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I make no apologies for my unbridled adoration of the 1966 “Batman” series starring Adam West as the lovable (albeit laughable) Caped Crusader. Give me the fun, silly, bumbling antics of “Fatman and Boy Blunder” over the dark, angsty, depressing storm cloud that plagues all other incarnations of this unlikely comic book hero.

Last November saw the long awaited release of the ’66 Batman series on DVD and Blu-ray. One thing I really like about the show is that it was always about Batman and Robin together. Fighting crime, righting wrongs, spouting clever alliterations and exclamations and … well, never mind. The fact is, my own partner in crime (or crime-fighting if the situation suits us) Paul is here today, and THIS dynamic duo of The Seeker of Truth and Mr. Twilight Zone are going to BIFF! BANG! POW! our way into Rod Serling’s Fifth Dimension.

So what does Batman have to do with Rod Serling? Well, as it turns out, quite a few Batman actors crossed television paths with Mr. Serling on the earlier “The Twilight Zone”, and later in his more macabre series “Night Gallery”. During one of our many deep, reflective, highly important discussions about television and pop culture (AKA “fangirling”), Paul and I noted how a number of Batman stars had popped up in “The Twilight Zone”. And being the uber font of Serling knowledge that he is, Paul immediately rhymed off “Night Gallery” appearances by the same actors. Excited by the prospect of another joint post (and more to fan over), we started compiling a list of actors who’d appeared on Batman and “The Twilight Zone” and/or “Night Gallery”. Neither of us had any idea just how many cross-over actors there had actually been. Our initial number was 7. After some Gal Friday-type research, however, that number quickly grew to a whopping 18.

Some of these you’ll recognize right away, and others will leave you saying, “Holy Santa Claus and cemeteries, Batman! I had no idea!”

Who knew there was an interdimensional portal to the Fifth Dimension in Gotham City? Or that they had a creepy art gallery there? Come and join the Boss and me as we explore these Batman/Serling cross-overs on this, the 49th anniversary of “Batman”‘s premiere.

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Adam West

Adam West

Night Gallery S2E3, September 29, 1971 “With Apologies to Mr. Hyde” (Mr. Hyde)

as Batman

— in all 120 episodes

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Alan Napier

Alan Napier2Twilight Zone S4E17, May 9, 1963 “Passage on the Lady Anne” (Capt. Protheroe)

Night Gallery S3E3, October 15, 1972 “Fright Night” (Cousin Zachariah)
Night Gallery S2E21, February 23, 1972 “The Sins of the Fathers” (The Man)
Night Gallery S2E9, November 17, 1971 “House – With Ghost” (Doctor)

as Alfred

— Bruce Wayne’s butler in all 120 episodes.

Batman S2E22, November 17, 1966 “The Joker’s Provokers” (also played Alfred’s cousin Egbert, night watchman at the Gotham City Waterworks)

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Art Carney

Art Carney

The Twilight Zone S2E11, December 23, 1960 “Night of the Meek” (Henry Corwin)

as The Archer

Batman S2E1, September 7, 1966 “Shoot a Crooked Arrow”
Batman S2E2, September 8, 1966 “Walk the Straight and Narrow”

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Barbara Rush

Barbara Rush

Night Gallery S2E12, December 8, 1971 “Cool Air” (Agatha Howard)

as Nora Clavicle

Batman S3E19, January 18, 1968 “Nora Clavicle and the Ladies’ Crime Club”

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Burgess Meredith

Burgess Meredith

Twilight Zone S1E8, November 20, 1959 “Time Enough at Last” (Henry Bemis
Twilight Zone S2E19, March 3, 1961 “Mr. Dingle, The Strong” (Luther Dingle)Twilight Zone S2E29, June 2, 1961 “The Obsolete Man” (Romney Wordsworth)Twilight Zone S4E9, February 28, 1963 “Printer’s Devil” (Mr. Smith)

Night Gallery S1E2, December 23, 1970 “The Little Black Bag” (Dr. Fall)
Night Gallery S3E9, December 3, 1972 “Finnegan’s Flight” (Charlie Finnegan)

as The Penguin

Batman S1E3, January 19, 1966 “Fine Feathered Finks”
Batman S1E4, January 20, 1966 “The Penguin’s a Jinx”

Batman S1E21, March 23, 1966 “The Penguin Goes Straight”
Batman S1E22, March 24, 1966 “Not Yet, He Ain’t”

