearances on Yo Gabba Gabba!, as well.

7. THE SHOW HAS A CONNECTION TO DEVO.

While most kids only know him as the kookie art teacher on the show, Mark Mothersbaugh was one of the founding members and lead singer of the New Wave band Devo. Even when he’s not wearing a red terraced “Energy Dome” hat, Mothersbaugh’s career has been prolific as a composer for dozens of TV shows, films, video games, and commercials, including Apple’s famous “I’m a Mac” ads starring Justin Long and John Hodgman.

8. BIZ MARKIE WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO DANCE ON THE SHOW.

Yo Gabba Gabba! fans learned how to beatbox thanks to rapper Biz Markie (born Marcel Theo Hall) and his “Beat of the Day” segment. Biz was initially asked to do a Dancey Dance routine for the show, but he has a bad back, so he offered to teach the kids how to do a beat instead. The producers loved it and it became a staple on the show. Parents knew Biz best from his 1989 hit “Just a Friend,” which featured his unique brand of rapping and “singing.” 

9. SUPER MARTIAN ROBOT GIRL IS THE PRODUCT OF TWO GROUNDBREAKING COMIC BOOK ARTISTS.

The comic book the Gabba gang often reads, Super Martian Robot Girl, is the creation of married underground comic book celebrities Sarah Dyer and Evan Dorkin. Dorkin is the genius behind the small press comic Milk and Cheese about “dairy products gone bad”—a milk carton and a wedge of cheese who love to drink gin and beat people up. Dyer was an influential creator in the '90s zine scene, where she was one of the few people giving female zinesters a voice with her Action Girl Newsletter, which later paved the way for the similarly-themed Action Girl Comics.

10. IT WAS NOMINATED FOR SEVEN EMMYS, BUT NEVER WON.

Yo Gabba Gabba!  received numerous Daytime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction and Costume Design, as well as for Outstanding Pre-School Children's Series, but a win eluded the show. In addition, the series was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Children’s Programming by the Television Critics Association Awards five times (and won twice). Internationally, the show was awarded a BAFTA in 2008. And DJ Lance received two NAACP Image Award nominations.      

11. THE SHOW GOT ITS OWN LINE OF SNEAKERS.

Ever wanted to see Foofa pop a wheelie? How about Toodee ride a surfboard? In 2011, the Gabba gang shot a series of videos to promote their line of Vans shoe, a brand popular among the extreme sports crowd. The characters shared the screen with some of the biggest names in the X Games, including surfers Alex Knost and Jared Mell, skateboarders Bucky Lasek and Christian Hosoi, BMXers Alistair Whitton and Coco Zurita, and motocross stars Dean Wilson and Ryan Villopoto. You can check out the videos at Yo Gabba Gabba's official YouTube channel.

12. THEY PLAYED COACHELLA.

The gang invaded the Coachella Music Festival in 2010, where they performed, hung out with celebrity fans backstage, and even showed up to dance with the audience at other musical performances.

13. THE SHOW HAD A LOT OF CELEBRITY FANS.

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For Halloween 2009, Brad Pitt donned DJ Lance's orange jumpsuit and fuzzy hat when he took his kids trick-or-treating. Lance was later quoted as saying that Pitt looked “Awesome.”

14. IT FEATURED A LOT OF GUEST STARS.

While most celebrities only come on the show to do a Dancey Dance or Cool Tricks segment, there have been a handful of guests that played a bigger role in an episode. The first was Jack Black, who had an entire episode dedicated to his adventures in Gabbaland after his flying motorbike ran out of gas. He got the gig after his wife emailed the show and practically begged them to let Jack come on because he was such a big fan. Other celebrities who popped in: Angela Kinsey from The Office played a teacher, the Tooth Fairy was played by Amy Sedaris, Mos Def saved the day as Super Mr. Superhero, Anthony Bourdain cameoed as a doctor, Jason Bateman played an evil spy, Lost’s Josh Holloway played a helpful farmer, and Weird Al Yankovic guested as a circus ringmaster.

15. A YO GABBA GABBA! DOLL WILL COST YOU A PRETTY PENNY.

The Gabba action figures that DJ Lance brought to life at the beginning of each episode were produced by Kidrobot, one of the leading names in the vinyl toy movement. The figures are no longer produced, so when one pops up on eBay, it often commands a high price. But if you’re not willing to spend that kind of money on an action figure, there are plenty of other Gabba-themed toys, books, DVDs, comics, smartphone apps, and clothes to keep your kids happy.

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10 Witty Facts About The Marx Brothers
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Talented as individuals and magnificent as a team, the Marx Brothers conquered every medium from the vaudeville stage to the silver screen. Today, we’re tipping our hats (and tooting our horns) to Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, and Gummo—on the 50th anniversary of Groucho's passing.

1. A RUNAWAY MULE INSPIRED THEM TO TAKE A STAB AT COMEDY.

Julius, Milton, and Arthur Marx originally aspired to be professional singers. In 1907, the boys joined a group called “The Three Nightingales.” Managed by their mother, Minnie, the ensemble performed covers of popular songs in theaters all over the country. As Nightingales, the brothers enjoyed some moderate success, but they might never have found their true calling if it weren’t for an unruly equid. During a 1907 gig at the Nacogdoches Opera House in East Texas, someone interrupted the performance by barging in and shouting “Mule’s loose!” Immediately, the crowd raced out to watch the newly-liberated animal. Back inside, Julius seethed. Furious at having lost the spotlight, he skewered his audience upon their return. “The jackass is the finest flower of Tex-ass!” he shouted, among many other ad-libbed jabs. Rather than boo, the patrons roared with laughter. Word of his wit soon spread and demand for these Marx brothers grew.

