Sunday, August 30, 2015

R.I.P. Yvonne Craig.


We sadly note the passing of actress Yvonne Craig, on August 17, 2015, at the unthinkable age of only 78. 


We can endlessly debate who, and what medium, gave us the best version of Batman, and all arguments and opinions have merit… but Yvonne Craig WAS Batgirl!  Hands down, and no arguments! 


Even subsequent animated versions of Batgirl owed their designs to Yvonne Craig. 


Filmation.


Warner Bros. 

And, it is the role of Batgirl she will be endlessly identified with.  To the present day, as seen by this 2015 comic book cover. 




...And the original 1967-era photo that inspired the 2015 cover. 
  

...And the comic book that started it all!  


Here's Batgirl's transformation, circa 2015.  The second panel, in particular, captures that "Yvonne Craig look"!


Beyond Batgirl, Yvonne Craig was also all over the landscape in other popular genre and fan-favorite series as:

STAR TREK


VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA



Anyone care to guess what she's screaming about? 

LAND OF THE GIANTS


...With Bruce Dern

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

 ...With Angela Lansbury ("The Bride of Frankenstein")

That's Angela Lansbury - NOT Yvonne Craig!  

...Opening U.N.C.L.E.'s "Channel D"! 

Yvonne Craig can be found throughout my DVD collection including:

PERRY MASON, WAGON TRAIN, McHALE'S NAVY, MY FAVORITE MARTIAN, THE WILD WILD WEST, and IT TAKES A THIEF.  All of which I hope to acquaint, or reacquaint, myself with in the coming days.  

And, of course, I can always enjoy her performances HERE



A complete list of Yvonne Craig's credits are found at IMDB, HERE.  

 I even got to meet her once.  She was delightful and very high-spirited.  It was anything but going through the “personal-appearance-motions”, as some might do. 


I must also add that she was at the top of my “Big Three” of sixties television, along with Marta Kristen, and Grace Lee Whitney – the latter of whom we also lost this year! (…And, if you have to ask “Big Three what?”, you are banned from my Blog for a week!)


Mark Evanier has a wonderful piece that you can link to HERE - and another funnier one HERE

And here's a great one from our friend "Comic Book Rehab"!



Rest in Peace, Yvonne Craig, and thank you for such great moments that will live on forever.   


15 comments:

TC said...

As with Grace Lee Whitney, this came as a shock. And for the same reason: consciously or subconsciously, I'd had the impression that she was much younger than she really was.

The last time I recall seeing her (apart from reruns) was a TV talk show several years ago. She still looked great, and she still had that perky quality that made her seem younger. And she could be cute and girly without being cloyingly TOO cute, if you know what I mean.

During that interview, she told a couple of anecdotes. One was about a little girl who came up to her in a grocery store and said, "I recognize you. You're Batgirl. But I know who you REALLY are." Yvonne thought, "Oh, good, I'm finally getting some recognition from the public." But then the girl said, "You're Barbara Gordon." (Batgirl's secret identity.)

She also quipped about being relieved when Eartha Kitt replaced Julie Newmar. Yvonne was 5'3", Eartha was 5'4," and Julie was 5'11". "If I'd had a fight scene with Julie, what could I have done? Punch her in the knee?"

Maybe she was screaming in that Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episode because she was angry. "The audience will realize the action scenes are all stock footage, and those lizards didn't even look like dinosaurs to begin with!"

She had a small part in 1967's "In Like Flint," with James Coburn. She played a Russian ballerina, which seems fitting, since she actually began her show business career as a dancer. In fact, her ballet training is evident in the graceful moves she made during the "Batman" fight scenes.

Joe Torcivia said...

And, TC, the VOYAGE audience, once viewing on something with greater clarity than a 1964-era TV set, would notice that some of her long shots were actually of Jill St. John from Irwin Allen’s production of “The Lost World”! (1960). Imagine that Jill St. John once “posed” as Burt Ward (!) in the first BATMAN ’66 two-parter, but before that Yvonne Craig “stood-in” for her!

