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

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

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 1966 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 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 of the entire series (at least in appearance). With his purple top hat, monocle, and long cigarette, Meredith’s Penguin appeared 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 appeared 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 Sanders's Mr. Freeze was quite low-tech compared to the getups that Otto Preminger and Eli Wallach would wear during season two. When he did eventually don his signature suit, Sanders looked 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 gave 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 played the frigid villain for the final two episodes of season two. His Mr. Freeze, who discovered an instant ice formula, is easily the most mustache-twirlingly and villainous of the three versions. For many fans, his version is also the most memorable.

8. ZELDA THE GREAT (ANNE BAXTER)


SEASON 1 (EPISODES 9, 10)

The great Anne Baxter (All About Eve, The Ten Commandments) played 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 played The Mad Hatter in four episodes spread over two seasons of Batman. The villain, who is obsessed with getting his hands on Batman’s cowl, concealed a Super Instant Mesmerizer in one of his many hats in an attempt to get the job done. The Dynamic Duo, of course, had 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 played a villain named False Face, who looked different nearly every time we saw 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 tussled 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 catsuit and purred her way into the hearts of Batman fans everywhere.

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 was 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 did 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 appeared in two season-two Batman episodes, but he’s a tough one to forget because Van Johnson’s performance is so mesmerizing. The villain was about as milquetoast as one gets—he abhorred violence and sang songs about the crimes he had committed (or was 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 was all about Shelley Winters's hilariously evil performance. Full of bravado and a pun a minute, the character was 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 couldn't stand), they gave The Dynamic Duo a run for their money.

18. CLOCK KING (WALTER SLEZAK)


SEASON 2 (EPISODES 11, 12)

Tony Award-winning actor Walter Slezak suited 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 had pretty deep roots in the DC Comics universe, this version was 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 overacted to perfection as the extremely intelligent, eggcentric (get it?) villain. The character had a lair decked out with bacon and egg drawings on the wall and tossed 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 played both Chandell (the piano player) and his twin brother Harry (who, it turns out, is the real villain here), and the results were 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 played 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 appeared in four Batman episodes with two different posses. In the first, he was joined by Okie Annie (Joan Staley)—an obvious riff on Annie Oakley—and, in the second, he had 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 liked to keep Batman and Robin confused with clever puzzles, word games, and tricks. He was often seen reciting Shakespeare and had 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 was often overshadowed by the fact that he was working alongside the beautiful Julie Newmar as Catwoman. But fans should give the shifty Dr. Somnambular his due—the guy did 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 featured 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 it would be her final on-screen role. Decked out in her signature black and red outfits, the character was unforgettable—whether she was 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, began 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 made 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 made 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 was one of Batman’s least interesting and memorable villains. For one, her weapon of choice was the parasol. Secondly, she mostly played 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, made 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 portrayed Egghead’s main squeeze, Olga, Queen of the Cossacks. The showy villainess mostly sat back while Egghead and his henchmen took 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 appeared in three episodes as the co-villain alongside his sister Lady Penelope Peasoup) was easily his Pipe of Fog. All the venerable lord had to do is light that thing up and the room would start to fill 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 appeared to be the main villain in this three-episode arc, his sister Lady Penelope Peasoup actually came 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 used 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 did 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 didn'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 came 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 was 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 featured female villains mostly relegated to storylines dominated by male power (Nora Clavicle and Calamity Jan), it was great to see one where the man completely and utterly does anything he can to make his wife happy. 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 opened a health spa in Gotham City and used 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 said “Darlings…” a lot, but her appearance as the platinum-dressed villainess will likely never be forgotten. 

All images courtesy of Warner Home Video unless otherwise noted.

The Disputed Origins of Publix’s Chicken Tender Subs

Josh Hallett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Josh Hallett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

After Popeyes released its new chicken sandwich last week, a heated battle broke out on Twitter over which fast food chain offers the best one. Favorites included Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, and KFC, but the Publix chicken tender sub was mostly absent from the dialogue. Maybe it’s because Publix is a supermarket rather than a fast food restaurant, or maybe the southern chain is too specific to Florida and its neighboring states to warrant a national ranking.

Either way, the chicken tender sub is a cult culinary classic among Publix customers—there’s even an independently run website devoted to announcing when the subs are on sale (they aren’t right now), and affiliated Facebook and Twitter accounts with tens of thousands of followers. So whom do sub devotees have to thank for inventing the Publix food mashup from heaven? A Facebook user named Dave Charls says, “Me!,” but Publix begs to differ.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that in May of this year, a man named Dave Charls posted a message on the “Are Publix Chicken Tender Subs On Sale?” Facebook page recounting his origin story for the menu item, which allegedly took place in 1997 or 1998. At Charls explains it, he and his co-worker Kevin convinced their friend Philip, a deli worker at the Fleming Island Publix location, to assemble a sub with chicken tenders and ring it up as one item—something that deli workers had refused to do for Dave and Kevin in the past. According to Dave, Philip then convinced his manager to make it a special, publicized it via chalkboard sign, and the idea spread like hot sauce.

“You’re welcome,” Charls said. “It was actually Kevin’s idea and Philip brought it to life.”

Publix, however, told the Tampa Bay Times that its recorded documentation for a chicken tender sub recipe and procedure goes all the way back to 1992 or 1993. Based on that information, Publix spokesperson Brian West confirmed that Charls's heroic account of the origin is more fairytale than fact (though West, unfortunately, doesn’t have an equally thrilling origin story—or any story at all—with which to replace it).

