Lorenzo Semple Jr., creator of the 60’s Batman TV series and writer of such films as Never Say Never Again, King Kong (1976), Papillion, Three Days of the Condor, and The Parallax View, passed away in his home in Los Angeles Friday of natural causes. He had just turned 91 the day prior.
Lorenzo Semple Jr. and Will Dozier reinvigorated the character of Batman at a time when DC Comics were considering canceling Detective Comics due to poor sales. The TV series was a mega-hit that sparked a cultural phenomenon solidifying Batman as one of the “Three Bs” of 1960’s pop-importance along with James Bond and The Beatles. Without the TV series there may never have been a Barbara Gordon and there most certainly would not have been a Batusi, oceanic repellent bat sprays like Shark Repellent, or memorable lines like “Some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb!” The show is still widely celebrated to this day for its comedic performances, catchy one-word-only theme song, and vibrantly colorful look. It has even inspired an ongoing comic titled Batman ’66 that maintains the camp, groovy style of the show.
I highly recommend everyone reading this article check out Batman: The Movie, also written by Lorenzo Semple Jr., on Blu-ray or DVD and listen to his commentary track. It’s some of the most insightful, no-nonsense commentary you’ll hear on a film. While he truly loved his creation and viewed his time on Batman as the greatest work he had ever done, he does not watch the Adam West film through rose-colored lenses and speaks his mind about the cast, politics of old Hollywood, and what cornier aspects of the show were intentional and unintentional. It’s as funny as it is fascinating too. I recall one line that went something like “There’s a new picture out called Batman Begins. In my day we didn’t care how Batman began.” In recent years, Lorenzo Semple Jr. took to YouTube with his commentary in a series of reviews called Reel Geezers that even featured a curmudgeony critique of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
The Hollywood Reporter, the first to be told the news by daughter Maria Semple, have the most detailed obituary I’ve seen so far. I suggest you go there for more about the life and legacy of Lorenzo Semple Jr. Without him, Batman may not have even had a 30th anniversary and here we are now at 75 and counting.