SIMON THE PIEMAN: The Best Villain Never on BATMAN ’66

Perhaps Filmation’s greatest gift to Batkind…

For the FILMATION BATMAN Index of features, click here.

Ask a fan to name a villain that they wish could have been on the Batman ’66 TV show, and they’ll inevitably name Two-Face, Scarecrow or Poison Ivy.

There are also those who like to throw in bad guys who popped up after the show ended, like Ra’s al Ghul, Killer Croc or Harley Quinn.

After that, it’s a matter of casting them: Cary Grant as Two-Face? Ann-Margret as Ivy?

All good — and the Batman ’66 comic book went a long way to scratching those itches.

Still, there’s somebody who has everyone beat, an adversary who absolutely was a perfect fit but never got the chance because he came along too late — the one and only Simon the Pieman!

And I’m not kidding, either.

Simon the Pieman, of course, came along in late 1968 — meaning his 50th anniversary is coming up! — in Filmation’s series of Batman cartoons. He had only two appearances and John S. Drew and I recently discussed them at The Batcave Podcast. (Click here for Simon the Pieman and click here for A Perfidious Pieman is Simon. Or you can catch them on iTunes. You’ll dig ’em.)

Simon’s schtick was ready-made for the live-action show: Larger-than-life character has gimmick adapting something mundane, along with attendant penchant for gigantic death traps modeled after everyday items. Plus, he’s got a mysterious Russian moll and two oddball henchmen, one of which has an alarmingly high-pitched, squeaky voice.

Oh, and there’s an added bonus: He likes to cross-dress.

But who to play him?

Simon appears to be based on W.C. Fields, not just his look but the voice given him by Ted Knight. However, Fields was out of the running for Batman ’66 — he died in 1946.

But given Simon’s gangster pretensions — he has the guts to kidnap Gotham’s most notorious criminals in a bid to take over the underworld — I can’t think of anyone better than Edward G. Robinson.

1965’s The Cincinnati Kid

Just imagine it: Robinson running around the set in a white chef’s outfit and tocque — or even matronly dress — spouting “Simon says” this or “Simon says” that, all while trying to drown Batman, Robin and Batgirl in a series of enormous mixing bowls.

And it’s not like Robinson wasn’t in the show’s orbit, either. He had the window cameo in the Green Hornet two-parter. Plus, he clearly had a taste for genre fiction, given his Planet of the Apes screen tests as Dr. Zaius and his supporting role in Soylent Green.

Robinson in the window

Simon would appear to be the creation of Denis Marks, who wrote his eponymously named premiere episode, but who knows if he wasn’t assigned the character. There’s not much of that kind of detail available about the making of these cartoons.

But in re-watching these segments with adult, retrospective eyes, it’s clear that Simon is Filmation’s answer to King Tut — a bombastic character who is tailor made for an actor ready, willing and able to chew the scenery with the best of them.

He even dances the cakewalk!

Alas, that’s just not how time and opportunity works. Not only that, Simon faded away almost as quickly as he arrived. Unlike Harley Quinn, he never made the leap to comics, unless someone tucked him into a story as a throwaway gag that I don’t recall.

Thankfully, those rascals at Batman: The Brave and the Bold squeezed a couple cameos out of him:

Anyway, Cary Grant (or William Shatner, naturally) as Two-Face would have been grand. And Ann-Margret as Poison Ivy would have been a fever dream of sex appeal.

But Edward G. Robinson as Simon has all the ingredients for a jumbo pie of high camp — the tastiest comic pastry we were never served.

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For the FILMATION BATMAN Index of features, click here.

NOTE: This piece first ran in March 2018 in slightly different form.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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3 Comments

  1. never heard of this guy before, but he’d be awesome in live action form

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  2. Simon should have been played by Jonathan Winters… and Dean Martin for Two-Face

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  1. 13 GREAT THINGS About the 1968 BATMAN Cartoon | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture - […] had the bad baker been around for the ’66 show. Or Jonathan Winters, as a reader suggested. (Click here…
  2. 13 GREAT THINGS About Filmation’s 1968 BATMAN Cartoon | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture - […] had the bad baker been around for the ’66 show. Or Jonathan Winters, as a reader suggested. (Click here…

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