A birthday celebration!
UPDATED 5/16/23: The late, great Yvonne Craig was born 86 years ago on May 16, 1937. This column was first published in 2016 in slightly different form. Perfect time to present it again. Dig it. — Dan
Yvonne Craig was born May 16, 1937, but sadly didn’t make it to her 79th birthday.
Ms. Craig left us last summer and at the time, we filled 13th Dimension with remembrances and tributes. It was an honor.
Now it’s time to once again celebrate her time in those purple, spangly tights.
As I said in August, Yvonne Craig saved the third season of Batman ’66. As a kid, I didn’t even recognize that the writing had slipped or that some of the performances had flattened. Having Batgirl swing across the screen in the animated opening was a special occasion.
So with that in mind, here are the 13 BEST YVONNE CRAIG BATGIRL ’66 EPISODES — RANKED:
13. The Batgirl “pilot”. Low production values. Outlandishly bad Killer Moth costume. But that’s all to be expected of what’s basically a test reel. All the basics are introduced here, though, even if viewers had to wait years to actually see this. Batgirl’s even a little saucier than she is in the series.
12. Ring Around the Riddler. I went on John S. Drew’s The Batcave Podcast to talk about this episode (click here) which I loved so much as a kid. As an adult, not so much. However, one of the great elements is Barbara’s easy relationship with her father, Commissioner Gordon. Yvonne Craig and Neil Hamilton had such good, gentle chemistry, and I especially like the scene where they watch the Betsy Boldface’s late-night sports show.
11. Nora Clavicle’s Crime Club. Horrible episode. One redeeming quality: The Siamese Human Knot.
10. Batman ’66 #21. I’m sneaking this in here because it’s a great Batgirl ’66 story. Batman and Batgirl travel to Japan to battle Lord Death Man (whom you can read about here). The most memorable Batgirl appearance in the excellent comics series. Written by Jeff Parker with art by Sandy Jarrell and colors by Jordie Bellaire.
9. Catwoman’s Dressed to Kill. Batgirl as fashionista. The Batgirl/Catwoman rivalry bares its claws in this one.
8. Batgirl’s Equal Pay PSA (1973). Damn right, Batgirl. You show ’em.
7. The Sport of Penguins/A Horse of Another Color. Simple. The plot to ensnare Penguin and Lola Lasagne doesn’t work without Batgirl in the saddle. And she looks a lot better on horseback that either the Penguin or Dick Grayson.
6. How to Hatch a Dinosaur. Barbara gets some sleuthing in on this one, and joins up with Robin against Olga and Egghead while Batman slips into his dino costume.
5. Louie, the Lilac. Such a silly episode, with it’s carbon-dated hippie references and satire. But Barbara’s crucial to this one: After all, the kidnapping of Princess Primrose — aka Babs’ college pal Thelma — is the central crime in this caper.
4. The Ogg Couple. Truthfully, all the Egghead and Olga episodes blur together for me. I can’t remember any of the plots 10 minutes after they’re over. But I do remember the set pieces, and in this one Batgirl performs the saber dance, Yvonne Craig’s moment to put her considerable talent and training on display. And the caviar trap!
3. Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin. Batgirl’s debut is kind of an oddly flat, low-budget affair, but we immediately get a taste of Barbara’s sass and Batgirl’s charisma. It may not be the best episode, but it’s a sign of what’s to come.
2. Surf’s Up! Joker’s Under! This episode, a camp classic, made our TOP 13 BATMAN ’66 EPISODE COUNTDOWN when we celebrated the show’s 50th anniversary in January (click here). It’s one of my favorites of the entire series — and judging by the amount of related merchandise out there now, I’m not alone. It’s not much of a Batgirl episode but there’s a lot of Barbara Gordon.
1. The Wail of the Siren. This episode also made its way onto our TOP 13 COUNTDOWN (click here). It’s a Batgirl showcase, as she and Robin team up to rescue Bruce Wayne and take down Joan Collins’ Siren. The producers should have used this device more often: Batgirl and Robin teaming up or Batman and Batgirl teaming up (see #10, above) or even Batman and Robin teaming up. The actors should have been given more room to breathe and this episode is an example why. (Plus, it presages the Batman Family comic of the ’70s!)
— Burt Ward and Julie Newmar Recall Yvonne Craig’s Joy and Spirit. Click here.
— 13 QUICK THOUGHTS: The Greatness of Yvonne Craig. Click here.
— Comics Pros and Bat-Personalities Salute Yvonne Craig. Click here.