ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Top Ten Villains from the 1960s Batman Television Show

Updated on January 18, 2011

To the Batcave!

On Wednesday, January 12, 1966, the world of television was changed forever. Adam West and Burt Ward starred as Batman and Robin, making their prime time debut in a series unlike anything else that had ever appeared on television. During the first two seasons, each story was shown as a two-part episode which aired on Wednesdays and Thursday nights. It was visually attractive with a wide variety of cool-looking equipment—the Batmobile and the Batcave were very stylish for the times. It was also unashamedly camp, with fight scenes emphasized through the use of comic-style sound effects. Each time Batman or Robin threw a punch, “KAPOW” or “SPLATT” or “BONK” appeared on the screen. At the end of Wednesday’s episodes, Batman was always caught in a deadly trap, and we were advised to “tune in tomorrow—same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.”

Batman became an instant success because it appealed to audiences on several levels. It had the action and suspense any child who ever spent 12¢ on a comic loved, with several plots based on Batman and Detective comics from the 1950’s. Penguin, the Joker, the Riddler, Catwoman and Mr. Freeze all made the jump from comics to the small screen. They were joined by clever villains created especially for the series, including King Tut, Bookworm, Marsha the Queen of Diamonds and Egghead. Every villain’s diabolical plot incorporated a wildly imaginative trap for Batman and Robin. What kid wouldn’t be thrilled with seeing Batman escape from a 12,000 degree furnace, a slot machine wired to an electric chair, or a giant magnifying glass poised to capture the sun’s rays? How can we forget the threat of two chickens fed nothing but onions for two weeks? When their eggs were cracked open, tear gas was released!

It was also replete with manic, over-the-top performances from some of the finest character actors in Hollywood at the time. Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Burgess Meredith, Julie Newmar and Vincent Price made regular appearances on the show. Joan Collins, Cliff Robertson, Van Johnson, Art Carney, and Carolyn Jones also were cast as villains. The main foes returned often, but a host of others appeared only once or twice, each offering something unique and quirky to this fun, special show. Even Sammy Davis Jr. and other celebrities in cameo roles frequently leaned out from windows for a quick chat with Batman and Robin, scaling the side of a building with their Batropes. Everyone wanted to guest star on Batman. It was a Hollywood status symbol.

These are my top ten Batman foes. Included in this list are my favorite one-shot villains—adversaries I always wanted to see return.

Heroes and Villains

The Caped Crusader
The Caped Crusader
Boy Wonder
Boy Wonder
Cowled Crimebuster
Cowled Crimebuster
The action begins!
The action begins!
A riddle a day...
A riddle a day...
Clown Prince of Crime
Clown Prince of Crime
The Purrr-fect Villainess
The Purrr-fect Villainess
A cagey bird
A cagey bird
Still searching for his Queen
Still searching for his Queen
Tonight's forecast:  a freeze is coming!
Tonight's forecast: a freeze is coming!
An egg-cellent opponent
An egg-cellent opponent
Do not ask for whom the bell tolls...
Do not ask for whom the bell tolls...
This guy was so bad, it took Batman and Green Hornet to stop him!
This guy was so bad, it took Batman and Green Hornet to stop him!
Chandell and his brother Harry
Chandell and his brother Harry
The Green Hornet and Kato
The Green Hornet and Kato

Holy Houdini, Batman!

1. The Riddler (Frank Gorshin in five appearances, John Astin in one appearance). Frank Gorshin’s manic portrayal of the Riddler made him my favorite of Batman’s foes (his crazed laughter won me over). The Riddler inexplicably gave Batman a chance to thwart him by leaving riddles as clues to his crimes. His schemes included a search for the “lost treasure of the Incas,” the creation of a silent film about Batman, and criminal control of prize fighting in Gotham City.

2. The Joker (Cesar Romero in nine appearances). Romero made a convincing Joker, despite the fact you could see his moustache beneath the white face paint (Romero refused to shave for the role). Plots involving the Joker were among the weirdest of all. His criminal schemes included terrorizing Gotham City in a flying saucer; stealing the abilities of a surfing champion with a “Surfing Experience and Ability Transferometer and Vigor Reverser;” forming an art school for millionaires in order to kidnap them; creating a utility belt to equal Batman’s; and, initiating a counterfeit currency operation by planting robots as bank tellers!

