13 GREAT THINGS About Filmation’s 1968 BATMAN Cartoon

A groovy celebration…

UPDATED 5/20/21: Hey, you heard about the new animated Batman series coming from J.J. Abrams, Matt Reeves and Bruce Timm, right? Well, we figured it’d be fun to re-present this salute to the Caped Crusader’s first cartoon run. Dig this piece from 2018 that celebrated Filmation Batman’s 50th anniversary. Enjoy. — Dan

I’ve spent quite a bit of time on the Filmation Batman cartoon over the last couple years. It was an indelible part of my childhood and I’ve really enjoyed exploring it in depth, especially on The Batcave Podcast, where host John S. Drew and I have been reviewing every episode. (Click here.)

And now we’re at the show’s 50th anniversary. The series debuted Sept. 14, 1968, as part of The Batman/Superman Hour but I was much too young to watch it when it was in first run Saturday mornings on CBS. Instead, I discovered it a few years later in syndication on Channel 5 in New York.

Since then, it’s etched itself in my Bat-psyche, an essential part of my formative years as a fan, alongside Batman ’66, Megos, the 1973 Ideal Batman playset and, of course, comic books.

If you’d like to check out all of our Filmation Batman coverage – and why wouldn’t you – click here. You’ll find not only a series of features and tributes, you’ll find the links to all The Batcave Podcast episodes on the series.

You’ll also find 13 QUICK THOUGHTS: The Kitschy Kick of FILMATION BATMAN, which takes a broad look at what made the show tick. (Click here to jump right to it. Go ahead. We’ll wait.)

But for the anniversary, I wanted to hone in on the specifics, the elements that make an often silly cartoon resonate 50 years later.


1. Olan Soule as Batman. Adam West may be the era’s definitive screen Batman, but Olan Soule provided him with the perfect voice — so much so that he was later hired by competing studio Hanna-Barbera for Scooby-Doo and Super Friends. Soule’s Batman — and Bruce — was authoritative and confident, the ideal combination for a Silver Age interpretation. I’d even argue that his animated Batman voice was superior to West’s later Filmation and Super Friends appearances.

2. The Theme. Filmation’s superhero cartoons all had cool music but John Garth’s kinetic opening theme – complete with strobing colors and Knight’s bombastic narration – is next level ’60s power groove.

3. Casey Kasem as Robin. Like West and Soule, Burt Ward was the ideal screen Robin but Kasem was the ideal voice. Fun fact: Kasem was 36 when he first played the Boy Wonder in 1968. (Click here for a look at Kasem’s time as the junior Caped Crusader.)

4. Yellow is the New Black. There’s no greater sport in Filmation (or Hanna-Barbera for that matter) than spotting the gaffes — especially when the colors of Batman and Robin’s logos are inverted. Or missing. Or in the wrong spot, where Robin’s concerned. Same goes for when, say, gloves mysteriously disappear.

5. Jane Webb as Batgirl. As much as I disliked Webb as Catwoman (sorry), I loved her as Batgirl. Filmation’s version of the Dominoed Daredoll was relatively callow when compared with Yvonne Craig but Webb’s can-do spirit was infectious.

6. The Artistry. Let’s face it: Filmation was schlock. Lovable schlock but schlock nonetheless. However, this was still a studio staffed with talented artists and you could really see it in the many evocative matte paintings and effects utilized throughout the show. I also really dig the vehicle designs.

7. Duck! The 1967 Spider-Man cartoon may have set the standard for using stock footage over and over and over and over again but Filmation played the same game. Best moves? When Batman and Robin threw their punches right at the viewer. Same goes for when Robin threw his Batarang at the screen.

8. Partners in Peril. One day soon I’ll be posting a list of the series’ 13 best episodes. I would have done it for the anniversary but I’d rather get through the reviews we’re doing on The Batcave Podcast and we still have a few more to go. But here’s a spoiler: This episode, by George Kashdan, will be on the list. The two-parter was the closest thing we got to a sequel to the 1966 Batman movie until the first animated Batman ’66 flick a couple of years ago: The Joker, Penguin and Riddler join forces only to be schooled by Catwoman. (Click here for more on this episode.)

9. Simon the Pieman. Filmation generally stuck with Batman’s tried and true villains but, like the live-action show, the producers did add their own characters to the mix. Best example? Simon the Pieman — an evil pastry chef with a penchant for cross-dressing and Russian blondes. Edward G. Robinson would have been great as Simon had the bad baker been around for the ’66 show. Or Jonathan Winters, as a reader suggested. (Click here for our 50th anniversary tribute to Simon.)

10. From Catwoman With Love. Another episode that’ll make the Top 13 list, even if you have to endure Catwoman’s screechy voice. The twisty-turny plot gives us the series’ best chase scene.

11. Filmation Logic. Let’s face it: The show was written for kids. Hell, it was written down to kids. But with adult eyes, the show’s many leaps of logic make for its biggest unintentional laughs.

12. Those Sly Dogs. That said, the writers also snuck in plenty of adult-skewing gags. Best example? The brilliantly subversive Hizzoner the Joker, by Denis Marks, which not only lampooned the politics of 1968 but was remarkably prescient. (Click here for a closer look at the episode.)

13. Ted Knight, the MVP. The future Ted Baxter did most of the heavy lifting, with an arsenal that included almost all of the villains and Commissioner Gordon. And, of course, he was the narrator who memorably told us about Gotham City’s “kooky criminals.” Love him.


— The FILMATION BATMAN Index of Features and Podcast Episodes. Click here.

— The Most Unsettling BATMAN Cartoon of the ’60s. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. re. #12. Those Sly Dogs

    I guess no one caught the use of “KKK” as one radio/TV station’s call sign.

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  2. It’s really amazing how this cartoon came out after the Adam West “Batman” show ended.

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    • Filmation was already planning a Batman cartoon. When the tv series was cancelled in ’68 Tv Guide said don’t worry Bat fans there’s a Batman cartoon coming in the fall & I was really happy. I loved the ’68 cartoon. I never missed it on Saturdays.

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  3. Looked up music composer John Garth once. I believe I remember it saying he had been an organist for old silent films. The Batman cartoon was evidently something he did at the tail end of his life and career. I find that fascinating. He really plugged into the right vibe for this.

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  4. Thanks for this excellent tribute (and all the previous ones), Dan. I was 6 years old in 1968, and distraught that the live-action Batman had been cancelled earlier in the year. When I first saw that great CBS Saturday morning ad in the comics, I was so excited that Batman and Robin were coming back to my TV set as a cartoon (for the first time in history…well, after the fantabulous and essential opening to the Adam West series, of course). The Filmation designs certainly brought to mind the Infantino comics of those days. Ahhh, the wonderful memories this post brings. 🙂

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  5. I’m so glad that Eaglemoss made a scale model version of the Filmation Batmobile. Love that design!

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  6. Love this article and Filmation’s Batman cartoon! John Gart’s music for Superman & Aquaman was sort of from the “John Phillip Sousa” school of heavy marching, patriotic with heavy orchestra sounds which I thought fit those characters perfectly. However, Gart got to let loose on the Batman open end themes. The organ rifts along with the surf guitar sound is hip, cool and fantastic!

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  7. I find it interesting that Jane Webb did double duty on three different series and she re-recycled her two archetype voices twice in a row: She recycled her “Betty” voice from Archie for Batgirl on The Adventures of Batman & Mary-Ann on The New Adventures of Gilligan (billed as “Jane Edwards”) and likewise, she also recycled her “Veronica” voice from Archie for Catwoman on The Adventures of Batman & Ginger on The New Adventures of Gilligan”. (this time, billed as “Jane Webb” again) I wonder, if Filmation had gotten the rights for the Superfriends instead of Hanna-Barbara, would’ve Jane Webb re-recycled her “Betty” voice for Wonder Woman & her “Veronica” voice for Wendy? Just a thought.

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  8. Those of you who have the Adventures Of Batman DVD set of Filmation’s 1968-70 Batman series are probably bewildered as to the missing interstitials to the hour-long program from whence it came: The Batman/Superman Hour, which debuted on September 14, 1968 on CBS., a good half-year after the end of the live-action series on ABC. Yes, if there was a candidate for a Holy Grail of Animation, this is surely one of them.

