1960s TV Batgirl Yvonne Craig Dies At 78


Bat-fans today are mourning the loss of Yvonne Craig who famously portrayed the first live-incarnation of Barbara Gordon / Batgirl in the 1960’s Adam West Batman television series.  Craig passed away on Monday, August 17, 2015 at her Pacific Palisades home surrounded by family.  She was 78.  According to her spokesman, Craig had been battling breast cancer for the past year which later metastasized to her liver.

Yvonne Craig was born in Taylorville, Illinois and grew up in Columbus, Ohio for the first fourteen years of her life.  Trained as a ballerina and a member of the corps de ballet in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in the 1950s, Craig gradually moved into acting.  In 1959, she appeared in The Young Land, The Gene Krupa Story, and Gidget.  She also guest starred as Beverly Mills in the television series Mr. Lucky in the episode Little Miss Wow.  She later appeared with Bing Crosby in High Time (1960).

In a series of coincidental events, she would appear alongside two future Batman stars.  She appeared with Cesar Romero, who would go on to play the Joker, in Seven Women from Hell (1961), and appeared with Neil Hamilton, who would go on to play Commissioner James Gordon, in the Perry Mason episode The Case of the Lazy Lover.

In the early to mid-1960s, she appeared in a variety of film and television roles.  For film, she starred with Elvis Presley in It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963) and Kissin’ Cousins (1964).  She also starred in the cult sci-fi film Mars Needs Women (1966).  Opposite James Coburn, she played a Russian ballet dancer in In Like Flint (1967).

Craig’s television roles included The Barbara Stanwyck Show, Death Valley Days, Hennesey, My Three Sons, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Wild Wild West, The Dating Game, and The Ghost & Mrs. Muir.  One of her most memorable roles was in Star Trek playing Marla, a green-skinned Orion slave girl, in the third episode Whom Gods Destroy.

Of all the roles she’s played, Craig’s most famous one would be Barbara Gordon / Batgirl in the 1960s Adam West Batman series.  She made her debut in the final third season of the series which ran from 1967 to 1968.

Craig’s later career included appearances in Love, American Style, Kentucky Jones, The Big Valley, It Takes a Thief, The Mod Squad, Kojak, Emergency!, and The Six Million Dollar Man.  Her talents weren’t solely in the realm of entertainment.  Proving herself to be a savvy entrepreneur, she ran a successful real estate business, was a co-producer of industrial shows, and maintained a website.  She later appeared in the documentary Ballets Russes (2005), and from 2009 to 2011, she voiced the character of Grandma on the animated children’s show Olivia.

In the made-for-television movie Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt (2003), Craig was portrayed by actress Erin Carufel.

Yvonne Craig will truly be missed as she was one of the first live-action female superheroes and set a precedence for strong female characters.  Her portrayal of Batgirl will be forever remembered as one of the most memorable incarnations of that character.  Rest in peace, Yvonne.  You didn’t just inspire your generation, but many future generations.

Sources: Variety, www.yvonnecraig.comWikipedia

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