January 12, 1966 marked the debut of Batman, a campy and candy-coated adventure series based on the DC Comics' famous crime fighter.
The series proved to be a smashing success and spawned toys, costumes, albums and a whole lot more. The show made Adam West and Burt Ward household names, and actors lined up to portray the Dynamic Duo's villains, including Vincent Price and Zsa Zsa Gabor.
Today, Batman is as American as apple pie and baseball... but we bet some of the following facts might still surprise you!
1. West was discovered in an advertisement!
Adam West caught the attention of ABC executives after they saw a 1960s Nestle's Quik commercial in which the actor portrayed a secret agent, Captain Q.
2. Another actor tested for the Batman!
Two screen tests were filmed to decide on the casting of Batman and Robin. One featured West and Burt Ward. The other starred... Lyle Waggoner! The popular player from The Carol Burnett Show donned the cape and cowl alongside Peter R.J. Deyell, as shown in the image. While Waggoner ultimately lost the role to West, he did end up in another DC series, Wonder Woman.
3. The narrator was...
Executive producer and creator William Dozier! That's his voice stating,"Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel." He was uncredited for the job, which he reportedly did to keep his Actors Guild membership active.
4. There are some wacky window cameos.
In the reoccurring bit, a celebrity would pop his or her head out of a window as Batman and Robin were scaling the side of a building in Gotham. Jerry Lewis was the first, proclaiming, "Holy human flies!" After the comedian, there were window cameos from Dick Clark (pictured), the Green Hornet and Kato, Sammy Davis Jr., Colonel Klink from Hogan's Heroes, Lurch from The Addams Family, Don Ho, Santa Claus, Art Linkletter, Edward G. Robinson, and more.
5. Batman, Robin and the Penguin all released records!
Adam West recorded a minor hit single — wearing the cowl in character — called "Miranda." The popularity of the show led to other novelty records, including a single by Burgess Meredith as the Penguin called "The Capture" / "The Escape." Most interesting of all was Burt Ward's release, "Boy Wonder I Love You," which was written, arranged and conducted by a young Frank Zappa.
6. The show was broadcast twice a week.
The show was envisioned as a television version of the popular newspaper comic strip. The network had already successfully launched an evening serial with Peyton Place. Batman was the only primetime series aside from that drama to air new episodes more than once a week, showing episodes on Wednesday and Thursday.
7. Batman's test audience wasn't impressed.
In fact, the episode recieved the lowest score ABC had ever seen at the time. In the interview book Eye on Science Fiction, 20th Century Fox Television executive William Self recalled the test episode of Batman receiving a score of about 50. Compare that to most hit shows which earned around an 80 or 90. ABC panicked and wanted out of the series, but too much had been invested. In the show's defense, the animated BIFF!s and SPLAT!s, and other light-hearted pop art elements, had not yet been added.
8. Julie Newmar supposedly left the show due to a scheduling conflict.
Newmar was locked in to portray an Apache woman in the western Mackenna's Gold, so the popular Catwoman actress was replaced by Eartha Kitt in the third and final season. But according to George Lucas, Newmar might have been free to return as Catwoman. After all, Burgess Meredith managed to do both.