Though not introduced until the third season of Adam West’s Batman, Batgirl was a welcome addition to the kooky comic book show. By day, she was Barbara Gordon, a mild-mannered librarian and daughter of Gotham’s police commissioner. By night, or any time there were crimes to be fought in Gotham, Barbara transformed into butt-kicking, Bat-cycle riding Batgirl. She not only helped Batman and Robin battle the city’s many villains, she came to the Dynamic Duo’s rescue on many occasions.
Yvonne Craig played Gotham’s newest hero and perfectly embodied both sides of the character. Though only 30 when she joined Batman, Craig was already a TV veteran. Before her superhero debut, she played dancer Ecstasy La Joie in The Wild Wild West, romanced Lee Majors in The Big Valley and rode a motorcycle as a parking attendant who gives Mr. Douglas a ticket in My Three Sons.
She also appeared in early Sixties shows Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare, My Favorite Martian and 77 Sunset Strip.
Yvonne Craig’s career started in the 1950s with a small part in one of the era’s many juvenile delinquent dramas Eighteen and Anxious. She then landed roles in anthology series like Schlitz Playhouse and The DuPont Show with June Allyson.
But the part that stands out the most from her early career is a role in the 1958 Perry Mason episode “The Case of the Lazy Lover.” She plays a girl annoyed with her stepfather for blocking the driveway with his car. She claims she was forced to swerve into the hedges to avoid it. The plot thickens when an unconscious man is found right by those same hedges, presumably hit by her car.
Playing Craig’s stepfather is none other than Neil Hamilton, who played her father again when he became Commissioner Gordon in Batman.
Commissioner Gordon may be Hamilton’s most recognizable role but his career stretches all the way back to silent films! He was a dependable character actor working for decades with over 150 credits to his name.
The first-season Perry Mason case is an early glimpse of Hamilton and Craig’s bickering, father-daughter chemistry almost a decade before they brought it to their most famous roles in Batman.