ABC series a legendary show; Catwoman portrayed as villain.
By Timothy J. Forbes
Batman made its debut on a cold Wednesday night, 12 January 1966.
And I was there!
I was immediately won over by the sense of adventure present in the show. Already I was watching The Adventures of Superman, so this was a pleasing addition. In the debut, “Hi Diddle Riddle”/“Smack In The Middle,” I was especially struck by Molly, played by Jill St. John.
Two months later, Catwoman shows up on Batman. The series referred to her for the first time on 9 February 1966, in "Zelda the Great," when Batman tells Robin that she is in prison, after discovering that the crook they are pursuing is a woman.
Catwoman was portrayed as a villain until the 1990s, when viewers got to see more of a sympathetic side to the character. I immediately fell in love with her character, as she was such a dashing figure.
And Batman was also a delight! The first season saw the series played in a more straight, serious manner. And that approach made the premiere season so remarkable. It was really the first truly modern television series, and the first colour television series. The art direction was amazing, and the sense of adventure made the show an event to look forward to each Wednesday and Thursday night.
Catwoman appeared in these first season episodes:
Suzanne Pleshette was originally considered for the role of Catwoman. However, Julie Newmar quickly made the role her own. The end of her first Catwoman outing reminded one of how Molly died. However, it seems cats have more than one life …
The second season: More camp
When Batman began airing in September 1966, the series began to show an increased sense of campiness. That was apparent from the premiere episode, which featured a villain played by Art Carney, The Archer. Catwoman would soon make a number of appearances this season, and these were memorable ones.
Her second episodes are:
- Hot Off the Griddle (14 September 1966)
- The Cat and the Fiddle (15 September 1966)
- Ma Parker (6 October 1966) (cameo as Catwoman)
- The Cat's Meow (14 December 1966)
- The Bat's Kow Tow (15 December 1966)
- The Sandman Cometh (28 December 1966)
- The Catwoman Goeth (29 December 1966)
- That Darn Catwoman (19 January 1967)
- Scat! Darn Catwoman (25 January 1967)
- Catwoman Goes to College (22 February 1967)
- Batman Displays His Knowledge (23 February 1967)
True to her less-than-totally evil nature, in “The Catwoman Goeth,” it is Catwoman who saves the Caped Crusaders’ lives from The Sandman (played by Michael Rennie).
And this underscored the fact that sexual tension existed between Batman and Catwoman. Watch the end of “Scat! Darn Catwoman!” (25 January 1967), and you’ll see an ending reminiscent of the first Catwoman episode (and that of Molly). Despite the shortcomings of the second season, Catwoman made the show a most interesting one.
Third Season: What does one say?
Because of the ratings slide, and because of rising costs, Batman was cut back to a half hour, at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays for the 1967-68 season. Despite the addition of Batgirl, the show suffered a further decline. And Batgirl had to take over the role of Batman’s romantic interest, because Catwoman had been recast, with Eartha Kitt providing the growl. Batman and Catwoman could not carry on their relationship as before, because of racial barriers (Adam West being Caucasian, Ms. Kitt being of African origin).
Her third-season episodes are:
- The Joke’s on Catwoman (4 January 1968)
- The Funny Feline Felonies (28 December 1967)
- Catwoman's Dressed to Kill (14 December 1967)
None of this really mattered, because Batman was on its way out. I stopped watching it by the end of 1967, because of the declining production values. The show was too expensive to produce, and it was cancelled. Oddly enough, Catwoman’s final appearance, in “The Entrancing Dr. Cassandra” (7 March 1968) did not feature Eartha Kitt, but a Julie Newmar stand-in whose name we just do not have. If anyone has information on her, that would be appreciated!
One week after the Feline Fatale’s final appearance, the show would air for the last time on prime-time television. But it would go on to be a television legend, and it helped to save the Batman and Catwoman universe.
This page updated 7 March 2011, the 43rd anniversary of Catwoman's final appearance in the 1966 series.