Fat, middle-aged men with comic books in their hand still adore her. These days, they come with their sons and daughters. And they remind her, “You were my first love.”
That’s the price of fame for Yvonne Craig, better known as TV’s Batgirl, from the campy 1960s Batman series.
“I was bouncing around in a spray-on costume, and these guys must have been 12-year-old boys with the early stirrings of puberty,” she says. “It can be strange thinking about it all these years later. But it’s usually flattering.”
Craig, now 61, hardly hit it big. But for geeky comic book and sci-fi aficionados, she is a living legend. This woman not only went claw to claw with Catwoman — she also played the slinky green space alien who jiggy-jigged with Capt. Kirk on Star Trek.
Add to the mix that she dated Elvis Presley, and you know why the old codgers line up at comic book shows … with their sons and daughters.
“Grown women actually say to me that I was their hero,” says Craig. “It’s a kind of funny statement on the state of TV back in the 1960s. There really weren’t too many female characters who stood up to men. Girls had Batgirl.”
But what do you do after kicking Penguin’s butt? Craig went into the real estate business and prepaid telephone cards, after ever-decreasing TV appearances on the likes of Fantasy Island, The Six Million Dollar Man and Kojak.
Now, she’s on the comic book and nostalgia convention circuit, promoting her book From Ballet to the Batcave and Beyond (Kudu Press).
Hot Bat Sex
The man who played Robin, Burt Ward, blew the lid off the Bat Cave in his 1995 tell-all memoir Boy Wonder: My Life In Tights. “Thousands” of woman lined up outside the superheroes’ trailer, hoping to get into their Bat skivvies, he contends.
One chapter is headed “On your knees, girls, and stay in line!” — a line attributed to Adam West as he supposedly rode his success as Batman to new heights in “Batutsi” sexual self-indulgence.
Ward and West apparently couldn’t wait to get out of their tights. As Ward recalls in one passage, “Moving to the front of my red crime-fighter’s vest, my hands caressed her breasts.”
Indeed, Batman was a breakout hit when it hit the air in 1966. The half-hour show ran twice a week on ABC, with Wednesday’s episode leaving the dynamic duo in cliffhanger peril, with the announcer urging viewers to tune in Thursday, “same Bat Time, same Bat Channel.”
With stars Vincent Price, Joan Collins, Ethel Merman, Eartha Kitt and Cesar Romero clamoring for parts as guest villains, the show will be remembered as the first to hold two spots in the season-end Nielsen top 10.
But West, married about 20 years when Ward's book came out, denies all the salacious details. Now 71, the actor has spent the last few years assuring his fans that he is not a Bat Pervert.
Craig, for her part, claims ignorance. Producers had brought her in for the third and final season to fight declining ratings the old-fashioned way — with gratuitus sex.
“Burt did spend a lot of time in his trailer,” Craig says. “But I don’t really know what he was doing. I really hung out with the writers.”
Playing With Elvis’ Monkey
The Ohio-born actress tries to keep up her humor. Her first marriage, to actor-singer Jimmy Boyd, famous for an early ’50s hit recording, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” ended after two years. Back then, Craig took work in any form, including a part in Mars Needs Women, which is on many film critics’ short lists for worst movie of all time.
She’s now married to venture capital businessman Ken Aldrich of Santa Monica, Calif., and proudly boasted a few years back, “He had never seen me in anything but By Love Possessed.”
At comic book conventions, Craig keep the peace between Batman and Robin, although Robin is less likely to show up these days now that he and his wife have started a Great Dane rescue service in Northern California.
Of her leading men, Craig recalls Elvis most fondly. The two appeared together in It Happened at the World’s Fair and Kissin’ Cousins. “You never really go out with Elvis. You went in with Elvis,” she says. “He was a homebody. We’d watch movies at his place, and he was a perfect Southern gentleman.”
Elvis had claimed many times that he had slept with all his leading ladies — except for one. About two years ago, Mary Tyler Moore, who starred with Elvis in Change of Habit, claimed it was her — joking with a Florida audience, “What was I thinking?”
Does this mean Craig shared a "hunk-a-hunk-a burnin' love" with the King? No, she said. “I didn’t sleep with him either. … We spent a lot of time just watching his crazy pet monkey. I swear.” Buck Wolf is a producer at ABCNEWS.com. The Wolf Files is a weekly feature. If you want to receive notice weekly when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.