On Wingsday, January 10th celebrities, press, and memorabilia collectors the city over heeded the bat signal projected on to the wall of Hollywood’s venerable old Max Factor building. Said call heeded, in part, to prevent crimes of hazy remembrance by way of a big ol’ CRAAACK! BLOOP! to the 21st century and an even bigger Plop! Bang! back into the 20th! Such was the unveiling of The Hollywood Museum’s latest display Batman ’66: an exhibit dedicated to the very first filmed/televised version of the ink-and-pen Batman Series! Graciously hosted by Hollywood Museum President/Founder Donelle Dadigan and the brainchild of the series’ original Robin aka Burt Ward along with a host of vintage collectors, the opening night gala specially entitled HOLY HOLLYWOOD HISTORY BATMAN ’66 went off without a hitch–or would that be more of a Zam-Pow! in Batman speak?!?
Featuring costumes and props not seen since the show’s original 1966-68 airing, along with much, much more in all manner of vintage glory, “there is something [here] for everyone,” according museum president and founder Donelle Dadigan. “We have costumes and props that evoke one’s childhood memories of the ever-popular TV Series Batman…from the Batmobile and the Batcycle to Burt and Adam’s original costumes worn during the show’s 120 episode run on ABC TV Network, as well as guest villains – and one of my favorites – the original Dr. Casandra costume worn by TV and Film Star Ida Lupino, that has never been seen publicly before.”
Other noteworthy articles include George Barris’ original car #2, primary and redone costumes of The Riddler, The Joker, The Penguin, and Mr. Freeze, and sculpted-to-scale statues of all three Catwomen: Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether and Julie Newmar. But that’s not all: Yvonne Craig aka Batgirl’s life-sized likeness also makes a cameo (or would that be catmeo or cat’s meow?) as well as Adam West’s face and vintage mannequin from 1966!
It is interesting to note that the exhibit which opened to the general public on January 12th 2018, did so exactly 52 years to the day after the TV Series’ original airing! Holy Hearkening Happenstance Batman!!! And once publicly launched, the retrospective also features four noteworthy divisions: Wayne Manor, The Batcave, Gallery of Guest Super Villains, all rounded out by The Collectibles of Batman ’66. This, in turn. pays momentous homage to the memory of Adam West, along with the significant presence of Burt Ward and the show as a whole, still aired on television networks the world over to this day!
Photos Courtesy of Bill Dow Photography and The Hollywood Museum:
In attendance, former “caped crusader” turned “canine crusader” – via his new healthy line of dog food in the form of Gentle Giants Brand – Burt Ward himself! Also present a plethora of other Bellicose Bat Thwarters and staunch supporters (many of which were of the feline variety): Lee Meriwether, Sivi Aberg, and Barbara Rush! Also included in the mix, Marlon Wayans, Cory Oliver of Gods Not Dead, Renee Lawless of The Haves and Have Nots, Hank Garrett from 3 Days of the Condor, Jax Malcolm of Craxy Ex Girlfriend fame, Elizabeth J. Carlisle of The Rich and the Ruthless, Mason Guccione of Jumanji fame, Golden Globe winner, actress, and wife of director Stanley Kramer, Karen Kramer, Alice Amter aka Raj’s mom on The Big Bang Theory, Jeremy Miller aka Ben of Growing Pains fame, Kate Linder of The Young and the Restless, Anson Williams aka Potsie of Happy Days’ fame, Marta Kristen Kane of Lost in Space, Darcy Donovan, Stanley and Barry Livingston: two real life brothers who played reel life brothers on My Three Sons, comedienne Judy Tenuta, Carolyn Hennessey of General Hospital and True Blood, Patrika Darbo of The Bold and the Beautiful, Terri Moore, of Mighty Joe Young fame, writer, director, actress/comedienne Teresa Ganzel, actor producer and Oz cast member Steven Wishnoff, and last but certainly not least, Alison Arngrim – everybody’s favorite bad girl- Nellie Oleson of Little House on the Prairie Fame!
“I knew most of the villains on Batman personally,” confessed Arngrim, living staunchly up to her own childhood nemesis-sake!
“Lou Cheryl was my agent as a little girl,” Arngrim continued. “He was [also] Adam West’s Agent… [So] we’d watch the show and we knew everybody… Currently I’m friends with Julie Newmar and of course Lee Meriwether’s here. And over the years I’ve met Burgess Meredith and the whole gang…and Jay Sebring was Mr. Oceanbring. My dad used to go to his salon. We knew him quite well, and of course we knew of Liberace because my dad worked for Liberace and he was on the show… and we would laugh because everybody we fricken knew was on it! Somebody was always guesting on Batman. It was the local show.”
Steven Wishnoff disclosed his heroic adventures as a 7-year-old paring them off with that of today, “I was in the Batmobile! But then I walked past the Batmobile over here and I went, ‘I couldn’t sit in that thing if you gave me a can of Crisco and a Shoehorn!”
(Yes, folks and in all coincidental fashion, that was exactly the feel at the over-packed, beyond crowded, Batman exhibit premiere for which the LA Beat itself could only quote Rob Reiner in Postcards from the edge, upon entering Meryl Streep’s trailer: “Get any more people in here, we’re gonna need a lubricant!”)
“I grew up in New York,” elaborated Wishnoff. “Burgess Meredith had a horse farm…One summer, he threw a party and he invited all the kids. He brought the Batmobile and Adam [West] and somewhere there is a picture of me at age 7, in the Batmobile with Burgess on one side and Adam on the other!”
“Years after Batman I got to be friends…with Caesar Romero,” giddily exclaimed actress/comedienne Teresa Ganzel. “A girlfriend of mine wrote a play for him that he did for years, and because of that, I ended up playing charades many times with Caesar and he couldn’t have been nicer… He would tell stories about doing Batman… Of course he had been a big movie star before that, but he really loved [doing Batman] and he also loved that he got a whole group of fans from [it]… Batman was just a big part of my childhood…in 1966 when it first came out, I was 8-9 years old, I was just the perfect age [in order] to just be so enamored with the whole style of it. I mean [it] was like really like cutting edge y’know…?”
But folks of the 40/50-something age range and older were not the only ones fascinated by the caped crusader!
“I got to meet Burgess Meredith,” happily disclosed, child of the late 70s, Jeremy Miller. “I didn’t really have an attachment to [Batman itself] except for this show. I didn’t read the comic books… So, the 60s version, that was the only Batman I knew. So, this is my childhood.”
A thirteen-year-old Hunter Peyton, best known for the show A to Z, sporting a very chic Michael Jacksonesque Thriller Era black coat and black pants and related hat, could barely contain his excitement on the matter: “The old Batman’s way better than the new Batman! It’s just my thing. I’ve always liked the old stuff better than the new stuff, ‘cause it’s just got this nostalgic feeling to it. So, I’ve always kind of liked the old Batman movies better than the newer ones… My dad and I used to always watch [the original all the time]. We even have them on DVD so we’re probably going to binge watch them again. So good!”
Once off the red carpet on into the exhibit, the tenor of the tribute transmogrified from that of movie premiere to near Christmas cheer, as celebrities both young and old—well okay mostly older–swooned to all manner of classic memorabilia, not the least of which were the vintage toys!
Photos Courtesy of Bill Dow Photography and The Hollywood Museum:
“I had that puppet Damit!” quoth an emphatic Alison Arngrim.
“Oh yeah, that puppet was a big deal!” concurred Steven Wishnoff “They even had it in schools, when I was younger. I’m in Bat Heaven!!!”
(The puppet indeed looked vaguely familiar to the LA Beat and its writer as she suddenly recollected its plastic bat head and delicate cloth body: The Sacketts…the Sacketts down the street owned the very puppet discussed, along with a Black Lab named Toby. The delicate blue hand of said puppet’s ultimate resting place would invariably be the animal’s gullet, then gut before passing fully onto the grass’ downy embrace, only to be reabsorbed into the woven environment from whence originally it came. The puppet’s eye socket would eventually be rendered nil as the canine invariably sunk his dental canine into said ophthalmological orifice to oblivion…oy!)
So yes. According to Wishnoff, that puppet was a big deal and Alison Arngrim had it on her bed with all her toys and took it everywhere she went!
“Where I come from she would have been mugged for it,” blithely yet alarmingly added Wishnoff.
“I don’t think I had the Robin Puppet,” continued a giddy Arngrim, dancing in perpetuity before the display case. “I think I just had the Batman one…There was a Batman soap thing. I did not have the toothbrush. I wanted the toothbrush. I am bummed to this day. Look at that toothbrush. Looks great! That’s really awesome–Electric toothbrush. I had those [Batman] skates. They apparently did those plastic skates in a bunch of different characters…I don’t remember who I had but…it might’ve been Super Girl or something…”
“Oh my gosh!!! I love the Little House on the Prairie Version of the Batman outfit! And that Alarm clock makes the most annoying sound in the world. That alarm clock would wake the dead,” exclaimed Steven Wishnoff in both excited and somewhat annoyed fashion!
And the vintage adults were not the only ones gushing over the classic toys. First-year teenager i.e. Hunter Peyton, had this to say, “Ohhhh one of my favorite [toys]…Well, my dad recently got it. It’s the old vintage metal diecast Batman Mobile that they used to sell. he was just like ‘Hey I found this. It’s just gonna be on sale for a little bit. Might as well…’ He came home and he was like ‘Here’s food and everything and here’s a Batmobile!” He had it hung up in my room for me, I was just like, “Ohhh, you’re the best!!!”
“Oh I had all of [these].. I had the little car with the handles. I had the lunch box I had the thermos. I had the game. I had…Oh yeah this is my childhood,” disclosed child of the late 70s Jeremy Miller.
But the classic toy and favorite that I remember would have to come from Teresa Ganzel: “Yes! [I had a Batman toy.] I forget what you call it, but sticky plastic figures and you put them on the background—COLORFORMS!!!” Yes, oh yes, those were invariably the best!!!
All in all a bodaciously Battastic night!
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