Saturday, February 16, 2008

Batman TV Series Villains

One of my favorite TV series as a kid was the live-action "Batman" starring Adam West. The show debuted in 1966 as a two-night-a-week mini-serial, and immediately became a hit with both kids and adults. Top celebrities of the day fell over themselves trying to get a guest spot as one of the show's many villains, who were the real stars of the show.

But the glow wore off after just three seasons, and Batman was cancelled due to poor ratings in 1968. The show lives on in syndication, which is where I saw it, but it's hard to find on the air anymore, and it's not on DVD yet because of legal battles between Fox and DC Comics.

A list of villains from the show:

Catwoman
(Eartha Kitt/Julie Newmar)
A whip-carrying burglar with the hots for Batman. Newmar did more episodes but was replaced by Kitt in Season Three because she was shooting a movie.

The Joker
(Cesar Romero)
Romero was surprised when the producers approached him for the role, since he'd mostly played Latin lovers. He took the part, but refused to shave off his trademark mustache, so it had to be covered with heavy makeup. You can often see it under the makeup if you look closely.

The Penguin
(Burgess Meredith)
A waddling, quacking super criminal with an affection for umbrellas and birds. Appeared in 21 episodes, more than any other villain.

The Riddler
(Frank Gorshin/John Astin)
The villain in the first episode. Wears a green jumpsuit (or suit and bowler hat) and loves riddles and word games. Gorshin originated the role, but was replaced by Astin ("The Addams Family") briefly in Season Two before returning in Season Three.

King Tut
(Victor Buono)
A professor of Egyptology who gets knocked on the head during a student riot and wakes with the delusion that he is the ancient monarch. Tut was the first villain created specifically for the series, not taken from the comics.

Egghead
(Vincent Price)
An evil genius with an oversized head to hold his oversized brain. Used a lot of egg puns. Price was Yvonne Craig's (Batgirl) favorite guest star. "He was bright and witty and erudite," she said.

Mr. Freeze
(George Sanders/Otto Preminger/Eli Wallach)
Ice-loving mad scientist from the Batman comics, created when Batman spills a jar of Instant Freeze on him. Now he must wear a special refrigerated ice suit to survive. Played by three different actors: Sanders (All About Eve, the voice of Shere Khan in The Jungle Book), director Otto Preminger, and Eli Wallach (Tuco in The Good, The Bad & The Ugly), but the temperamental Preminger was by far the crew's least favorite.

Marsha, Queen of Diamonds
(Carolyn Jones)
Uses her beauty and magic potions to turn men into her love slaves to carry out her misdeeds. Jones is best known as Morticia from "The Addams Family" TV series.

The Archer
(Art Carney)
A Robin Hood wannabe who, along with his gang of merry criminals, stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Carney was Ed Norton on "The Honeymooners."

The Siren
(Joan Collins)
A world-famous singer who could put men under her spell by singing a note three octaves above high C. "When they told me they had Joan Collins," said writer Stanley Ralph Ross, "they said create a character for her. I thought Siren was perfect."

The Bookworm
(Roddy McDowall)
Read lots of crime books and stole ideas from them, as he was incapable of coming up with anything original. The character appeared only in Season One.

False Face
(Malachi Throne)
A
master of disguise who posed as others, including Chief O'Hara, to carry out his crimes. Portrayed by veteran actor Throne but listed as "?" in the show credits. My parents made my sister and me stop watching this show after my sister starting having nightmares about False Face (but we sneaked and watched it anyway).

The Minstrel
(Van Johnson)
A lute-playing electronics genius who threatens to sabotage the computerized Gotham City Stock Exchange. Johnson played a war hero in many WW2-era films after a car accident left him physically unfit for active duty.

Ma Parker
(Shelley Winters)
Based on real-life criminal Ma Barker, Parker and her sons were a family of criminals. The Batman cast and crew didn't like Winters, whose incessant complaining drove everyone nuts. She appeared in only one (two-part) episode.

Zelda The Great
(Anne Baxter)
A world-famous magician, escape artist and bank robber.
Baxter (All About Eve) also appeared in several episodes as Olga, Queen of the Cossacks, an accomplice to Egghead (Vincent Price). Both Zsa Zsa Gabor and Bette Davis were reportedly considered for the role.

Louie The Lilac
(Milton Berle)
A flower freak who tries to brainwash Gotham's flower children and kill the Dynamic Duo with man-eating plants. Berle was so funny off camera that members of the crew had to be thrown off the set because they couldn't stop laughing when the camera rolled.

Lola Lasagne
(Ethel Merman)
Dumped by her rich husband and left with only a racehorse. Teams up with Penguin to fix a race and become rich again.

