Yvonne Craig, TV’s Batgirl, dies at 78

Yvonne Craig in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Yvonne Craig in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Yvonne Craig, who played Batgirl in the 1960s Batman series, has died at 78, according to obituaries ON HER OFFICIAL WEBSITE and on CNN’S WEBSITE.

She died “from complications brought about from breast cancer that had metastasized to her liver,” according to the obituary on her website.

Craig’s Barbara Gordon was introduced during the final season of the 1966-68 Batman series. The librarian doubled as the masked crime fighter Batgirl, whose identity was unknown to Batman or Commissioner Gordon (Neil Hamilton), her father.

Craig also appeared in various 1960s spy shows and movies. She had a supporting role in The Brain Killer Affair, a first-season episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., as a woman whose brother is the key to a plot hatched by villain Dr. Dabree.

The actress was brought back to appear in extra footage for movie versions of U.N.C.L.E. episodes. Her biggest such role was in One Spy Too Many, where she played Maude Waverly, niece of U.N.C.L.E. chief Waverly (Leo G. Carroll). None of her scenes appeared in the television version, Alexander the Greater Affair.

Craig also had a supporting role in In Like Flint, the second Derek Flint film starring James Coburn.

You can CLICK HERE to view a very brief Q&A with the actress done in the late 1990s.

Finally, here’s a 1974 public service announcement with Craig again playing Batgirl. Adam West declined to participate, so Dick Gautier played Batman instead. The video isn’t very good, unfortunately.

007 cross dresses for equality for women

In the U.K., there’s a new video where Daniel Craig, playing James Bond, is told about gender equality by an unseen M (Judi Dench). As part of the spot, Bond dresses like a woman.

Here it is:

The reaction? Our guess is supporters will say that Bond has been enlisted in a worthy cause. This was one reaction to the video posted on YouTube: “I expected to get a laugh seeing Daniel Craig ‘in drag.’ Instead, I was mesmerized and sobered. I had no idea the gap between the sexes still loomed so large. ‘Equals’ is an excellent piece of work.”

The cons, we suspect, will be along the lines that the character has been emasculated in the spot.

Here’s an excerpt from GQ.com that has some details about the origins of the spot, including the participation of co-Eon Procutions boss Barbara Broccoli:

It’s Daniel Craig as you’ve never seen him before. The James Bond star and former GQ Man Of The Year faces arguably his toughest mission yet – fighting gender inequality in support of International Women’s Day. Shot by artist turned director Sam Taylor-Wood, scripted by Kick-Ass scribe Jane Goldman and overseen by 007 producer Barbara Broccoli, the stunning short was commissioned by the Annie Lennox-led charitable coalition Equals and boasts a creative team which frankly wouldn’t disgrace the 23rd instalment of the film franchise.

To view the Web site of We Are Equals, the group that put together the video, JUST CLICK HERE.

On some fan message boards some people have questioned whether Craig and Dench are actually playing Bond and M. They are. You can view a press release on the topic BY CLICKING HERE. An excerpt:

In the film ‘M’ interrogates Bond with a series of searching questions on gender issues, from pay inequality to domestic violence.

It’s not the first time a popular character has been enlisted in the cause for gender equality. Here’s a 1974 public service announcement featuring some of the cast of the 1960s Batman show. Burt Ward (Robin),Yvonne Craig (Batgirl) and William Dozier (narrator) reprise their roles while Dick Gautier, aka Get Smart’s Hymie the Robot, subs for Adam West:

45th anniversary of TV spy mania part I: U.N.C.L.E.’s 2nd season premier

September is the 45th anniversary of television spy mania. With James Bond films helping to create a market for spy entertainment, U.S. television networks decided they needed to meet that demand. The Man From U.N.C.L.E., already on the air for a year, had a head start but faced its own challenges as well as new competitors.

To begin with, NBC shifted the show to Fridays from Mondays, plus moving it to 10 p.m. ET. Would the show’s viewers follow suit? Also, Sam Rolfe, who had written the show’s pilot and had been its first-season producer, had departed. Rolfe’s associate producers (Joseph Calvelli in the first half of season one, Robert Foshko in the second half) were also long gone.

Executive Producer Norman Felton initially brought over David Victor, producer of Felton’s Dr. Kildare series to U.N.C.L.E.’s producer chair. The production team also relied heavy on two writers, Dean Hargrove and Peter Allan Fields, who had penned U.N.C.L.E. scripts during the second half of season one. As it turned out, Victor would be but one of three producers that season, but he would oversee production of the first several episodes.

NBC opted to begin season two with the show’s first two-part story, written by Hargrove and directed by Joseph Sargent, Alexander the Greater Affair (no “The” in the title). Felton’s Arena Productions would then re-edit the story into the movie One Spy Too Many. Hargrove’s story featured the mysterious industrialist Alexander, whose idol was Alexander the Great. Alexander also wanted to take over the world, starting with an unnamed Asian country and break each of the Ten Commandments as part of his plan.

The television version of the story was never rerun by NBC and was left out of the syndicated package MGM would offer later. A print was discovered in Atlanta in 1999 and would be shown by TNT on July 4, 2000. It has been available (including on DVD) ever since.

Here’s a clip from midway part one, where U.N.C.L.E.’s Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) plays Alexander (Rip Torn) in an unusual game of chess. Fellow agent Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) and Alexander’s ex-wife (Dorothy Provine) look on:

UPDATE: We originally embedded a clip from Part I, but the person who uploaded it took it down. So instead, here’s a sampling of the footage that was added to the movie version. Yvonne Craig showed up in One Spy Too Many as an U.N.C.L.E. woman Solo supposedly had scheduled a date with but can’t remember doing so: