Fifty years ago, on a cool (presumably), sunny (in places) day like today, Batman premiered on television screens across the nation. The series, with its bright Pop Art colors and tongue-in-cheek humor, rescued Batman from no uncertain obscurity and shaped the public’s perception of the character for years to come.
And rescue from obscurity it did, as the character’s popularity in the comics had waned so much that DC had reportedly considered killing him off. Instead, shopping for an inexpensive property to develop a series around, William Dozier and Lorenzo Semple, Jr. were presented with the Dynamic Duo to take to series. Though the campy nature and cheeky humor is an acquired taste for some, and has been looked upon less than favorably at points, the massive success of the show renewed interest in the character and paved the way for him to become one of comic’s most popular and enduring figures.
The series kickstarted the careers of Adam West, Burt Ward, and later Yvonne Craig, making the three household names due to the popularity of the Caped Crusader, Boy Wonder, and Dominoed Daredoll (that one’s still weird…). It’s the roster of villains, though, that attracted the big names of the day: Frank Gorshin, Cesar Romero, Julie Newmar, Burgess Meredith, Liberace, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Eartha Kitt, Vincent Price, and so many more played old and new villains alike. Alan Napier, Neil Hamilton, and Stafford Repp rounded out the pitch-perfect cast as Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, and Chief O’Hara, respectively, each bringing a necessary dead-pan delivery and warm camaraderie to the proceedings.
Its legacy is a long and fruitful one, inspiring a theatrical film, a beloved comic book series, and several characters have even begun to pop up in modern continuity. Beyond that, it paved the way for the more grounded Batman stories of the Seventies and Tim Burton’s 1989 film, both of which served as an opposing response to the series’ more jovial tone, and in turn led to the character’s increasing pop culture prominence and influence.
So join us, chums, in celebrating this milestone of magnificence and mischief, a comic concoction of colossal conundrums and chaos, and… some third thing I’m not creative enough to think of.
Happy fifty years, Dynamic Duo.
UPDATE: LEGO has officially announced an amazing looking, massive set based on the series. Start saving, enemies of injustice.