Batman S1E33, May 4, 1966 “Fine Finny Fiends”
Batman S1E34, May 5, 1966 “Makes the Scenes”

Batman S2E17, November 2, 1966 “Hizzonner the Penguin”
Batman S2E18, November 3, 1966 “Dizzoner the Penguin”

Batman S2E27, December 7, 1966 “The Penguin’s Nest”
Batman S2E28, December 8, 1966 “The Bird’s Last Jest”

Batman S2E37, January 11, 1967 “The Zodiac Crimes”
Batman S2E38, January 12, 1967 “The Joker’s Hard Times”
Batman S2E39, January 18, 1967 “The Penguin Declines”

Batman S2E42, January 26, 1967 “Penguin Is a Girl’s Best Friend”
Batman S2E43, February 1, 1967 “Penguin Sets a Trend”
Batman S2E44, February 2, 1967 “Penguin’s Disastrous End”

Batman S3E1, September 14, 1967 “Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin”

Batman S3E4, October 5, 1967 “The Sport of Penguins”
Batman S3E5, October 12, 1967 “A Horse of Another Color”

Batman S3E20, January 25, 1968 “Penguin’s Clean Sweep”

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Cesar Romero

Cesar Romero

Night Gallery S2E8, November 10, 1971 “A Matter of Semantics” (Count Dracula)

as The Joker

Batman S1E5, January 26, 1966 “The Joker is Wild”
Batman S1E6, January 27, 1966 “Batman Is Riled”

Batman S1E15, March 2, 1966 “The Joker Goes to School”
Batman S1E16, March 3, 1966 “He Meets His Match, The Grisly Ghoul”

Batman S1E25, April 6, 1966 “The Joker Trumps an Ace”
Batman S1E26, April 7, 1966 “Batman Sets the Pace”

Batman S2E21, November 16, 1966 “The Impractical Joker”
Batman S2E22, November 17, 1966 “The Joker’s Provokers”

Batman S2E37, January 11, 1967 “The Zodiac Crimes”
Batman S2E38, January 12, 1967 “The Joker’s Hard Times”
Batman S2E39, January 18, 1967 “The Penguin Declines”

Batman S2E47, February 15, 1967 “The Joker’s Last Laugh”
Batman S2E48, February 16, 1967 “The Joker’s Epitaph”

Batman S2E57, March 22, 1967 “Pop Goes the Joker”
Batman S2E58, March 23, 1967 “Flop Goes the Joker”

Batman S3E10, November 16, 1967 “Surf’s Up! Joker’s Under!”

Batman S3E16, December 28, 1967 “The Funny Feline Felonies”
Batman S3E17, January 4, 1968 “The Joke’s on Catwoman”

Batman S3E24, February 29, 1968 “The Joker’s Flying Saucer”

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Cliff Robertson

Cliff Robertson

Twilight Zone S2E23, April 7, 1961 “A Hundred Yards Over the Rim” (Christian Horn)
Twilight Zone S3E33, May 4, 1962 “The Dummy” (Jerry Etherson)

as Shame

Batman S2E25, November 30, 1966 “Come Back, Shame”
Batman S2E26, December 1, 1966 “It’s How You Play the Game”

Batman S3E21, February 1, 1968 “The Great Escape”
Batman S3E22, February 8, 1968 “The Great Train Robbery”

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David Wayne

David Wayne

Twilight Zone S1E6, November 6, 1959 “Escape Clause” (Walter Bedeker)

Night Gallery S2E8, November 10, 1971 “The Diary” (Dr. Mill)

as The Mad Hatter

Batman S1E13, February 23, 1966 “The Thirteenth Hat”
Batman S1E14, February 24, 1966 “Batman Stands Pat”

Batman S2E35, January 4, 1967 “The Contaminated Cowl”
Batman S2E36, January 5, 1967 “The Mad Hatter Runs Afoul”

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Dina Merrill

Dina Merrill

Night Gallery S3E15, May 27, 1973 “Hatred Unto Death” (Ruth Wilson)

as Calamity Jan

Batman S3E21, February 1, 1968 “The Great Escape”
Batman S3E22, February 8, 1968 “The Great Train Robbery”

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Ida Lupino

Ida Lupino

Twilight Zone S1E4, October 23, 1959 “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine” Barbara Trenton
Twilight Zone S5E25, March 20, 1964 — Director of “The Masks”

as Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft

Batman S3E25, March 7, 1968 “The Entrancing Dr. Cassandra”