2. THEY RECEIVED THEIR STAGE NAMES DURING A POKER GAME.

In May of 1914, the five Marxes were playing cards with standup comedian Art Fisher. Inspired by a popular comic strip character known as “Sherlocko the Monk,” he decided that the boys could use some new nicknames. Leonard’s was a no-brainer. Given his girl-crazy, “chick-chasing” lifestyle, Fisher dubbed him “Chicko” (later, this was shortened to “Chico”). Arthur loved playing the harp and thus became “Harpo.” An affinity for soft gumshoes earned Milton the alias “Gummo.” Finally, Julius was both cynical and often seen wearing a “grouch bag”—wherein he’d store small objects like marbles and candy—around his neck. Thus, “Groucho” was born. For the record, nobody knows how Herbert Marx came to be known as “Zeppo.”

3. GROUCHO WORE HIS TRADEMARK GREASEPAINT MUSTACHE BECAUSE HE HATED MORE REALISTIC MODELS.

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Phony, glue-on facial hair can be a pain to remove and reapply, so Groucho would simply paint a ‘stache and some exaggerated eyebrows onto his face. However, the mustache he later rocked as the host of his famous quiz show You Bet Your Life was 100 percent real.

4. HARPO WAS A SELF-TAUGHT HARPIST.

Without any formal training (or the ability to read sheet music), the second-oldest Marx brother developed a unique style that he never stopped improving upon. “Dad really loved playing the harp, and he did it constantly,” his son, Bill Marx, wrote. “Maybe the first multi-tasker ever, he even had a harp in the bathroom so he could play when he sat on the toilet!”

5. THE VERY FIRST MARX BROTHERS MOVIE WAS NEVER RELEASED.

Financed by Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo, and a handful of other investors, Humor Risk was filmed in 1921. Accounts differ, but most scholars agree that the silent picture—which would have served as the family’s cinematic debut—never saw completion. Despite this, an early screening of the work-in-progress was reportedly held in the Bronx. When Humor Risk failed to impress there, production halted. By Marx Brothers standards, it would’ve been an unusual flick, with Harpo playing a heroic detective opposite a villainous Groucho character.

6. GUMMO AND ZEPPO BECAME TALENT AGENTS.

World War I forced Gummo to quit the stage. Following his return, the veteran decided that performing was no longer for him and instead started a raincoat business. Zeppo—the youngest brother—then assumed Gummo’s role as the troupe’s straight-talking foil. A brilliant businessman, Zeppo eventually broke away to found the talent agency Zeppo Marx Inc., which grew into Hollywood’s third-largest, representing superstars like Clark Gable, Lucille Ball, and—of course—the other three Marx Brothers. Gummo, who joined the company in 1935, was charged with handling Groucho, Harpo, and Chico’s needs.

7. CHICO ONCE LAUNCHED A BIG BAND GROUP.

Chico took advantage of an extended break between Marx brothers movies to realize a lifelong dream. A few months before The Big Store hit cinemas in 1941, he co-founded the Chico Marx Orchestra: a swinging jazz band that lasted until July of 1943. Short-lived as the group was, however, it still managed to recruit some amazing talent—including singer/composer Mel Tormé, who would go on to help write “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” in 1945.

8. THEY TESTED OUT NEW MATERIAL FOR A NIGHT AT THE OPERA IN FRONT OF LIVE AUDIENCES.

With the script still being drafted, MGM made the inspired choice to let the brothers perform key scenes in such places as Seattle, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. Once a given joke was made, the Marxes meticulously timed the ensuing laughter, which let them know exactly how much silence to leave after repeating the gag on film. According to Harpo, this had the added benefit of shortening A Night at the Opera’s production period. “We didn’t have to rehearse,” he explained. “[We just] got onto the set and let the cameras roll.”

9. GROUCHO TEMPORARILY HOSTED THE TONIGHT SHOW.

Jack Paar bid the job farewell on March 29, 1962. Months before their star’s departure, NBC offered Paar’s Tonight Show seat to Groucho, who had established himself as a razor-sharp, well-liked host during You Bet Your Life’s 14-year run. Though Marx turned the network down, he later served as a guest host for two weeks while Johnny Carson prepared to take over the gig. When Carson finally made his Tonight Show debut on October 1, it was Groucho who introduced him.

10. SPY MAGAZINE USED A MARX BROTHERS MOVIE TO PRANK U.S. CONGRESSMEN.

Duck Soup takes place in Freedonia, a fictional country over which the eccentric Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) presides. In 1993, 60 years after the movie’s release, this imaginary nation made headlines by embarrassing some real-life politicians. Staffers from Spy got in touch with around 20 freshmen in the House of Representatives, asking some variation on the question “Do you approve of what we’re doing to stop ethnic cleansing in Freedonia?” A few lawmakers took the bait. Representative Corrine Brown (D-Florida) professed to approve of America’s presence in Freedonia, saying, “I think all of those situations are very, very sad, and I just think we need to take action to assist the people.” Across the aisle, Steve Buyer (R-Indiana) concurred. “Yeah,” he said, “it’s a different situation than the Middle East.”

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