Lord Pfogg & Lady Peasoup
(Rudy Vallee and Glynis Johns)
British siblings and thieves who train young women in the ways of crime under the guise of running a girls' finishing school...until Batman, Robin and Batgirl travel to Londinium and thwart them. Yvonne (Batgirl) Craig called showbiz veteran Vallee "one of the worst people I've ever worked with. An absolute churl...just awful."

Shame
(Cliff Robertson)
Batman producers let Robertson (Uncle Ben Parker in the Spider-Man movies) create his own character: the dumbest cowboy outlaw in the West, and a spoof of classic Western Shane.

The Puzzler
(Maurice Evans)
Toy-lover and Shakespeare-quoting thief Puzzler was created to appear in an episode originally written for The Riddler. Evans is best known as Samantha's father in "Bewitched."

Chandell
(Liberace)
A famed pianist trying to steal the Wayne family fortune by wooing Aunt Harriet. The Batman cast recalls that on lunch breaks from shooting, Liberace would sit at the piano and take requests, and could play any song flawlessly.

The Sandman
(Michael Rennie)
A Eurotrash sleep expert who teams up with Catwoman to steal a rich widow's fortune. Turned people into zombies to carry out his crimes.

The Clock King
(Walter Slezak)
Lover of timepieces and time-based crimes, Clock King originally appeared in Green Arrow comics, not Batman. Slezak comitted suicide in 1983.

The Black Widow
(Tallulah Bankhead)
A bank robber who could short-circuit men's brains and make them do anything she wanted. Tried to kill Batman and Robin with giant man-eating Black Window spiders. Batman was the final performance of Hollywood veteran Bankhead; she died a year later.

The Mad Hatter
(David Wayne)
Another criminal taken from the Batman comics, the Hatter steals valuable headwear and wants Batman's cowl. He also uses hats to commit crimes.

Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft and Cabala
(Ida Lupino and Howard Duff)
Thieves who could make themselves invisible, they tried to steal the Mope Diamond at Spiffany's Jewelry Salon. Lupino and Duff were real-life husband and wife.

Minerva
(Zsa Zsa Gabor)
The last villain to appear in the series. Owned a mineral spa that catered to millionaires, including Bruce Wayne, and had a device that could pick their brains to find out where they hid their riches.

Nora Clavicle
(Barbara Rush)
A women's rights advocate who replaces all Gotham city officials, including Commissioner Gordon, with women who will help her rob the Gotham National Bank.

Many thanks to Joel Eisner's The Official Batman Batbook and The 1966 Batman Fan Site for info.

42 comments:

  1. Wow, I knew there were a lot of villians, but I didn't know there were THAT many!

    As an 80's kid, my brother and I grew up watching Batman: The Movie before we even realized there was a TV series.

    Great list, by the way!

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  2. Thanks.

    Sara/Scott - most villains only appeared in one episode (I'm counting the two-parters as one episode): Bookworm, False Face, Zelda, Siren, Archer, Minstrel, Sandman, Ma Parker, Chandell, Puzzler, Black Widow, Nora Clavicle, Minerva, Lola Lasagne, Dr. Cassandra & Cabala, Clock King.

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  3. Holy crap- my brothers and I NEVER missed Batman growing up! It was in syndication then, and we got it on WGN out of Chigao...thanks for the walk down a memory lane of villians :)Zowie!

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  4. Great list except for the obvious - but mostly umknown villian - "Jimmy Jo-Jo Shabadoo"

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  5. Wow! This sure brings back memories. My sister and I watched way too much TV as kids, and this is proof. I really remember a lot of these. What's crazy is how these were all "somebody" in the show biz world, but they started out as Batman Villains to me!

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  6. Holy Moly Batman! I had no idea so many stars were in the series!! I used to love it too. It was so innovative the way the words flew up at you on the screen! BIFF!! POW!!!

    Those were the days, my friend...

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  7. That show was brilliantly campy and wears better today than it did when I was a kid. Julie Newmar is still one of my all time fave sex goddesses. And "Family Guy" made Adam West cool again.

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  8. luv me sum zsa zsa!!!!!
    xo
    V

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  9. I write trivia questions for money for a company in my spare time, and the very first quiz I made was a matching quiz of Batman villains to actors. It's still my favorite (I included many of the pictures you found - probably from one website in particular).

    Loved Gimme a Break today, too. I'm all about anything related to TV.

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  10. I believe there were three different people playing cat woman in the series, you forgot Lee Meriwether

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    Replies
    1. Lee Meriwether played catwoman in the movie,NOT THE TV SHOW! ;-)

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  11. Lee played Catwoman only in the Batman movie, never in the series. She was hired because Julie Newmar was already committed to another project filming at the same time.