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John Astin

Twilight Zone S2E23, April 7, 1961 “A Hundred Yards Over the Rim” (Charlie)

Night Gallery S1E5, January 13, 1971 “Pamela’s Voice” (Jonathan)
Night Gallery S1E3, December 30, 1970 — Director of “The House”
Night Gallery S2E3, October 6, 1971 — Director of “A Fear of Spiders”
Night Gallery S2E9 November 17, 1971 “Hell’s Bells” (Randy Miller)
Night Gallery S2E10, November 24, 1971 — Director of “The Dark Boy”
Night Gallery S3E2, October 1, 1972 “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes” (Munsch)

as The Riddler

Batman S2E45, February 8, 1967 “Batman’s Anniversary”
Batman S2E46, February 9, 1967 “A Riddling Controversy”

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Julie Newmar

Julie Newmar

Twilight Zone S4E14, April 11, 1963 “Of Late I Think of Cliffordville” (Miss Devlin)

as Catwoman

Batman S1E19, March 16, 1966 “The Purr-fect Crime”
Batman S1E20, March 17, 1966 “Better Luck Next Time”

Batman S2E3, September 14, 1966 “Hot Off the Griddle”
Batman S2E4, September 15, 1966 “The Cat and the Fiddle”

Batman S2E9, October 6, 1966 “Ma Parker” (a 10-second cameo appearance at the prison)

Batman S2E29, December 14, 1966 “The Cat’s Meow”
Batman S2E30, December 15, 1966 “The Bat’s Kow Tow”

Batman S2E33, December 28, 1966 “The Sandman Cometh”
Batman S2E34, December 29, 1966 “The Catwoman Goeth”

Batman S2E40, January 19, 1967 “That Darn Catwoman”
Batman S2E41, January 25, 1967 “Scat! Darn Catwoman”

Batman S2E49, February 22, 1967 “Catwoman Goes to College”
Batman S2E50, February 23, 1967 “Batman Displays His Knowledge”

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Roddy McDowall

Roddy McDowallTwilight Zone S1E25, March 25, 1960 “People Are Alike All Over” (Sam Conrad)

Night Gallery Pilot Film, November 8, 1969 “The Cemetery” (Jeremy Evans)

as The Bookworm

Batman S1E29, April 20, 1966 “The Bookworm Turns”
Batman S1E30, April 21, 1966 “While Gotham City Burns”

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Rudy Vallee

Rudy Vallee Fini

Night Gallery S2E4, October 6, 1971 “Marmalade Wine” (Dr. Francis Deeking)

as Lord Marmaduke Ffogg

Batman S3E11, November 23, 1967 “The Londinium Larcenies”
Batman S3E12, November 30, 1967 “The Foggiest Notion”
Batman S3E13, December 7, 1967 “The Bloody Tower”

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Stafford Repp

Stafford Repp

Twilight Zone S2E7, November 18, 1960 “Nick of Time” (Mechanic)
Twilight Zone S3E7, October 27, 1961 “The Grave” (Ira Broadly)
Twilight Zone S5E28, April 10, 1964 “Caesar and Me” (Pawnbroker)

as Chief O’Hara

— in all 120 episodes

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Victor Buono

Victor Buono

Night Gallery S2E9, November 17, 1971 “A Midnight Visit to the Neighbourhood Blood Bank” (Vampire)
Night Gallery S2E23, March 22, 1971 “Satisfaction Guaranteed” (Customer)

as King Tut

Batman S1E27, April 13, 1966 “The Curse of Tut”
Batman S1E28, April 14, 1966 “The Pharaoh’s in a Rut”

Batman S2E7, September 28, 1966 “The Spell of Tut”
Batman S2E8, September 29, 1966 “Tut’s Case is Shut”

Batman S2E53, March 8, 1967 “King Tut’s Coup”
Batman S2E54, March 9, 1967 “Batman’s Waterloo”

Batman S3E6, October 19, 1967 “The Unkindest Tut of All”

Batman S3E23 February 22, 1968 “I’ll Be a Mummy’s Uncle”

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Vincent Price

Vincent Price

Night Gallery S3E1, September 24, 1972 “Return of the Sorcerer” (John Carnby)
Night Gallery S2E2, September 22, 1971 “Class of ’99” (Professor)

as Egghead

Batman S2E13, October 19, 1966 “An Egg Grows in Gotham”
Batman S2E14, October 20, 1966 “The Yegg Foes in Gotham”