3. The Catwoman (Julie Newmar in six appearances, Eartha Kitt in two appearances). The beautiful Julie Newmar fittingly gave Catwoman a lithe, graceful presence. Catwoman sought to steal the voices of pop singers Chad and Jeremy (remember them?); kidnapped a rich insomniac named J. Pauline Spaghetti; brainwashed Robin to help rob a mint (this episode guest-starred Leslie Gore as “Pussycat”); and, attended college to gain access to rare gems. Catwoman had a crush on Batman and once even proposed to him. “But what about Robin?” Batman asked. “We’ll kill him,” Catwoman replied with a shrug.

4. The Penguin (Burgess Meredith in seven appearances). Penguin had some pretty cool schemes; he ran for mayor of Gotham City, created a movie studio, opened a restaurant for the wealthy (they wrote their own menus, and Penguin forged their handwriting on checks); he tried to marry the Commissioner’s daughter (secretly Batgirl) to gain immunity from the law; and, he schemed to fix a horse race. Burgess Meredith didn’t smoke, and the Penguin’s odd quack came from Meredith’s efforts to keep from coughing on-camera while the Penguin smoked.

5. King Tut (Victor Buono in five appearances). I didn’t like King Tut as a kid, but when I saw the show in reruns, I realized what a fabulous, outrageous character he was! Tut tried to take over Gotham City because he thought it was a modern-day version of Ancient Thebes; he revived scarabs in amber beads to create a drug that paralyzed the will; he posed as a public servant to predict crimes; and, he drilled under Wayne Manor in search of the “Nilanium,” the hardest metal known to man.

6. Mr. Freeze (George Sanders/Otto Preminger/Eli Wallach in one appearance each). Each actor played Mr. Freeze in a different manner, but as a kid I preferred George Sanders. Freeze stole diamonds (ice) and kidnapped a baseball player named Paul Diamante (diamond in Spanish); he kidnapped Miss Iceland during a beauty pageant and intended her to be his bride; and, he kidnapped a scientist with a formula to create “instant ice” (uh…..frozen water, right?).

7. Egghead (Vincent Price in three appearances). His made up words “egg-cellent,” “egg-scruitiating,” etc. gave him a comic appeal I enjoyed. Egghead’s schemes were among the craziest of all! He took control of Gotham City by purchasing it from a Mohican Indian; he stole 500 pounds of caviar donated by the Czar of Samarkand; and, he attempted to hatch a fossilized dinosaur egg (Batman was hiding inside, cleverly disguised as a dinosaur).

8. Bookworm (Roddy McDowall in one appearance). McDowall played this deadly geek to perfection, complete with thick glasses and a reading lamp attached to his hat. Bookworm drove around in a “Bookmobile” and initiated book-themed crimes. Famous quotations offered clues to his schemes.

9. Colonel Gumm (Roger C. Carmel in one appearance). This guy was so bad it took Batman and the Green Hornet to stop him. Gumm ran a counterfeit stamp operation and when confronted, he turned the Green Hornet into a giant stamp! I must confess: a major reason this episode appealed to me was the appearance of the Green Hornet and Kato.

10. Chandell/Fingers (Liberace in one appearance). Liberace played Chandell, the world-famous concert pianist who led a second life as the nefarious Fingers. He hoped to marry Bruce Wayne’s Aunt Harriet, kill Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson and become sole heir to the Wayne fortune. As a rich man, he could pay off Harry, an evil twin brother who was blackmailing him. What parent would name their twin sons Chandell and Harry?

Tune in tomorrow...

The Batman television show lasted only three seasons. Ratings fell during the second season when suspense gave way to comedy (a formula that victimized Lost in Space, as well). The first season balanced action and intrigue with the show’s camp aspects to the delight of parents and kids alike. When suspense was sacrificed for jokes—no matter how clever—the episodes suffered. The third season introduced Yvonne Craig as Batgirl, but the lithe, beautiful actress was unable to save a series beset by a dwindling budget and lost viewers. This madcap show was still ingeniously clever, but no one was watching anymore. Minerva’s (Zsa Zsa Gabor) attempt to rob Gotham City millionaires using her Deepest Secret Extractor was the last plot the Caped Crusaders foiled on network television. The show ended March 14, 1968 and we would never again be encouraged to….

Tune in next week—same Bat-time, same Bat-Channel!

A deadly choice....

Who is the best Batman villain of all?

See results

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)