Two of the hottest — and short-lived — shows of the 1960’s included Batman and Star Trek. As actors ebbed and flowed with guest-starring roles in Hollywood, we examine the riddle as to how two cats and a bat ended up in space.
Bold colors, chaotic fights, heroes larger than life. Yes, Batman and Star Trek‘s original series invaded living rooms across America with pioneering television concepts forever altering the lives of its star actors.
William Shatner will always be associated with Star Trek‘s Captain Kirk. Leonard Nimoy admitted even he couldn’t distinguish between his real self and the character Spock.
Neither could Adam West, the man who played Batman to perfection and always appeared as a sort of campy gadfly for the series as it grew into a modern movie franchise powerhouse. Sadly, we’ll never know how Adam West would’ve fit in on the set of Star Trek.
But we can review the performances of four Batman regulars who managed to land guest spots on TOS.
HI DIDDLE RIDDLE
Frank Gorshin, aka the Riddler, aka the “Prince of Puzzlers,” confounded Batman with a writhing, wired and maniacal power. The Riddler’s high-pitched laugh — a Gorshin invention — will forever be associated with the question-mark-clad character.
Gorshin appeared on Star Trek in the third-season episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.” He played the role of Commissioner Bele, a man obsessed with chasing down a political agitator named Lokai.
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Short of shipping in the Riddler laugh, Gorshin played the role — complete with a skin-tight outfit — as Riddler adjunct.
Showcasing a lithe frame and cord-like power, Gorshin rolled out a wide-range of social skills including diplomacy and back-handed compliments. He coiled from calm to explosive anger when deal with Lokai. Gorshin unleashed a character capable of muscle-quaking fury.
BATGIRL, GREEN GIRL
Yvonne Craig kicked her way onto the Batman set in the series’ third and final season. The accomplished ballet dancer had no problem translating her on-stage talents to Bat-brawls.
You know what they say, never feed a stray cat…
Star Trek casting offered some here kitty, kitty to Batman’s forbidden fruit — Julie Newmar’s Catwoman.
Newmar took up the role Eleen in the Star Trek episode “Friday’s Child.” Unfortunately for Bat-fans, any males expecting to see Newmar in a Starfleet or other tight-fitting uniform found her “with child” in his episode.
Newmar lived off her tremendous looks. She often delivered flat lines and used that technique well as she played the role of a depressed widow of a High Teer. Eleen is resigned to her fate — which presents death upon the birth of the child — and attempts to pawn the unborn child off on Dr. McCoy. You can catch the whole plot here. This audience knows the drill.
"“I’m a doctor, not an escalator” — Dr. McCoy to the pregnant Eleen in “Friday’s Child”"
CAT’S MEOW MEOW
Three women played Catwoman on Batman: Newmar, Eartha Kitt and Lee Merriwether.
Merriwether played Catwoman only in the 1967 Batman feature film. The 1955 Miss America delivered a purrrfectly feline, feminine role and served as a soft foil to the four-thug alliance that also included Joker, Riddler and Penguin.
She appeared in the third-season Star Trek episode “That Which Survives.” The robotic Losira basically kills everything she touches. Not cool.
The episode is a “Roddenberry-has-checked-out” disaster. Awful. Merriwether saves it.
Sadly, we never received an opportunity to witness Cesar Romero or Burgess Meredith on the Star Trek set.
Which Batman characters and villains would you like to see on Star Trek TOS?