Batman S3E8, November 2, 1967 “The Ogg and I”
Batman S3E9, November 9, 1967 “How to Hatch a Dinosaur”

Batman S3E15, December 21, 1967 “The Ogg Couple”

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Zsa Zsa Gabor

Zsa Zsa Gabor

Night Gallery S2E13, December 15, 1971 “The Painted Mirror” (Mrs. Moore)

as Minerva

Batman S3E26, March 14, 1968 “Minerva, Mayhem and Millionaires”

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And two extras for you…

Pat Hingle

Pat Hingle

Twilight Zone S4E15, April 18, 1963 “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” (Horace Ford)

Pat Hingle wasn’t in the 1966 Batman series, however, he did play the recurring role of Commissioner James Gordon in the 1990s’ run of Batman films: “Batman” (1989), “Batman Returns” (1992), “Batman Forever” (1995), and “Batman and Robin” (1997).

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Behind-the-scenes connection: Batman (1966) producer and narrator (yes, he’s the narrator’s voice too!) William Dozier was also the producer of all 26 episodes of Serling’s series “The Loner” (1965-1966).

Burt Ward, Adam West and William Dozier

Burt Ward, Adam West and William Dozier

Wendy: Wow, Boss, did you have any idea that our list of cross-over actors would be so long? We knew there were definitely enough to warrant a blog post about it, but I was so surprised to learn there were this many.

Paul: Same here. I knew that a lot of “character actors” had appeared on both shows (or all three, to be more precise), but I was surprised at just how many there were. I would have guessed no more than 10.

Wendy: Me too! I think the first few times we talked about it, we named 5 or 6. But they just kept coming! 18 is a very respectable number. And there are a few big names too. Like Cesar Romero and of course Burgess Meredith who, as The Penguin, had more appearances than any other Batman villain — 20 episodes he was in!

Paul: I could have sworn Romero would have the most appearances, not Meredith. But I think that’s because Joker is the most iconic Batman villain. But what got me was the number of “Serling actors” who had turned up on Batman. It’s been years since I last saw the show, and so I’d forgotten, for example, that John Astin stepped in as Riddler. I was only thinking of Frank Gorshin! I knew there’d been three different actresses playing Catwoman, and I could name all three without looking it up, but I wasn’t expecting so many other names!

Wendy: Romero came close — 19 episodes!

Paul: Yes. Makes me wish they’d find a lost episode with him in it!

Wendy: Oh, me too! The Joker is my favourite villain. And Romero’s single Night Gallery appearance is actually one of the handful of NG episodes I’ve seen. “A Matter of Semantics” is just a short little segment, but I liked it a lot!

Paul: I knew that Batman was the hot show when it came out, and that guest-starring on it was sort of the thing to do, but I didn’t realize how many they actually recruited. I imagine it was a lot of fun for these stars to put on a silly costume and just have fun, you know?

And yes, Romero’s time on NG isn’t long, but it’s memorable. After all, if you want a classic vampire, the list is short, right? And Romero is ideal!

Wendy: Right, and you know how I feel about Draculas… ;P

Paul: Of course. You hate them! ;P #Not

Wendy: ;) And you’re right. At the time, a guest spot on Batman was something every actor wanted to do. In fact, this reminds me of something I read earlier in a fantastic Batman book I’ve had for ages, “Batman: The Complete History”. A quote from Burgess Meredith about appearing on the show: “It was kind of a trendy thing to do at the time.” And Romero recalled that for this Batman incarnation, he was told by producers that it would be the villains who were the important characters. And I think we can both agree that this was indeed true. Batman and Robin may have appeared in all 120 episodes, but it’s the villains who steal the show.

Ha! “Steal” the show. Villains, stealing… *nudges you* ;D

Paul: I’m not really much of one for puns, as you WELL know, GF. xD

Wendy: Oh, I know how intimidated you are by my punning prowess.

“Holy punning prowess, Batman!” xD

Paul: U-pun my word, GF …

And yes, there’s no question that Batman was a showcase for villains. Having Adam West deadpan these “serious” lines while the villains chewed the scenery and lobbed bad puns (yes, there IS such a thing — MINE are golden!) was a great formula. It’s easy to see why it was such a smash, and why we’re still enjoying reruns today. Just as we do with the Twilight Zone and Night Gallery!

Wendy: Yes, each of these three shows had that something special about them. They just click.

