13 THINGS to Love About GREEN HORNET ’66

A birthday tribute to the late VAN WILLIAMS…

UPDATED 2/27/23: The late Van Williams — boy was he handsome! — was born 89 years ago. Perfect time to re-present this piece from 2022. Let’s roll! — Dan

The late Van Williams – best known for his portrayal of the Green Hornet on the eponymous 1966-67 cult-fave TV show – was born 89 years ago on Feb. 27, 1934.

To celebrate, we’ve enlisted 13th Dimension columnist Jim Beard, an expert on the show and author of a new novel set in the program’s world — The Green Hornet: How Sweet the Sting — to pay tribute to the one-time Britt Reid.

Here’s the novel’s cover, by the by, and you can click here to order.

Dig it.


Happy Birthday, Van Williams! We don’t have The Green Hornet on official DVDs or Blu-rays, but you and the show will never be forgotten. Consider this list my tribute to you — 13 GREAT THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT GREEN HORNET ’66:

Green Hornet. The heart of the show is, of course, Van Williams’ Britt Reid, aka the Green Hornet. He has a certain stoic charm to him that I admire, an inner calm that’s rarely ruffled. To borrow a phrase from another ’60s icon, “he’s a cool exec with a heart of steel.” Williams is at his best when he dons the Hornet’s “criminal” pose and muscles his way into crooks’ inner circle.

Kato. What can be said about Bruce Lee’s Kato that hasn’t already been said? I love his earnestness in the part, as well as his just-below-the-surface yearning to be let off the leash. You can tell that Kato is more than able to be deadly if he allowed himself to be.

Casey. Ah, Wende Wagner. One of the true crimes of the show is that Casey never really got to shine as brightly as I know Wagner could, given the opportunity. She’s more than just eye-candy, but that said, she is plenty of that, too.

The Black Beauty. It’s not the ’66 Batmobile, sure, but the Hornet’s ride does have a distinct profile all its own — and an arsenal that could shame a tank (and does!).

The Secret Garage. Just like the Batcave, I love heroes’ secret headquarters, and the Hornet’s is no exception. I dig that old billboard that splits in half!

The Hornet Sting. I’m not much of a fan of the less-aggressive Gas Gun the Hornet wields, but I love the Sting. What is it? What does it do? Who knows? It looks damn cool doing it.

“Programmed for Death.” Getting into some episodes, this one holds a special place in my heart due to its status as the story for the Green Hornet View-Master reels. Plus, it has a kind of secret cabal of criminals that’s really wicked cool.

“The Frog is a Deadly Weapon.” Interesting villain and locale (waterfront docks), and Casey gets a bigger role—what’s not to love?

“The Preying Mantis.” AKA “The Chinatown Episode,” AKA “Kato finally gets to fight someone else using martial arts.”

“Corpse of the Year” Parts 1 & 2. C’mon, an evil duplicate of our hero is always a fun basis for an episode!

“Bad Bet on a 459-Silent.” Great title and a personal crisis for the Green Hornet — he gets shot and Britt Reid may have to explain his injury.

“Alias the Scarf.” Let me explain this one like this: Horror icon John Carradine. ’Nuff said.

“Hornet Save Thyself.” Another Britt Reid spotlight, with the publisher set up to appear to be a murderer. Too bad there weren’t more episodes like this.


— Why TV’s GREEN HORNET Deserves the Same Groovy Love as BATMAN. Click here.

— What It’s Like to Own An Original BLACK BEAUTY. 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, Biff! Bam! Ee-Yow! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season Two and Oooff! Boff! Splatt! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66 – Season Three.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. “Too bad there weren’t more episodes like this.”? Too bad there weren’t more episodes, period. Like a couple of more seasons…

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  2. Great list Jim! The Green Hornet was NEVER syndicated in my area, and I didn’t really get to see the full series until Sci-Fi (or SyFy) aired them in conjunction with the Seth Rogen film. See, somthing good did come out of that!

    It’s criminal that the series isn’t out on DVD, Blu-Ray or actively streaming. Maybe one day.

    Happy birthday to Mr. Williams, an underrated leading man for certain!

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  3. Happy birthday to the late Mr. Williams. I’ve actually seen several episodes of “The Green Hornet” when it was airing on FX.

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  4. Actually we do know exactly what the awesome looking Hornet Sting weapon does: it projects intensely powerful ultrasonic waves.
    I always was impressed with Britt Reid’s fireplace that would rise upwards to reveal a secret elevator by which D.A. Frank Scanlon would come to covertly meet with Britt & Kato to discuss a case.
    I would include “The Ray is for Killing,” Novemeber 11, 1966 as one of the top GH episodes. On it, the criminal gang utilizes a powerful laser beam weapon to committ crimes and battle the Hornet & Kato.

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  5. Only problem with The Scarf – you knew who the bad guy was going to be the moment you saw who was playing him.

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  6. Great column!!!

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  7. While the Black Beauty did take on a tank in the episode “Seek, Stalk and Destroy” January 6, 1967, it hardly “shamed it.” As fantastic as the BB was, its front rockets were unable to do much damage to the tank. Kato ended up throwing one of his darts
    that emitted a gas through an opening in the tank. The gas then forced the men out. Exciting battle though.

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  8. Jim, the link to your book is 404. Do you have a process for folks to get a signed copy? Have you ever considered writing some of the pulps like The Shadow?

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    • Now fixed. Moonstone has a new site since this was posted last year. As far as signed copies, best thing to do is find me at a show. And as far as The Shadow, et al, those are of course under license and nobody but James Patterson currently has the rights to ’em…

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      • Interesting. Is there something funny about the copyright? I would have guessed they were all about the same age. So, Green Hornet is in the public domain? Or, were you approached by the license holder to write The Hornet?

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        • The Shadow, Doc Savage, the Green Hornet, et al, are all still owned by copyright holders. They are not in the public domain. Only individuals or companies with license permission can you use the characters. I wrote The Green Hornet book in conjunction with Moonstone Books which has the official Green Hornet license to publish new fiction.

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  9. I am quite sure this question has been on everybodys mind::what would’ve happened if Kato forgot to lock the cars in place before flipping the cars from the convertible to the Black Beauty?!!

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  10. Worse yet, what happens when Britt forgets he left an unfinished cup of coffee in the cup holder in either car when an emergency requires them to swap positions? Who cleans THAT up?

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