Great anecdotes – especially the one about the little girl, which positively *must* be true! It’s too good not to be!

Comicbookrehab said...

Thanks for the tip of the hat, Joe. :)

I'd be shocked if the current team on the "Batgirl" comic book didn't do a tribute of sorts...

I always thought it was cool that "The Terrific Trio" were formost among the surviving cast members. Now it's just the Dynamic Duo. As for the rogues..all women, coincidently: Julie Newmar, Jill St. John, Joan Collins, Dina Merrill and Tisha Sterling are the only ones still around, iirc..

And Van Williams is still alive - the Green Hornet counts, too. :)

Comicbookrehab said...

Oh...and James Brolin & Zsa Zsa Gabor (I'm inclined to believe that she is still alive and not in a macabre "Weekend At Bernie's"-esque farce orchestrated by her husband, as the tabloids say.

Comicbookrehab said...

AND Lee Meriwether! :) (this list is longer than I thought!)

Joe Torcivia said...

It would please me to have that list grow longer still, ‘Rehab!

One must wonder if Zsa Zsa’s husband might not have done to her, what she did to all those millionaires in her Bat-episode – including, in a wonderful parting gag, both William Dozier and Howie Horwitz.

That said, I always felt that the previous episode, “The Entrancing Dr. Cassandra” SHOULD have been the final episode – with two “groovy” guest villains, the most unconventional Bat-fight ever, the images (though not the actual actors) of Riddler, Penguin, Joker, Catwoman, King Tut, and Egghead all together – and some great dialogue. …You KNOW how I love great dialogue!

If ever there is a tribute to Ms. Craig in a DC comic book, I’d expect it would appear in the BATMAN ’66 title! Neil Hamilton actually did get a tribute blub in an ‘80s Batman comic letter column, when he passed away.

Comicbookrehab said...

That scene with Howard Duff knocking down the heroes after they had been transformed into cardboard standees was both hilarious, clever and arch ( a new twist on throwing darts at a photo on a dartboard, IMO )...that final season is full of little moments of ingenuity that have been overshadowed by scenes of Batman and The Joker on surfboards, but that will likely change over time; it was an underrated last bow from the show. I particularly liked Alfred's friendship with Barbara ... and it's possible Frank Miller's dialogue for the mutant gang members in "The Dark Knight Returns" MAY have been inspired by scenes of Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara disguised as beach bums.

I have yet to write a review on my blog of the IDW Disney Comics, but I AM curious to see how YOU would script a Duck Avenger story, given that it gives you an opportunity to tackle the superhero genre with the distinctive flavor you've been adding! I look forward to seeing Duck Avenger in "The Environmental Enigma of The Evil Evronian Empire!" Or "The Dollar-Doll Dinosaurs Disco-Dancing On Duckburg Shores! :)

Joe Torcivia said...

‘Rehab:

I think the Third Season of BATMAN ’66 has been unfairly underrated, because its budgets were lower and there was a look of “cheapness” to the sets that wasn’t there before.

But, as you note, I feel the “cleverness factor” was upped – and much innovation resulted from breaking the “Two-Part Formula”… And, oh yes… there was Batgirl! Even Frank Gorshin made a return! There was lots to like.

And, speaking of “Great Howard Duff Moments”, when Batgirl exclaimed that she was becoming “flat” after a dose of Dr Cassandra’s “Alvino Rays”… he responds with “What a pity!”. Gotta love that!

Not being steeped in Duck Avenger Lore, I was happy to leave that issue in the very capable hands of Gary Leach. Besides, as I’m sure most folks know, I’m more of a “Super Goof Guy”!

It was Super Goof, and not Duck Avenger, that I read from the very beginning… and (just my opinion) there’s really room for only ONE super hero in the Disney Comics Universe (Did I just call it the “DCU”?!), and that would be Super Goof!

And, I will have a new 22 page Super Goof story in the upcoming CHRISTMAS PARADE, in December from IDW! So, I hope you enjoy that. …And, no, he does not “save Christmas”, thankfully, as has every other fictional character over the last half century or more!