Paul: And Burt Ward was so hilariously earnest. It’s just FUN, you know? And that’s in such short supply these days. Everything’s so dark now. Makes me want to say, “Why so SERIOUS?”

Wendy: Oh, Burt Ward was the perfect partner for Adam West. His “Holy” exclamations are just priceless! And yeah, some can call Batman campy, but campy is just another word for good, wholesome fun. We need more of that today.

Paul: Definitely. There’s BAD campy and GOOD campy. Batman is unquestionably the latter. Don’t they have those exclamations compiled somewhere? It’s probably in one of your books, but aren’t they rounded up online? They must be.

Wendy: They certainly are! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_exclamations_by_Robin Bet you never guessed there were that many!

Paul: Whoa! No, I certainly didn’t. Man, you’d think the show ran a dozen seasons!

Wendy: The Gal Friday in me now wants to comb over each and every episode to document those exclamations for myself! :P

Paul: I’ll bet! As you and I have discovered, you can’t just take these things on faith. First-hand research is essential. I think you have a mission here!

Wendy: “Coming soon to a WordPress blog post near you, from The Seeker of Truth… “Holy Exclamations, Batman!” xD

Paul: I’d love to read it!

Anybody else would be kidding, but I’m fully expecting you to do this sooner or later. :)

Wendy: Ha! I’ll bet you would, Boss! And to tell the truth, I probably will! :)

Okay, let’s talk a bit about the other star villain of Batman, and the one I suspect a lot of people remember the most – the purrrfect villainess, Catwoman. Julie Newmar comes in third on the list of most appearances with 13 episodes. Now, the Catwoman character does make three more appearances in the third and final season of Batman, but by then she was played by Eartha Kitt — my own personal preference for Catwoman! I’ll bet you were surprised that Newmar wasn’t my favourite. :)

Paul: Yes, I was! Especially because I know how much you like Newmar’s work. Kitt DID do a terrific job in the role, but I think Newmar sort of became THE Catwoman in fans’ eyes, sort of like Gorshin is THE Riddler.

Wendy: Absolutely. I am a big fan of hers. I mean, I think Newmar’s Miss Devlin was a devilishly good Devil in TZ! She could even give Robin Hughes a run for his Howling Man money!

I actually suspect that I saw Kitt as Catwoman first when I was young. So for me, she’ll always be the “first” (and by extension “best”) Catwoman.

Paul: Yes! Newmar and Hughes were so good. In fact, there were a number of actors who played the Devil in some form on TZ, and they all did a terrific job. There was also Thomas Gomez (Mr. Cadwallader in “Escape Clause”) and Burgess Meredith (Mr. Smith in “Printer’s Devil”) — the Penguin himself!

Wendy: Oh, Meredith as Mr. Smith was brilliant. I wish that somehow both Mr. Smith and Miss Devlin could have been in an episode together. I have a feeling that Newmar and Meredith would have made a great duo! You know, Catwoman and The Penguin were never in a Batman ’66 episode together either.

Paul: Really? With all the villain combos they had, I find that hard to believe! And yes, can you imagine Mr. Smith and Miss Devlin together? We’d need to call in Sam and Dean from “Supernatural” to defeat them!

Wendy: Ha! Yep! Bring the salt, boys. LOTS of salt. ;D

Paul: And bone up on your Latin!

Wendy: Yes! And you’re right, Boss, I couldn’t believe it either! The Penguin and Catwoman not teaming together? And you know what? They didn’t even make up for it with the 1966 Batman movie, because Julie Newmar was unavailable to play Catwoman, so it was Lee Meriwether who got to have all sorts of wacky fun with Meredith’s Penguin. Such a shame. Meriwether was an okay Catwoman, but she lacked Newmar’s style and Eartha Kitt’s ferocity, I think.

Paul: Yes, Meriwether did a good job, but she was kind of forgettable. Which was certainly NOT the case with Newmar and Kitt!

Wendy: Exactly! They each had a special spark that made them memorable.

Not surprisingly, Burgess Meredith also racks up the most Twilight Zone appearances of any actor on our list. And two Night Gallerys too! He was certainly a popular guy at the time. I think everyone remembers him as Henry Bemis in what is probably the most recognizable TZ episode of all time, “Time Enough at Last”. But even I haven’t seen him in either of his NG appearances. How did he measure up there?

Paul: Predictably fine performances, especially in “The Little Black Bag,” where he plays a skid-row doctor who gets a chance to sort of redeem himself when a medical bag from the future unexpectedly comes into his possession. He gives the role some real heart, not surprisingly. Great combination of Meredith’s acting and Serling’s writing from NG’s first season.

Wendy: It sounds great!

Another of our actors who made an appearance in all three shows is John Astin, whose very brief stint as the Riddler in season 2 (a measly two episodes) left fans less than impressed. So UNimpressed, in fact, that Frank Gorshin would return to the role for the third and final season.

As you mentioned earlier, Frank Gorshin was THE Riddler. He’s the villain who kicked off the entire series! But you know, I think everyone is a bit hard on Astin. It’s not that his performance was BAD, he just couldn’t replicate Gorshin’s iconic portrayal. I watched Astin’s two episodes not long ago, and I think part of his trouble is that he tried to copy what Gorshin had done: That crazy laugh (which NO ONE but Gorshin could do), the bubbling dialogue, the jerky yet fluid body movements… *sighs* Astin just tried too hard. It was the wrong role for him. Gomez he could do. The Riddler? Not so much.

Paul: Right, and no one should have expected him to. You have to take the role and make it your own. Play to your own strengths, not copy someone else’s. Did Jack Nicholson try to be Cesar Romero? Did Heath Ledger try to be Nicholson? No. And thank God they didn’t.

Wendy: So true! Each was a perfect joker, but each was completely different. And that was the only way that each of them could “own” the role.

Paul: Astin, as we well know, was loaded with talent. He didn’t have to be a Gorshin copycat. He’s THE Gomez Addams, but we found out on Night Gallery that he could do more. In three separate segments — one in each of NG’s three seasons — he played a murderer, a businessman and a hippie. And as if that wasn’t enough, he tried his hand at directing, and he did a fantastic job! He was the director of “A Fear of Spiders”, “The Dark Boy” and “The House,” three fan favorites, all of which show a real sense of style and visual flair.

Wendy: I saw him in “Hell’s Bells” and it was SUCH a departure from the suave Gomez Addams that I could hardly believe it was him! But so entertaining!

It was fun to learn that John Astin and another cross-over actor, Cliff Robertson, both appeared together on The Twilight Zone. I thought that was neat. Two Batman villains working together on a TZ episode. :)

Cliff Robertson and John Astin

Paul: Yes, everyone remembers Robertson’s work on TZ. They recall him in his top hat on “A Hundred Yards Over the Rim,” but they forget Astin had a small speaking role in that one too. In fact, he sets up Robertson’s final lines by asking him what was over the rim. It’s a small part, but he does a nice job. Robertson, meanwhile, was crazy good, not only in “A Hundred Yards,” but in “The Dummy”. I mean, you really thought this guy was losing his marbles and having a debate with a ventriloquist dummy! It was so eerie, the way that episode was written and shot, but Robertson really made it memorable, right down to supplying the dummies’ voices. That off-the-wall laugh near the end is an absolute hair-raiser!

Wendy: “The Dummy” is definitely one of the scarier episodes of TZ. You’re right, the laugh is guaranteed to give you goosebumps!

A fun bat-fact for you, Boss: Cliff Robertson was married to Dina Merrill, who played his Batman partner in crime, Calamity Jan!

Dina Merrill and Cliff Robertson2

Paul: Oh, really? I didn’t know that. Wish I could say that Merrill’s episode of NG is a memorable one, but ugh, it’s pretty terrible. It was the last NG broadcast, in fact, so you could say it’s the “Bewitchin’ Pool” of NG, to mention the generally poorly-reviewed last episode of TZ. I mean, Merrill spends the episode babysitting a gorilla (clearly a guy in a suit — the same one from the Addams Family, in fact!). I’m sure she was wishing the part was as interesting as when she played Calamity Jan!

Wendy: Yeah, doesn’t exactly scream FUN! :-/

Robertson and Merrill weren’t the only husband and wife duo to don villainous Batman personas, by the way. Ida Lupino, who played Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft, was married to her on-screen husband Cabala, Howard Duff.

Ida and Howard

Paul: Lupino did such terrific work on TZ, as you know. She played a rather unsympathetic part in “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine” so well you actually felt BAD for her character, and then she came back in Season 5 to direct “The Masks”! She imbued Serling’s remarkable script with a great visual scheme. She deserves part of the credit for that episode being considered such a classic.

Wendy: Agreed. And the only female director on TZ too!

Paul: Duff, meanwhile, was the poor, deluded Gerald Reagan of “A World of Difference,” and he sells it beautifully. He’s so believable in the part, you could swear it was actually happening — that he’s an actor who suddenly decided to retreat permanently into a fantasy world. Ha, he and Lupino both look so classically conservative in their early ’60s clothing on TZ that seeing them in color in these wild costumes on Batman is quite a sight!

Wendy: Oh, I didn’t realize that Duff had been in a TZ episode! “A World of Difference” is one that I… er, well, haven’t seen. :P But you’ve just proven again what a small world it was for TV actors back in the ’60s and ’70s!

Paul: Another one you haven’t seen? Yeah, it’s no B-movie, right, GF? No bout of wrestling? O_o

Wendy: Ha! Yeah, yeah, yeah. We all have our priorities in life. ;P

Paul: And you’re right! The TV world did seem to be smaller then. Or producers preferred to pull from a smaller pool of established talent.

Wendy: So true! I actually wish they’d still do that now. Good actors are NOT a dime a dozen, so I would welcome more quality performances from a smaller group of accomplished performers.

Paul: Yes, I know what you mean! It’s great to give up-and-coming talent a break, bring some new faces in, but when you’ve got such tremendous actors and actresses available to breathe life into these roles, why not use them?

Wendy: Absolutely! And speaking of those wild Batman costumes, one of the most colourful Batman villains has to be King Tut. After the Joker, I think he’s my favourite. And Victor Buono always comes off as such a gentle yet boisterous man. He’s a real joy to watch. I really liked how they set up his character too. King Tut is actually just a normal guy — a Yale Egyptology professor — who gets hit on the head and has a bit of an amnesia-induced identity crisis! And I love all things Egyptian, so you can imagine what a kick I get out of the cool sets they built for his episodes.

Paul: I certainly can! Buono was so good at doing those types of roles, and the funny thing is, he got to do the same thing on NG! One time, anyway. He got to play a stereotypical vampire in one of the little comedy black-out sketches they’d sometimes do. Most of them are pretty forgettable, but Buono makes “A Midnight Visit to the Neighborhood Blood Bank” fun! Not unlike Cesar Romero does on “A Matter of Semantics.” And Buono’s other NG role, “Satisfaction Guaranteed”, is very amusing. You have to see it to believe it!

Wendy: Yes, I’ve seen the segment “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and it was such a delight! Short, sweet, creepy and an ending you’re not really expecting! ;D

Paul: So you know why it defies description!

Wendy: Oh, yeah, I know! It’s a NG must-see for sure.

Paul: Interestingly enough, it was a replacement segment. When the episode it was in first aired, it had a different segment (“Witches’ Feast”) that was widely panned, and when the episode was repeated a few months later, “Satisfaction Guaranteed” was in its place.

Wendy: Oh, really? Well, I’m certainly glad that this segment made it to air. It’s so clever and memorable, I’d hate it to not be a part of the NG canon. And hey, isn’t that the episode that has Vincent Price’s “Class of ’99” segment? I’ve seen him in “Return of the Sorcerer”, but unfortunately I’ve yet to see “Class of ’99”. I have read the script for it though, and it was amazing. It was so striking on paper that seeing it brought to life must really be something special. I’m sure that Price’s performance is nothing short of stellar, especially because he’s working with such brilliant material.

There was certainly some exceptional talent in Batman, Twilight Zone and Night Gallery, but I think you’ll agree that the biggest star in this group is the master of horror himself, Vincent Price. He played the rather silly character Egghead in Batman, but man, it’s Vincent Price for crying out loud! THE Vincent Price! Readers of my blog know how much I adore Price. “House on Haunted Hill“, the Roger Corman Edgar Allan Poe films, and heck, he was even in Scooby Doo! I mean, the only way life could be any better is if he’d been in an episode of The Twilight Zone. And wow, wouldn’t THAT have been spectacular?

We’ve talked about that before — what dream TZ role he could have played. I can think of a number of episodes that I would have liked to see him take on. But I still say the best fit for him would have been the role of Fitzgerald Fortune in “A Piano in the House”. I take nothing away from Barry Morse who was truly wonderful as Fortune himself, but can you imagine Price in that? Just WOW.