    For the record, its generically the 1969 intro and original 1968 end credits. Just like the 1985 Super Powers VHS tape. Whereas the original intro to The Superman-Aquaman Hour Of Adventure has been posted every which way but loose, the Batman/Superman Hour’s open has remained mysteriously persona non grata.

    Here are the lyrics to the original Batman-Superman Hour, as recalled in a FB post by Ferd Appleby:

    Batman! Su—perman!
    Watch. out. villains. here. we. come!
    (music then);
    Penguin, Riddler, Jo-ker too…the caped cru-sader’s af-ter you!
    (more music)
    To combat crimmmeee, they work together;
    It’s a bird, it’s a plane…….
    It’s Suu-perman!
    It’s Superman, The Man of Steel, it’s Superman!
    (announcer): The Batman-Superman Hour!

    Well, that’s about all I can dig up. If anyone out there has any more, please feel free to contribute!

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    • It’s a real tragedy or crying shame that the original Batman/Superman Hour intro is lost in obscurity. The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure theme has been found and that was a year older. The closest I got to seeing this was a few years ago. Somebody had placed original commercial bumpers that actually showed Batman and Superman together on the small screen. Unfortunately, that video was removed. Tragically, they never teamed up. So music wise, it sounded like their individual themes were combined. Somebody is bound to have this somewhere. It’s too bad nothing can be done to find it and put it on YouTube.

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  9. “THE BATMAN-SUPERMAN HOUR” for CBS Saturday Mornings was the last for National Periodical Publications TV (NPP TV) whose credits in the original opening reads, “NPP TV Presents”, It was Executive Producer, Allen Ducovny, who overlorded the Filmation produced series, along with “THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN” in Fall 1966, and “THE SUPERMAN-AQUAMAN HOUR OF ADVENTURE” in Fall 1967. NPP TV and Filmation Associates were planning to do an animated “METAMORPHO” cartoon series, but as soon as the rights to make an animated Batman series was successfully secured after the ABC/20th Century Fox Television series concluded its run in Mid-1968, the attention was immediately focused on Batman’s animated debut for Fall 1968. but, the attack against superhero violence from irate and angry parents had successfully pressured the networks to do away with many of the superhero cartoons, which was among the many reasons why “THE BATMAN-SUPERMAN HOUR” was not renewed after the 1968-69 TV season. the cartoon series was edited and rerun on CBS Sunday mornings in the 1969-70 TV season, as all the super hero and action cartoons were all replaced by Scooby-Doo, The Archies, and HR Puffnstuff. but Allen Ducovny and Filmation’s “Batman” cartoons were actually well made animated work, despite the limited budgets that Filmation had to work with in those days. many of the people who wrote for the Batman episodes in 1968 came from DC Comics, notably Bob Haney, and others like Bill Kennen, Oscar Bensol, and George Kashdan (who wrote for Trans-Lux/Joe Oriolo’s “THE MIGHTY HERCULES” in 1962) because the 1968 Batman cartoon series stayed very close to The Silver Age version of the Caped Crusaders, the violence in the shows were frequent, but the stories and the voice acting stayed on the mark! enter Ted Knight, the soon to be “Ted Baxter” on CBS’s “THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW (1970-77) who was one of Filmation Associates’ most busiest voiceover actors, working on both “THE BATMAN-SUPERMAN HOUR” and “FANTASTIC VOYAGE” as the voiceovers, including as both narrator and character voices for all the villains and “Commissioner Gordon”. but in recent years, it was said that “F-TROOP” actor Larry Storch had voiced “The Joker”, which is totally false to fact. the actor, who would later voice many other Filmation cartoons in the 70s (and co-star with his “F-TROOP” friend, Forest Tucker on “THE GHOST BUSTERS in 1975) may have auditioned as The Joker voice, but it was always Ted Knight who voiced The Joker, decades before “STAR WARS” actor Mark Hamill took on that job in 1992. Ted Knight and Jane Webb were two of Filmation’s top voiceover people of their cartoon business in those days, and their work on “THE BATMAN-SUPERMAN HOUR” was quite a workout, while Olan Soule’ and Casey Kasem did magnificent voiceovers for The Caped Crusaders’ animated debut that took them all the way to reprise their Batman & Robin voices, first on “THE NEW SCOOBY-DOO MOVIES” in 1972, and on ABC”s “SUPER FRIENDS” from Fall 1973.

