13 THINGS to Love About BATMAN ’66

A BATMAN ’66 ANNIVERSARY SALUTE: Batmaven Jim Beard’s ode to all that is Gotham in 1966…

Hey, it’s the anniversary of the 1966 Batman show! (56 years if you’re counting.) We’ve got a bunch of groovy stories for you this year, so make sure you check out the links at the bottom of this post. Meanwhile, dig this groovy piece by 13th Dimension columnist Jim Beard (plus his wonderful tribute to Alfred.)

And while you’re at it, treat yourself to a copy of Zlonk! Zok! Zowie! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season One, an in-depth episode guide edited by Jim Beard, with entries by a coterie of contributors, including fellow 13th Dimension columnist Paul Kupperberg and yours truly. (Click here for more info and to order.) There’s also the sequel — Biff! Bam! Eee-Yow! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season Two. (Click here.)

Far out.


I’ve loved the Batman TV series nearly all my life, but I’ve never really ever been asked to quantify that love.

This wasn’t easy. I had to take a step or three back and look up and down the width and breadth of the show and ask myself the question, “What exactly do I love about it?”

Then I started making a list, then tightening that list, and finally smash and squeeze into this kooky TOP 13 format that Taskmaster Dan demands. I did it, of course, and in doing so I’m incredibly intrigued by how it came out. I hope you will be, too—some of this you’ll find familiar and obvious, but I hope some of it may surprise you.

Here are the 13 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT BATMAN ’66, in order of adoration:

13. Commissioner Gordon. Neil Hamilton was the backbone of the show, a stalwart good-sport who read his lines with earnest conviction to provide both strength and sincerity to the stories. He’s also the biggest Batman fanboy ever, and that’s probably what I love most about him.

12. Batgirl. You’re saying, “Sure; what’s not to love about Yvonne Craig?” But it’s more to me than just that dear lady. It’s that the character of Batgirl in the show is a middle ground between Batman and Robin, a heroine who loves what she’s doing, but isn’t stuffy about it (like the Caped Crusader), nor a little violent bantam rooster (like the Boy Wonder). Batgirl’s having fun, and I love how she looks doing it.

11. The Music. The show boasted some great composers who not only supplied the stories with the incidental themes they needed, but with plenty of Sixties style. I love so many beats in it, notably the opening tunes as the Dynamic Duo sped off to Gotham, the villains’ signature themes, and that wonderful conglomeration of “Happy Birthday” with the main Batman motif from the episode “Batman’s Anniversary.”

10. The Merchandise. I love the flood of Bat-merch that occurred in 1966. There’s just something so wonderfully way-out and wild about the diversity of it, as well as the often-times off-model artwork that sprang from it. Two of my favorites are the cover to the “Zap Crunch” coloring book (with Eclipso!), and the Whitman card game (modeled on Old Maid).

9. The Green Hornet Appearance. Let’s be clear about something: It’s not that I love the episode “A Piece of the Action/Batman’s Satisfaction”—it’s fairly lackluster—it’s that I love the idea that such a thing could happen at that time and in that place. As a kid I craved superheroes, and getting two of the very coolest together on my most favorite show of all time really sends me.

8. Alfred. Alan Napier really is the greatest screen Alfred of all, bar none. This was a butler prepared for anything, and I love the guy for putting up with many of the indignities he likely suffered through. He truly made it a Terrific Trio long before the Dominoed Daredoll showed up (but I do love that he held the secret of all three of their identities).

7. The Henchmolls. We got everything from the dashing, daring Blaze (Myrna Fahey) to the totally clueless Cornelia (Kathy Kersh), and everything in-between. Every one of them is lovely eye candy as a garnish to all the groovy, garish goings-on.

6. The One-Shot Villains. We as fans tend to focus on the major players, the Jokers and Penguins and Catwomans, etc., but one of the things I love about the show is the one-offs, those crafty criminals who appeared and disappeared and never returned. My two favorites of that crowd are the Minstrel and the Bookworm, crooks who really deserved another go-round on the campy carrousel.

5. The Riddler. Speaking of villains, my go-to is the Riddler. And by that I mean Frank Gorshin. I honestly believed he was a criminal. There’s a sinister note he plays that just doesn’t fully exist in his fellow rogues, and when he gets really nuts, really, really nuts, he can be very, very scary. Gorshin played the part with relish, and I love every second of it.