Paul: Oh, “Class of ’99” is a highlight, all right, and Price is a big part of the reason it was such a success. The part calls for someone with an aristocratic, professorial air who could be project menace … gee, any actor come to mind who could do THAT? ;) That episode, I should also note, was the first time Jeannot Szwarc directed a NG. He did a terrific job, and quickly became a huge favorite of Serling’s. And guess what? He’s still active today. He’s directed episodes of “Supernatural” and numerous other notable series. But yes, to return to VP, he did such marvelous work in “Class of ’99” and “The Return of the Sorcerer.” He just had that appealing presence. He had such class, and he somehow, SOMEHOW, made the material scary AND fun. How do you do that? I have no idea, but he did it to a T. So he was ideal for NG. And yes, if only he’d done a TZ or two! How perfect that would have been. I can only assume it didn’t work out since he was very busy with the Roger Corman films when TZ was on, but wow, yes, imagine him as Fitzgerald Fortune! As you say, Barry Morse was great, but VP would have elevated the material even more. Ah, well. We’ll just have to be grateful we got him as Egghead and in delightful roles on NG.

Wendy: Absolutely. Anything with Vincent Price will make ME smile, and his roles on Batman and NG were certainly something special.

Paul: You spoke of these programs having such “exceptional talent,” and I couldn’t agree more. When we first started talking about this post, I knew it would be interesting, but I didn’t realize HOW interesting. And fun! I’ve really enjoyed delving into the men and women who made TZ, Batman and NG so entertaining. :)

Wendy: This WAS a very interest topic to talk about. We’ve often marveled at spotting a particular actor popping up in numerous episodes of The Twilight Zone, so it stands to reason that when you start crossing series and not just episodes, it’s going to be a fun experience. And I ask you, Boss, what could be better than Batman and Rod Serling? O_o

Paul: Nothing I can think of! Seriously, all three of these series represent a level of quality and fun that are sadly absent today. There are some very good shows out today, don’t get me wrong, but … we’ve lost something. It takes only a few episodes of Batman, TZ and NG to see that.

Wendy: I could not agree with you more. All three series prove that you don’t need graphic violence, CGI gore and gratuitous nudity to entertain. All of those things are crutches; ways to distract the audience from the fact that the script is poorly written, the characters are hollow, and that there is NOTHING of value to be gleaned from watching the show. A good TV show entertains all of your senses, yes, but in balance. And that’s one thing Batman, NG, and TZ have in common — they stimulate ALL of your senses without overpowering any one, or leaving any out. They LOOK good, they SOUND good, and most importantly, they ARE good. It’s fun and innocent with just enough pizzazz to keep you wanting more. You can watch any of these shows and walk away feeling good. The same can’t be said for a lot of show on television today. And that’s a real shame.

But thankfully the classics will live on. DVDs, Blu-rays, and in the occasional re-run on TV. And you know what? Batman, Night Gallery, The Twilight Zone — they’ll never fall out of fashion. Because deep down, I think everyone wants the same thing: To enjoy themselves. And you just can’t see the George Barris Batmobile come flying out of that cave and not feel like you’re 8 years old again, seeing it for the first time. :)

Paul: I know! And no matter how many times they redesign the Batmobile for these high-tech movies, NOTHING can top that sleek, shiny car with the flame coming out of the back. No amount of CGI or multi-million-dollar blueprints can improve on a true CLASSIC. And come to think of it, doesn’t that same lesson apply when we look at these three shows and compare them to today’s fare?

Wendy: Yes, that’s so true!

Paul: And no matter how many times we rewatch them, we never tire of them. In fact, I nearly always spot something I missed before. And they never fail to entertain. Makes me want to program my own marathon right now! What do you say, GF? :)

Wendy: Holy brilliant ideas, Boss! I say… “To the television, Robin!” ;D

You’re the best! Thanks so much for fanning about this with me. Especially today, on the anniversary of Batman’s premiere. :)

Paul: My pleasure! Anniversary or no, I’m always happy to fan with you, especially about these shows. :)

Wendy: Me too. Like Batman and Robin, the Boss and Gal Friday need no excuse to have fun. See you around the Fifth Dimension! :)

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

Hope you enjoyed our “blogcast” — like a podcast, but with no sound and lots of reading. ;P And if it’s been a while since you’ve enjoyed watching our heroes in their spandex suits, or maybe you’re not a fan but you need a good laugh, then today is the perfect time to rewatch an episode or two of this classic TV series. They just don’t make ’em like this anymore.

See you next time, Bat Fans. Same bat-time. Same bat-blog.

Batman and Robin Batmobile

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