Among the many colorful villains in the “Batman” TV series, the Joker and Penguin stand out as two of the most charismatic and memorable. Both characters were featured heavily throughout the show’s 120-episode run, with each headlining roughly 20 episodes. The Joker, played by Cesar Romero, quickly became a fan favorite.
While the Penguin, portrayed by Burgess Meredith, also left a lasting impression on audiences. Despite not achieving the same level of popularity as the Joker, Meredith’s performance as the Penguin has continued to influence the character in every subsequent Batman production. Similarly, Romero’s iconic portrayal of the Joker has set the standard for the character in all future adaptations.
Alfred the Butler
Alfred the Butler was introduced in the 1943 comic book series as Batman’s mentor. His character had been killed off right before Batman hit TV. Because of the television show's success, the comic book series brought Alfred back. Actor Jack Napier was so iconic in the role that Jack Nicholson’s Joker was named after him.
Ironically, Napier had never heard of Batman comic books. He didn’t want the role because a story about a bat-like man seemed ridiculous to him at the time. Next, his agent told him he would earn over $100,000. “So,” quoted Napier, “I was happy to say that I was Batman’s butler.”
Villains, Villains, and More Villains
The Joker is not the only vivacious villain in Gotham City. The fictional town is host to a veritable slew of dastardly, yet, honestly, very entertaining antagonists. With names like Riddler and Penguin, you know these characters are not your average bad guys if we're going to be completely honest.
In taping the show, cameramen employed the innovative use of skewed angles, held askance whenever a supervillain entered the scene. These crooked POVs were meant to symbolize the entrance of crooked criminals. People in the industry raved about the method. They were almost always used at crime scenes or to depict the secret lairs of criminals.
The Joker’s Wild
Cesar Romero's portrayal of the Joker in the "Batman" TV series is one of the most iconic in television history. Romero's Joker is known for his cleverness and wit, and his happy-go-lucky attitude often makes viewers forget that he is Batman's archenemy.
The Joker is always shown with his bright red painted smile, having a wonderful time causing chaos and mayhem in Gotham City, until Batman comes to stop him. Interestingly, Hollywood legend Frank Sinatra was reportedly interested in playing the role of the Joker, but unfortunately, he was too late to audition for the part, as Romero had already been cast.
Little Miss Purr-fidy
One of Batman's most formidable foes is Catwoman, a professional cat burglar whose daring heists create chaos in Gotham. What many fans may not know is that the character was portrayed by three different actresses in the "Batman" TV series and movie.
Julie Newmar originated the role of Catwoman in the first season, Eartha Kitt took over for the final two seasons, and Lee Meriwether donned the feline costume for the 1966 "Batman" movie. Each actress brought her unique, sassy take to the character, adding to the complex and mysterious persona of Catwoman that has captivated audiences until this very day.