The Dark Knight is great, but there's a reason we still love the campy 1960's Batman series. It was great fun and had great villains like the Joker, The Riddler, Penguin and Catwoman. It also had a collection of wonderfully odd villains played by the biggest stars of the time.

Many actors clamored for cameos, and most showed up poking their heads out of windows. A few went on to become some of the strangest villains Batman has ever fought.

From book-lovers to stamp collectors. From piano players to eggheads. Here's the bizarre, strange and wonderful list of the oddest villains we loved from the 1960's Batman series.

1. Bookworm (Roddy McDowall)
There's nothing scarier than a librarian, so Batman had the ultimate villain. A guy so in love with books that he dressed in book leather and attached a book light to his hat. The idea of a guy committing book crimes seems like a silly one, but played by veteren actor Roddy McDowall (Planet of the Apes) he became totally believable. Who else could terrorize Gotham City with exploding novels and trap the dynamic duo in a giant book?

2. False Face (Malachi Throne)
The master of disguise, False Face had a weird gimmick. He was almost like Sandman in that he could change his appearance, but normally he had a plastic mask on. His disguises were so good that he fooled Batman with his impression of Chief O'Hara and Commissioner Gordon. The credits had a big question mark, so it was only later that we knew who he was: Malachi Throne. When asked about the character he said, "Originally False-Face was to be done with make up, but due to production problems or decisions a plastic mask was used instead. It was a good character, but the problem was that the mask came out rather ugly and uncomical when photographed." So, the character never came back. He had kind of a freaky Halloween thing going on though.

3. Colonel Gumm (Roger C. Carmel)
When the show tried to make a spin-off of Green hornet, they created an evil stamp manufacturer who was forging expensive stamps named Colonel Gumm. His greatest achievement was turning Hornet and Kato into life-size stamps. With his pink clothing and silly mustache, he looked like an idiot. But, Roger C. Carmel, who famously played Harry Mudd on Star Trek made him just scary enough to be fun.

4. The Puzzler (Maurice Evans)
A contract dispute between the show and Frank Gorshin, who played the Riddler led to the appearance of "The Puzzler"! Instead of "Riddle me this" he would hand Batman a series of irregularly shaped cardboard pieces. Actually, he had the same style as Riddler by sending Batman objects that gave clues to his crime. Played by Maurice Evans we all knew he was a low-rent Riddler, but he was still fun.

5. The Great Chandell (Liberace)
The flamboyant Liberace played the conniving pianist known as The Great Chandle. Blackmailed by his twin brother into trying to con Bruce Wayne's Aunt Harriet out of her money. Not only does he play the piano, but he cons old ladies! Now that's evil. He shows up in our list of evil twins [url] too. In real life, the crew said he was extremely nice. Adam West said he would play the piano between takes and he played anything the crew wanted to hear.

6. Egghead (Vincent Price)
The brilliant criminal Egghead had an enormous brain and a head shaped like an egg. Naturally, he became a master criminal with a fixation on eggs. Unlike many of the Batman villains his crimes didn't always involve his fetish. In his first appearance he managed to take over the city thanks to a little known clause in the Gotham constitution. The great Vincent Price hammed it up with great lines like "eggs-actly" and "eggs-traordinary". It could have been a one-joke thing, but he came back again and again.

7. Louie the Lilac (Milton Berle)
Where would a crime show be without a gangster? Of course, being Batman, they had to take it up a notch and make Louie the Lilac. A gangster fixated on flowers. Milton Berle played a deliciously thuggish criminal who develops a mind-control flower. He plans to use it to take over the perfume and flower market. Forget knocking over banks. Flowers are the real money maker.

8. Shame (Cliff Robertson)
Westerns were popular in the 60s, so it was no surprise Batman fought a cowboy villain. Played by Cliff Robertson (Spider-Man), and several others, he dressed as a cowboy and would rob banks and rustle cows. He had a great look with his white Stetson and colorful bandanas. His greatest scheme was stealing Black Angus Bulls worth $300,000 each from the Gotham rodeo using a souped up truck. Cliff Robertson would go on to play Uncle Ben in the Spider-Man movies.

9. Lord Marmaduke Ffogg (Rudy Vallee)
Evil guys usually have a British accent, so Batman had a villain for the sole purpose of making fun of the British. His gimmick was that he had a pipe that would let out a billow of fog. He and his sister Peasoup ran a school for young ladies that secretly trained them to be criminals. He had a variety of fog, including a paralyzing gas they used to trap Batgirl.

10. King Tut (Victor Buono)
My personal favorite is King Tut. Whenever Egpytologist Professor William McElroy got hit on the head he would lose his memory and turn into the villainous Pharaoh themed King Tut. Actor Victor Buono carried himself with the regal air of a mighty Pharaoh and wore the outfit with flourish.   Buono said, "Batman allowed me to do what actors are taught never to do, overact." The best part was whenever he would show up the incomparable Adam West Batman would say, "Hmmm. McElroy must have gotten hit on the head again." Like it was normal. How many times could someone turn into a supervillain before they started wearing a helmet? He never went to jail since, of course, he would regain his memory with another blow to the head. This character was created for the show, but he was so great they put him in the comics.

Who was your favorite villain from the 1960's Batman series?
[Image Source: Bat-Mania.co.uk and Batman.wikia.com]


Maurice Mitchell said...

He did an amazing job. I prefer him to the Devito version.

AlexJCavanaugh said...

Amazing how many name actors were villains. I'd have to say Burgess Meredith's Penguin was my favorite.

mw3 cdkey said...

Batman villains are so much fun because they have such big personalities, wear outrageous costumes, and have memorable laughs. Maybe that's why they're popular characters for Halloween and pretend-play.For this costume, we simply raided our closets a

Ed Barcas III said...

This list seems to be an ode to villains created strictly for the TV series, but False Face made his first appearance in Batman #113 from 1958...just so my fellow Batnerds know.


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