    Thanks for reading LOTD.

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  12. I remember having an argument or two over just this info. I wish that I had had this info then. Thanx

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  13. Who remembers the red headed scientist in the series with the scratchy voice? I don't know that he was a villain, though. He may have been a compatriot...I don't remember.

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    Replies
    1. You may be thinking about Sterling Holloway in the Adventures of Superman series.

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  14. My favorite villains would be Joker and Penguin. One of the top Action TV series of all time. I'm also a fan of Adam West who played the role of Batman.

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  15. I never realized that most of the villians were great movie stars of their day. My friend and I used to play Batman. I was always Robin. A good time was had by all.

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  16. I was only a kid in the sixties when it was on the air, but seem to recall that there was another actress who played Catwoman (Lee Meriwether). I also seem to remember some of Batman's partners (other than just Robin) were
    Batgirl, and even Green Hornet and Kato (Britt Reid and Kato). BTW, whatever happened to Olga, Queen of the Bessarovian Cossacks?

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  17. Kenneth, Lee Meriwether played Catwoman in the 1966 Batman movie, but not in the series, though she did appear in one ep as a socialite kidnapped by King Tut.

    Batgirl appeared on the final two seasons of the show (1967-68) and fought alongside both Batman and Robin.

    Green Hornet (Van Williams) and Kato (Bruce Lee) appeared in three episodes of the show--stunt casting to promote their own upcoming series--but actually played adversaries to B & R, not partners.

    Anne Baxter (All About Eve) actually played two different Batman villains, Olga (sidekick to Egghead) and Zelda the Great.

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  18. This brought back happy memories & also surprised me a little as I had no memory of seven of them, especially the one played by Joan Collins. How many episodes did Cesar Romero & Frank Gorshin appear in?

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  19. Roger C. Caramel as Colonel Gumm was another villian.

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  20. I loved the show too. Lee Meriwether played Catwoman, too.

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  21. Yes; Colonel Gumm was the one with all the stamps. I believe he was in one of the Green Hornet collaborations.

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  22. Presumably, Roger C Caramel's villain came to a "sticky" end(!!!!!!!)?

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  23. I loved this show as a kid. I watched it every Wednesday and Thursday, you cant find it on TV anymore but I found a collection of episodes on the internet. My kids loved it, there all about 20 now though, and my son's daughter and son love it. I remember one day I forgot to do my homework the night of the episode when the penguin runs for mayor, I got detention and missed the 2nd part. But I got to see it years later, when I got it for my kids.

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    Replies
    1. It's on locally here in Indiana on MeTV on Saturday nights at 7:00, followed by another great show, Lost In Space.

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  24. I met Roger C. Carmel at the national geographic headquarters when I was about 19. Was thrilled as I was a huge batman fan. He was with a wife? then. Still my favorite villain had to be Tallulah Bankhead.

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  25. Who was the guy that could rob banks by just smiling at the teller and asking for the loot? I always called him Mr. Smiley, but that is wrong and I can't find any reference to him... not critical, just a curiosity.

    Thanks!!!

    Please Email me if you know. Peace247365@Gmail.com

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  26. What about the helpers of the villains, didn't joe tata play one of the Riddlers goons???

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  27. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Batman_television_series_characters


    Excellent site to pick up the actors who were henchmen. Quite a few famous ones there.

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  28. my first boyhood crush was Julie Newmar.prrrfect

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  29. I grew up in a big family. I had three sisters and two brothers. We all had different interests in sports and TV, and later as adults politics and business. However we always sat down to watch Batman together. Thus the show commands a special place in my heart.

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  30. The Riddler was the best. There were at least 6 or more riddles in every one of those episodes! And how about the cameo's when the dynamic duo were climbing buildings and they woud pop out of a window!!!

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  31. Someone asked me recently who was the alter ego of Batgirl. As I recall, her alter ego was that of Barbara Gordon (Commissioner Gordon's daughter). I believe after she left college, she got a job at the Gotham City Library.

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  32. I've been watching the reruns on Me-TV lately and I saw someone that piqued my curiosity, so I looked the actor up online. It was Kip King, Chris Kattan's father, playing a villain's stooge in one episode, can't recall which one at the moment.

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  33. Great blog about a great show. Can't decide which of the big three was the best - Joker, Riddler and Penguin.As a kid I used to watch with my brother because of the "action". Now I watch it because I find it so funny.

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  34. Thanks for the list. Just saw the episode with Louie the Lilac (aka Milton Berle) and the one with Joker and Batman having a surfing contest on Me-TV. Outstanding!

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  35. Who was that villain named "?"

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  36. I believe Lee Meriweather also played Catwoman at one time.

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