4. “The Zodiac Crimes,” et al. Probably my most favorite episode. I love it because to me it’s the second theatrical feature, a grand tour of the Batman universe that I can hold up and show to anyone as a perfect example of what the show was and could be. Plus, the giant, Boy Wonder-eating clam.

3. The Batmobile. And here we enter my Top Three, and here I wax poetic about the Batmobile. There are certain angles on it in the show that I will go on the record as saying that if a fictional automobile can be sexy, it is this car. It has muscle, but it is also pure music, the very physical definition of “cool.”

2. The Batcave. As a kid, if there was one thing I believed totally in the show, it was the Batcave. And I wanted to go there, bad. Little wonder I was completely jelly (and still am) of all the different characters who got to go there—I love how every one of them is just in awe of the place, and Batman just smiles and nods and takes it all in stride. It’s the Aladdin’s cave of my dreams and fantasies.

1. Batman. I tell a lie; there’s another thing I utterly believed in the show, and that’s Adam West as Batman. The two are inseparable to me, and I will forever hold each and every actor to play the role up to Adam’s portrayal as the litmus test of worth and weight. He’s the Dad we all wanted, though some of us didn’t realize it consciously. He was and is Batman.


— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite BATMAN ’66 EPISODES as a First-Run Viewer. Click here.

— ALAN NAPIER’s ALFRED: His 13 Greatest BATMAN ’66 Adventures. Click here.

— RETRO HOT PICKS! On Sale This Week — in 1966! Click here.

Jim Beard has pounded out adventure fiction since he sold a story to DC Comics in 2002. He’s gone on to write official Star Wars and Ghostbusters comics stories and contributed articles and essays to several volumes of comic book history. His prose work includes his own creations, but also licensed properties such as Planet of the Apes, X-Files, Spider-Man, Kolchak the Night Stalker and Captain Action. In addition, Jim provided regular content for Marvel.com, the official Marvel Comics website, for 17 years.

Check out his latest releases, a Green Hornet novella How Sweet the Sting, his first epic fantasy novel The Nine Nations Book One: The Sliding World, and the most recent Batman ’66 books of essays he’s edited: Zlonk! Zok! Zowie! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season One and Biff! Bam! Ee-Yow! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season Two.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Great. But the Green Hornet is not a superhero. Batman, Robin and Batgirl.

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      • Green Hornet doesn’t have a costume. Superheroes all have costumes.

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        • None of the have super-powers ala Superman or Flash. I prefer to think of Batman and company as costumed heroes.

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          • With respect, the “super” in “superhero” refers to the heroism, not “powers.” It means they are “above and beyond” in their heroism, making it an active pursuit. Batman is a superhero; he makes a job of being a hero. When there’s a product that’s called “DC Superheroes,” it’s not called “DC Superheroes…and Batman.”

          • Batman is a superhero. There are many superheroes with no powers. I bet you could name a score of them.

        • He absolutely has a costume, and a secret identity, and a schtick, and a codename.

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          • “He absolutely has a costume, and a secret identity, and a schtick, and a codename.” I didn’t say anything about not having a secret identity, a schtick or a codename. I said he has no costume. Show me his costume. And a secret identity is not endemic to being a superhero. Ever see a Marvel movie? The world knows the identity of a lot of superheroes.

          • I guess this guy has a neighbor who walks around in that type of mask, hat and suit, calls himself “The Yellow Jackal”, and fights crime, but is not a superhero. Totally normal. My grandma wore a domino mask.

  2. Amen to all of it! I would only add the original soundtrack–I guess it belongs with #10, but the way it was put together fit so perfectly with the tone of the show that I think it deserves a mention all its own.

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    • Thanks! “The Music” was intended to include ALL the music, series and feature.

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  3. Wow, Jim, you hit it out of the Batcave. Right on all counts! That show was a real to my 7 year old self as mom and dad!

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  4. Well written, old chum! You had a herculean task, but as always, words didn’t fail you. You summed up the greatest aspects of the series like the pro you are. Wonderful.

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  5. Love the great list! Batman 66 will always be Bat-best to me and Adam West is and always will be The Batman.

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  6. Such a fun read! Thanks for helping me to relive a glorious show. Reading it, I am a kid again.

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