9. Eric Wilton
Only the second ever live-action Alfred Pennyworth, Eric Wilton had the misfortune of stepping into the butler’s big shoes following William Austin’s game-changing performance. While that certainly didn’t hinder his performance, it didn’t help it either.
Wilton appeared in 1949’s 15-chapter film serial Batman & Robin and, like his predecessor, he gave Alfred a new look, with the character having lost his iconic mustache and now sporting white slicked back hair. In fact, he brought such a unique look to the character that it’s hard to see this serial as the sequel it’s supposed to be – given that he and Austin look nothing alike.
That aside, he still does a fine job in the role and, of all the aspects of the serial that have aged badly, his performance isn’t one of them. That in itself is a major victory.
8. William Austin
William Austin holds the prestigious honor of being the first man to ever play Alfred Pennyworth (or just “Alfred” as he was simply known back then) and, all things considered, he does an impressive job.
Aiding Master Bruce and Master Dick whenever necessary and chauffeuring them as they undertook their crime-fighting duties (pre-Batmobile days, people), Austin’s Alfred would still find himself at home in the vast majority of modern Batman stories. In fact, he’s probably already in them and you just don’t know it.
That brings us nicely to the fact that, if it weren’t for Austin’s portrayal, Alfred would probably look very different than he does now. Originally much broader and clean shaven, the character underwent a dramatic makeover following Austin’s offering, after which he looked incredibly like his big-screen counterpart.
Boasting a thin frame and a groovy mustache, Austin is the Alfred that changed all Alfreds – and for that, we’re all thankful.