I look forward to reading your thoughts on the IDW Disney comics!

Clapton said...

I'm not sure if you're a fan of the tv show Psych but that show did a hilarious parody of the "our heroes save Christmas" trope. While I'm talking about Psych I highly suggest you watch Psych as it is similar in both concept (fun mysteries and adventures) and dialgoue ( full of puns, alliteration and refrences) to today's Disney Comics.

Clapton said...

And while I'm here I would like to pay my respects to Yvonne Craig. I am not as familiar as I should be with Batman 66 but this post along with the conversation in the comment section has definitely made me inclined to check it out.

Joe Torcivia said...

Clapton:

I watch very little modern TV, mostly because it requires a sizable commitment on the part of the viewer that circumstances don’t allow me very often. For instance, I told someone recently about how much I like THE WALKING DEAD, but quickly followed that with – but I’d NEVER advise you to watch it NOW, unless you go back to the beginning and “binge it” in strict order.

That’s what I did with LOST (for Seasons 1, 2, and 3), HEROES (for Seasons 1 and 2), and THE WALKING DEAD (for Seasons 1 and 2), before I was able to watch them on regular broadcast. …But, the time it would take me to “binge anything in strict order” these days is something I just do not have.

However, if you think highly of it, it MIGHT be worth checking out that that! So, ya never know. After all, who loves “puns, alliteration and references” more than me!

Anyone and everyone should see BATMAN ’66 at some point. It is a true television “forever-classic”. At its beginnings, it actually sorta resembled a Silver Age comic, or, what the producers’ idea of a Silver Age comic would have been. The first episode and certain elements of other early episodes were actually lifted from ‘50s and ‘60s BATMAN comics. I really liked that! …And I only discovered those comics AFTER discovering the show.

But, from there, it went to even greater and more imaginatively outlandish places, as ‘Rehab and I discuss in this thread. Like LOST IN SPACE (which ran opposite BATMAN back in the day), there will never be anything else like it.

scarecrow33 said...

It was Yvonne Craig's presence on the "Batman" TV show that finally won me over...after two years of semi-resisting the "Bat Mania" which had gripped my friends. I loved the concept of Barbara Gordon's secret identity. Yvonne was beautiful as Barbara Gordon, but when she transformed herself into Batgirl she took her beauty to a whole new dimension! I liked the humor of the show, kind of self-referential and kidding. It seemed to me as though Batman had really come into his own with the new season and the new female sidekick. He had hit his stride, and I was looking forward to a long run for many seasons to come. To me, "Batman" had all the earmarks of a winner.

And don't it just figure...it was at that point where everybody else LOST interest and I was stuck being the lone Batman fan among my circle of friends, who had all moved on to other things. The show got cancelled, and for years I was taunted for being a loyal "Bat-fan". Oh, well.

Joe Torcivia said...

For what it’s worth, Scarecrow, I saw the very same things in BATMAN’s Third Season as you did.

And, consider this… Perhaps you might have been behind the original “Bat-Curve”, but you were WAY AHEAD of this current one, that resulted in the BATMAN ’66 comic book and the deluxe Complete Series Blu-ray set!

So, who has the last Bat-laugh?

Clapton said...

Joe: While I do highly recomend Psych there isn't really a need to "binge" it. While the characters go through arcs they are relatively small and easy to follow to compared to other tv shows. The focus of the show is more focused on comedy and mystery than character development. Basically you can just watch the show at your measure without worrying about forgetting details. Though I would suggest you watch it in order.

Joe Torcivia said...

Clapton:

I just looked PSYCH up at IMDB (…what would we do without IMDB?!) Egad! Eight seasons? 120 episodes? I may have to RETIRE first! :-)

Then again, the episode titles are WONDERFUL, reflecting the values that you describe, and that I’d really like!

“The Greatest Adventure in the History of Basic Cable”? “Psy vs. Psy”? Gotta love writing like that! So, ya never know.