Charls didn’t respond to a request from the Tampa Bay Times for comment, so we may never know how much of his claim is actually true. It’s possible, of course, that Publix’s 1992 (or 1993) chicken tender sub recipe hadn’t gained momentum by the time Kevin’s moment of culinary genius struck in 1997 (or 1998), and the lack of date specificity suggests that neither party knows exactly how it went down. What is incontrovertible, however, is the deliciousness of Publix's beloved sub sandwich.

"I'm just happy to live in the same timeline as this beautiful sandwich," says die-hard Pub Sub fan (and Mental Floss video producer/editor) Justin Dodd. “Copyright claims aside, it's truly a wonderful thing."

Hard Sell: A History of the Pet Rock

Amazon
Amazon

You may have heard the story of the Pet Rock, the Mexican beach stone that could be purchased in bulk for less than a penny, retailed for $3.95, and made inventor Gary Dahl a millionaire during a kind of novelty gift hysteria in late 1975. But Dahl didn’t really get rich off of the rock.

He got rich off of a cardboard box.

Dahl was working as a freelance advertising copywriter in California that year when, while having drinks at a bar with friends, the conversation turned to the destructive nature of pets. Dogs and cats ruined furniture. Worse, they required constant attention, from being walked to being fed to cleaning up after them. Dahl said that he didn’t have to worry about any of that because he had a “pet rock.”

It was, of course, a joke. And it got a laugh. But Dahl decided there could be more to it than that. He went home and began writing an owner’s manual for this hypothetical pet rock, which detailed how best to handle it, the tricks it could perform (“play dead” being the most popular), and how it could remain a faithful companion due to its “long life span.” The gag was not so much the rock itself but the way it was presented. In addition to the manual, Dahl conceived of a cardboard box with air holes that resembled the kind used by pet shops. It also bore a passing resemblance to a McDonald's Happy Meal container.

 

Dahl's motivation in making a serious effort to monetize his pet rock idea was due in large part to his precarious financial situation at the time—he was struggling to keep up with his bills. He recruited George Coakley and John Heagerty, two colleagues, to come on as investors. They both signed on, with Coakley investing $10,000—a not-inconsiderable sum in 1975, especially when the intention was to sell virtually worthless rocks.

The Pet Rock packaging is pictured
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dahl, however, knew what he was marketing. Like chattering teeth, the Hula Hoop, and other fads, the Pet Rock was the beneficiary of good timing. Vietnam had ended but Watergate was still fresh; the country’s mood was slightly downcast, and Dahl believed people would see the inane nature of the Pet Rock and recognize the humor of it. He boxed the rocks with the manual and packed them in excelsior, which may be best known as comic book legend Stan Lee’s catchphrase but also means a softwood shaving pile meant for protecting fragile items. The rocks were purchased from a local sand and gravel company, which sourced them from Mexico’s Rosarita Beach. Dahl debuted the rock at a gift show in San Francisco in August of 1975, then waited for a reaction.

He got one. People understood the appeal right away and he began taking orders. Neiman Marcus wanted 1000 rocks. Bloomingdale’s later signed on. Newsweek did a story with a picture, which spread the word. Dahl had retail and media credibility for what was superficially a nonsense product. His bar joke was turning into a national phenomenon.

When the holiday season arrived, Dahl estimated he was selling up to 100,000 Pet Rocks a day. Ultimately, he would sell between 1.3 and 1.5 million of them within a period of just a few months. Coakley made $200,000 back on his initial $10,000 investment. Dahl gifted both Coakley and Heagerty with Mercedes. Making 95 cents in profit on each Pet Rock sold, Dahl earned over $1 million. He launched his own firm, Rock Bottom Productions, which was itself another joke. “You’ve reached Rock Bottom” is how the receptionist answered their phone.

 

The fad did not last—by definition, they’re not designed to—but Dahl was satisfied. His two investors were not; they "claimed they had received too small a share of the profits" and later sued Dahl for more revenue. After a judgment in the investors' favor, Dahl wrote them a six-figure check.

The Pet Rock is pictured
Amazon

There were attempts to prolong the life of the rock by offering a Bicentennial version in 1976—it had the American flag painted on it—and mail-order college degrees for them. Dahl sold Pet Rock T-shirts and Pet Rock shampoo. There were also copycat gifts, since Dahl could not really patent a rock. (He might have been able to obtain a utility patent because of the rock’s particular purpose as a companion, but he did not.) The humor was transient, however, and people had moved on.

Dahl had other ideas. There was the Official Sand Breeding Kit, which claimed to provide guidance on growing sand, and Canned Earthquake, which consisted of a coffee can that had a wind-up mechanism that caused it to jump around on a table. Neither was particularly successful. Dahl’s real passion, though, was buying and renovating a bar in Los Gatos, which he named Carrie Nation’s Saloon.

This was not without its problems, as people who believed they had the next Pet Rock would often stop by the bar to try and secure an audience with Dahl for his insight. Many times, their idea consisted of packaging bull or elephant excrement. There were also proposals to market a pet stick. Dahl had no patience for these inventors, believing the Pet Rock could not be duplicated. Later, he went back to advertising after taking what he described as an “eight-year vacation” following the success of his project.

The Pet Rock can still be found online, though it’s no longer Dahl’s business. He died in 2015. Of the unsold rocks he had left over at the end of the fad, he was indifferent. If they didn’t sell, he said, he would just use them to repave his driveway.

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