Friday, November 25, 2011

The Batscholar on Episode 101

By Joel Eisner

Created by motion picture screenwriter Dwight Taylor (I Wake Up Screaming, Top Hat, an numerous other Fred Astaire musicals, and detective films like the Thin Man Goes Home) Louie, the Lilac could have been one of the funniest parodies on gangsters ever done. Here we have a character who dresses all in purple and surrounds himself with flowers (and later perfume in his next appearance). He wants to take over the flower children and create his own army of young people. If ever an over the top effeminate actor were needed for the show this would have been the part to play. Milton Berle could have pulled it off, he had played all sorts of parts and especially women on his old variety show back in the 1950's. When Berle left NBC he was signed to a 20 year contract with ABC and given his own show. However, times changed and his brand of comedy no longer was popular. ABC was stuck with him. He hosted Celebrity Bowling, he guested on most ABC sitcoms, including this one. Why he chose to play Louie as a straight (no pun intended) gangster role, is anybody's guess. Berle never reverted to his comedic talents except when he did his famous stamping walk (he used to walk on the sides of his feet for comic effect) into the hot house at the end of the episode.

Louie's gang consisted of actor Karl Lukas (Arcacia), who spent most of his career playing gangsters, thugs and policeman. Jimmy Boyd, (Dogwood) who was famous for singing I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (at age 14), he was a regular on the Bachelor Father and Broadside sitcoms. He was also Yvonne Craig's ex husband. Finally was Dick Bakalyan as Arbutus. Last seen as in last season's King Tut Coup and as Riddler's henchman for the silent movie episode. He would later appear as the Joker's little Green Man later in the season.

Actor Richard Bakalyan: “This was a fun show to do. I mean, everybody wanted to be on it, only because it was an ‘in’ show to be a part of, like ‘The Untouchables’ was years ago. We had such fun doing the one on Louie the Lilac, where we stole all of the flowers in Gotham City. “Milton was such a fun guy. They kept throwing me off the set, because he kept breaking me up. Every time he went to do a scene in his costume, I would just stand there and laugh. When I stopped laughing, he knew I was going to laugh, so he started to laugh.”

Lisa Seagram who appeared on numerous tv shows of the 1950' s and 1960's left the business to open an acting school and that is where she is today.

Skye Aubrey is the daughter of actress Phyliss Thaxter and former CBS President Jim Aubrey has appeared in numerous bit parts over the years.
Production Manager Sam Strangis “That was a difficult shoot. We were out in Fox’s Rancho Park and almost a thousand kids and adults came crowding around to see Batman and Uncle Miltie. Miltie was quite a ham. He went out and told jokes and signed autographs. We lost a day of shooting.”

This is the second and last time the Batgirl theme song was heard on the series.

Next Vincent Price returns as Egghead and this time Anne Baxter formally Zelda the Great returns to the series as Olga Queen of the Bessarovian Cossacks. Baxter was the first and only guest villain to return to the series playing a different guest villain. The following two part episode was in reality a three part episode (they all have the same episode production number) but rather than air it in three parts, the second part was removed and a new ending was added allowing it to be show at a later date.


  1. I have purposely not been re-watching Batman because I don't want to ruin my memories of what seemed like a good show when I was under ten years old. However, this is one entertaining blog! I was never a big admirer of Julie Newmar, but Joan Collins as the Siren and Yvonne Craig as Batgirl are impressive. I don't think I ever realized that the long red hair was a wig--or was it? Maybe that was her real hair (I wish) and the brown pixie cut was the wig.

  2. Excuse Mr. Know-It-All ...

    It was back in the early '50s that Milton Berle signed an exclusive 30-year contract with NBC. This contract prevented him from working for any other network (DuMont was still in business at the time) without first getting NBC's permission, even for one-shot guest appearances. After his NBC series went off, the network held Berle to this contract rigorously, keeping his guest shots on competing nets to the minimum, while keeping him away from another series. It was during this period that NBC allowed him to do CHAMPIONSHIP BOWLING, which had been used as a fill-in at the end of THE GILLETTE CAVALCADE OF SPORTS (aka the Friday Night Fights), but was expanded to a half hour and turned into a bone to throw at Uncle Miltie.
    It was 1966 when Berle and NBC finally renegotiated the contract - which still had almost 20 years to go - to drop the exclusivity clause and permit Uncle Miltie to expand his work schedule. That's when he signed with ABC to do a new weekly show (NOT a 20-year deal - he's made that mistake already). When that show flopped, Berle was free as a bird. BATMAN was a 20th Century Fox production, which ABC bought from them; Berle could have done it even if the old NBC deal had still been in place (All he would have had to do was ask permission - and at the peak of BATMAN's popularity he might have gotten it).

  3. I never had a problem with Berle's acting in this. I just thought the writing was HORRIBLE. It struck me that for a normally funny guy, he was also capable of playing DEADLY serious when he wanted. Had Louie turned up in Season 1, he might have given Frank Gorshin a run for his money!!

    Richard Bakalyan is THE highlight of the episode. Especially the scene where he tries to kidnap Barbara but runs into Batgirl, then totally slips up while trying to act all innocent. That guy was really funny.

  4. The story I heard was Berle was a huge Batman fan as a child. I think this is why he went for a "straight" approach. He's a true fan having a blast with the part in a dream job. It may not be quite the "joke" for him that critics seemed to want him to play. That's just wonderful to see. I enjoyed his performance and found him one of the very best of the series' invented foes.