Elsewhere in Gotham City…
Hard to be believe it’s been fifty years, but I still remember the thrill and anticipation as I sat in the playroom, ready for Batman. I embarrassed myself some time earlier when my father showed me a newspaper item announcing the ABC series and interrupted my teacher’s math lesson to share the good news.
Yeah, I was that excited for it. Heck, I was seven, what did I know?
I was, by then, already deep into my comics mania so was the perfect audience for a live-action take on the show. My Batman was the Julie Schwartz New Look version and I was primed to love it. And I did although it more closely hewed to the previous Jack Schiff era. Okay, one or two of the two-part pilot’s plot points escaped me but I was mesmerized by Frank Gorshin’s Riddler and bought the approach because of how closely it resembled the comics.
It wasn’t until the show hit syndication years later and I was a teen before I realized the camp aspect. All I know is that I was seven and Batman was on twice a week and I loved it. While Arlen Schumer is roughly my age, he was clearly hipper to the camp aspects.
While I was already buying the comics, I didn’t buy everything that came out with a Bat-symbol on it. I was choosey and selective (no doubt influenced by my parents who were cautious in my acquisitions). I built the Aurora model kits and still recall being taken to the “good” toy store, Coronet in the distant reaches of Westbury to purchase the Corgi Batmobile and Batboat diecast vehicles. As a reader, I devoured the Signet paperback reprints of earlier stories, being introduced to the wonder that was Dick Sprang’s artwork.
But the show’s success and merchandising bonanza only served to fuel my interest in comics as Saturday morning television and other media brought more and more (and sillier and sillier) heroes and villains to the screen.
Personally, it was a magical time. First there was Batman on ABC, twice a week. Sometime over that spring, the exact date is lost to memory, it was my turn to be with Grandma Carrie. She had decided that when a grandchild reached a certain age, she would take them for several days and planned activities tailored to our interests.
For me, I was brought to Manhattan to stay at her apartment and was taken to a matinee performance of It’s A Bird… It’s A Plane… It’s Superman, a Broadway musical that ran from March 29 through July 17 that year. Somehow, my wonderful ant got us to the cast where I vaguely recall collecting cast autographs on my Playbill. I remember very little about this production other than seeing Bob Holiday flying across the stage.
If anything cemented my place in the pop culture firmament, it was that first half of 1966. Happy birthday, Caped Crusader. See you next year, Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel.