An ANNIVERSARY post by Walt “GIF King” Grogan…

Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward, debuted on ABC-TV on Jan. 12, 1966 — 57 years ago. We’ve got a number of columns for you this year, so make sure you check out the links at the bottom of this piece. Holy promo! — Dan


January 12 marks 57 years since the debut of the Batman TV show. It was an amazing time seeing Batman come to life on the little theater screen in glorious black and white (it would be a year until I saw an episode in color and a few more until I saw the movie).

I was just a few months over 5 years old and all of the humor went right over my head. Even as the series continued, Wednesday evenings were deadly serious! How would Batman and Robin escape being fried alive by giant magnifying glasses, or survive being frozen solid? Could they hold their breaths long enough to survive being smothered by the sand in a giant hourglass? These were big questions that required coming back to watch on Thursday evenings for what I hoped was the escape!

Most of the time, Batman had the answer in his mighty utility belt or had brought along the appropriate gizmo that would save the day — even if it meant coming prepared with an anti-Alvino Ray Gun!

Dig these 13 GREAT BAT-GADGETS FROM THE BATMAN TV SHOW, in no specific order:

1. The Batphone/Hot-Line/Red Phone. No matter what it was called, the fact that it was a dedicated phone line between Wayne Manor, the Batcave, and Commissioner Gordon’s office made it an invaluable tool in Batman’s arsenal. When that irritating beep-beep-beep went off in Bruce Wayne’s private study in Wayne Manor, one could only hope that Aunt Harriet wasn’t going to stumble upon the source.

2. The Batpoles. What a study! The Hot-Line, the Shakespeare bust, and that magnificent sliding bookcase — to those amazing poles! How I dreamt of building a pair of these in my parent’s second-floor apartment so that my dad and I could quickly get to ground level and hop into his 1966 Pontiac Tempest! How many boys wanted to become firemen just to slide down fire poles like Batman?

3. The Bat-Shield. The Bat-Shield was amazing! A bullet-proof protection device that stopped shells like they were marshmallows! And the best part? It could fold up and be stored in Batman’s utility belt! The utility belt — perhaps Dr. Who gave it Tardis-like storage or Mary Poppins weaved her portmanteau’s magic into it. Who knows? But amazing things came out of it — often at exactly the right Bat-Time!

4. The Portable Batlab. Batman couldn’t be expected to bring his entire Batcave with him on the job, but he could bring the essentials. Plus, it came equipped with a wireless mobile phone that plugged into his utility belt!

5. Bat-Jets. The right tool for the right job! The amazing Bat-Jets were powerful enough to lift an elevator car with a 200-pound man inside. And that’s not even counting the extra weight of his utility belt!

6. The Batzooka. Batman’s well-known aversion to guns did not extend to the deadly Batzooka. Perhaps that reluctance to employ firearms led the Caped Crusader to give the Batzooka to the Boy Wonder to operate — that and some soothing Bat-Balm to heal the facial burns!

7. The Atomic Pile. While the Batcave itself isn’t a contraption, the Atomic Pile certainly is. Sure, there were a few bouts of unsafe fisticuffs on and around it but one of its main purposes was to supply atomic power to the Batmobile’s turbines.

8. The Bat-Laser. As long as it didn’t contain bullets, Batman was A-OK with guns, especially his powerful mini-laser, which was safely tucked away in his utility belt — ready at a moment’s notice.

9. The Batarang and Batrope. Both of these simple devices came in handy many a time — most often employed to scale an outer wall when the stairs or an elevator would have been quicker. But where’s the element of surprise in that?!?

10. The Batcycle. Although the Dynamic Duo had a prior Batcycle, the one with Robin’s seemingly dangerous sidecar/go-cart is the most memorable. It was the go-to vehicle when the Batmobile was out of commission or when the Dynamic Duo wanted to be a bit less obtrusive.

11. The Batboat. Holy Poseidon Adventure, Batman! The Batboat was another of Batman’s vehicles that would have been awesome to ride in! That baby really skidded across the water!

12. The Batcopter. This was the perfect flying machine to get from one side of Gotham City to the other! And although those unnecessary Batwings did nothing to help keep it aloft, they certainly looked cool!

13. The Batmobile. The absolute granddaddy in Batman’s toolset! It was packed with goodies, from the Bat-Ray to a portable Batphone to being able to execute an emergency Bat-Turn along with the Bat-Chutes to slow it down! Plus it had a crazy anti-theft system waaaaayyyy before most cars had much more staid ones. And it was fast — at least on the show! There are very few folks who wouldn’t want to have one of these in real life because it’s simply awesome.

And here’s one more with the Batmobile — this time from the movie. One of my favorite scenes was seeing the Batmobile exit the Batcave with a POV shot! It felt like I was sitting in Robin’s seat rocketing out of the Dynamic Duo’s lair!


— 13 COVERS: The Comics World of BATMAN in 1966. Click here.

— 13 Fabulous BATMAN ’66 Illustrations. Click here.

A 10-year-old Walt Grogan fell in love with the Big Red Cheese thanks to essays written by Dick Lupoff and Don Thompson in the paperback edition of All in Color for a Dime, released in 1970 and bought for him by his father off a paperback spinner rack in a liquor store on the South Side of Chicago. Walt runs The Marvel Family Web Facebook page devoted to all incarnations of the Fawcett/DC Captain Marvel and blogs about Captain Marvel at shazamshistorama.com.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. My Zoom background for today’s meeting is gonna need to be one of those gifs.

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  2. Even though I have these images committed to memory, I loved seeing them again. Thank you Walt!

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    • The hardest part was figuring out what to feature, Chris! Thanks!

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    • Which episode is that where they’re fighting Joker’s henchmen on the Atomic Pile?

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      • I know that they fought henchmen in the Bat-Cave in the ’66 movie…

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  3. Whenever I watch an episode, I’m instantly transported back into my Six year old wide-eyed self..

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  4. Regarding the Bat-Jets, there was a subtle riff on this in the current theatrical “Flash” movie: Michael Keaton’s Batman uses an explosive to raise a platform and I think he even strikes that pose from the movie!

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