[Viewpoint] In Praise of Batgirl!

Columns - View Point

September 29, 2015

The staff of PCT magazine is constantly on the lookout for pest-related news stories that periodically pop up in the popular press that may or may not impact your business, but are highly entertaining nonetheless. Hence, when golfer Bubba Watson recently found himself involved in an animated debate with a PGA rules official about whether or not ants are considered “burrowing animals” after his ball inadvertently came to rest on an ant hill during a recent tournament, we had to cover the story. Same for the article about the Thai company that recently introduced centipede-infused vodka to a world that apparently has grown bored with more traditional-aged spirits. Or what about the news report out of Istanbul that indicated Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was building a new $615 million palace, in part, because his old offices had been overrun with cockroaches?!?!

These stories are “cat nip” for trade magazine journalists who have spent decades covering the industry’s more mundane news, much as the Kardashian family’s latest “reality TV” escapades or Ben Affleck’s ongoing “nannygate” drama — with apologies to Woodward and Bernstein — keeps entertainment reporters on their toes.

I recently was reminded of that fact upon reading about the death of Yvonne Craig, who played “Batgirl” (an admittedly tenuous industry connection) in the short-lived, but wildly popular TV series starring Adam West. I’ve always been an admirer of well-written and researched obituaries. When it comes to celebrity obituaries, the best of them provide personal insights about a public persona that both surprises and delights, shedding light on their character. Such is the case with Ms. Craig.

Although it only aired for three seasons (1966-1968), the campy TV series “Batman” was a cultural phenomenon, drawing consistently high ratings its first two years on the air.

The show was particularly popular among pre-pubescent boys and middle-aged dads who couldn’t take their eyes off statuesque Julie Newmar, a former Ziegfield Follies dancer who reportedly modified her “Catwoman” costume, placing the belt at the hips rather than the waist, to accentuate her hourglass figure.1 It was a stroke of genius by the savvy actress that ultimately landed Newmar’s slinky catsuit in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, as well as the long-term memory of every young boy who came of age during the 1960s.

Batgirl actress Craig, who joined the cast in season three after ratings for the show began to wane, was less memorable but had an accomplished acting career nonetheless, appearing in several Elvis Presley movies and landing guest starring roles on Star Trek, Kojak, The Six Million Dollar Man and Fantasy Island in her post-Batman life.

A talented dancer in her own right, Craig would eventually give up her classical ballet ambitions to travel to Hollywood and become an actress, where — in a mind-bending twist of fate — she made a Public Service Announcement as Batgirl on behalf of the Department of Labor promoting equal pay for women.

“The ad depicts Batman and Robin getting themselves into a bit of a pickle — just the usual tied-up-as-a-bomb-is-about-to-go-off sort of scenario,” writes reporter Emma Gray in The Huffington Post. “Batgirl rushes in to save them, but first she spouts some knowledge about the gender wage gap: ‘I’ve worked for you a long time, and I’m paid less than Robin! Same job, same employer means equal pay for men and women!’”

Robin, apparently unaware of the pay disparity up to this point in the dynamic duo’s history, turns to Batman and responds in typical over-the-top fashion, “Holy act of Congress!” As the father of two grown daughters, I couldn’t agree more Batgirl!

May you rest in peace, Yvonne Craig. And by the way, thanks for the memories.


The author is Publisher of PCT magazine.

1Wikipedia, Julie Newmar entry.