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    • Thanks for clearing that up about Larry Storch. These are far from my favorite cartooons, BUT, as I just finished watching the entire Adam West series on DVD, twice, I decided, WHAT THE HEY, go after the (heh) “4th season”. At the time, I could never figure why not one actor from the live-action show reprised their roles on the cartoons, since the Filmation series started THE VERY NEXT WEEK after the reruns of Adam West ended on ABC.

      Another mistake on the IMDB concerns Hanna-Barbera’s 1967 “FANTASTIC FOUR”. Some years ago, in some comics-related magazine (I wish I could remember which one), they mentioned who voiced Dr. Doom, and the INSTANT I read it, I KNEW it had to be true. The IMDB mistakenly listed Joe Sirola… who, I’ll admit, looks like Victor Von Doom without his mask. But the voice on those cartoons belonged to none other than “Hedley Lamarr”– HARVEY KORMAN.

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    • Thank you, Joe Hill. I’ve been trying to correct that piece of misinformation for some time, but it’s a mistake that resists change because IMDb won’t change their erroneously listing of “The Joker: Larry Storch (uncredited)”.

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  10. Was this related to the Filmation cartoon I saw in the 70s? The one with the Moon Man episode they played over and over? And which featured an orange Riddler in the opening credits? I think it shares a lot of the same stock footage. But it was often lumped in with other original Filmation creations like Web Woman, under the banner Batman and the Super 7. And for some reason I thought Adam West was doing the voice, but maybe that was my kid brain. Also, weren’t there Filmation clips that were sometimes used on Sesame Street? I remember a segment where they chased Joker until he fell down a manhole. Not sure what the educational value was (watch out for manholes?).

    Childhood cartoons are fun.

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    • Both the 1968 and ’77 shows were produced by Filmation but are somewhat different in tone. And yes, it was Adam West and Burt Ward doing the 1977 voices!

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  11. I have contributed not only many reviews but the occasional bit of info to the IMDB. Usually, without problems, but on at least one occasion, I tried to add some info that someone there refused to include– not once, but twice. Very odd. (That was a case of a 1933 film that was based on a 1931 novel– but was named after an entirely-different book by a different author. “A Study In Scarlet” — the el cheapo studio licensed the title, but not the story, and then their screenwriter “borrowed” the plot from a recent and obscure foreign book– uncredited, UNPAID.)

    My best friend once clear up confusion over Batman’s voice. Crazy enough, BOTH Olan Soule AND Adam West voiced Batman for BOTH Filmation AND Hanna-Barbera! You’d think it was one actor per studio, but, no!

    Censorship all but killed Saturday mornings for me in the 1970s. I’ve often said I could count on one hand the number of shows I found watchable as a teenager during that decade. Lots of people diss the Filmation “STAR TREK”, not realizing how much better it was than any previous Filmation shows– or any other cartoon shows on in the 70s. It also tended to have better writing than most of the original show’s infamous 3rd season.

    And speaking of writing… I noted recently that Joe Simon was listed as story editor. That explains a lot of things. While his speciality was making “deals” with various publishers and the like, his actual creative talents as either writer or artist were nearly non-existent, and his fame has continued for decades based on his riding on the coat-tails of his former “partner”, JACK KIRBY.

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  12. I had never seen the Filmation Batman, or any of the other 60’s DC Filmation cartoons for that matter, until recently when I bought complete The Adventures of Batman on Amazon Prime Video. I guess it just wasn’t on in the late 70’s/early 80’s in Rochester, NY where I grew up, or else I somehow missed it.

    And yes, it’s schlocky but enjoyable. I’ve only watched the first 7 episodes so far, but now that I’ve discovered the Batcave Podcasts of these, I’m listening to those and trying to get caught up Podcast-wise before I continue on with the series. I don’t get the bonus of nostalgia from watching these since I never saw them when I was a kid, but hearing Olan Soule, Kasey Casem, and Ted Knight sure helps. Just one thing, you don’t like the Penguin or Catwoman’s voice but are fine with the Riddler’s voice?? I find his voice like nails on a chalkboard, especially the halting way in which he speaks. Just annoying!

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